Monday, March 11, 2013

Truly Fine Dining – Knoxville TN

Laurie and I love good food and while we tend to search for the local joints, home cooking and cost friendly dining, we do love to splurge now and then.  We had a chance to go for the gusto very recently when our friends Lynn and George invited us to dine out with them…

All too frequently, high-end or upscale dining has been a disappointment for us…not just here but also in our former home stomping grounds, Chicago.  East Tennessee restaurants such as The Orangery and The Dancing Bear Lodge, have been ok…but not great.  For upscale restaurants, we expect the ‘Full Monte’…our monies worth...with good service, nice atmosphere, an imaginative menu, plus a satisfying portion of high quality food…nothing less!
This is the Northshore Brasserie in West Knoxville.  Yes, it is in a strip center…but by definition, brasseries are supposed to be casual dining places that serve high quality but hearty food as well as beer and wine.  We arrived a bit early by fine dining standards…at about 6:30 pm…when the dining room was almost empty.  (Note: For us retired folks early dining tends to be the rule, not the exception)
I would note that as per this photo, the bar scene at Northshore Brasserie was cranked up and operating at full throttle even at 6:30 pm!  By the time that we left the restaurant…at about 8:30 pm…the bar was completely packed!
Laurie took this photo of the dining room at around 7:15 pm.  It was filling up fast!  Note the simple yet warm décor… Unlike many big city restaurants, the seating was nicely spaced and you didn’t feel like you were sharing your meal or table with the folks sitting next to you.

This is Lynn and her husband George.  They really appreciate fine dining... Lynn is responsible for a ‘dining out’ activity for a local group in a couple of months and she’d selected Northshore Brasserie for the event.  With George’s encouragement, she wanted to ‘try it out’ in advance of the event.  As you will see, we heartily concurred with the idea of this ‘test run’! 

Thanks to George for taking this photo of Laurie and myself at the restaurant.  All too often, with Laurie taking almost all of our pictures, we have no proof that we were actually anywhere together!

Now let’s get down to what’s really important…the food!
We ordered wine…I had a glass of Louis Jadot Macon Blanc while Lynn, Laurie and George shared a bottle of Chateau Ste. Michele Indian Wells Merlot.  We were all happy with our choices.  Extremely happy!

More importantly, at least to me, was the bread!  This was the best hunk of bread with a restaurant meal that I think we’ve had in East Tennessee.  It had texture…body…you had to chew it…it had flavor even before spreading on the herbed butter.  It reminded us of the best restaurant bread offerings from our favorite restaurants in Chicagoland…
As for the wine…The broad selection by the bottle ran the gamut price-wise, from $22.00 to $200.00 a bottle.  Most bottles were in the $30.00 to $40.00 range.  There was also a wide selection of wine by the glass…with prices from $6.00 to $12.50 a glass.
We all ordered an appetizer or salad.  Lynn started out with some Oysters, which she really enjoyed…so much so that she ordered a second helping!  (Oysters and King crab legs were at market price) 

For the table, Northshore Brasserie offers a platter of chilled King crab, oysters, mussels and shrimp.  It’s $50.00 for 2 people and $80.00 for 4 people.  Another option would be Mussels…prepared in 5 different ways. ($14.00 for a bowl and $21.00 for the Grande portion)
I ordered the Brasserie Salad ($6.00) as my starter… It was comprised of mixed baby greens, tomatoes, cucumber and egg with Danish bleu cheese.  The ingredients were fresh and I was very happy with the salad. 

Not counting the East and West Coast Oysters, the King Crab Legs or the chef inspired Market Plate, the listing on the menu under Hors D’Oeuvres included 13 items.  Prices ranged from $6.00 for my salad to $18.00 for Foie Gras.
I suggested that Laurie order the Iron Skillet Escargots. ($12.00) The snails were sautéed in white wine, garlic herb butter and parmesan cheese.  She thought that there might have been bit of mushroom in the sauce as well.  She really loved this appetizer!  The waitress earned ‘extra points’ by suggesting that Laurie keep the skillet with the remaining sauce for dipping our second loaf of bread…just an excellent idea!  Delicious!
George ordered an appetizer that you just don’t see on the menus down here in East Tennessee!  This was his platter of Roasted Marrow Bones with mushroom pate. ($14.00) This appetizer was much larger than he’d expected and he wasted no time in cleaning up his plate.  Two thumbs up!

Other interesting Hors D’Oeuvres included: Calamari Steak ($10.00); Crispy Frog Legs ($10.00); a Charcuterie Plate with pates, terrines and sausages ($16.00) and; Seared Lamb Belly ($13.00)
This photo of George’s entrée is a bit dark… He ordered the Lamb Shank braised with Vienna coffee, bittersweet chocolate and dates. ($30.00) Hence the dark sauce and the coating on the lamb shank… He gave me a taste and it was very good indeed!
Lynn ordered the Butcher’s Steak with Frites. ($19.00) She ordered it medium rare and it was perfect.  It was served with shallot bordelaise sauce.  The steak was very tender and flavorful.  Another winner!

The chef offers daily specials…or plats du jour.  Monday is Bouillabaisse, Tuesday is a Pasta dish, Wednesday is a Pork Shank, Thursday is Rabbit, Friday is a Whole Fish and Saturday is Chef’s Choice.
Laurie loves duck it was no real surprise that she ordered the Duck confit, white bean and sausage casserole. ($25.00) She reported that it was rich and very filling but excellent.

In the tradition of most brassieres that I’ve eaten at, the number of Entrees listed on the menu was limited…7 plus the plat du jour and the Steak Frites offerings.  In addition to George’s and Laurie’s entrees, there was Grilled Salmon, Coq Au Vin, Fried Oyster Salad, Pork Tenderloin and a Beef Short Rib.  Entrée prices ranged from $19.00 to $32.00.
Finally, there was my entrée… I was going to have the Grilled Salmon but when I saw the New York Strip Steak Au Poivre on the menu, I quickly changed my mind! ($31.00) I hadn’t had a really good steak…other than at home…in a long time.  Plus, when you add a classic green peppercorn sauce…it’s just a bit more special.

I ordered it medium rare…and it was cooked perfectly!  It was very tender and all who tasted it felt that it was an excellent steak.  The peppercorn sauce added that little something extra too… FYI, the French fries are cut fresh daily and they were very nice as well.  I was a very happy camper!
We did miss taking one photo… I ordered a side of Brussels Sprouts with Benton’s Bacon, cream and Gruyere. ($8.00) It was very good…but I still prefer the way Laurie sort of caramelizes them in the oven at home.  Other sides include broccolini, pommes frites, a gratin of wild mushrooms, haricots verts (green beans) and a potato and leek gratin. (Prices range from $6.00 to $8.00)
Yes…we went all the way!  Everyone ordered a dessert… Lynn and I had the Profiteroles with homemade vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. ($7.00) We took no prisoners…nothing was left behind!
George and Laurie both ordered the Maple Crème Brulee. ($7.00) They both said that they enjoyed their desserts but after I tried Laurie’s, I pretty much confirmed that the only things that I like maple flavoring with are pancakes and waffles…

To summarize…this was the best restaurant meal that Laurie and I have had since we moved to East Tennessee!  To be honest, you can’t compare a classy high-end restaurant such as Northshore Brasserie with a local diner, a great burger or pizza joint or a down home restaurant that pumps out southern comfort food.  However, we have eaten in several ‘name’ restaurants here in East Tennessee and Northshore Brasserie is far and away the best of them all!  Our waitress did a great job and the staff seemed to operate as a team.
Apparently many others feel as we did about our experience at this restaurant.  Of 81 reviews regarding this restaurant as published in Trip Advisor, 73 gave Northshore Brasserie a Very Good or Excellent.  It was ranked 6th among all 629 restaurants of all types in the Knoxville area.  For more from Trip Advisor, go to
Northshore Brasserie is located at 9430 South Northshore Drive in Knoxville Tennessee.  Phone: 865-539-5188.  For their website, go to
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…
Thanks for stopping by and sharing this superior dining experience with us!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. To enjoy fine food in the company of good friends is one of life's greatest pleasures. It sounds like a wonderful meal and an enjoyable evening. I hope your week is off to a good start. Have a good day. Blessings...Mary

  2. Dave Im sure you are better LOL
    Love the picture of you and Laurie, look nice you both and the food OMY really Love especially desserts look heavenly!!

  3. Love the cream brulée look perfect and the porfiteroles too!!

  4. Looks like you found a jewel - everything looks delicious.

  5. Now, that looks like a place we will have to check out soon!

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