As I may have previously mentioned, Laurie celebrates her birthday from about Thanksgiving…sometimes earlier…through New Year’s Day…and sometimes later… Still on the actual birthdate in early December we do generally go out for dinner with the focus being on fine dining.
This year we decided to celebrate her birthday at what many would argue is the best restaurant anywhere in the greater Knoxville area. This rather plain looking building is the Foothills Milling Co. Restaurant in Maryville Tennessee.
Our reservations were early…at 5:30 PM. The restaurant only serves dinner. The bar is open for Happy Hour from 4 PM – 6 PM Tuesday through Fridays. I took this photo when we first arrived but when we left the bar was fully occupied. There is a bar menu which on this evening feature 8 items, including Smoked Trout Ravioli, Fried Oysters, She Crab Soup and a Goat Cheese Tart.
When we arrived this main dining room was almost empty. But, by the time we were done, the room was packed. Every table was occupied… Not bad for a Tuesday night!
FYI… The Foothills Milling Co. Restaurant has an 88.25% excellent rating on TripAdvisor.com. Only 4% of about 400 reviews rate this restaurant at average or worse…
We were seated by an inside window with a view of the old milling equipment. Laurie was quite happy with her dirty Grey Goose martini with 3 blue cheese stuffed olives… (Only the finest for my wife on her birthday!)
Our very pleasant and efficient waitress started us out with an amuse-bouche or small bite from the chef. A literal translation from French is “mouth amuser”. In this case it was a bit of fried halibut with a special sauce. It was so tasty that I wished I could order it for dinner!
Just to warn you, we did not hold back on this special occasion. A restaurant like Foothills Milling Co. is a once or twice a year, major event type of restaurant for most people and that’s certainly true in our case.
We would normally share an appetizer but not in this case! Laurie ordered the Smoked Trout Ravioli as her starter for this feast. The pecan smoked trout ravioli is served with brown butter in a balsamic reduction. She gave me a taste and it was excellent!
I love lamb but I’ve never met a lamb meatball that I really liked… After learning that the meatballs were really lamb without any added vegetables I ordered these beauties (Cruze Farms lamb) in a buttermilk yellow curry and served with warm flatbread. I gave Laurie a taste and she agreed that these were the best lamb meatballs we’ve ever had…hands down!
Of course Foothills Milling Co. bakes and serves their own bread with fresh butter… I will admit that I ate 4 pieces of this wonderful bread! In the past Laurie and I have purchased a giant flat half loaf of this bread for our personal consumption at home.
We were just warming up by now… For our next course we both ordered Foothills Caesar Salads. They are made with romaine lettuce, roasted tomatoes, Caesar dressing, asiago cheese and delightful cornbread croutons. While I prefer a more traditional Caesar salad with a bit of an anchovy ‘bite’, this was an excellent salad.
What would fine dining be without a bit of raspberry sorbet to ‘refresh our palates’? This simple yet elegant touch just makes the meal a bit more special…
Like I said, we didn’t hold back. For her birthday entrée, Laurie went with her favorite protein! These are the Lobster Tails, 2 - 4 oz. tails coated in cornmeal and tempura fried, then served with jasmine rice, sourwood honey sriracha aioli, sweet Thai chili sauce and accompanied by sesame roasted mushrooms. Happy wife…happy life!
I would normally have ordered a steak and potatoes, the cedar planked salmon or perhaps the seared scallop pasta but I decided to jump outside my comfort zone. The Short Rib Stuffed Meatloaf is an item that is almost always on the menu…which means that it is very popular! This entrée consists of a Berkshire pork and Angus beef meatloaf stuffed with braised short rib. It’s served with tomato chutney and roasted asparagus and truffle macaroni. I requested the polenta cake instead of the macaroni as I just don’t care for truffles.
Unfortunately this entrée verified that, unlike most folks, I really don’t like 'sweet' with my meat. For example, I don’t care for cranberries with turkey or mint jelly with lamb. The tomato chutney was very rich and a bit sweet and when added to the richness of the short rib, it was just too much for my palate. I didn’t waste it though! I really liked the polenta cake that I substituted…
Oh yes…we did order dessert as well…and we didn’t share! This was Laurie’s Deep Dish Buttermilk Pie with a house made graham cracker crust, a creamy custard filling made with Cruze Farm’s buttermilk and served with whipped cream, a little fresh fruit and raspberry sauce. Knowing it was Laurie’s birthday, our waitress brought it to the table with those sparkling candles… The dessert was excellent but Laurie was so full that she took most of it home.
I love cobbler so I ordered a Cherry Almond Streusel Cobbler for my dessert. This decadent offering is a brown sugar cobbler with lemon flavored cherries, crunchy toasted almond and cinnamon streusel, Jack Daniel’s caramel and vanilla bean ice cream with whipped cream. I doused it with that great caramel sauce and did my best to finish it as I couldn’t take it home with me. I managed to finish about two-thirds of it…
The Foothills Milling Co. Restaurant continues to lead the way for us when it comes to fine dining in Eastern Tennessee despite my personal bad choice for me for my entrée. This is a great restaurant for those special occasions. (…or if you’re just rolling in cash) Foothills Milling Co. is located at 315 South Washington Street in Maryville Tennessee. Phone: 865-977-8434. Website: http://foothillsmillingcompany.com/.
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…
Thanks for stopping by to help me celebrate Laurie’s extended birthday!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave