Friday, May 26, 2017

Italian Dining in Loudon Tennessee

There are about 4 choices for Italian food within an easy drive of our home.  One is in Madisonville Tennessee, another is in Vonore Tennessee and 2 others are in Loudon… On this occasion we choose one of the Loudon based restaurants.


We have dined at Vittorino’s Cucina previously.  There is much debate in our community as to which Loudon Italian restaurant is better…Vittorino’s or Classico.  Lately, although Classico offers a fine breakfast operating under the name of Mama’s Grits, we’re hearing more positives about Vittorino’s vs. Classico when it comes to Italian cuisine.



Vittorino’s is located at the end of a strip shopping center on TN Hwy. 72 not far from I-75.  This particular shopping center is anchored at the other end by a relatively new Food City grocery store.

We were early for dinner on this occasion which probably accounts for the empty tables.  The dining area is bright and cheerful.


At Vittorino’s they automatically start you out with these parmesan garlic bread sticks.  It looks like a sliced up pizza crust and it comes with a cup of marinara dipping sauce.  This ‘starter’ is better than average and it's a nice touch…


Laurie decided to order the Shrimp Alfredo. ($12.95) The food was plentiful and she thought that it was above average for our area.  Laurie enjoyed her dinner and said that she’d order it again.  We both had a side salad with our entrees, which was fresh and satisfying.


For my dinner, I ordered the Saltinboca Ala Roma…prosciutto, melted mozzarella cheese over spinach and spaghetti noodles with a tomato sauce. ($13.95) I thought that it was OK but it’s a matter of taste and I might have been better served with another entrée. 

We tend to agree that Vittorino’s Cucina is a little superior when being compared to Classico in the Loudon area.  We will return to try something else on the menu.  

Vittorino’s Cucina has 2 locations, one in Loudon and the other in Sweetwater Tennessee.  The Loudon location is at 2761 Hwy. 72.  Phone: 865-408-2422.   Vittorino’s is on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Vittorinos/405086532941902?rf=535484639823191.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!


Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Chapman’s Restaurant – Seymour Tennessee

Some time ago, one of our home maintenance service providers told us that a restaurant that we had really liked had re-opened in Seymour under a different name.  The best news was that it was being operated by the same owner and chef that had it previously…


This is Chapman’s Restaurant…which is appropriately named after “Chapman Highway” (US Hwy. 441 South), the major road that runs by the front of this location.  At one point a couple of years ago or so, it was called “Willie’s Restaurant” and Willy Laboy was the proprietor.  We loved Willy’s but hated the fact that it was such a long drive from our home. 


The inside of Chapman’s has changed a bit since we’d visited it as its first iteration as Willy’s and one subsequent time under new management.  However, the log cabin interior look along the walls has stayed the same.


There are 2 dining areas.  This one was where we sat but the other side now features high backed booths and the salad bar along one wall is gone.  This was a weekday and we arrived for dinner at about 5:30 PM.  Chapman’s was packed!

Our friends Jodie and Morrie accompanied us on this exploratory but hopeful visit to Chapman’s… Would the food measure up to its previous standards?


As was the practice under its original name, the waitress started us out with some garlic knots and marinara sauce.  We love these little garlic laden rolls!  I “had” to eat 2 of them because Jodie doesn’t really like much garlic in her food…


Each couple ordered a couple of appetizers to share… This was an order of Fried Calamari with marinara sauce. ($8.99) I’d eaten a couple of pieces before I took the photo.  The calamari was better than average and the price was right in comparison to other restaurants…


This appetizer was the big winner!!  This is an order of coconut shrimp. ($8.99) Count them…there are 12 big juicy coconut shrimp perfectly done and served with sweet chili sauce.  Amazing!  This appetizer was a hit with Laurie’s sisters too when we ate at Chapman’s in early May.


This is the Lobster Ravioli. ($12.99) Laurie ordered it as her main course.  She said that it was good but she couldn’t decide if it wasn’t as good as she remembered from before or if she’s just a bit burned out on this dish in general.


On our subsequent visit to Chapman’s, Laurie’s sister Bonnie also opted for the Lobster Ravioli.  She agreed with Laurie that it just wasn’t as good as it was when the restaurant was called Willie’s.  She missed the actual pieces of lobster vs. what she termed a mushy filling and she thought that the pasta itself was thicker or heavier… 


I went with my “Willy’s” all-time favorite.  This is the Shrimp Fra Diavlo. ($9.99) I forgot to order penne paste instead of fettuccini…as I’m less likely to ‘wear’ sauce from penne vs. fettuccini noodles. (However, I managed to avoid dripping on my shirt on this occasion)

I asked for my shrimp fra diavlo to be extra spicy…enough to make my bald pate sweat.  The chef delivered and my entrée was excellent!  FYI…Willy should know something about pasta and Italian food as he moved to East Tennessee from Queens NY.   I ordered it again when we took Laurie’s sisters here for dinner in early May and I wasn’t disappointed.  


Morrie ordered the Chopped Steak Dinner with 2 sides. ($8.99) He really liked the chopped steak.  For his sides he had a house salad and the sweet potato casserole.   


Jodie mistakenly ordered the Chicken and Shrimp Carbonara thinking that it was a tomato sauce rather than a tomato cream sauce. ($11.99) As it turned out, Jodie doesn’t like tomato cream sauce.  However, the waitress made Jodie very happy by offering to replace it with something that Jodie would prefer even though Jodie admittedly didn’t focus on this entrée’s description…


Jodie’s replacement entrée was this order of Chicken Parmesan. ($9.99) She really liked it and cleaned her plate!  It looked good to me too…  Note: Over the top customer service!!



When we dined at Chapman’s in early May with Laurie’s sisters, Karole chose the Shrimp Alfredo for her entrée. ($11.99)  The serving was so large that she couldn’t finish all the pasta…but she did wipe out the shrimp.  She liked her dinner a lot!


On our second visit, since Laurie knew that she didn’t care for the current version of Lobster Ravioli, she decided to order the Chicken Alfredo. ($10.99)  She did like it and she took home part of it for a subsequent dinner of leftovers.


One thing that had improved since Willy last operated a restaurant in this location was the desserts being offered.  While we skipped dessert with Laurie's sisters, we all indulged when we dined here with Jodie and Morrie.  A couple of local ladies bake pies and other desserts for Chapman’s customers.  This was the Chocolate Oreo Pie! ($3.49)


I don’t recall what this was called but it was a cheesecake with chocolate and it was reported to be very good indeed!


 I ordered a slice of Annette’s Coconut Pie. ($3.49) I haven’t had a slice of coconut pie that tasted this good in years!  Laurie loved it too!  Laurie and I would have ordered a couple slices of this pie to go when we visited Chapman's with her sisters, but they were sold out...

Willy is back!  Chapman’s is a great place to eat.  It’s very casual, service is efficient, (bending over backwards to please the customer is our case), the food is way above average especially for the price, you can’t beat the pasta dishes…especially here in East Tennessee…and the menu is huge!  We’ll be back soon.  Laurie is vowing to try the non-Italian side of the menu…

Chapman’s Restaurant is located at 10321 Chapman Highway (US Hwy 411 South) in Seymour Tennessee.  Phone: 865-577-1700.  Website: http://www.chapmans-restaurant.com/.  Chapman’s is also on Facebook (complete with the menu) at https://www.facebook.com/chapmansrestaurantseymour.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Monday, May 22, 2017

Easter Brunch at The Chop House – Knoxville Tennessee

Once again, our friends Linda and Norm invited us to do something we just never do.  The last time it was dinner out on Valentine’s Day…something we just haven’t done because of the crowds, service issues, etc.  That experience did work out well, so when they asked us if we’d like to join them for Easter Brunch/early afternoon dinner, we readily agreed!


This is The Chop House on Kingston Pike (US Hwy 11) in west Knoxville.

The Chop House is part of Connor Concepts, Inc.  Connor Concepts operates 12 Chop House locations in 4 states as well as 4 Connor’s Steakhouse locations in 3 states.  The first Chop House opened way back in 1992…25 years ago as of this year. 


The interior of The Chop House is large and roomy with the tables comfortably spaced so diners don’t feel crowded…


We took this photo a little late…as this appetizer had already been attacked before we remembered to take a photo.  These are Mozzarella Wedges with Marinara. ($8.00) Norm and Linda did enjoy them and it wasn’t for the first time either!


Laurie and went a different route for our appetizer.  This is Pizza Florentine. ($9.00) It has a crispy thin crust with creamed spinach, cheese, diced tomato, jalapeño and artichokes.  There is an option to add chicken for 2 more dollars.  Laurie and I really enjoyed it…excellent!




I don’t always include photos of side salads, but these 2 were better than average and deserve mentioning.  The top one is the House Salad which Linda enjoyed where as Laurie and I both had a side Caesar Salad.  Our salads were flavor packed…and we could actually taste anchovy…a rarity here in East Tennessee.


Norm ordered the 12 oz. Chop House Pork Chop. ($16.00) This thick, bone-in cut pork chop was sided with baked cinnamon apples and a jumbo sweet potato.  In retrospect, I should have ordered this luscious pork chop.  It was cooked perfectly, not overdone as is frequently the case with pork dishes in restaurants.


Linda went for the Filet of Beef Medallions. (6 oz. $23.00 or 9 oz. $27.00) She also went for a baked sweet potato.  Linda was very happy with her entrée!


Laurie and I both went for a 10 oz. ribeye cooked medium rare. ($21.00) She chose spinach as her side and also asked for béarnaise sauce on the side. ($4.00) A 14 oz. ribeye is also available on the menu for $25.00.


This was my ribeye steak.  It was a tad rarer than I like.  My side was something you don’t see on too many menus…sugar snap peas.  I love sugar snap peas!
 
Laurie and I agreed that the steaks were OK…a bit better than average for the money…but not great.  Like I said before, I should have ordered that big pork chop.  Service was competent and pleasant and our experience at The Chop House was far better than the one we had at its more expensive sister restaurant…Connor’s Steakhouse.

Hey Norm and Linda…Thanks for the invitation!!

The Chop House on the west side of Knoxville is located at 9700 Kingston Pike/US Hwy. 11.  Phone: 865-531-2467.  This Chophouse location is on the Internet at http://www.thechophouse.com/knoxville-steakhouse-west.html.
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


Friday, May 19, 2017

Dinner at a Friend’s Home

We don’t always go out to restaurants to eat… Sometimes we invite friends and neighbors over to our house for a meal and sometimes those friends and neighbors return the favor.  It always makes for a relaxing evening!


Recently, our friends George and Lynn invited us to come over to their house for dinner.  George didn’t want us to bring anything for the meal as he had it all planned out…



They live on the lake and the view from their enclosed porch is pretty darn nice don’t you think?!  We love springtime in east Tennessee!


The table was set and the soup and wine were in place when Laurie took this photo. 


George loves to cook and create dishes that are both flavorful and a bit unusual for the average dining experience.  Our soup on this occasion was borscht served cold with a dollop of sour cream.

Borscht is a soup popular in several Eastern European cuisines.  The variety most commonly associated with the name in English is of Ukrainian origin and includes beetroots as one of the main ingredients, which gives the soup that distinctive red color.  There are hundreds of variations of borscht and not all of them are red.  See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borscht.

I’m not a beet fan but I actually thought that this soup was pretty good.  Laurie loves beets and she thought that this borscht was fabulous!



Our protein for dinner was also something that most people don’t cook at home…or at least don’t cook at home very often.  These are duck breasts…

The USA only produced 24,500,000 ducks in 2011...or 50,000 metric tons of meat.  This compared to France with 234,000 metric tons and China with 3,193,000 metric tons!  The average American only eats a third of a pound of duck each year... Did I mention that Laurie loves duck!


George fried the seasoned duck breasts bringing them up to medium rare to medium before plating them with the sides…



George’s efforts resulted in a lovely plate of food consisting of duck breast with plum sauce, whipped potatoes and asparagus with béarnaise sauce.  It was a very fine meal!



Of course, George also prepared a special dessert for us!  It looks fancy but it’s fairly simple…meringue, ice cream, almond slivers and cherries.  It was very tasty indeed.

There is nothing like a couple of glasses of wine and a fine meal with good friends!  George really delivered for his guests…and he even let Lynn assist a little.  Thanks George and Lynn!

Just click on any of the photo to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by to see what was for dinner!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Abuelo’s in Turkey Creek

Time for dinner after running errands… Where to go where we haven’t been or at least haven’t been recently?


After some discussion, we decided on Abuelo’s Mexican Restaurant in the Turkey Creek Shopping Area.  Turkey Creek is partially in Farragut and partially in Knoxville Tennessee.  It had been several years since we’d dined at Abuelo’s…


As you can see from the furnishings, the courtyard and the ambiance, Abuelo’s is “upscale” in appearance as compared to most typical local Mexican restaurants.  Of course, the question then becomes, does the food match the upscale décor? 


To start, our waiter brought us a margarita and a beer along with a choice of 3 different salsas for our tortilla chips.  The presentation was upscale…note the metal basket for the chips and the multi-bowl salsa container.  The chips were nice but quite thin.  The salsa choices were OK but I prefer the more traditional version.  Laurie thought that her margarita was very good…


We looked over our choices of appetizers and/or small bites/tapas, and we went with the Jalapeño Cheese Fritters. ($5.29) We like jalapenos and we like cheese so how could we miss with these!   Well…they were plentiful and good but not great.  They were filling but somehow they just didn’t trip the switch for our taste buds.


For her entrée, Laurie ordered the Quesadilla Al Horno with Chicken. ($12.39) Again, it was OK but it didn’t resemble the quesadillas that she is used to and prefers…

FYI…Abuelo’s Mexican Restaurant in Turkey Creek is part of a restaurant chain that has about 40 locations in 13 states.  These states include: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.


I decided to order something a bit different from the norm in a Mexican Restaurant.  This was the Pork Tenderloin Abrigada. ($16.29) There were 3 bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin medallions that were smoked and grilled.  This entrée is served with a choice of 2 enchiladas and 2 sides.  For my enchiladas I choose the seasoned ground beef and the shredded beef.

The 2 sides were OK.  The 2 enchiladas were very good…meaty with a nice sauce.  My upfront concern was the trio of smoked and grilled pork tenderloins.  Many restaurants tend to overcook pork and it ends up dry and chewy.  In this case, the bacon wrap and the chef worked well together and the tenderloins were juicy and very flavorful indeed!

Service was about average although our waiter seemed to be a little inefficient or scattered in his approach to serving his tables.  All in all, it was a decent meal with my meal overshadowing Laurie’s.  In the end however, I think that we still prefer a couple of our local Mexican restaurants…

Abuelo’s Mexican Restaurant in Knoxville’s Turkey Creek area is located at 11299 Parkside Drive in the Pinnacle shopping area, along with Sullivan’s Steak House, Bed, Bath and Beyond, Ulta Cosmetics and Bonefish Grill.  Phone: 865-966-0075.  Website: http://www.abuelos.com.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by to see what was for dinner!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


Monday, May 15, 2017

Benefit Event for Smoky Mountain Service Dogs

Our friends Norm and Linda invited us to go with them to a benefit auction event complete with a good band…all combining to raise money for Smoky Mountain Service Dogs. 


It was a beautiful early spring afternoon.  The venue for this important fund raising event was at the Wild Wings Café in Farragut Tennessee…


The stars were properly aligned… We really like Wild Wings Café, we love quality local musicians, we love our military veterans, we were with good friends and we love dogs!


Wild Wings Café is a big restaurant/sports bar with a huge bar and a plethora of tables, both indoors and outside on the deck.  Live music is a regular occurrence too with a stage in a corner in the bar area.  



On this date, early on a Sunday afternoon, a Bloody Mary Bar was open.  It was a special deal with all Bloody Marys’ complete with whatever garnishes you might want, for only $3.63 each.  The selection process was challenging!


However, Laurie overcame what might have become an overwhelming garnish mental “block” and created her own special Bloody Mary. 

Note: Wild Wings Café has some kind of special every day…including some days with all the wings you can eat at lunch for a fixed (and very reasonable) price.


…and on the stage we have the hostess for this fund raising event.  She’s Lauren Davis, news anchor and reporter for Knoxville’s CBS affiliate WVLT.  She’s been with WVLT for almost 10 years now.

To learn more about Lauren, you can go to http://www.local8now.com/content/bios/10155166.html.


We had a visitor at our table…one of the Smoky Mountain Service Dogs folks… Norm’s watching proceedings on the stage while Linda and Laurie are listening to an update on the silent auction.

The area in front of the stage was loaded with auction items and silent auction bid forms and folks continuously milled around the area making bids and checking the bids they’d already made.  All of the items being auctioned off, from gift baskets, gift certificates and Wild Wings for a year to trips and facials, were all donated for this event.


Hey…it wasn’t all about the fund raising auction.  We did have to eat lunch!  I started out by ordering the Buffalo Shrimp. ($8.49) They were accompanied by blue cheese dressing and celery sticks for dipping.  Very nice! 


I also decided to order something we hadn’t tried before.  This was an order of Hot Shots. ($6.49) These are house made sausage fritters “with a lot of heat” and a ton of cheese.  They’re served with honey mustard for dipping.  They were OK but they didn’t really deliver a lot of heat…

Laurie and I also split an order of Wild Wings chicken wings. (No photo…$17.99) We had 9 wings coated with “The Slayer”, a garlic sauce and 9 others coated with “Red Dragon”, a hot teriyaki sauce.  As usual, we were very happy with this restaurant’s chicken wings!


Norm and Linda also ordered an appetizer, the Steel Town Spuds.  They chose “Crispy House-Made Chips” vs “Big Fat Fries” or “Tater Tots”.  Their chips were topped with ranch dressing, bacon, scallions and melted cheese.  While they enjoyed their appetizer, they noted that the serving seemed smaller than it was on previous visits…

Wild Wings Café in Farragut Tennessee is located at 11335 Campbell Lakes Drive.  Phone: 865-777-9464.  Website: http://www.wildwingcafe.com/locations/knoxville-tn.


This smart service dog did a great job collecting contributions, approaching tables with that bucket in his mouth.  It’s hard to ignore kids or dogs in a situation like this!  One of the disabled veterans who had benefited from this charity was also in attendance along with his service dog Bella! 

This pup asked that I post a link to Smoky Mountain Service Dogs so others could contribute to this worthy cause that helps veterans who have given so much to preserve our freedom.  I couldn’t deny the request so here it is: http://www.smokymountainservicedogs.org/.


The primary musical attraction for the event was the Steve Rutledge Band!  That’s Steve with the guitar…  

Steve Rutledge is a guitar virtuoso, singer and producer who was originally from Frankfort Kentucky and who now lives near Knoxville Tennessee.  Steve has shared the stage or opened for artists like: The Marshall Tucker Band, Trace Adkins, Reba, Emerson Drive, Jake Owen, Trick Pony, Toby Keith, Trisha Yearwood, Patty Loveless, Montgomery Gentry, John Fogerty, The Eagles, Lonestar, Big and Rich, Gretchen Wilson, Kelly Pickler and Taylor Swift. 


Here’s our event hostess from WVLT again…Lauren giving Laurie 2 thumbs up! 

Other groups were involved with this fund raiser… They included the Knoxville Academy of Music, with students playing with the band, (http://www.knoxvilleacademyofmusic.com/about/), and Paws for a Cause, a nationwide service dog organization. (https://www.pawswithacause.org/)



Note the volunteers and auction participants in the foreground.  Norm and Linda won a couple of bids but we just wrote a check and dropped it in the bucket…

Performing on stage with Steve Rutledge is Tommie John.  He has his own band and he’s currently set to compete in the 2017 International Blues Challenge.  We really liked him and he has the right voice for the Blues!  To learn more about Tommie, just go to https://tommiejohnmusic.com/home

  
The action intensified as the event stretched on…nearing a bidding frenzy as people jumped in for last minute bids! 

Seeing Steve Rutledge and the band at work again reminded me that I should provide you with a link to his Facebook site.  It’s at https://www.reverbnation.com/steverutledgemusic.


With Lauren Davis 'rocking out' at the left of the photo, another guest performer was rockin’ the house!  That’s Jay Storm who has his own band, the JayStorm Project.  He’s a rock/bluesy funk style singer and he has more energy than I ever had!   To learn more about JayStorm, go to https://www.jaystorm.net/home.

We don’t know the final total from this worthy fund raising event but the organizers seemed pleased.  On top of contributing to a great cause, we had some good food and a lot of fun with good friends and good people!

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge the photos.

Thanks for stopping by to see what’s been going on!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave