Monday, June 26, 2017

A Thai Restaurant in Loudon Tennessee

We have a building just a few miles from our home that has gone through a succession of restaurant styles and operators.  We keep hoping that one will succeed since this location is a short drive for us!


This is Thai Bistro at Tellico Lake in Loudon Tennessee.  This is the 7th restaurant to occupy this space in the almost 8 years that we’ve lived in East Tennessee…

First there was Catino’s (Italian/Pizza…good pizza and the longest lived operation…having been in business for some time before we moved to the area); then there was a short-lived and locally reviled Ayala’s (Mexican); followed by Tellico Grill (a bit of upscale casual American food); then American House of Pancakes (casual breakfast, lunch and dinner); Doug’s Place. (Doug served a very nice peppercorn sirloin), and; the restaurant prior to Thai Bistro was called Grinderz…



Thai Bistro had been open just 2 days when we first stopped in for dinner.  Other than a couple of decorations…mostly figures of Buddha on display…the décor is exactly as it has been for all 7 restaurant operations.  In general, local folks don’t like those “walled in booths” and they aren’t very comfortable, that’s for sure.  The good news is that, Tellico Villagers and surrounding communities must be hungry for some Thai food, because the restaurant was quite busy!


This is my unusually patient wife waiting for our food… Remember, this was only the 2nd day of operation for this restaurant, a situation that we usually avoid!  Not only did Thai Bistro have a large crowd dining in, they also had a significant take-out business going on.


I’d like to say that this was our appetizer but it wasn’t… We ordered Golden Triangles ($6.00) for an appetizer and Tom Yum Soup ($4.00) for Laurie.  Golden Triangles consist of ground chicken with Thai herbs wrapped in wonton wrappers that are deep fried to a golden brown and then served with homemade sweet and sour sauce.  Tom Yum Soup is a hot and spicy soup that contains chicken (alternately tofu, shrimp or vegetables), mushrooms, chili, lemon-grass, tomatoes, lime juice and cilantro.

After waiting quite a while, a server brought us 2 Spring Rolls, thanking us for our patience… A bit later our waitress brought us these 3 additional Spring Rolls and she told us that they’d run out of the “Golden Triangles”.  We learned a bit later that another server had taken Laurie's soup…so we told our waitress to forget it.  It was over an hour before we got our dinners.

FYI…These Spring Rolls were very good!  They went well with our beers.  Fortunately, Thai Bistro has a beer license…


For my dinner I ordered my old standby…from the Chinese side of the menu.  This was the General Tso’s Chicken. ($10.00) It was better than average although it wasn’t as spicy as I like it despite my request to ramp up the heat level.  FYI…I’d requested fried rice with my entrée and but I got the steamed rice instead. 

The menu for Thai Bistro at Tellico Village is quite extensive.  There are 7 standard appetizers along with 4 vegetarian ones.  There are 6 soups and 6 salads.  Three types of fried rice are on the menu along with 5 noodles dishes, 5 Thai entrees, 5 Thai Curries, 6 Chinese entrees, 6 Chef’s Corner items and 12 Hibachi and Teriyaki options.  There are even 5 desserts available including fried ice cream…


Laurie decided to have the Yellow Curry. ($12.00) She had a choice of chicken, beef, pork, tofu or vegetables prepared with coconut milk, carrots, onions, potatoes and bell peppers.  She chose the chicken.  Laurie likes curry and she really enjoyed her entrée!

We expected issues on the 2nd day after Thai Bistro opened… Waitresses and the kitchen were still learning how to operate together and the kitchen facility is small here, making the challenge even greater.  Patrons were generally understanding on the night we dined here. 

Six days after Thai Bistro opened for business...this time it was on a Wednesday...we returned for an early dinner.



This time I was able to order the Golden Triangles.  They were pretty but I must admit that they were OK but not great.  They lacked any real distinctive flavor. Laurie tasted one and she agreed with me.



Laurie had heard good things about Thai Bistro's Crab Rangoon so she ordered it as her appetizer. ($6.00) She liked it a lot...you could actually taste the crab with the first bite! I ate one too and it was plump and fully backed with flavor. This was a winner! Plus, Laurie thought they were so original as to how they were made, all twisted up into a little tasty bundle. 


  
For her entree, Laurie ordered the Tiger Tear Beef. ($12.00) The menu describes this dish as being Northern Thai style...marinated steak grilled and served with mixed vegetables and Thai spicy sauce.  She was disappointed that there wasn't any sauce on her plate to eat with the vegetables, steak and accompanying rice.  The steak didn't have much flavor and it was a bit tough too.  The Thai spicy sauce was indeed spicy...but this entree was not what Laurie expected it to be. The vegetables were very good.



This time I ordered the Bangkok Chicken. ($13.00) Somewhat similar to General Tso's Chicken, the breaded and stir fried chicken is served with homemade sweet and sour tamarind sauce and it's topped with roasted cashews and sesame seeds.  I asked for a heat level of 6... The sweet and sour sauce was spicy but the next time I'll have to kick it up to an 8!  I enjoyed my meal.  Laurie tasted it and liked it too...

The good news is that during both visits the food was above average and 95% of the on-line comments about the food that we’ve seen since Thai Bistro opened have been very positive... Our service during the second visit was much improved and while we beat the crowd in this instance, everything moved along smoothly.  We are very hopeful that this restaurant will survive, improve a bit more and thrive!

Thai Bistro at Tellico Village is located just a block west of TN Hwy 444 at 222 Lakeside Plaza in Loudon Tennessee.  Phone: 865-657-6440.  Their website with its lengthy menu can be found at: https://www.thaibistrotellico.com/.   

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 

Friday, June 23, 2017

German Cuisine in Maryville Tennessee

As I’ve mentioned many times before, ethnic food of any variety other than Mexican, Thai and Chinese is hard to come by here in East Tennessee.  There are a couple of Cuban places and even a Jamaican offering…  There is also a German restaurant in Farragut Tennessee but our visits and visits by friends, have left us unimpressed...plus its pricy too.  The challenge is not only finding ethnic restaurants…it is finding reasonably good ethnic restaurants!



So, after hearing a number of positive reports about Roland’s Bistro and its German food on the east side of Maryville Tennessee, we finally decided to give it a try.  The yellow building doesn't look German but it can’t be called unassuming, that’s for sure!  As my mom used to tell me, you just can’t judge a book (or restaurant) by its cover.  




The dining room décor at Roland’s Bistro certainly doesn’t lend itself to the feeling of German food… No Bavaria here, that’s for sure.  The restaurant is very casual with the older of the employee’s daughters watching her younger charge, playing in a corner, seating customers or asking how everything is… That big cupboard and a table right behind it displays various local crafts for sale.


To start…Roland’s Bistro does have a nice but modest selection of German beers.  We started out with a Paulaner and an Erdinger Weissbier. ($5.50 and $7.00 respectively)

Now for a cautionary note… Do not dine at Roland’s Bistro if 1) you’re in a hurry, or 2) you aren’t ready to relax and take your time with dinner…European style!

We ordered an appetizer but after a bit of time, our waitress brought us a salad plate with a couple of slices of marbled rye bread and some type of spread… I thought that it might be liver based but my wife thought that it was beef based.   In any case, we liked the little salad mix as well as the spread on the bread. (I did not take a photo or either.)


For the starter we'd ordered, “Brotzeit”, our waitress brought us this plate of cheese, salami, ham and ‘wurst’ salad with some very nice warm lightly grilled or toasted buttered rye bread. ($10.00) We very much enjoyed this starter plate!  It was excellent!

Later in our evening, Roland stopped by our table.  He told us that he tried to obtain the best products available to create his offerings.  The ‘wurst salad’ was made from pickled bologna.  He has to have the bread flown in because there isn’t any good German rye produced in the area.


For my entrée, I went with Pork Schnitzel Vienna Style with a side of Kasespatzle…fresh homemade noodles with cheese, southern German style.  Given my love of breakfast and eggs, I asked for 2 over-easy eggs on top of the chicken schnitzel. ($14.80 with the eggs) I did enjoy my meal…with the yolks blending in with the schnitzel and the kasespatzle! (Of course, Laurie had my bottle of Tabasco in her purse for me…)

Other dinner offerings include: Kasespatzle; Fried Flounder Finkenwerder Style; Turkey Medallions with Sherry Sauce; Currywurst; Pork Roast with Roasted Kostritzer Beer Sauce, Veal Schnitzel, Konigsberger Klopse; Roulade, and: Angus Steak.  Sandwiches, soups and salads are also on the menu.  All salad dressings are homemade.

I didn’t make it easy for the reader… If you aren’t into German food, you may have to look a few items up in Wikipedia!


Laurie decided to go with the Beef Stroganoff or “Rindergeschnetzeltes” for her dinner. ($14.00) For her sides she had some very nice mashed potatoes and an order of Blue Cheese Spinach.  She liked the beef stroganoff and potatoes but she wasn’t crazy about the spinach-blue cheese combination but she did eat a portion of it. I tasted it and I thought that it was pretty good…so it’s a matter of preferences.

Roland has been in business in Maryville for over 2 years now and he is from Germany.  It was a weekday and the restaurant was fairly busy.  He told us that some people don’t like how long it takes to dine at the restaurant but he prepares the food when it’s ordered so it’s as fresh and as authentic as he can make it.  He told us that he has many regulars who do appreciate the ‘slow food’ approach of European dining.  Note: Dinner took us 2 hours from start to finish.

We liked Roland’s Bistro and Roland Riese the owner and operator is friendly and likeable too… We will return in the not too distant future.  Roland’s Bistro is located at 1805 East Lamar Alexander Parkway (US Hwy 321) in Maryville Tennessee.  Phone: 865-724-2537.  Roland’s is on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rolandsbistroinmaryville.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by to see what we had for dinner!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

This ‘n That!

Every once in a while I scan through our photos to see what I might have missed as I chose photo for specific blog postings… This posting on my blog site is an amalgamation of a number of miscellaneous photos.  








Given our unusually warm and wet spring this year, our azaleas really popped this year!  The little pink azalea bush in the second photo really improved this year after we had a few overhead branches removed…

Although azaleas like shade, apparently too much shade can be a deterrent to growth and blooms.   I didn’t know that azaleas are in the genus Rhododendron family.  Gardeners have selectively bred azaleas for hundreds of years. This human effort has produced over 10,000 different cultivars which are propagated by cuttings.  Azaleas are native to Asia, Europe and North America.




We love our Oak Leaf Hydrangeas.  They reside underneath our giant oak tree amidst some boulders in our back yard.  They had just begun to flower when Laurie took this photo.

Native to continental southeastern North America the oak leaf hydrangea grows in mixed hardwood forests, along streams and on forested hillsides, usually on calcareous (chalk or limestone) soils, and often where limestone is at the ground surface.  They are understory shrubs, often growing in the shade of large oaks, hickories, magnolias, American beech, etc.


We have one small rhododendron bush.  This is only the second time that it’s bloomed for us in 3 years and it had more blooms on it this time than it did the last time.  Unfortunately it had a bad case of black spot and we had to buy some spray to solve the problem.  It may be getting too much water and it would probably do better if it was a little more shaded…but we just aren’t avid gardeners even though we do appreciate our perennial flowers.

Rhododendron is a genus of 1,024 species of woody plants in the heath family, either evergreen or deciduous, that are found mainly in Asia.  However it’s also widespread throughout our area in the Southern Highlands of the Appalachian Mountains of North America.  The rhododendron is the national flower of Nepal.


Laurie has a couple of flower pot bases on our deck railing that she keeps filled with fresh water.  The local bird population uses them a lot, maybe even as much as our bird feeder! 

This dove is checking out the human taking its photo but it obviously doesn’t plan on vacating its refreshing bath!


Excuse me, I'm bathing! Really!



I like boats so when I see one, we take photos.  This work size tow boat was spotted while it was moored by the shore of Tellico Lake.  Several of these tow boats spend time on Tellico and Fort Loudoun Lakes installing rip rap and docks for homeowners. 


What is this you might ask…? Well, it’s a photo of our 5.5 year old Samsung refrigerator that recently froze up in the back top of the fridge for the 3rd time since we bought it!



So…our appliance repair man came by for the 3rd time, grumbling about the crappy refrigerators that Korea makes.  He took the back cover off the inside of the fridge and used a blow drier and tools to melt and break off the ice so the unit would work again.

Frustrated homeowners… We have since solved the problem by getting rid of this unit and replacing it with a Maytag unit purchased from Plaza Appliances in Athens Tennessee.  They beat everyone else’s price, including the big box retailers and their service is top notch.  Website: http://www.plazaelectronicsandappliance.com/.


It was time for another one of my ‘special’ breakfasts.  This time I had some leftover penne pasta with chicken and peas with extra parmesan that needed to be consumed.  As those who follow me know by now, I don’t like wasting leftovers!


So, after heating the pasta in a frying pan, I added a couple of over-easy eggs and created a smooth and silky breakfast combination!  It was very good…


We had our friend George over for dinner one night.  For an appetizer, we offered some smoked salmon from Costco along with some nice crackers and some whipped Philadelphia cream cheese!  Add tabasco when eating…Yum!


You didn’t really think that that was all there was regarding that salmon and cream cheese did you!?  On a subsequent morning, I decided on salmon for breakfast.  I toasted and applied Amish butter and whipped cream cheese to a couple little pieces of bakery bread.  Then I topped them with a nice portion of that salmon from Costco!


Of course I had to add a couple over-easy fried eggs over the top of my salmon creation!  As usual, I sprinkled on a bit of Tabasco.  I have personally awarded this breakfast creation 5 out of 5 stars!  It was excellent and it may be my all time favorite homemade creation!


Laurie was barely out of our yard one morning on her way to play golf when she encountered this big beautiful male turkey showing off his magnificence right in the middle of our street!  Why was he so puffed up?


Hey…it was all about a young lady he was trying to court!  He didn’t give a damn about the car or the camera.  He was really focused on his goal.  However, Laurie told me that he had a big problem.  The hen didn’t want anything to do with him.  Every time he approached her to get romantic, she just laid down in the street.  There is nothing as sad as unrequited love!

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

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!


Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Monday, June 19, 2017

Dining Along the Highway to Tellico Plains…

On many occasions each year we take TN Hwy 68 east from its intersection with US Hwy 411 in Madisonville Tennessee.  The last couple of times that we headed out TN 68 to Tellico Plains with its various attractions and restaurants, we noted a new restaurant along the way. 





B and B Restaurant is located near Tellico Plains Tennessee.  We’d always passed it in the morning or around lunch time and it was always very busy.  We decided to try it out one day for an early dinner…




The interior of B and B Restaurant is pretty basic.  It’s definitely a down home kind of place.  Décor per se doesn’t apply…the tables and chairs are a hodge-podge of different types and styles…and the kitchen area is open and very basic.  The big black board lists the specials and the sides as well as any available desserts. 




The menu is all about sandwiches and burgers with a few “meat and 2” specials for those looking for a country style meal.  Laurie opted for a double cheeseburger with grilled onions, lettuce, tomato, pickles and mayonnaise.  She thought that it was pretty good…still juicy and satisfying.  The French fries were OK too.


I decided to try a ‘meat and 2’…meat with 2 sides…for my dinner. ($6.99) The peas were from a can and the chicken fried “steak” was passable at best.  I did like the coleslaw.


As per various Facebook postings, B and B Restaurant’s customers raved about their pies.  One customer reported that she’d stopped by and bought 4 whole pies!  Bad news for us… Our waitress told us that almost all the pies that day had been eaten or bought by customers to take home. 

There was a piece of strawberry pie available.  It didn’t look much like a slice of pie but the broken up pieces of graham cracker crust worked well with the strawberries and whipped cream.


The only other piece of pie still remaining in the display case was this slice of coconut custard that we took home for the next day.  It was pretty good but not great.

In our opinion, B and B Restaurant is a convenient place to stop by on TN Hwy 68 for a decent and inexpensive sandwich but it’s just OK.  The people were friendly and we chatted with a couple other folks in the restaurant.  We would like to try a couple other slices of pie… This restaurant is located at 8578 TN Highway 68 just outside of Tellico Plains Tennessee.  Phone: 423-253-2870.  B and B Restaurant is on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/B-B-Restaurant-858856680800501/
   
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!


Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, June 16, 2017

Sister’s Visit – It’s a Wrap!

Here are a few more bits and pieces from Laurie’s sister’s visit here in East Tennessee back in May.

First…a little shopping..!


As per a recommendation from the receptionist at Gatlinburg Tennessee’s Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, we left the center of town to search for Hemlock Village and its Highland Craft Gallery.  She told us that this gallery carried a selection of the best items made by local craft people. 




As per what little I could find about this gallery on line and from what I say, it features traditional and contemporary crafts made from metal, fiber, glass, clay, wood and leather, all handmade by select regional artisans.

The Highland Craft Gallery is located at 755 Buckhorn Road on Gatlinburg’s “Art Loop”.   This 8-mile loop has been named as a Tennessee Heritage Arts and Crafts Trail.  It was established in 1937.  Artisans along the way whittle, paint, sew, cast, forge, weave and carve a plethora of items.  The photos from just this one gallery give you a good idea of what is available in the many stores situated along the art loop…

To learn more about the art loop, go to http://www.gatlinburgcrafts.com/.



I’m not much of a shopper…much less a buyer…but I do appreciate quality and creativity.  The Highland Craft Gallery’s selection is a couple of cuts above average in the area.  The sisters all agreed with everyone making multiple purchases.

The craftsperson manning the store told me that the huge destructive Gatlinburg fire came within a mile of her home.  She also told me that the area was really suffering financially…not just from a reduction in customer count but also from the fact that many of the homes and apartments that had served as residences for salesclerks and other workers in the area had either burned down or were now being occupied by area homeowners and business people who had been burned out.  Finding help to work in a store is now a challenge…and some places are paying up to $15.00 an hour for cashiers…

I couldn’t find a website or Facebook page for the Highland Craft Gallery but you can learn more about it by calling 865-430-8951.


I wasn’t with the sisters when they went to an Art Show in Tellico Village or when they attended a rehearsal at the Community Church at Tellico Village.  Our friend Jodie, who’s a choir member, had invited the ladies to stop by and watch the choir rehearse with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra.  The sisters really enjoyed the experience!

To learn about this church, go to https://www.tellicochurch.com/.


We all joined Morrie and Jody for lunch at the Tanasi Bar and Grill at Tellico Village’s Tanasi Golf Course.  It was a fun time and Laurie was happy that her sisters met some of our friends. 

The Tanasi Bar and Grill is located at 450 Clubhouse Point in Loudon Tennessee.  It is open to the public.  Phone: 865-458-9392.  This restaurant is on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Tanasi-Bar-and-Grill-759759084117647/app/160363220729661/.


While we ate out almost all of the time while Laurie’s sisters were visiting us, we did manage to eat at home on 2 occasions.  For dinner one evening our friends Linda and Norm were able to join us.  From the left: Karole, Linda, Norm, Bonnie and Laurie.


For this feast I grilled pork steaks, slathering them with Famous Dave’s Rich and Spicy BBQ sauce.  I “may have” cooked just a few too many giant pork steaks.  Everyone agreed that they were very good and I ‘unfortunately’ had 3 of them left over that I was ‘forced’ to eat over the next few days.  For our main side dish, Laurie made some of her special baked potatoes which are coated with Kirkland’s Steak Seasoning from Costco.  We also served a big container of coleslaw using Marie’s coleslaw dressing.

FYI…our source for these big pork steaks was Sloan’s grocery store in the Sloan’s Center that’s located on US Hwy. 411 in Vonore Tennessee.  Website: http://www.sloansstore.com/.  


Linda and Norm brought a great dessert to cap off our little feast.  This beautiful cake was from our Turkey Creek shopping area’s Publix Super Market and it’s called a Raspberry Celebration Cake.  We all agreed that it was excellent!  


All good things must or at least do come to an end.  I took this photo of Laurie and her sisters by our front door just before we headed out to the airport.  One activity that they all really seemed to enjoy was digging through the trove of their family history with photos and letters that we have stored at our house… They spent hours just reading letters to each other that their parents had written to one another as far back as the 1930’s.


Bye! Bye!  Karole and Bonnie are welcome back anytime… We had a great time and I was even praised for my duties as a fine chauffeur and tour guide!

The sisters had flown in to Chattanooga but they flew home from Knoxville’s McGhee Tyson Airport.  Their fare back to St. Louis was about 2.5 times more expensive than it cost them to fly into Chattanooga Tennessee.  The route this time took them from Knoxville to Houston Texas and then back to St. Louis.  Of course their flights were delayed & they didn't get home till late. Sad....

There aren’t any direct flights to either Knoxville or Chattanooga from St. Louis.  However there are direct flights to many cities across the USA.  These include: Atlanta, Baltimore, Charlotte, Chicago–O’Hare, Dallas–Fort Worth, Denver, Destin, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Las Vegas, Minneapolis–St. Paul, Newark, New York–LaGuardia, Orlando–Sanford, Philadelphia, Punta Gorda, St. Petersburg - Tampa Bay, Washington D.C.–Dulles and Washington D.C.–National.  To learn more about Knoxville’s McGhee-Tyson Airport, go to http://flyknoxville.com/.

That’s all folks!  Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave