Friday, April 28, 2017

Big River Grille and Brewing Works

As we headed back up to East Tennessee following our adventures in Florida, I’d planned to stop for lunch in downtown Chattanooga. 

It turns out that downtown Chattanooga has a plethora of metered parking.  I finally found a spot near the restaurant that I wanted to try.  However, the meter didn’t like us much.  I followed instructions but it wouldn’t print out a slip for me to put on my windshield!  Somewhat aggravated, we got back in the car and drove around looking for a parking lot (all metered) or a parking luck!  Finally, frustrated and impatient, we gave up and headed for the suburbs!

We’d already eaten at a couple of different restaurants in the Hamilton Place Shopping area in the northern suburbs of Chattanooga and I was determined to find something new.  This is Big River Grille and Brewing Works. 

With muted colors plus lots of stone and wood…along with a fireplace…the spacious interior of Big River Grille does have a bit of a mountain river or north woods feel to it.  Since we were a bit late for lunch, it wasn’t very busy.

With only 3 locations, Big River Grille and Brewing Works is just a small part of the CraftWorks Restaurants and Breweries Inc. conglomerate.    Craftworks is a multi-state, multi-brand restaurant operator with a combined total of 195 restaurants, brewery restaurants and entertainment venues.  Other brands operated by CraftWorks include Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurants, Rock Bottom Restaurants and Breweries and Old Chicago Pizza and Taproom.

We decided to start out with an appetizer… After all, this was our last hooray for this trip and we’d have to go back to a more healthy diet and our exercise routine!

We like good fried calamari.  Big River’s Calamari and Pepper Rings was a nice switch from the usual. ($10.59) It featured tender calamari mixed with fried jalapeño rings which added a nice bit of heat…something we both appreciate.  The calamari was served with some nice roasted jalapeño ranch dipping sauce.

After the appetizer, we weren’t all that imaginative when it came to main course.  Not being in an adventuresome mood, we both ordered hamburgers.  This was the Smashed and Stacked version…with 2 hamburger patties, signature pub sauce, shaved pickles and lots of cheddar cheese. ($11.99)  It was a better than average burger.

The luncheon menu at Big River Grille is extensive.  It lists 14 appetizers, 10 salads, 7 pizzas, 6 “Brewer’s Suggestions”, 11 main dishes and a dozen different sandwiches along with a few dessert options.

This was the Classic Burger…2 patties loaded with a ton of cheddar cheese. ($11.99) It was a little overcooked for us…we like them medium rare but we forgot to tell the waiter…but it was still nice and juicy.  The French fries were a bit better than the norm as well. 

One really can’t definitively judge a restaurant after an appetizer and a couple of burgers but we enjoyed our limited exposure to the options on the menu,as well as the relaxing and inviting atmosphere.  The dinner menu is basically an expansion of the lunch menu with the addition of some grill items such as steak and seafood. 

Big River Grille and Brewing Works at Chattanooga’s Hamilton Place is located at 2020 Hamilton Place Boulevard.  Phone: 423-553-7723.  Website:

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

J.D. – RIP

J.D., the cat who ruled our house since June 2012, who ‘bossed us around’ and who provided us with endless entertainment, passed on at about Noon on Monday, April 24, 2017.  We believe that cancer and renal failure caused his demise…

J.D. posed for this regal photo earlier this month… He gave no sign of illness until about a week before he passed.

We’ve had cats for most of our married life.  In August 2010, our previous rescue cat Buddy, had to be put to sleep.  Being retired, we thought it would be a bit easier for us to not have a pet to worry about.  So we didn’t even think about looking for another cat for more than a year.  However, in 2011, Laurie really started to miss not having a cat around.  We love cats and if you’re a cat lover, you know what I’m talking about.  So we went online to check out various cat adoption sites…looking for a shorthaired cat as they’re easier on Laurie’s allergies.  The first two she called about had just been adopted.  We went to see another but she was very shy and she was just not a lap sitter.  

Then we found JD… He came to his foster home as a very sick boy.  His condition was a 1 or 2 based on a scale of 10.  His foster mom cared for him for 7 months!  JD originally came from a home where he had been an indoor cat.  The couple decided to have a baby and after the baby came, they “kicked JD outdoors”.  JD has no front claws and he was on his own!  He couldn’t defend himself from the neighborhood cats that were eating all his food.  He was being starved to death and beaten right in front of his owners’ eyes.  Fortunately a relative came to visit and she saw the terrible condition JD was in!  She called the ASPCA and he was rescued.

J.D. basking in the sunshine… On hot days, he pretty much lived on the screened porch until after dark but on cool or cold days, he had his choice of over a dozen nap sites or favorite places to sleep scattered around the house.

When we met him, we fell in love with “Mr. Pickles”, (his previous name), right away!!  He was very affectionate and he jumped right into our laps!  We could tell that he loved being petted and despite his previous life, he loved people!   We adopted him right then…and then renamed him JD in honor of our son’s recent law degree.  When we brought him home, he spent an hour exploring the house.  Then he took a nap.  Since then, he’s made it clear that it’s really his house…he permits us to live with him and take care of him!

It was apparent that JD had some Siamese in him…given the wedge shape of his head, the tone of his voice and his constant ‘talking’!  JD had a few entertaining quirks!  When he pooped in his litter box he raced from his room, (Yes, he had his own room!), into the kitchen and through the family room, slipping and sliding on the wood floors… At times he would lose traction on the wood floor and crash into the wall or door frame!  He would then run into our bedroom and dive under the bed.  Then he’d dash out from under the bed and take a spin around the master bath.  Then he would fly out of there and bolt up the stairs and down the hallway.  He would end this process with a chorus of triumphant meows!  He startled us almost every time…but we laughed every time too!

J.D. loved sunshine!  Laurie called him her ‘sunshine baby’!  He followed the sunshine throughout the house, moving from the screened porch to a sunny window, to the sun on the stairs and, as you can see, he’d even take advantage of a sunny spot in the middle of the room.  His fur would actually get so hot we don’t know how he could stand it! 

JD had a couple of methods to ensure that we do what he wants us to do… He loved to sit in Laurie’s lap but he liked the white fake fur throw to be on her lap before he’d lie down.  So he’d jump up beside Laurie on the couch and stare at her.  If she took too long to put the throw on her lap he’d meow and meow.  Then, if Laurie hadn’t moved the throw, he’d tap her arm or hand with his paw, meow and look at the throw once again.  He’d also tap your hand or leg to get you to pet him.  He wouldn’t stop till you did what he wanted.  It was a bit tiresome when you were on the computer or cell phone trying to get something accomplished… but hey, it was all about JD!  He was very focused and persistent.  One time JD stared at me and meowed at me until I got up to see what he wanted.  JD immediately jumped up on my chair and went to sleep!

JD at rest in a sliver of sunshine on the bay window bench cushion in the dining room…

JD’s most interesting quirk was his “bedtime routine” which involved ‘his’ room.  Starting at about 11:00 pm, he’d lie on his back with his paws in the air just inside our bedroom door.  He’d stare at us in the family room while we watched the news.  When it got close to 11:15 pm, he’d start pacing back and forth in front of us and meowing.  He’d do this for a while and if that didn’t work he’d just start crying till we gave in.  It would have been nice to see the weather forecast without interference, but as I said before, it was all about JD!
He also had a pre-lights out routine in his room!  He would get a few treats, his coat is brushed till it shines and then it was playtime with his favorite toys.  As he got older, Laurie would also give him a full body massage.  Then he would be ready for bed!  He loved his room with its choice of beds and a cat tree and he’d stay in there for as long as we wanted…or until he saw us in the morning.  When he saw our bedroom door open, he would start crying till we opened his door and then the routine would start all over again!  We wouldn’t have had it any other way!

RIP J.D.!  May you bask in the sunshine, catch lots of mice and lizards and roll in heaps of catnip to your sweet little hearts content!

Take Care, Laurie and Big Daddy Dave 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Another Depot Plus Pizza!

We were headed north toward our home in East Tennessee…but that didn’t mean that I’d stopped looking for old railway depots along the way.  Our plan was to spend the night in Macon Georgia so we had time for lunch (last posting) and I took the time to get off I-75 in Tifton Georgia to look around.

This is the former Southern Railroad/Atlantic Coast Line combination passenger and freight depot in Tifton Georgia.  As you can see, it’s been well maintained.  It now serves as the home of the Tifton Chamber of Commerce.

This is a view of the back of the Southern/Atlantic Coast Line Railroad depot.  From what I could determine, it was built in 1916 – 1917.

I just liked this photo looking on down the tracks…

Tifton was all about the railroads…  The county was created in 1905.  It was named for Henry Harding Tift, who founded Tifton.  In 1872, Tift purchased about 65,000 acres of virgin pine timberland and established a sawmill along with a village for his workers.  He expanded into turpentine and barrel-making operations, and turned his barren timberlands into farms for cotton, corn, livestock, fruit, tobacco, pecans and sweet potatoes.  But the town really took off when the Georgia Southern and Florida Railway intersected the Brunswick and Western Railroad near Tift's mill in 1888.  That connected it to Atlanta…and Tifton became a boom town. 

I should have done more research before stopping off in Tifton.  Laurie took this photo because I thought that it looked like it might have been related to the area railroads.  It’s very close to the Southern/Atlantic Coast Line depot in the previous photos. 

Subsequent on-line research revealed that I missed 4 depots in Tifton!  The Railroad Station Historical Society Inc. website ( lists a 1916 Union Station, an Atlantic Coast Line freight depot, a ca. 1906 Atlanta, Birmingham and Atlantic station, and an additional 1905 Atlanta, Birmingham and Atlantic station that was moved here from Montezuma Georgia.  My ‘miss’ guarantees that Tifton will be included in my next set of Florida travel plans! 

Moving on to our overnight stay in Macon Georgia… 

It was dark by the time we checked into our hotel in Macon.  I had done some research and had listed 3 different restaurants as possibilities.  We were tired so we choose a very casual place close to our hotel … This is Ingleside Village Pizza.

Ingleside Village Pizza is a laid back and casual neighborhood joint…  It’s in an area of town that is mostly residential.  The décor could be termed funky eclectic!  Customers place their order at the window shown in the first photo above. 

This was our sausage and pepperoni pizza.  Although the crust was a little thicker than we prefer, the ingredients were above average…although those little ‘rabbit dropping’ sausage pieces are not visually appealing.  The price was right, that’s for sure.  This 16” pizza only cost $12.75!

Ingleside Village Pizza also offers salads and sub sandwiches along with a wide variety of beers.  At the time of our visit, their ratings showed 302 Excellent/Very Good vs. 8 Poor/Terrible Reviews.  Ingleside Village Pizza is located at 2395 Ingleside Avenue in Macon Georgia.  Phone: 478-750-8488.  Website:

Just click on any of the photo to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, April 21, 2017

Farm House Restaurant

It was time for lunch and since we generally don’t eat breakfast when we have a longish drive ahead of us, we were getting hungry.  We’d just crossed the Florida/Georgia State line so we checked out the exits and what they might have to offer hungry travelers…

This is the Farm House Restaurant in Lake Park Georgia.  We could see from I-75 that this restaurant was popular…  We decided to give it a try.

The interior of the Farm House Restaurant was spacious and the main dining area was packed.  Given the “farm house” connotation, we figured that the menu would consist of down home comfort food.  FYI, there is a small gift shop at the front of this restaurant as well.

We ended up in this side dining area.  Even this room was almost full… FYI, the art along the walls is for sale.

Our waitress started us out with this basket of corn muffins.  They were average at best…a bit too dry for our taste.

The menu is expansive but we both went for one of the Farm House Specials.  Laurie ordered fried chicken with stuffing, green beans and mashed potatoes with gravy.  She thought that her meal was OK but the green beans seemed like they came from a can.

I also went for the fried chicken.  It was good but not great.  My sides were greens, stuffing and dumplings.  (Classic southern meat and 3) The greens and dumplings were average but I didn’t care for the stuffing… The pimentos in it ruined the stuffing for me. (Of course, pimentos are a southern standard!) 

Our waitress was not the greatest… She was friendly enough but she wasn’t very efficient.  It took forever to get our check so we could get back on the road.  Still, it’s hard to beat the price for our meals. (Only $8.49 each!)

We would term Farm House Restaurant as a safe and clean ‘fuel’ stop.  This restaurant is located at 5123 Mill Store Road (Exit 5) off of I-75 in Lake Park Georgia.  Phone: 229-559-5445.  They are open daily from 7 AM to 7 PM.  I couldn’t find a website or Facebook page for this restaurant.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Revisiting a Favorite – The Lucky Dill Deli

Time for another Tampa/Clearwater dining favorite… I don’t think that we’d ever visit the area without a stop here for deli delights!  Our good friends Bob and Nona from Clearwater were with us for this dining treat.

This is the Lucky Dill Deli and Brooklyn Bakery in Palm Harbor Florida.  A ‘real’ quality deli is impossible to find where we live in East Tennessee.  The tendency here is that any place that makes a sandwich calls itself a ‘deli’.  There are a couple of restaurants where the menu resembles a true deli but they fall short from a quality standpoint… (We keep looking around the area though!) 

The Lucky Dill Deli is a big restaurant.  That’s a good thing because you can still end up waiting for a table during peak meal times.  We were a bit ‘off peak’ when we visited this time so we didn’t have a problem getting a table.

The waiter or waitress starts the table out with a basket of fresh baked rolls. Given the amount of food one receives here, it's really overkill but its a nice touch in any case.

About a year and a half ago, we stopped here for breakfast.  While it was good, let’s face it, a good deli is all about sandwiches and other deli type specialties.  It had been about 3 years since we’d been here for lunch…

How about a nice little Hot Corned Beef Sandwich!?  ($12.99) This was Nona’s luncheon choice.  She loves corned beef and she loves the Lucky Dill Deli!  Please note that all sandwiches also come with a choice of Coleslaw, Potato Salad, Pasta Salad or Chips and Pickle. 

This grouping of beautiful ‘sliders’ is Bob’s favorite at Lucky Dill Deli.  The Lucky Deal ($14.99) includes 3 freshly baked rolls with a choice of deli meats.  I personally would have a hard time deciding which meats I would select if I was to order this platter of goodness.  

Meat choices include hot corned beef, hot pastrami, hot beef brisket, oven roasted turkey breast, roast beef, honey baked ham, salami, liverwurst and chopped liver.  You could also choose beef tongue for one of them for an additional $2.00.

When dining at a quality deli and given the fact that it's a rare experience for Laurie and me, our ‘go to’ choice is always a Hot Pastrami Sandwich!  We both ordered the same thing. ($12.99) We were very, very happy!

Note that all sandwiches are served on your choice of bread.  Choices include: New York Rye, Pumpernickel, White, Wheat, Kaiser Roll, Sesame Roll, Onion Roll, Marble Rye and a Bagel.  

Then there is the Brooklyn Bakery side of Lucky Dill Deli!  WOW!  What a selection.  It’s too bad that we were already stuffed after finishing our huge and delicious sandwiches…

Any normal (or intelligent) human would have just bypassed these bakery cases, but then again, I’m not normal.  We picked up a large black and white cookie, some Tiramisu, a muffin, and 2 small éclairs. ($17.42 with tax) What the heck, we wanted a treat for later that evening…

Note to Lucky Dill Deli… You would rule the market and we would dine at your establishment at least once a week if you located a restaurant here in the Knoxville area!  Palm Harbor Florida’s Lucky Dill Deli/Brooklyn Bakery is located at 33180 US Hwy. 19 North.  Phone: 727-789-5574.  Their website can be found at:

Just click on any of the photos…especially that hot pastrami sandwich…to enlarge them for drooling purposes.

Thanks for stopping by for a ‘light’ lunch!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Monday, April 17, 2017

La Trattoria Da Gaetano

We were down in the Tampa/Clearwater Florida area visiting our long-time friends Nona and Bob.  It had been about a year and a half since our last visit… While Lenny’s in Clearwater was a new dining experience for us, we also decided to reprise a couple of favorites as well…a popular deli and an unusual Italian restaurant.

We started with the Italian favorite, locally known as the “No Name Italian Restaurant”.  However, as you can see it does have a name.  La Trattoria da Gaetano is located in the corner of a strip shopping center in Dunedin Florida.  It would be easy to miss when driving by…

The interior of Gaetano’s is definitely ‘old school’ with wood paneling, checkered tablecloths, a mix of different chairs, a mirrored wall, etc.  As far as I could see, there weren’t any changes since we’d last dined here September of 2015.  

This table in one corner of the restaurant is crowded with wine as well as some ingredients for appetizers and entrees.

The fact is that La Trattoria da Gaetano doesn’t have a written/printed menu…or even a chalkboard with special listed.  Instead, Gaetano himself brings a cart around and he describes the appetizers and entrees that he can prepare.  The trick for old folks like me is trying to remember what the heck all the choices are!

You also have to be willing to gamble a little bit as you won’t discover what your meals will cost until you get the bill…and this restaurant is not inexpensive.

One big disappointment for us was that Gaetano himself was out of town on a trip.  He’s such a character that his presentation of the various food items is partly informative and part entertainment.  His son (in the back right) went over the items with us on this occasion.  The advantage was that son doesn’t have an accent so it’s easier to follow what he’s saying…even if I still can’t remember all of the options.

Our waiter took a photo of our little group… From the left, Laurie, me, Nona and Bob…  We did encounter one problem this evening that you might notice if you study the photo.   Three of us had our food but Laurie’s entrée arrived late.  The problem was that they brought her the wrong entrée in the first place.

Since I don’t have a written record of what we had to eat…just a receipt…it’s a challenge to recall which entrees were which.  I am sure that this veal dish was Nona’s entrée.  It’s a dish that Bob and Nona have had on several previous occasions and they really enjoy it. 

This was Bob’s entrée…Lobster ravioli with shrimp in a tomato vodka sauce.  Winner, winner!   Those shrimp look good to me!

This was the side of spaghetti and meat sauce that accompanied Nona and my entrees.  While I’m sure that it is very popular, it just had too many vegetables in it for my taste. 

My main dish was this stuffed pork chop!  It was very good…large too!  Laurie got a few mushrooms and a taste of the pork chop.  There was nothing left on my plate when I finished…

Laurie finally got her entrée.  She also ordered the lobster ravioli but in her case it was topped with artichokes and a few pieces of lobster.  This was not her favorite iteration of lobster ravioli… It was too sweet for her taste and this offering just didn’t ‘pop’ for her.

So on this occasion at La Trattoria Da Gaetano we had some hits and some misses.  Despite this experience and taking our first visit back in 2015 in account, this is a dining experience that is worth a try.  It’s definitely an old style Italian restaurant with a character of its own.   Note that this restaurant scores 4.5 stars out of 5 on both and!

La Trattoria Da Gaetano is located at 2152 Main Street in Dunedin Florida.  Phone: 727-733-5664.  This restaurant doesn’t have a website but you can find them on Facebook at

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Lenny’s – Clearwater

Laurie and I were down in Clearwater Florida visiting our good friends Bob and Nona.  Laurie and I have been married/together for almost 39 years and we’ve been friends with Bob and Nona the entire time.  I worked with Bob many, many years ago at the Venture Stores division of May Department Stores in St. Louis Missouri.

In any case, they have a favorite local restaurant that they love to visit when they want to go out for breakfast…and since that’s our favorite meal out we were happy to give it a try!

This is Lenny’s in Clearwater Florida…or as their menu states…”Lenny’s – The Legend Lives On!”  Lenny’s has been serving breakfast here since about 1980.  This restaurant is right up our alley as they serve breakfast any time during open hours and they’re open 7 days a week from 6 AM to 3 PM.  

Lenny’s has that northeastern USA ‘diner’ look even though it is large as compared to the usual diner.  It could be a retro looking New York Jewish diner for that matter.  That’s appropriate since the menu features bagels with nova and cream cheese, knishes, blintzes, Matzo and potato pancakes as well as chopped liver and a hot ‘Roumanian’ pastrami sandwich.

We’d already attacked this complimentary basket of Danish goodies before we remembered to take a photo.  This basket of sweet treats comes with almost all the breakfast items!  Before the meal was over, the basket was empty…

Nona went for the bacon and egg breakfast. ($8.99) Her 2 over-easy eggs and 4 slices of bacon were accompanied by home fries without onions. 

For their sides, diners can choose between 4 silver dollar pancakes or 2 of the following: home fries, grits, toast, hot fresh baked biscuit, slices of tomatoes or fresh fruit garnish.

Laurie went for the same breakfast as Nona did only she added onions to her home fries!  She loved the fact that this standard breakfast comes with 4 slices of bacon… They also cooked the bacon crispy, the way she likes it.

What can I say…Traditional meat and egg breakfasts were ‘in’ for most of our group!  Bob’s breakfast was a bit different in that he got bacon, a sausage link and a sausage patty.

FYI... The deli side of the menu appealed to me almost as much as the breakfast portion did.  Hot corned beef, a corned beef or pastrami or turkey ‘Knish-Wich’, tongue, roast beef, salami, burgers, wraps, chicken noodle soup, sweet and sour cabbage soup, etc., round out the luncheon menu.

Well what the heck… Someone had to break the mold and order something other than a standard breakfast!  I went for something with a ‘southern touch’, the Redneck Benedict. ($9.99) Yes, there are 2 sausage patties and 2 poached eggs on 2 biscuit halves buried in that load of sausage gravy… I added Tabasco of course.  That sausage gravy mixed in very nicely with the meat, eggs and a nice biscuit. 

Lenny’s offers 8 different benedicts, including a chicken waffle version.  The menu also includes no less than 20 different omelettes!  Yes, French toast, pancakes and waffles are also available. 

These are our friends Nona and Bob… Good food and good friends make everyone happy!  It’s a great combination.  We ate very well at their home as well.  Bob is a good prep assistant and Nona can really deliver on the Italian dishes!

Lenny’s was definitely a winner!  The food is top notch and the pricing is hard to beat in a metro area.  We wish that we had a place like this anywhere within driving range from our home in East Tennessee!  Lenny’s is located at 21220 US Hwy. 19 North in Clearwater Florida.  Phone: 727-799-0402.  Website:

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for breakfast!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave