The other day, we were out running a couple of errands near Maryville Tennessee and we recalled an article on a new restaurant called The Red "I" Diner. Our friend Larry, (aka. Big Dude), had also stopped by and he'd commented that the food was pretty good. So, we drove out TN 33 until we spotted the restaurant. It's attached to a gas station/convenience store. It was hard to spot from the road. The name is 'catchy' but the sign is a bit lost on the facade of the building.
Although at least one local review pegged this location as a former Waffle House, one of the owners told us that it was a former Huddle House. The decor has a bright and shiny 'diner' look to it and it had a comfortable feel to it. The restaurant has only been open a few months but one of the owners, Jeff Marlowe, told us that he's a professional chef and he's been in the business for many years.
Laurie ordered the 'Papa' Burger, a half pound of fresh Angus ground beef on a grilled & buttered Ciabatta roll with lettuce, onion and a slice of Provolone cheese melted on top. The burger was hand formed and cooked just right...very juicy and tasty! Laurie ordered some homemade cole slaw as a side...and it was some of the best cole slaw that we've had...anywhere or anytime!
I just didn't feel like having a sandwich...but, since Red "I" Serves breakfast all day long and I love breakfast, I went with two eggs over easy with hash browns and bacon. Everything was cooked perfectly. Other breakfast options range from a 'B4 and After', a biscuit with an egg and a fried chicken breast to 'The Locomotive', consisting of 2 eggs, a fresh cut grilled loin chop with toast and a 2x4 biscuit with pepper gravy for dipping.
Then of course, I had to try a 2x4 biscuit, (yes, 2"x4"!), with some gravy... I meant to order sausage gravy but ended up with a lot of very nice pepper gravy instead. (Of course I sprinkled Tabasco on the gravy, my eggs & the hash browns) This was the best bacon and eggs ++ restaurant breakfast I've had to date in East Tennessee!
As mentioned above, one of the owners waited on us... Jeff is very eager to please and he's a bit of a food perfectionist. He surprised us with a great dessert...Chocolate Bread Pudding with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, a shot of whipped cream...then drizzled with caramel and chocolate sauce. Believe it or not, the bread pudding was very light...not heavy like most bread pudding. This was an excellent dessert!
A sampling of other menu items at the Red "I" Diner include Fried Hand Breaded Mushrooms, (Smokey Mountain Stokers); 3 different dinner salads; a battered & fried fish sandwich, (Oh My Cod); a version of the classic Monte Cristo sandwich, (Red I Cristo) and; a hand tenderized pork tenderloin sandwich, (Smokey Mountain Titan). We will definitely make a return visit! Nice food at a good price...
The Red "I" Diner is located at 2024 East Hunt Road in Maryville Tennessee. Phone: 865-233-5210. Everything served at the Red "I" Diner is made fresh daily. There are daily specials and desserts as well.