Friday, April 17, 2015

Fine Dining in a Special Setting

When our friends Lynn and George invited us to join them for dinner in an upscale restaurant on Tellico Lake in Loudon County Tennessee, I must admit that I hesitated just a tad.  It wasn’t the cost…it was the fact that the dress code called for men to preferably wear a sports coat!  I hadn’t worn a sport coat since I retired over 5.5 years ago… I’d only worn a suit twice in the same period of time…once for a wedding and once for a funeral.

But…the temptation to try a new restaurant that has been building a pretty fair reputation was just too much for me to resist!


This dining establishment is ‘Citico’s Restaurant and Club’.  This restaurant is located in a very large upscale home or mansion in the gated Wind River Lakefront and Golf Community off of US Hwy. 321 near Lenoir City Tennessee.

Citico, (also "Settaco" or "Sitiku"), is a prehistoric and historic Native American site in Monroe County, Tennessee.  The site's namesake Cherokee village was the largest of the Overhill towns, housing an estimated population of 1,000 by the mid-18th century.  The Mississippian village that preceded the site's Cherokee occupation is believed to have been the village of "Satapo" visited by the Juan Pardo expedition in 1567.  The actual Citico site is now submerged by the 1979 Tellico Lake impoundment of the Little Tennessee River.  


I wonder if anyone ever uses that pool table...  The décor and woodwork evoked a setting reminiscent of an upscale inn up in the Adirondacks.

    
George definitely looks at home in that big leather wingback chair!  The bar is in the background…as is the chef.


Laurie and Lynn both liked the casual luxury ‘feel’ of this restaurant.  Citico’s interior is very plush…much like the upscale model home that it once was.  My wife had visited this home a couple of years earlier when it was part of a charitable fund raising home tour.  She told us that the interior hadn’t changed significantly.  


This isn’t the greatest photo…and it wasn't sunny out either but, as you can see, the view of Tellico Lake from the restaurant and from the deck is quite nice.  It was warm enough on this winter day for some folks to visit with each other out on the deck while waiting for their table.

 
Lynn, George and Laurie had to put up with me wandering around taking photos… They were studying Citico’s seasonal menu.  My thought is that the setting is very nice indeed!

Robert Allen is the Executive Chef of Citico's Restaurant and Club.  He is originally from Texas, where he most recently had worked as the Executive Sous Chef at Escondido Golf and Lake Club in Horseshoe Bay.  Chef Allen is a graduate of the Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Academy in Austin.

 
So…onto the food!  This little ‘chef’s taste’, a bit of duck, was the first item we were served…other than our drinks.  It was quite nice.

Warning… I am much more critical of ‘upscale’, ‘expensive’ restaurants than I am of most establishments. 

Credit is where credit is due.  We were a little startled when the server and the bar tender didn’t know how to make a kamikaze.  However, despite any trepidation on our part, they took on the challenge and delivered the perfect kamikaze that Lynn ordered.

I ordered a Jack Daniel’s straight up, ($11.00), and Laurie ordered a very nice glass of Malbec. ($12.00)  The server did forget to bring napkins with the drinks.


In our opinion, our appetizer/item designated for sharing, was “the bomb”!  This is the Fried Brussel Sprouts Pork Belly. ($14.00) It consisted of ‘Tender Brussels Fried with Tennessee Pork Belly Tossed in a Soy Lemon Vinaigrette.’  George and Lynn thought that it was too sweet…but Laurie and I loved this offering!

The menu is seasonal…so the offerings on today’s menu will differ from what we had to choose from.  There are soups and salads, small plates for one and shared/larger plates. A current example of a small plate is the “Short Rib Empanada…Red Wine Braised Short Rib inside a Tender Crust with Cilantro Cream and Ranchero Salsa. ($9.00)  Another example of a ‘shared item would be the “Seafood Fritto Misto…Corn Flour Crusted Shrimp, Fish, and Calamari with Roasted Garlic Remoulade.” ($17.00) 


Laurie and I both ordered Citico’s Caesar Salad. ($9.00…but on the current menu it’s now $8.00) The menu described this salad as being made with “Eco Rich Farms Red and Green Romaine Lettuce, Manchego Cheese and Herb Croutons in a Rich Anchovy Dressing.  It was a nice if overpriced salad…but neither Laurie or I could taste any hint of that distinctive ‘rich’ anchovy flavor!


George ordered the House Butchered Fish. ($30.00) In this case it was Mahi.  It is described as “Sustainably Sourced Fish Cleaned and Butchered in House by Our Chef, Served with Garlic Sautéed Wild Grains and Market Vegetables.  George said that it was very good…


Both Laurie and Lynn ordered the 12 oz. Veal Chops with White Asparagus and greens. ($36.00) Lynn said that hers was overcooked.  Laurie was very happy with hers…medium rare as ordered.  She gave me a taste and it was very good indeed.

Currently, the six entrees listed on the menu range from the “Hen Roulade - Cornish Game Hen Filled with House Made Guanciale and Green Onion Cornbread Stuffing Spinach Fettuccini in a Blood Orange Butter” ($26.00); to the 10 oz. “Beef Tenderloin - Brass Town Tenderloin Filet with Truffle Parmesan Potato Dauphine, Caramelized Carrots and Haricot Vert ($44.00).


I looked over the menu and decided to go with the “Crispy Pork Shank - Tender Pork Shanks Braised in Bacon and Tomato Broth then Coated in Bread Crumbs, Served with Parmesan Grit Cakes and Wilted Greens.” ($26.00) 

Maybe I’m a traditionalist…but I would have described this entrée as “Four shredded Pork Shank Meat Balls”.  To top it off I thought that they were a little dry in the middle.  In fairness, Laurie told me that the server did ask if I would like any additional sauce…but sadly I didn’t hear her.  The ‘pork shank’ (meat) was OK if not special and the greens were very good but I thought that the parmesan grit cakes were completely tasteless.

Citico’s facility and its setting are both dramatic and beautiful.  In general, service was very friendly and efficient… There was a little confusion as waitstaff served the food…it was like a dance that needed a bit more practice.  Our opinion of the food was mixed.  Given the prices, we would look at Citico’s as a good restaurant for a special occasion, especially a romantic one.  It was a nice touch when Chef Allen came out, introduced himself and chatted with us for a few moments. 

We hope that Citico’s Restaurant and Club grows, matures and succeeds.  They have a way to go before they can replace our #1 and #2 upscale restaurant choices in the area.  Number 1 is still the Foothills Milling Company in Maryville and number 2 is Northshore Brasserie in Knoxville.

Citico’s Restaurant and Club is located at 2698 Oakum Court (Wind River) in Lenoir City, Tennessee. (Reservations Only) Phone: 865-986-0009.  Website: http://www.windriverliving.com/citicos.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Photos Here and There, Then and Now…

I went into our files and looked around for photos I hadn’t used that were fun or interesting to us and perhaps also to others… These photos are dated from December 2014 through the first days of April 2015.


I said that these photos were between 1 and 4 months old.  There is one exception…and that is this photo.  This photo was taken in the summer of 2000 near Gulfport Mississippi.  This beautiful home was right off of US Hwy. 90 and just across the highway from the Gulf of Mexico.  Hurricane Katrina scoured this home from its foundation and sadly it no longer exists. 

Before the hurricane in 2005, beautiful and historic homes like this lined the coast in many places from Bay St. Louis to Biloxi Mississippi.  Today, most of these properties are just vacant lots…


Other than Jefferson Davis’s Beauvoir property in Biloxi, this is the only rebuilt/repaired mansion that really caught our attention along this stretch of US Hwy. 90.  It’s close to Pass Christian Mississippi.  Although high rise condos, some new homes, casinos and a variety of businesses now exist along this stretch, it will be many years if ever, before the area is totally rebuilt.  I’m sure that insurance costs alone are a major deterrent to building on this vulnerable coastline.


As we crossed the bridge/causeway at the north end of Mobile Bay, we noted this imposing ship off in the distance.  This is the USS Alabama, a South Dakota-class battleship.  She was the sixth ship of the United States Navy named after the US state of Alabama.  The battleship Alabama was commissioned in 1942 and served in World War II in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. She was decommissioned in 1947 and assigned to the reserve duty.  She was retired in 1962.  In 1964, Alabama was taken to Mobile Bay and she was opened as a museum ship in 1965. 

This ship played a key role in the battle for control of the Pacific Ocean.  To learn more, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Alabama_(BB-60).

This ship is the centerpiece of the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park.  Other displays here include the submarine USS Drum and more than a dozen historic aircraft.  Among the aircraft on display at the park are a B-52 Stratofortress, an A-12 Blackbird and a Redstone ICBM.  To learn more about this Memorial Park, go to http://www.ussalabama.com/welcome.



Laurie and I were out for a drive on one ‘tough’ winter day here in East Tennessee and we came across this huge flock of starlings… There had to be over a thousand birds in the air, in the trees and on the ground.  These photos can’t really capture the sight…

FYI… A large flock of starlings is called either a ‘murmuration’ or alternatively, a ‘chattering’.


Same day…suffering through another ‘nasty’ winter in East Tennessee!  I can assure you that we do not miss Chicago weather…


This is a view of Tellico Lake which Laurie took as we drove across the US Hwy. 411 Bridge.  The lake is technically a reservoir established by the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1979 with the completion of Tellico Dam on the Little Tennessee River.  The lake covers over 16,000 acres and has 357 miles of shoreline.


On another day, driving along the side roads in Meigs County these 2 horses took a moment to check us out… Laurie loves horses!


This is the Rhea County Courthouse in Dayton Tennessee.  This courthouse, built in 1890 – 1891, was the site of the famous Scopes Monkey Trial.
 
Formally known as a case entitled “The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes”, this 1925 trial involved a substitute high school teacher, John Scopes, who was accused of violating Tennessee's Butler Act.  That act made it unlawful to teach human evolution in any state-funded school.  The trial was deliberately staged in order to attract publicity to this small town. 

The trial served its purpose in that it drew intense national publicity.  Reporters flocked to Dayton to cover the big-name lawyers who had agreed to represent each side.  William Jennings Bryan, three-time presidential candidate, argued for the prosecution, while Clarence Darrow, the famed defense attorney, spoke for Scopes.  Evolution vs. Creationism is still an ongoing debate today.  Although the case didn’t really settle much, it did mark the beginning of a steady decline in the teaching of creationism.   



This beautiful and impressive home is located on a small country road not far from Lenoir City Tennessee.  At the very least, judging by the chimneys, the front part of the home to the left is very old.  At this point I haven’t been able to identify this property and its history...


It always amazes us when we drive down any roads in East Tennessee… Even in out of the way locations, there are homes of one sort or another and wide open expanses of land are a bit unusual.  This property isn’t far from the big home shown in the previous photos.  The property sits on a ridge, it’s extensive, and you can see the Smoky Mountains on the horizon…


Birds, birds, birds… That’s how I’m ending this posting on my blog site...with lots of birds!

In this photo we were driving down a country road and we were ‘barked at’ by this group, (aka. a ‘confusion’), of Guinea Hens.  My mother had a small flock of these birds up in Michigan and they tend to act like a watchdog.  They’ll ‘bark’ at anything that disturbs their vision of normal.  I recall one time when my mother’s Guinea Hens barked at a raccoon road kill for two days as they regarded it as a threat!

These Helmeted Guinea Fowl were originally native to Africa but they have been domesticated and they can be found in many countries around the world.  They are voracious consumers of insect pests and some farms keep them around as a natural way to protect their garden plots.  Guinea fowl are well-suited to consuming massive quantities of ticks, which might otherwise spread Lyme disease.


This is a photo of just a few of our neighbors… These hens are crossing the street by our driveway.  They are part of a very large ‘rafter, gang or posse’ of turkeys which lives in the woods around us.  I’ve counted as many as 30 birds in one grouping.  Female turkeys can weigh a little less than 12 lbs. and males (Toms) can weigh up to 24 lbs.


This scene photographed by Laurie seemed ominous!  Did this swarm of Black Vultures know something that we didn’t?  We do know that our home sits up on a hill or low ridge and these big birds use the natural thermals to gain altitude.  Unfortunately, they also like to perch on rooftops…and one of our neighbor’s roofs is stained by these bird’s frequent visits.  

These big birds can weigh up to 6 lbs., they can reach 29” in length and they can have a wingspan of as much as 66 inches.  They range from the southeastern USA all the way down to the tip of South America.  A flock of vultures is properly called a ‘venue’, but when they are circling as shown in the photo, they are referred to as a ‘kettle’ of vultures…

That’s about it for now.  Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by to check out our photos!


Take Care, Big Daddy Dave   

Monday, April 13, 2015

Lunch in Dayton (Tennessee)

It was a nice sunny day in late winter when Laurie and I went on a drive down into the south east area of Tennessee.  It was time for lunch but I’d set my route before we started exploring and I’d found a place where we could stop for lunch…



This is Jacob Myer’s Restaurant on The River in Dayton Tennessee… As per Trip Advisor, Jacob Myer’s has had 59 excellent/very good vs. 7 average and 2 poor reviews.  I liked our odds of success… 


This is a view of the river from the outside dining deck at Jacob Myer’s Restaurant on The River.  The river…or actually Richland Creek…doesn’t look like much but this is basically a cove that within a hundred yards or so feeds into Chickamauga Lake.

Chickamauga Lake is a manmade lake that is part of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s chain of lakes created along the length of the Tennessee River.  Since it was still winter time the level of the lake was drawn down to ‘winter pool’ levels.  The exposed shoreline shows just how much deeper and wider the water would be from May through October.  There is a dock right across the road for water borne diners…


This is a view of the outside dining area/deck at Jacob Myer’s.  The main body of the lake can be seen across the cove and through the pine trees.  This was a typical winter day in Tennessee with sunshine and enough warmth for some diners to eat outdoors.


The inside of the restaurant is fairly plain with a lot of wood.   Jacob Myer’s Restaurant does feature a bar.  The dining area was well maintained…


I ordered the Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich. ($ 9.99) This was a boneless, fried chicken breast topped with bacon, ham, provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato and “Breezy's Honey Mustard Sauce”.  I went with steamed broccoli as my side dish.  This was a large and satisfying sandwich…with plenty of flavor to get my taste buds going. 

The lunch menu is fairly extensive.  It includes appetizers, chicken wings, cold sandwiches, wraps, salads, grilled sandwiches, burgers, lunch combos and soups.  There is a separate dinner menu as well as a bar and lounge menu.  The later menu offers some food and alcohol pairings…  


For her lunch, Laurie ordered the Spicy Habanero Club Sandwich. ($ 8.99) This sandwich consisted of a boneless fried chicken breast topped with pepperjack cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato and Jacob Myer’s own habanero ranch sauce.  She enjoyed her sandwich and  she thought that the potato salad was OK.


Our waitress told us that a ricotta lemon cheesecake was available for dessert so we ordered a slice of it to share. ($4.99) I’m not a big cheesecake aficionado but I like the ricotta version.  That this cheesecake was better than average is proven the fact that we ate part of it before we thought about taking a photo!

Dayton Tennessee is obviously not a major metro area so we were pleased to find a restaurant that served better than average food.  The next time we are cruising through southeast Tennessee we’ll once again check in at this restaurant…hopefully trying out the dinner menu.

Jacob Myer’s Restaurant on The River is located at 185 Chickamauga Drive, (about a block off of US Hwy. 27) in Dayton Tennessee.  Phone: 423-570-0023.  Website: http://jacobmyersrestaurant.com/.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!


Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, April 10, 2015

Happy Birthday to You, David II!

Well…today is our son David’s birthday.  So I thought that I’d put together a group of photos tracking him over his many years…


Wasn’t he cute?  Poor kitten!  He was at his Grandma Thomson’s house in Concord Michigan when this photo was taken. 


David II the Cub Scout!  I’d give you the dates and ages for the photos but he claims that he’s only 37 and regressing age wise each year…so anything I would post might give away his true age.


Here he’s a little older and I think that this photo of him with Laurie and I, (Yes, I once had hair!), was taken down in Florida.


Laurie and I went through a period where we actively sought out antiques and collectibles such as the hutch, the trunk and that Tennessee long rifle.  David II was armed and ready to defend the homestead!


Here…the teen incarnation of David II was relaxing in a recliner at our home in Mt. Prospect Illinois.  He was a good teenager…in ROTC, working and getting grades that landed him 13th in his high school class of over 300 seniors.

I’ll never forget a conversation that I had with him when I asked him what he was doing just for fun… He told me that between school, ROTC and working in the grocery store, he didn’t have much time for fun.  He went on to say that he was thinking this was the way real life would be! 


Our young college student!  He went to Michigan State University, following in the footsteps of his mother, me, my father and his mother’s father.  He continued at MSU through his MBA and then he passed the CPA and CMA exams as well.  What a good boy!


So after graduation, David II went to work and his career was well underway when he went to a New Year’s Eve party and that’s where he met Amy… The rest, as they say, is history!


The years passed by and then David II and Amy had their own family…and Laurie and I had two terrific grandsons, David III and Emmett Lee!



David II and the boys have a lot of fun and Amy loves taking photos of them!  They were out on a boat with friends when she took this photo.  



David II’s career had migrated into computer technology management, but then that business took a hit as many jobs in the field went overseas and the tech boom crashed.  It didn’t help that he’d been working for one of the many banks that had financial issues.  He and Amy decided that this would be a great opportunity for him to branch out…so he attended Law School at Case Western University and picked up his Juris Doctorate.  Such a smart and dedicated lad!


Here’s our son the attorney taking a selfie with a recent birthday present while preparing to go to work…


Laurie took this photo of the two lovebirds at Hot Rod 50’s, a local diner during a visit to our home here in East Tennessee.  After almost 18 years of marriage, 2 boys, several jobs/career changes, they still like each other!  Life is good!



Amy and David II make a big deal out of Halloween and the boys love it!  Amy took these photos…with David II as Hagrid from the Harry Potter movies and as “Bob” with David III as “Violet” and Emmett Lee as “Dash” from the movie, “The Incredibles”.  The family that plays together stays together!


This photo of David II, Amy and our grandsons was taken right after this past Christmas as they prepared to leave our home in East Tennessee for their long trek home to Omaha Nebraska.
 
Our son has grown up to be a terrific father and man…and with Amy they’re raising two outstanding grandsons!  As Laurie and I often tell him, “What a good boy your are..!”

Happy Birthday David II!  I only wish you were as young as you claim to be…because that would mean that I’d be about 9 years younger than I really am!
Have a terrific birthday!

Thanks for stopping by to help us celebrate David II’s birthday!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave and Laurie (aka. Papa and Nana) 

P.S. We named our cat 'JD' in honor of our son receiving his 'Juris Doctorate'!
David II was 'so' touched and pleased! LOL!