Downtown Knoxville is full of great things to do (and eat). Café 4 (for lunch with M) had really excellent pulled pork tacos.
Luckily, we ordered a “small plate” of three tacos to split along with some LOBSTER mac and cheese.
The portions were definitely cowboy-sized. We loved the tacos, although the mac and cheese was a bit bland. It was okay though, because we had the best seat in the house, looking out onto Market Square in the center of Knoxville.
Sweetwater, Tennessee is a sweet little town. The downtown area is only about 2 streets long and one street across and M and I went into quite a few of their shops:
AND The Paris Apartment for lunch and browsing.
Look how pretty The Paris Apartment is:
Two more amazing meals:
Cru features little plates with a cuisine that spans French, Asian and Southern. Because our host is a wonderfully enthusiastic diner (most of my friends ARE), we ordered MANY dishes.
We had THREE rounds of four dishes each and every dish I chose came in last (VERY uncharacteristically) in our unofficial voting. I think that just meant that EVERYTHING was so good that something had to be on the bottom.
Let's see what I can remember:
The chicken and waffles (picture too blurred to include) is my idea of a party on a plate. I really liked this little taste, even if the waffle was a bit overcooked and too crusty. It made me want to get a full plate of Chicken and Waffles somewhere that specializes in that. (The drive would have been a bit long.)
The salad in the duck confit salad was good, but the duck wasn’t as flavorful as it could have been.
The pizza was one of the best dishes of the night and thank goodness there were four of to eat that whole pizza plus SEVEN other dishes.
Very nice crab cake. It was sitting on a fried green tomato.
I was told by our southern friends that the shrimp and grits were good. I think this must not be my favorite dish. I like my cornmeal mush with lots of parmesan a la polenta. And I shocked them by saying that if I ever had to have grits for breakfast, I’d have them with lots of syrup. They were appalled and said butter and salt is the way to go.
The seared scallop was perfectly cooked and served with a huge onion ring. THAT’S the way to my heart.
I loved the fish taco. The fish was coated in panko and served in a naan with a cilantro chimichurri and spicy mayo. Yum!
And our last meal was at a lovely country spot, Dancing Bear Lodge.
It's the “sister” resort to Blackberry Farm. It’s in an impressive, but cozy, log restaurant (and hotel) with a much more down-home menu than Blackberry Farm. But it still uses a lot of their local produce and products.
Several (dancing?) bears greet you at the front door. Well, actually, their backs are turned as they hold on to the top of the huge pole holding up the roof of the porch. I hope they don’t let go.
We ordered “snacks for the table”.
Spicy Black-Eyed Pea Hummus, Pimento Cheese and Smoked Trout Rillette were all served in jam jars. Cute. The rillette was superb. I love that stuff. It’s a thick, paste-like spread, often made from pork. This was GOOD. The corn muffins (and cheese?) were freshly made and delicious.
I loved the Truffled Corn and Crab Chowder. The corn was sweet and the hint of truffle (oil?) was delicious with the crab.
I ordered the Sweet Tea Brined Pork Tenderloin with Corn Maque Choux. I didn’t get much of a sweet tea taste, but it was homey and filling. I liked the Maque Choux - slow simmered corn with onions and cream. The crockery was pretty too.
Dessert, unfortunately, was a bit of a disappointment.
The Brown Sugar Pound Cake was nothing to write home about. It was rubbery. The entire dessert menu was a bit lackluster. It was as if the chef had run out of gas. Especially in comparison to Blackberry Farm, which probably isn’t fair, the last course fell down. BUT the grounds are lovely and they have lots of cabins as well. There are huge kayaking and tubing opportunities nearby (AND antique shops!).
It’s always fun visiting friends. The only downside? They live SO far away that we can’t just stop by any time. So I have to look at my pictures (and millions of plates) and reminisce about all the delectable meals, great shopping and being with best buddies.