Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar

Yes, it’s yet another burger joint!  As of late they seem to be multiplying… There is BurgerFi, Mooyah Burgers, Five Guys and the usual chains plus lots of local places and they’re all featuring one of my favorite foods…


This burger-centric operation recently opened in Farragut Tennessee.  It’s Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar in the Farragut/Knoxville Turkey Creek Shopping Area.  Bad Daddy’s is a franchised operation that had its beginnings in Charlotte North Carolina.  At this stage in the company’s development there are only 12 locations in 6 different metropolitan areas…Denver Colorado, Greenville South Carolina, Charlotte, Triangle/Raleigh and Winston-Salem North Carolina and of course Knoxville. 


Bad Daddy’s has an industrial look to it with lots of TV’s for sports fans… It is quite a large restaurant, deceptively so when viewed from the street.


When Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar includes the word ‘bar’ in the restaurant’s name, they are serious.  As shown above, there is a fully stocked bar.  This is one factor that separates Bad Daddy’s from the other burger joints and chains…and it should push up profit margins too.

The menu includes starters such as wings, onion straws, fried pickles, sliders, nachos, housemade potato chips and chili.  It also features milk shakes, a couple of desserts and several salads including an interesting ‘create your own’ salad.  Standard dinner salads cost from $10.75 to $10.95.


Of course, we went for the burgers!  After all, that is what this restaurant is focused on… I ordered the “Bacon Cheeseburger on Steroids”. ($12.50) This burger is described as “a basic burger seasoned with bacon salt, 3 pieces of jalapeno bacon, 3 pieces of applewood smoked bacon, topped with Monterey Jack cheese, housemade bacon mayo, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, onion and pickles on a bun.”

Burgers are accompanied by a side and since my burger was so ‘healthy’, I chose the House Slaw.  The coleslaw was a little different than most and I liked it.  The burger was OK but believe it or not, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.  In my opinion, the bacon overwhelmed the burger.

As with the salads at Big Daddy’s, you can also build your own burger.  For my next visit, I plan to stick to a straight-forward cheeseburger so that I can fairly judge this restaurant’s burgers.  One negative won’t change though.  The buns are too small for the burgers and they’re really messy to eat…


Laurie tried something a bit different too… She ordered the “Pastrami Reuben Burger” with a fruit cup as her side. ($11.95) This creation is their “custom blended burger topped with Boar’s Head thinly sliced pastrami and Swiss cheese, Thousand Island dressing and sauerkraut on rye toast.

She liked her sandwich a lot...a great combination of ingredients...although she also felt that a little large piece of bread would have made it a lot easier to eat.  The fruit cup was very good…with nice fresh and ripe pieces of fruit.

To summarize… We will try Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar again, changing out our order and our bread choices.  However, I think that I can get more bang from our buck at the nearby Wild Wing Café and we really like their burgers and wings.  We ordered water with our lunch but despite that fact, with tax and tip, our lunch cost $30.71.  Yes…the sandwiches were ‘fancy’ but we have to ask if they were worth the expense?

Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar is located at 11683 Parkside Drive in Farragut Tennessee.  Phone: 865-292-1241.  The company’s website can be found at http://baddaddysburgerbar.com/index.html.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by to see what was for lunch!


Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Ultimate Sacrifice – Ronald Allen Myers

Memorial Day always makes me think about my father, Ronald Allen Myers.  What would my life have been like and where would I be today if he’d survived World War II?  I will never know because he made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and for our future…


Sergeant Ronald Allen Myers
Born: 4/2/1911 and Killed In Action: 5/6/1945


I’m guessing that this is one of the groups that my dad trained with before being shipped over to Europe.  The food must have been very good as it appears that he’d put on a bit of extra weight! (Click on photo to enlarge it)

The photo was taken at Fort Custer near Battle Creek Michigan.  Camp Custer was built in 1917 for military training during World War I and it is still in use today…





This was the last letter that my dad wrote to my mother.  You might note that it was written on April 27, 1945 and then postmarked by the US Army Postal Service on May 4th… By the time my mother received this poignant letter, my father had been killed in action in Czechoslovakia.


Pre-deployment photo of Ronald Allen Myers with yours truly
 
Unfortunately, as I was less than 2 ½ years old when my dad was killed, I have no memories of him, only some old photos and letters.  For reasons unknown, my mother and my father’s family didn’t stay in touch.  

Currently I’m using Ancestry.com to try to learn more about my family history.  My father’s brother was named Clifford and his parents were Frank J. and Mary E. (Cerrow) Myers.  Ronald’s grandfather was William H. Myers and he immigrated to the USA in 1881 from Mecklenburg Germany.  On the paternal side, that’s as far back as I’ve been able to go…

Life has been good despite the sad beginning with the death of my father… Thanks to my father’s sacrifice, this branch of the Myers family is living in freedom in the best country in the world.  The line continues through David II, David III and Emmett Lee Myers…

Thanks for stopping by on Memorial Day…

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 


Friday, May 22, 2015

A Cozy Casual Dining Gem!

Another evening and another 'Groupon'!  This time our Groupon coupon was for a casual but upscale dining spot in downtown Knoxville.  At the time that I checked this restaurant out on Trip Advisor the worst rating was Average with the majority being Very Good or Excellent…mostly the latter.


This is Café Du Soleil in Knoxville Tennessee.  It’s not very far from busy Market Square but it is a little off the ‘normal’ beaten path.


This is a view of the patio or outside dining area at Café Du Soleil.  The street isn’t that busy so traffic doesn’t seem to be annoying.  However, there are only about 10 seats outdoors…


It turned out that our server on this Wednesday evening was the owner…Joe Consumo.  He told us that he takes on that task 2 nights a week when business is usually a bit slow.  As it turned out, this evening he really ended up running fast in order to serve his customers.


For my appetizer, I ordered the Carpaccio. ($12.00) It is thinly shaved organic Black Angus beef served with olive oil, lemon juice and roasted garlic and sided with mixed greens and tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and lemon.  It was very tasty although the seasoning on the beef seemed a little underwhelming…

The wine list at Café Du Soleil is short but even the least expensive wines, ($7.00 each, which we ordered), were very good indeed!


One of Laurie’s favorite appetizers is L’Escargot…snails.  Café Du Soleil’s version was very different from the norm. ($10.00) The large Helix snails were swimming in a very creamy herb garlic sauce and they were served in a martini glass.  Both the snails and the sauce were excellent…and those toast crisps were used to good advantage…soaking up some of that sauce!


For her entrée, Laurie ordered the Fish of the Day. ($27.00) We tried to remember the name of the fish but it had a Hawaiian name and we just can’t remember what it was.  Joe told us what it was and that it was not a ‘net caught’ fish, but rather a fish that had to be caught on a line. 

Whatever type of fish it was, Laurie thought that it was just great!  It was firm, buttery and not ‘fishy’.  For her sides, she had the bacon potatoes au gratin and the sautéed vegetables.  Everything was excellent!


At the beginning of our meal, there were 4 couples dining at Café Du Soleil including us…  Then a party of 10 arrived…a business group…and the owner really started running!  The interior space at Café Du Soleil only seats a little over 30 patrons.


Lamb is one of my favorite foods but I can rarely find quality lamb in a restaurant… So I took a chance and ordered these beautiful lamb chops. ($35.00) As you can see with the chop on the right, they were cooked to just the right degree.  The reduction used when cooking these chops just added to the total ‘taste package’!  They were the best I’ve had in many years!

The side vegetables were excellent as well… I could have eaten a plate full of them!  When I asked about the bacon potatoes au gratin, I mentioned that I’d probably order something else as I really don’t like onions with potatoes and cheese.  The chef overheard me and he prepared my potatoes the way I like them…very nice indeed!


What the heck!  When we’re spending this kind of money on dinner, we might as well go all the way!  We decided to split a dessert.  This is the Gateau Basque…bread pudding with almonds, chocolate, spices and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Yikes…it was sooo good!  What a great ending to a top notch meal…

Even with the Groupon coupon this was an expensive meal!  Still, sometimes you really do get the quality you’re paying for…and this was one of those times.  Café Du Soleil has a fixed menu with small plates and a couple of pasta items but the nightly specials change regularly and there are usually no more than 4 or 5 choices.  I read a recent negative review…published only 3 days following our visit.  Mine will definitely offset that input!  We will return with friends or for a special occasion…

Café Du Soleil is located at 416 Clinch Avenue in Knoxville Tennessee.  Phone: 465-595-0134.  Website: http://www.cafedusoleilknoxville.com/.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a fine dining experience!


Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Dinner at a Diner – Gracie’s in Maryville Tennessee

Another day, another batch of errands… Laurie and I ended our running around with our last stop in Maryville Tennessee.  So what to do for dinner?


Laurie suggested that we have an early dinner at Gracie’s, a popular local diner on the east side of Maryville in close adjacency to the home of Alcoa Aluminum in Alcoa Tennessee. 

  
Another golfing couple had recently told us that they’d stopped by Gracie’s for dinner and they’d been very satisfied.  We’d been there once before too, but just for breakfast.  It was one of the best breakfasts we’d had in East Tennessee…so, based on the recommendation and our breakfast experience, dinner sounded promising.



The interior of Gracie’s is clean and fairly well lit.  The table tops are sealed and covered with ads for local companies underneath the sealer/coating.
It was early but folks started drifting in while we were there and a few take-out orders were picked up as well. 


Gracie’s menu isn’t huge and it’s a pretty typical selection for a southern ‘meat and sides’ kind of restaurant.  The meat + 1 option costs $6.39, meat + 2 costs $7.49 and meat + 3 is $8.49.  Meat choices include such items as liver and onions, grilled chicken, chicken fried steak and meatloaf.  There are no less than 15 sides to choose from!

Laurie started out with a small dinner salad with Gracie’s homemade Ranch dressing.  The salad was fine and the salad dressing was very good.


For her meat + 2 she ordered the salmon patty and she added the fruit to her dinner salad.  She chose a corn meal muffin for her bread… The salmon patty was just fine, the muffin was moist and the fruit was a nice finish to her meal.


I went with one of the “Big Ol’ Meals” from the menu.  Basically these choices either involve bigger servings of meat than one would get with the meat + 2 or 3 offerings, or they involve more pricey items such as shrimp or a big slab of country ham.

This is the 12 oz. chopped steak served with 2 sides and a choice of bread. ($10.49) I ordered the steamed broccoli and turnip greens as my sides and I also opted for the corn meal muffin.  It was all good with bits of ham cooked in the turnip greens and the broccoli was perfectly steamed…still a little firm.  The chopped steak was quite good, although it was a little salty for my taste.  I would order it again.

Talk about inexpensive dinners!  There is nothing on Gracie’s menu that is more expensive than my entrée… For the money, our dinner would be hard to beat!  Gracie’s isn’t a gourmet destination that’s for sure, but it is fairly good diner food.  We’ll be back…

Gracie’s is open from 7 AM until 8 PM Monday – Saturday.  Breakfast is served until 11 AM.  This restaurant is located at 766 East Lincoln Road in Maryville Tennessee.  Phone: 865- 984-7117.  Gracie’s Restaurant is on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gracies-Restaurant/195617930471208.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


Monday, May 18, 2015

Driving Home via the Scenic Route

On a recent spring day, we had a bunch of errands to take care of… We drove into Knoxville and then over to Maryville Tennessee.  We could have driven back the usual way…down US Hwy. 411…but I decided that since we weren’t in any hurry, I’d take us home via a scenic route that we hadn’t driven in quite some time.


We headed east toward Townsend Tennessee and the Smoky Mountains, turning south just on the Foothills Parkway just west of that iconic mountain range.  FYI…the Foothills Parkway is a National Parkway that runs parallel to the Smoky Mountains. 

The history of this Parkway’s development is long, torturous and ongoing…   In 1944 the US Congress authorized construction of a 71-mile scenic road connecting US-129 at Chilhowee Lake to I-40 along the Pigeon River.  Construction didn’t begin until 1960 and it still isn’t completed!


At this elevation, the trees were greening up nicely but most of the higher altitude flora had yet to blossom with only the early bloomers in full flower.


The views were both beautiful and peaceful… We love the many shades of green evident in the early spring!  The mountain ranges in the distance are pretty impressive.

This 15.6 mile segment of the Foothills Parkway, which is referred to as the Chilhowee Mountain section, was completed in 1966.  There are 4 overlooks on its north side, looking into the Tennessee Valley, and 8 overlooks on its south side, looking at the Smokies.


Because of the bright sunshine on the valley side of the Parkway, all of our photos were taken in the direction of the mountains. 

Because parkways always seem to rank low in budgetary priorities, it will likely take several decades to complete the entire parkway.  The major influence for development of the Foothills Parkway— the Blue Ridge Parkway— took over five decades to complete!


What a beautiful valley…or as they’re referred to in these parts…its a beautiful ‘cove’.

Construction on Foothills Parkway has continued into the 21st century, although progress has been very slow. A particularly difficult section of the Walland-Wears Valley corridor, now known as the "Missing Link”, required a series of 10 bridges over a 1.6-mile section straddling the Sevier County-Blount County line.  In June 2013 a key bridge in the "missing link" section was completed.  Consequently, the Foothills Parkway section from Walland to Wears Valley Tennessee is expected to open in 2016.  This will add 15.8 miles to the Parkway…


The foothills of the Smokies consist of a series of low mountains and hills lying roughly between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the south and the flatlands of the Tennessee River to the north and west and French Broad River valleys to the north.  

The most prominent of the Foothills are characterized by long-but-narrow ridges, running parallel to the crest of the Smokies, similar to a circuit wall surrounding a medieval castle.  The Foothills Parkway runs along a series of these ridges…


I took this photo of Laurie taking a photo of the wooded valley below.
 
The highest point on this western section of Chilhowee Mountain is 2,650 ft. at a knob known as Look Rock.  An observation tower has been erected here, allowing a 360-degree view of Blount County and the Western Smokies.  The parking area for Look Rock is just off the parkway, with a half-mile trail leading to the tower. (We didn’t take the time to walk up to the tower)


This is a zoom lens view of the Chilhowee Lake impoundment in the distance.  Chilhowee Dam is a hydroelectric dam located in Blount and Monroe counties Tennessee on the Little Tennessee River.  Construction began in 1955 and was completed in 1957.  The dam's reservoir is 874 feet above sea level and it covers about 1,734 acres.   Tellico Lake, covering 16,000 acres and with 351 miles of shoreline begins immediately below Chilhowee Dam.


We are fortunate indeed to live where we do… The weather is moderate and the scenery is hard to beat.  Considering just how many people live east of the Mississippi River, it is mind boggling to realize that we have a huge undeveloped area nearby that stretches from North Georgia up through Tennessee and North Carolina into Southwestern Virginia.

There are 7 huge sections of federally protected lands that are connected to each other that run along the spine of the southern Appalachians.  Starting in Georgia, there are both the Oconee and Chattahoochee National Forests, Tennessee has the Cherokee National Forest, North Carolina includes the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests and Virginia has the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area.  Then of course, Tennessee and North Carolina share the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  

In total, about 3,293 contiguous square miles are protected… That’s about 82% of the total land included in the states of Delaware and Rhode Island!



Laurie and I both took this photo… It was all about the rocks, the trees and the color pallet.  We live about 25 minutes from this spot!


The dogwood trees down in the valley were about done blooming for the season.  But up here on the Foothills Parkway, there were still many spectacular dogwoods available for the passerby to enjoy…

The next time we’ll have to make this drive in the morning…in the opposite direction.  The morning light will allow us to take some great photos of the Tennessee River Valley with the Cumberland Plateau in the distance.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by and taking our scenic drive with us!


Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, May 15, 2015

Our Anniversary Dinner!

It’s hard to believe that Laurie and met only 37 years ago this past April… Time does fly!  She put up with/survived my extra-long hours and travel during my working life and now she and I have been retired for almost 6 years!  Life is good here in East Tennessee…

We recently marked our 36th wedding anniversary!  We usually don’t do anything fancy but we do try to go out and have a nice dinner somewhere just to celebrate our years together…


We like Bonefish Grill.  It is a chain but the food is reliable, the cost is reasonable and service is always competent.  This restaurant is located in Knoxville’s Turkey Creek Shopping Area.


Slightly dimmed lighting, a candle on the table, tablecloths and a cloth napkin!  What more could one ask for to celebrate an anniversary? 

Bonefish Grill is owned by Bloomin’ Brands in Tampa Florida.  There are at least 194 Bonefish Grill locations, mostly in the south and southeast USA.  Bloomin’ Brands also owns Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Flemings Prime Steakhouse and Outback Steakhouse. 


For our libations, Laurie went with one of her favorites, a Dirty Martini made with Absolute Vodka. ($8.85) I stuck with my usual, a Miller Lite. ($3.70)


We decided to break tradition and try something a little different for an appetizer.  Our standard is the spicy and satisfying Bang Bang Shrimp! ($10.50) We did stick with the shrimp theme, ordering the Thai Coconut Shrimp, 6 jumbo shrimp in a sweet and spicy sauce.  They were very good!


Our server brought us this loaf of bread with some slightly spicy and tasty dipping sauce.  We’ve been avoiding bread lately but, what the heck…it was our anniversary.  The dipping sauce was very nice and the bread was a bit above the norm for local restaurants in East Tennessee.


I just didn’t feel like having seafood for my entrée.  So I ordered Lily’s Chicken with goat cheese, spinach, artichoke hearts and lemon basil sauce.  For my sides I ordered the sugar snap peas and an upgraded second side of the White Truffle Mac n’ Cheese. ($15.30 plus $4.50) 

The chicken was very nice and the sugar snap peas were fine.  Truffles mixed in mac n’ cheese is not my cup of tea!  The truffles strong earthy flavor totally overwhelmed the rest of the dish.  In summary, I thought that $19.80 for my meal was a bit steep for what I received…


On the other hand, Laurie ordered exactly what she wanted from the start and she loved her dinner! (Happy wife, happy life!) She had these 2 lobster tails with the sugar snap peas and a scoop of potatoes au gratin. ($28.50) In my opinion, a few more sugar snaps and a half scoop more of the potatoes would have been nice…


We generally avoid desserts and we don’t keep sweets, baked goods or ice cream at home.  However, in keeping with our celebration we decided to share a dessert.  This is the Macadamia Nut Brownie, a flourless brownie, raspberry sauce, whipped cream and vanilla ice cream, sprinkled with macadamia nuts. ($6.50) It was scrumptious! 

All in all, it was a very nice dinner to cap off our big day!  Bonefish Grill in Knoxville at the Turkey Creek Shopping Area is located at 11395 Parkside Drive.  Phone: 865-966-9777.  This specific location can be found on the Web at https://www.bonefishgrill.com/locations/tn/turkey-creek.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by to see what we’ve been up to!


Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Another Local Pizza Parlor!

Our search continues in our quest for a really top notch thin crust pizza here in East Tennessee.  There are a plethora of mom and pop pizza parlors as well as larger chain operations but we haven’t found any pizzas that could compare to those we’ve sampled in Chicago, south Florida or upper New York State. 

Note: We don’t include St. Louis pizzas in our comparative top pizza listing because, although they’re very good, they use provolone cheese instead of mozzarella.  It’s a totally different taste.  

So on to our next pizza stop in East Tennessee…


We have lived here in East Tennessee for almost 6 years now and we’ve passed Little Joe’s Pizza on US Hwy 11/Kingston Pike countless times.  So, one might ask why we hadn’t stopped here before… Our primary but poor excuse was that we’d heard mixed reviews about the pizzas here and we just kept putting it off. Even our realtor back in 2009, told us she really liked Little Joe's Pizza but for some reason, we hadn't tried it till now.


Laurie wasn’t affected by the interior of the Little Joe's, saying that it was OK…but I felt like I was in a cave…dark with low ceilings, etc.  It didn’t help any that it was cloudy and rainy outside but the windows do limit the light and to me that made the place feel small and confined.

The dining area was clean and the waitress was very accommodating and helpful.  This restaurant has a lot of supporters which is supported by the fact that it’s been in business since 1974…that’s 41 years!  In the restaurant business, that longevity is hard to duplicate…


One very nice touch is the fact that these breadsticks and a nice spaghetti sauce are automatically brought out to your table.  We both really enjoyed the breadsticks and the ‘dipping’ sauce.  Laurie ordered a Shiner Bock and I ordered my usual Miller Lite to accompany our meal. ($3.50 each)


We ordered the 15” thin crust pizza with sausage, bacon and pepperoni. ($17.75) They sure don’t scrimp on the ingredients…


Laurie thought that this was one of the best pizzas that we’ve had in East Tennessee…hands down!  We couldn't finish it so she had a nice leftover lunch to look forward to.  

I had two issues, both of which are personal preference related.  Number one was that the crust was more like a cracker crust than it was like a traditional pizza crust.  It did hold up well to the ingredients and the sauce, but it tasted like a saltine cracker to me.  The second issue was that the bacon overpowered the other ingredients… This was definitely on us since we ordered it this way.

We will return to Little Joe’s Pizza.  It was better than most in East Tennessee and we agreed that the next time we should just order our ‘standard’ Italian sausage and pepperoni pizza for a fair taste test. But again,Laurie really loved this pizza! She even texted her sister in St. Louis & sent her photos of our meal!

Little Joe’s Pizza is located at 13100 Kingston Pike in Farragut Tennessee.  It’s right at the Knox – Loudon County line.  Phone: 865-966-5006.  I couldn’t locate a website but Little Joe’s is on Facebook.  To view the menu, go to https://www.facebook.com/notes/267153534726/.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!


Take Care, Big Daddy Dave