Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Knoxville’s Downtown Grill and Brewery

When Laurie’s sister Bonnie and her husband Bill came to visit us, we went to the Knoxville Farmer’s Market in Market Square and explored the possibilities, made a couple of purchases and, after a while, we decided to grab a bite to eat in a local restaurant…

This is the Downtown Grill and Brewery.  It’s located in the old W.W. Woodruff Furniture Store, a building that dates back to 1905.  Captain W. W. Woodruff, (Union Army), established W.W. Woodruff and Company on Knoxville’s “Old Baseball Grounds” ca. 1865.  It was one of the Knoxville’s longest continuously operating businesses finally closing in 1992…

This brings me to “the Curse of the White Mule”.  This ‘curse’ was localized to the block in which the store was built and it goes back to the mid-nineteenth century.  A Gypsy Circus came to town.  The story is that the side-show’s prize display–a white mule–died unexpectedly while visiting Knoxville.  The gypsies blamed the local folk for the death of their valuable side-show freak, and in revenge, they cursed the area and departed town in a huff.

No big deal…right?  The problem is that when curses seem to come true, they become urban legends in their own right!  During the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, this area of downtown Knoxville had a series of uncanny fires break out, with the one in 1897 consuming most of this block.  In 1904, a dynamite explosion ripped off much of the façade of the ‘new’ Woodruff Building, which was rebuilt again in 1905.  Dozens were injured in the blast!  Since then, other happenings have occurred which some say are also due to the Curse of the White Mule. 

You can actually purchase a poster depicting the Legend of the White Mule!  Go to:

Bonnie, Bill and Laurie posed for me at the Downtown Grill and Brewery.  Bill is about as well known for smiling in photos as I am!  The story about the White Mule goes that ‘libations will stave off the curse’.  The Woodruff Brewing Company…located in the restaurant…actually produces White Mule ale in honor of the legend…or is it just in case the curse is real?

Bill ordered a ‘flight’ of Woodruff Brewing Company beers…and he thought that they were quite good.  The selection included White Mule Ale, Woodruff IPA, New World Porter, Downtown Nut Brown Ale, State Street Stout, Downtown Blonde Ale and an Alt.  This was a bit too adventurous for me…as I usually stick to Miller Lite when I’m drinking beer…

Sorry for the glare in the photo…but I wanted to show a photo of the square bar in the middle of the restaurant’s 1st level...(or is that a spirit haunting this building?)

The restaurant has 2 levels for dining as well as a party and game area in the back of the 2nd level.  Diners can opt to be seated on the 2nd level looking down on the bar and the giant ‘brewhouse’ or vat where the Woodruff Brewing Company makes its product. 

Bill started out with a House Salad… ($2.99) He loves salad!  It looked pretty good but I ‘saved myself’ for more serious eating…

The ladies ordered the Homemade Guacamole Dip with onions, cheese, tomatoes and a large portion of hot tortilla chips. ($6.95) They both love guacamole and they were very content with this heap of goodness!

We also ordered Soft Pretzels. ($6.95) This consisted of 2 large soft pretzels sprinkled with salt.  It was served with a side of their signature pale beer cheese for dipping.  The pretzels were nice but I prefer a cheese dip with a bit more bite or a deeper cheese flavor.

Our final food adventure for this snack type lunch was this 12 inch Cheese Pizza with the addition of spinach, Italian sausage and pepperoni. ($9.95) It was a very good pizza indeed!

The Woodruff Building became a restaurant in the early 1990’s.  The Woodruff Brewing Company was established in 2006.  The brew master was actually checking out his latest batch of beer or ale while we were dining.  This gleaming 15-barrel Bohemian brewhouse is located in the restaurant’s 1st floor dining room.

Our waitress took this photo of our group after our late lunch.  (Starting at the left… Bonnie, Bill, me and Laurie). Following a bit of beer, some good food, a nice visit to Knoxville’s Farmer’s Market and a little touring around town, we were ready to head home.

Laurie and I will have to return to Downtown Grill and Brewery for dinner some night in the not too distant future…and provide a true review of this establishment’s other appetizers and a couple of dinner entrees.  

Downtown Grill and Brewery and the Woodruff Brewing Company are located near Market Square in downtown Knoxville at 424 Gay Street.  Phone: 865-633-8111.  They are open for business 7 days a week.  Website:

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Knoxville’s Downtown Farmer’s Market

Despite having lived in East Tennessee…and within 45 minutes of downtown Knoxville, until recently we’d never gone downtown to check out the Farmer’s Market that is set up in Market Square on Saturday’s all summer long… Part of our excuse is that in general we don’t like crowds.  With Laurie’s sister Bonnie and her husband Bill visiting us, we were incentivized to check out this local event and attraction…

It was a Saturday morning when we visited the Farmer’s Market.  Right away, two things were obvious… First, this is a really big outdoor market!  Secondly, with thousands of folks in attendance, it is definitely a very popular place on Saturdays!

The Market Square Farmers’ Market is located in the heart of downtown Knoxville and it is celebrating its 10th season this year.  Everything at the Market is grown or made by the vendor in the East Tennessee region. Products vary by the seasons and include produce, eggs, honey, herbs, free-range meat, bread, baked goods, salsas, coffee, and artisan crafts.

Market Square is surrounded by old repurposed buildings…and some of them are architecturally interesting.  Restaurants and drinking establishments abound!  These include: Tupelo Honey Café; Trio; Blue Coast Burrito Grille and Margarita Loft; Café 4; Cocoa Moon; Latitude 35; Oodles Uncorked; The Tomato Head, and; Soccer Taco.

Many of the vendors at the Market are not produce or food vendors.  Products being sold include such items as soaps, candles, jewelry, crafts, clothing, pottery, furniture, flowers and plants, photos, coffee, dog treats and art work.

Busy place isn’t it!  Knoxville’s Market Square was conceived in 1853 as a clever real-estate scheme by two young investors who expected to get rich off the idea.  It became Knoxville’s most public spot, a marketplace familiar to every man, woman, and child in the area.  By the 1860s, it was the busiest place in a burgeoning city, a place to shop, work, play, eat, drink, and live.

We had no trouble spending a relaxing couple of hours touring the Farmer’s Market and checking out the products being offered… With the old buildings and the shade provided by the old trees, the atmosphere was easy going, despite the size of the crowd.

This is one of the many food trucks and food vendors… Mister Canteen has a bit of a Navy theme to it.  This is partly because the operator’s father and both grandfathers served in the U.S. Navy.  Many of the food items offered, such as ‘Egg Banjo’, are named after meals served on navy ships.  During World War II, one of their grandfathers served as a baker on the USS Vulcan AR-5.  Apparently everyone on the ship loved and looked forward to the weekly "Donut Day".  Each sailor was allowed two donuts, but apparently that didn't stop the men from fighting over them.  Consequently, Mister Canteen features donuts as their key dessert item…

I had to include a picture of Mister Canteen’s menu board.  It has serious character!  I was intrigued with the Indian Fry Bread Tacos…especially the part about the ingredients including ‘Riverplains Farm Mulefoot Hog’!  For 2 reasons I had to skip this treat… First, my favorite food vendor was just down the way and secondly, we were planning to go out for lunch after a while…

All of the food trucks and food vendors were lined up along one of the streets that run off one end of the Farmer’s Market.  Some of the many food trucks included in this group are: Bulls BBQ; Hoof; Savory and Sweet; Three Bears Coffee Company and; the Tootsie Truck.  As you can see, this side street was very popular with the shoppers!

This is my favorite food vendor!  Good Golly Tamale doesn’t even operate a truck or trailer… Their product is prepared in a local restaurant and then delivered via a bicycle food ‘cart’.  Our absolute favorite is the Thai Chicken Tamale, we each had one), but Laurie and I both also like the Black Bean and Cheese Tamale!

For more about Good Golly Tamale, you can go to

Bill tried a milk shake from the Cruze Farm Milk Bar… It was very good but it took a long time for them to get it ready for him.  As you can see, they offer more than just dairy products.  Check out their Facebook site at

There were a few guys scattered around Market Square trying to earn a few dollars by playing music.  One ‘musician’ could just barely blow his horn…and he certainly couldn’t produce any music.  On the other hand, the gentleman in this photo…and his saxophone…could produce a melody for sure!

This little collage will give you an idea of the wide variety of produce, baked goods and flowers available at the Market.  As far as food goes, there were also vendors selling fresh sweet corn, coffee, mushrooms, fruit, herbs, meat/poultry, hot sauce, honey, jerky of various types, jams/jellies, tea, cider/apple pies and fried pies, jerky, hot sauces…you name it!  

To learn more about the Knoxville Farmer’s Market, including a list of vendors as well as an interactive map of the vendors and their products, you can just go to  The Farmer’s Market’s hours are: Wednesday from 11am. to 2pm. and Saturday from 9am. to 2pm.  The Market operates until November 22nd of this year…

Of course, I liked watching the people wandering through the Farmer’s Market.  Even more to my liking was the fact that so many people had brought their critters with them…mostly dogs…but also a pet pig on a leash.  There were some other critters playing in the splash fountain in Market Square…and they seemed to be having the best time of all!

I’m ending this little tour with a photo of the “Scruffy City Hall and Brewery”, a new spot on Market Square for food, libations and entertainment… Initial public comments have been very positive and this business may well end up earning its own blog in the not too distant future.  The same company also owns “Preservation Pub”, “Knoxville Uncorked” and “Earth to Old City”, all on the Square.  If anyone checks this place out before we do, please let me know what you thought!  Check our Scruffy City Hall at

Over the years, Market Square has developed into a venue that accommodates events ranging from concerts to political rallies.  Over the years, the Square has been a popular gathering place for artists, street musicians, war veterans, and activists.  Market Square was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.  

Knoxville's Market Square has been mentioned in the works of James Agee, Cormac McCarthy, David Madden, and Richard Yancey.  It has hosted performers ranging from Duke Ellington to Steve Winwood as well as politicians and activists.  Speeches have been made on the Square by such folks as Frances Willard, Booker T. Washington, William Jennings Bryan, Edward Ward Carmack, and Ronald Reagan. 

Just click on any of the photographs in order to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by and visiting Knoxville’s Market Square and its Farmer’s Market!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, July 25, 2014

Dinner on the 4th of July

We almost always buy too much food and overeat when we have company… With Laurie’s sister Bonnie and her husband Bill visiting, it was like a major excuse to pig out!  Since it was the 4th of July as well we had an even better excuse to over indulge!   

Bev…of Larry and Bev…fellow blogger Big Dude’s better half, (, had introduced us to Red Lobster’s cheesy biscuits so Laurie made up a batch of them for our Holiday dinner.

I’m not into mushrooms…but Laurie, Bonnie and Bill are!  Bill grilled these for our July 4th dinner…with butter and garlic. 

We’d been out for a drive and I decided to stop in at the guard shack at the Monterey Mushroom facility at 19748 TN Hwy. 72 in Loudon Tennessee.  Monterey Mushroom sells ‘seconds’ and imperfect mushrooms to the locals.  These mushrooms are just fine but they aren’t perfect enough for packaging and sale in grocery stores.  We bought a big box of these portabella mushroom caps from the guard for only $5.00!!  We cooked these for our dinner…but then we gave a bunch to Bonnie and Bill to take home…and another bunch to Larry and Bev…and we still had some left!

I’d made the drive over to Benton’s, (famous for Bacon, Hams and Prosciutto with chefs across the country), and I’d picked up 4 nice ribeye steaks for dinner. (FYI…Benton’s steaks are less costly than those in the supermarkets…and better than most!)

Many people in Loudon and Monroe counties don’t seem to realize that Benton’s offers items other than smoked pork products to walk-in retail customers.  They have ribs, strip and ribeye steaks, bologna, eggs, cheese, hot dogs, hamburgers, sausage and a number of other items…and we would recommend almost everything listed.  Benton’s is located at 2603 Highway 411 in Madisonville Tennessee.  Phone: 423-442-5003.  Website: The retail store is open from 8:30 AM until 5:00 PM Monday through Saturday.

Here’s a yummy picture of Laurie’s dinner on her plate.  So…our light dinner included the ribeye steak, the cheesy biscuits, fresh green beans, the mushrooms and roasted varietal potatoes! Not a bad celebratory meal…

We love those little varietal potatoes… We used to eat them fairly often when we lived in the Chicago area so we were delighted to find them in our local Publix market!  I like to smash mine, apply butter and then add Tabasco…but I am just a little weird…

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Drive in the Country…

East Tennessee is a beautiful place and we love to just cruise around on the back roads looking at the scenery and whatever else catches our fancy… Laurie’s sister Bonnie and her husband Bill were with us recently and we decided that it was a beautiful day for a drive…

This is the high order Mennonite farmer’s market on a side road in Delano Tennessee.  It’s a bit far for us to drive just for produce, but we still make it down here a couple of times a year.  Considering that this market is really out of the way and it’s not close to any major cities, they really pack in the customers!

The produce was plentiful…beans, peppers, corn, cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce, cabbage, etc. etc.  In addition one can pick up soaps, baked goods, jams/jellies and jars of pickled products…including Laurie’s favorite…their ‘Starr Mountain’ pickled beets.

This is the valley adjacent to the farmer’s market… Horse drawn wagons were coming and going with produce.  There is no electricity in the store and the men who run the store use mechanical calculators to total up your purchases.  Female shoppers are asked to dress modestly…and photographs of the store’s operators are discouraged.

About 30 families live here farming about 470 acres.  The farm and market is of course their primary source of income.  The market is open from mid-April through October.  It is located at 146 Needle Eye Lane about a mile east of US Highway 411 in Delano Tennessee.  Obviously there is no phone or website!

I have a tendency to stretch out our drives in the country… I always want to check out another road or show off another sight to visitors.  After wandering all the way south to beautiful Ocoee Lake, I’d decided to drive to Dayton Tennessee for lunch.  That took a while…and then we didn’t see any place we wanted to eat.  So we kept driving, ending up here at Carter’s Restaurant in Ten Mile Tennessee. Watts Bar Lake is right across the road from the restaurant. 

The interior of Carter’s is very warm and welcoming…with lots of interesting items to look at in every nook and cranny.  You order at a counter and they bring your food out to your table.  Laurie and I had been here before and we had a good experience…

On our first visit, Danny Carter had mentioned that they make a great pizza.  He and his wife Patsy own and operate the restaurant…as well as an adjacent miniature golf course and a small RV park.
Well, we just ‘had’ to try the pizza…as good pizza is hard to find here in East Tennessee.  We ordered a small pizza with pepperoni and sausage as an appetizer. ($5.79) It was pretty darn good!  As an aside, the prices at Carter’s are remarkably reasonable… For example, a large 16” pizza with pepperoni and Italian sausage only costs $13.49!  

Unfortunately, not everything was as good as the pizza.  Bonnie had the fried shrimp and she thought that they were just OK. ($8.29)  The coleslaw was very good but the fries and corn meal muffin were nothing special.

Sorry for the blurry photos.  This was the Country Fried Steak. ($7.99) It was pretty good.  All dinners come with 2 sides.  There are 12 sides you can choose from without incurring an additional charge.  I’d trade out the fries for another side the next time…

When Laurie and I visited Carter’s the first time, it was on a Sunday and we’d really enjoyed the special Two Piece Boneless Chicken Breast Dinner. ($7.99) Based on our experience, Bill ordered the Hand Breaded Chicken Strip Dinner. ($7.99) The beans and the fried squash were good…but the chicken strips were dry… Sorry Bill!

Laurie started out her meal with a nice fresh salad for one of her sides…

Laurie ordered the Hand Breaded Pork Tenderloin Dinner with that side salad and cooked apples. ($7.79) She thought that it was pretty good…no complaints.

OK… Well, we had mixed results on this visit to Carter’s Restaurant.  Still, based on the positives including the pizza, plus a couple of the entrees, the accompanying sides and the pricing, we will return!  Carter’s Restaurant is closed on Monday and Tuesday.  It is located at 2430 TN Hwy. 304 in Ten Mile Tennessee.  Phone: 423-334-3300.  Website:

Note: Danny and Patsy Carter have also produced several record albums/CDs of their gospel music.  You can find out more about their music on the website as shown above.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Monday, July 21, 2014

Playing with Our Food!

Looking for a bit of variety in our diet, I keep experimenting with simple meals.  Sometimes I come up with a winner and other times not so much!

As anyone who reads my blog is aware, I keep playing with pizzas at home.  No, I don’t make the crusts… My motto is, keep it simple!  Of course a significant part of my approach is that I don’t want to work hard for my food!
I’ve been using Mama Mary’s Thin and Crispy individual pizza crusts and they work well.  But for the two pizzas shown above, I tried something new.  I picked up a couple pieces of garlic naan for the crusts.  I applied tomato based pizza sauce on the one to the left, then cheddar and pizza shredded cheese, garlic, Italian seasoning, cracked hot red peppers and pepperoni.  I used Alfredo sauce instead of the tomato base for the one on the right…and then I added a little Benton’s prosciutto to the mix as well.  Garlic Nan is now our favorite pizza crust!

For lunch one day I was on my own… What to make for myself?  I like broccoli and I had a little left over in the vegetable keeper.  So I sauteed these broccoli florets in some olive oil with roasted garlic, hot crushed red peppers and pepperoni.  I really liked the results of this experiment!

Another day, another individual pizza!  This time I used one of Mama Mary’s pizza crusts, brushed it with olive oil and pizza sauce, then added crushed red peppers, Italian seasoning, a mix of shredded cheese, roasted garlic and a boatload of pan fried Italian sausage.  This was a ‘meaty’ and satisfying pizza!

I bought these ‘boneless beef ribs’ at the local grocery store.  They looked good in the meat counter…with enough ribbons of fat for flavor.  We marinated them for 24 hours before grilling them.

We each had a nice little salad with heirloom tomatoes, broccoli and lettuce…and I added asiago cheese to mine.  Laurie used shredded Parmesan on hers.

There were a couple of leftover slabs of tomato remaining so I added some roasted garlic and asiago cheese along with a bit of Italian dressing.  Very tasty indeed!

The boneless beef ribs…a true contradiction in terms…looked good when I brought them to the table.  As you can see, I applied BBQ sauce…Famous Dave’s “Devil’s Spit”, to be specific. 

As I mentioned at the beginning, sometimes I come up with a winner and sometimes, not so much.  These beef ‘ribs’ were tough!  The flavor was OK but they were chewy… I guess that I should have beaten the heck out of them before I marinated them.  Lesson learned!  At least the salads were good…

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

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Coffee and Much More!

Some time ago, we came across a coffee shop on a side street near downtown Maryville Tennessee.  We thought that the coffee was very good, the place was cute and quirky…and we vowed to return again when we were back in town and when the time for coffee and a snack fit in just right.

So…back in June, we were in Maryville, we’d had a late breakfast, no lunch and it was early afternoon…the perfect time for coffee and a snack!

This is the Vienna Coffee House in Maryville Tennessee.  It’s located on a side street between downtown Maryville and Maryville College.

John Clark is the owner and ‘roastmaster’ of the Vienna Coffee Company.  The Coffee House is a tasty ‘side business’ for the Vienna Coffee Company.  The company’s primary business is coffee roasting.  Vienna roasts tons of coffee each month for area coffee shops, restaurants, hotels and grocery stores.  Customers include the Aubrey’s restaurant chain, over 20 Kroger stores, Sullivan’s Restaurant, Foothills Milling Company, Barley’s, Horn of Plenty Marketplace, Amburn’s Produce, and in Townsend, the Village Market IGA and Firefly Cafe.

Vienna Coffee Company’s facility is quite large… There is even this patio for patrons on the lower level.  The new Coffee House is on the main level of this 3-story building where there is plenty of space for individuals and groups to enjoy a full array of coffee-based drinks, teas, pastries, quiches and other treats.

That patio sits down in this little valley overlooking this creek in Maryville.  As you might be able to tell by the swollen creek and the muddy water, we visited the Vienna Coffee House on a rainy day.

In addition to coffee, sandwiches and snacks, the Vienna Coffee House is a live music venue and it has free Wi-Fi.  There is seating for 100 on the main level as well as a 500-square-foot conference room for small groups.

John Clark, whose parents operated a Photography Studio, didn’t plan on being a roastmaster.  The Maryville native, whose grandmother, Emma Clark, was the big sister of D.W. Proffitt, founder of Proffitt’s Department Store, graduated from the University of Tennessee with a degree in chemical engineering and did hazardous waste management for chemical companies.

One job took him to San Francisco before the specialty coffee craze that started in Berkeley had expanded beyond California.  He grew to love dark-roasted high quality coffee back in the 80s before Starbucks was invented…

The new Vienna Coffee House location also has a full-service drive-thru window.  Most importantly, the roastery and Coffee House are now consolidated into one 18,000 sq. foot building! 

Previously, this 11-year old locally owned company had been operating from two locations in town…one for the roastery and another for the Coffee House.
When his job brought him back to Maryville, he admits that he’d turned into a ‘coffee snob’.  He just couldn’t drink what was available in the grocery stores and there wasn’t a Starbucks in town.  Using his California connections, he bought specialty beans that he roasted in a popcorn popper on the stove top in his kitchen. But he wanted more.  He found a used Ambex coffee roaster on eBay in Canada.  The owner thought the roaster didn’t work but Clark bought it, pulled it apart and fixed it.  He had a $10,000 coffee roaster for $1,700!

Although the Vienna Coffee House is truly ‘coffee centric’, they do offer a limited sandwich and soup menu at lunch.  If you check their website, you won’t find a menu for food, pastries, etc.  They are just accompaniments to the coffee!

Upon checking the Vienna Coffee Company's website, I learned that their coffee beans come from many different parts of the world.  This included places like Bali, Papua New Guinea, Guatemala, Ethiopia, Peru, Colombia, Costa Rica, Kenya and Tanzania.

Let’s see… Will it be sandwiches and/or soup or something sweet and relatively unhealthy?!  Not a bad selection, that’s for sure.  It wasn’t a tough decision for us…so much for a healthy light lunch!

How about a nice piece of blueberry crumb cake!

 Or, if you’d prefer, there was this decadent chocolate and sugar laden dessert bar!

FYI… The Vienna Coffee House offers one other service or experience for its patrons…”Coffee Cupping”!  What is a coffee cupping?  It’s like a wine tasting for coffee.  You smell, swish and slurp different coffees one at a time.  It involves the art of aroma perception in coffee. You learn about the intricate details and differences of coffee flavors.  The Coffee House hosts free cuppings on Thursdays for coffee lovers.

Laurie loves her latte…but I always stick to a nice non-photogenic cup of fresh black coffee.

To finish John Clark’s story… He had his roaster and he was roasting in his garage, but he was making too much coffee for just himself and he started giving it away.  That was like giving money away, so he started selling his coffee “just to support my hobby.”  Then came a moment of decision…The chemical company he worked for wanted Clark to transfer to Philadelphia.  He decided to stick with coffee and stay in East Tennessee!  Clark picked up his last corporate paycheck July 31, 2002.  On his way home from work that day, he made three sales calls.  One of them to Aubrey’s Restaurants, and the rest is history.”

The Vienna Coffee House and Roastery is located at 212 College Street in Maryville, Tennessee.  The Coffee House is open 7 days a week.  Phone: 865-681-0517.  The Coffee House website is located The Vienna Coffee Company’s website and on-line store can be found at

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a cup of coffee and a sweet treat!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave