Friday, April 29, 2022

Our Return to a Knoxville Favorite Casual Restaurant

It sure is good to be back to post Covid-19 normal, whatever that is.  Confusion reigns in that regard, but in our case we’ve been vaccinated, boosted and re-boosted, so we’re moving on with life.  It is a relief, that’s for sure.  At my age, ‘losing a couple of years’ is not a good thing.  Like many people, young and old, we feel ‘cheated’ out of valuable life experiences…

So, with Laurie’s sister Bonnie and her husband Bill visiting us, we decided to revisit a popular Knoxville restaurant that we hadn’t been to in a couple of years…

This is Pero’s of Rocky Hill in Knoxville Tennessee.  It is variously described as a Greek or Mediterranean Restaurant.  In reality, while Pero’s does have a number of both Greek and Mediterranean items on the menu, the variety offered will satisfy just about any casual diners…

Pero’s is equipped with a well-stocked full service bar.  We arrived a bit early and not much was going on.  We ended up being seated in this large room.  The problem was that it was cold and every time the back door opened for patrons to enter or exit, a cold chill hit us.  Most of Pero’s parking is in the back and we’d never been seated in this room before.

The second photo is the dining room at the front of Pero’s.  I took this photo when we were leaving and it’s easy to see that this is a popular restaurant.  By this time the back bar dining area was just about as busy too…

On to the food… This is the Tzatziki Sauce appetizer. ($11.75) Classic Greek yogurt sauce with garlic and a hint of lemon is served with cucumber slices (hidden in the photo), celery, cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks and grilled pita wedges.  Knowing that Knoxville/East Tennessee isn’t big on garlic, we asked for extra garlic to mix into the sauce.

Just to be safe and verify our past experience with the tzatziki sauce, we tried it without the garlic before we mixed in an appropriate amount to kick it up a notch.  Asking for extra garlic was the right move although a teaspoon full would have been plenty to satisfy us.

We also ordered 10 Chicken Wings for the table. ($13.85) Our options for seasoning included mild, hot, BBQ or lemon pepper.  We chose the latter and the wings were excellent!  We would order them again…

An editorial comment: At what point do many middle class people stop going out to eat due to the cost?  Nothing against Pero’s pricing because rising costs are impacting consumer prices everywhere.  Example: $1.38 per chicken wing…not unusual these day...

Laurie and Bonnie both ordered Lemondrop Martinis. ($9.00) Bill ordered a very nice glass of Riesling ($6.00) and I ordered a Mayday Blonde beer. ($5.00) The ladies loved their martinis! 

Bill ordered a cup of Lobster Bisque soup to go with his entrée. ($3.85 as an add-on) He didn’t care for it at all and he loves anything seafood related…

As for the wide variety of appetizers on Pero’s menu, they include such items as: Greeksadillas, Shrimp and Grits, Fried Ravioli (rarely seen outside of St. Louis Missouri), Crab Cakes, Onion Rings, Tiropita, Spanakopita and Mozzarella Squares.  Fourteen different salads also appear on the menu…

For his entrée, Bill ordered Pero’s Fettuccine. ($15.95) This offering consists of fettuccine tossed in Pero’s homemade Alfredo sauce with sweet Italian Sausage, mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes.  As you can see, it was accompanied by a couple of Garlic Knots.  Bill was a happy camper for sure!

Pero’s offers a total of 10 different pasta entrees plus at least 11 other entrees ranging from Pasticcio, to Veal or Chicken Parmesan, Eggplant Parmesan and Parmesan Crusted Tilapia.  Just deciding what to eat is a challenge…

Laurie and Bonnie decided to share a pizza so they ordered a medium 12 inch “Stinky Greek”. ($20.55) They loved it and its combination of gyro meat, feta cheese, fresh tomatoes, garlic and black olives.

As for yours truly, I decided to order a small 10 inch creation titled “The Carnivore”. ($15.60) It included pepperoni, Italian sausage, ham, ground beef and bacon all layered on top of Pero’s excellent marinara meat sauce.  What can I say…it was just too much of a good thing as least from my view point.  I love Pero’s meat sauce but when combined with sweet Italian sausage and ham, the pizza was just too sweet for my taste.  Pero’s certainly didn’t skimp on the meat though!  Next time I’ll opt for the ‘design your own pizza option’. 

Still didn’t see anything that tickled your taste buds?  Pero’s menu also offers 7 different burgers including one served on a Crispy Kreme donut, 5 different wraps and 11 different sandwiches including a salmon version and a Cuban with crab cakes.  The latter offering begs the question, “When is a Cuban not a Cuban”.  In any case variety is one of Pero’s strengths…

Pero’s Bar and Grill is located at 7706 South Northshore Drive in Knoxville Tennessee.  Phone: 865-694-6900.  Pero’s website complete with many photos of their widely varied dining choices can be found at:    

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Out and About with Bonnie and Bill

Another day and where to go with Laurie’s sister Bonnie and Bonnie’s husband Bill?  They’ve visited us often enough that finding new and different places for them can be challenging.  But as usual, we came up with a couple of ideas…

Laurie and I decided to take them to Grain Bin Commodities in/near Sweetwater Tennessee.  This family operation had opened up after Bonnie and Bill’s last visit to East Tennessee.   Once again Laurie and I loaded up on Caramel ‘Crack’ and “Fire Crackers”, baked saltines with red pepper flakes.

The family that operates Grain Bin Commodities has operated a dairy farm here for many, many years.  It is a generational thing… Now they have the bakery with a patio and outdoor pizza ovens as well as a barn full of decorator items and antiques. 

After our little group did some damage in the bakery…making a number of purchases…we move onto the barn.  There was a nice selection of quality items available.  We were told that they are focused on buying decorative items that are made in America…and then blending them in with the antiques that they acquire.  Bonnie did make a small purchase in the barn.

Grain Bin Commodities is located at 5215 Holt Road near Sweetwater Tennessee.  They are located just a short distance west of I-75 at Exit 62.  Phone: 865-599-9001.  Grain Bin Commodities regularly advertises/touts their available products via Facebook.  Their website can be found at

Our next stop was at Tsali Notch Vineyard and Tasting Room.  The setting certainly was striking.  Too bad that it was a chilly and cloudy day.  Love all those little hills…actually the foothills of the Smoky Mountains.

This was in early April and Tsali Notch was sponsoring one of their market days…”Market at the Notch”.  Events like this involve a local farm or other large property sponsoring an event where vendors sell local crafts and other products.  It helps the local crafters and farmers sell their products while bringing visitors to the farm…in this case to the Vineyard.

I looked around a bit, taking photos of whatever caught my fancy.  The first structure is a recently refurbished 2-room farmhouse from the 1800s.  It is called ‘The Jackson Lounge’ and I suspect that it plays a part in private events, such as weddings and reunions that take place at Tsali Notch.

The second building is a reconstructed log building that is used as Tsali Notch’s tasting room.  The wines produced in East Tennessee are just too sweet for our northern palates so we skipped this opportunity.  However, it is important to note that Monroe County, the city of Sweetwater and Tsali Notch hosts an annual East Tennessee Muscatine Grape Festival and it is a fun filled event!  You can learn more about this event at this Website:

Unfortunately, it was too early to grab a bite to eat.  A food truck/trailer was on site at the vineyard to serve the vendors and guests attending the marketplace event.  This is “Roots”, a food truck based out of Athens Tennessee that serves up authentic Puerto Rican food.  I noticed that they were scheduled for a return to Tsali Notch on May 7th, so they must be popular.  Phone: 609-849-7540.  “Roots” is on Facebook at

The preceding photo shows some of the grapevines at Tsali Notch.  This vineyard specializes in muscadine grapes that are grown on more than 6,000 vines on 21 miles of trellis.  The grapevines cover 35 acres of this 202 acre property.  The average elevation of the vineyard is 1,150 feet… During harvest season, the Notch welcomes people to come and pick the grapes for their own juice, jelly and winemaking.  Tsali Notch grows six different varieties of muscadines…

Muscadine is a grapevine species that is native to the southeastern and south-central United States.  It grows all the way from Florida to the New Jersey coast and west as far as Texas and Oklahoma.  These grapes have been extensively cultivated since the 1500s.

As for this tree, I asked Laurie to take a photo of it just because I liked the way it looked…

Fortunately the ‘Market at the Notch’ was staged in this barn…which also serves as a large event site.  It was too darn cold to be outside in the wind!  At one point, the wind gusted to well over 50 miles an hour and sleet blew horizontally past the open barn door.  Nothing like spring weather to keep us off balance!

On the other hand, if you take a look at the barn’s walls, you can see that the structure was built to allow air movement…critical in hot weather.  There were a number of heaters scattered around the barn but they had little positive effect unless I stood right next to one!

In any case, both the visitors/customers and vendors were mostly bundled up and seemed to be doing all right.  I’ve included just 3 photos of the vendor’s booths in the barn.  There was pottery, baked goods, beef, handmade jewelry, farm products and a variety of other arts and crafts. 

The last photo I took is the one occupied by Suzanne Harper, the owner and proprietor of Udder Joy Farms.  Laurie always has a number of Suzanne’s goat milk based beauty and personal care products on hand at home and she didn’t fail to make a purchase on this occasion either… Note: Suzanne was behind the post!

To learn more about the products that Suzanne and Udder Joy Farms offer for sale, you can go to her website at:

To learn more about Tsali Notch Vineyard including their hours and directions, they are on both Facebook and the web.  Check them out at and/or at  Phone: 423-506-9895.

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, April 22, 2022

Dining plus Cades Cove

...continuing with our adventures around the latest visit by Laurie’s sister Bonnie and her husband Bill.

After stopping at all those antique/collectibles shops as described in the previous post, we continued on east on US Hwy 321 to Townsend Tennessee near one of the entrances to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Before visiting the park, we decided that it was time for lunch.

On March 22nd, I’d published a post about Laurie and my first dining experience at the Peaceful Side Social Brewery and Craft Kitchen.  We’d enjoyed the experience and we thought that Bill and Bonnie would like this relatively new dining venue as well.

Bonnie took this photo of Laurie sitting at the table with some old guy who I just don’t recognize… Time does fly by!

For the most part, we ordered “shareables” from the menu.  In this case, it was the Cajun Shrimp plus Sausage. ($13.00) The dish consisted of Roasted shrimp and Conecuh Sausage with tomatoes and chilis in pesto with sourdough bread.  It was very good but we would have liked a couple more half slices of bread to soak up the sauce.

FYI, Conecuh Sausage is a brand name for smoked sausage made in Evergreen Alabama.  This family owned business was founded in 1947.  Check out their website at

Bill and Bonnie love charcuterie boards.  At Peaceful Side Social, they call it the Appalachian Trail Board. ($13.00) It included a couple different types of salami, some Benton’s Country Ham, regional cheeses, pepper relish, pickles, trail mix and crackers.  Our server brought us some additional crackers.  Bill and Bonnie really liked it and thought that it was a great value as compared to similar items they’ve sampled in St. Louis Missouri.

FYI, if you are unfamiliar with Benton’s Country Ham and their other products, go to  This is also a family owned business.  It is located in Madisonville Tennessee and Benton’s has also been operating since 1947. 

I ordered this large pretzel with beer cheese and whole grain mustard. ($11.00) It was OK but we’ve had better pretzels.  The beer cheese worked well though…

As one more shareable, we ordered a rather imaginative offering.  These were our Goat Cheese Grit Fritters. ($9.00) They consisted of fried corn with goat cheese bites and they were served with Peaceful Side Social’s ‘Comeback Sauce’.  I really enjoyed this creation!

Bill had decided to take it easy on the ‘shareables’, so he ordered a sandwich as a main dish.  This was his Smoked Trout and Avocado sandwich. ($12.00) Local smoked trout, tomato, pickled red onion, arugula and avocado were served on rustic sourdough bread.  He was very pleased with his choice.

Turnabout is fair play.  Laurie snapped this photo of Bill and Bonnie at the restaurant.  The first time we visited Peaceful Side Social, it was fairly empty.  If you look over Bonnie and Bill’s shoulders, you can see that this relatively ‘new’ restaurant has been ‘discovered’!

Peaceful Side Social Brewery and Craft Kitchen is located at 7967 East Lamar Alexander Parkway (US Hwy 321) in Townsend Tennessee.  Phone: 865-518-6300.  Website:

After our late lunch, we took advantage of the rather dreary and chilly day to visit the most visited unit or place in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Dreary and chilly is a good thing as it keeps many of the tourists away and makes the scenic circle route through Cades Cove doable in a reasonable amount of time.

Trail rides in Cades Cove is big business, but on this day most if not all of the horses that are used for these trail rides were enjoying a day out in the pasture.  One horse was ‘working’ the tourist’s vehicles looking for treats.  He’d snuffle your hand and if you didn’t have anything for him he just moved on to the next possible snack.

The National Park Service and its allies have maintained a fair number of structures in Cades Cove including old family farm buildings and churches.  But, most tourist come to the Cove to see wildlife and to enjoy the spectacular scenery.  On this occasion we saw a lot of deer and turkey too…but didn’t get any usable photos of the wild turkey.

Cades Cove (valley) is located in the Tennessee section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  It was home for many settlers before they were forced to leave their homes upon the formation of the National Park.  The population of Cades Cove probably never exceeded 700 people.  With its wild life, scenic mountain views and well preserved homesteads, the Cove attracts more than 2,000,000 visitors each year.  The Cades Cove Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  

Of course the big ‘draw’ for tourists in Cades Cove are the black bears!  We’ve made the circle drive many times in the last 12+ years and this was only the 3rd or 4th time that we actually saw any bear.  Best of all, it was a mama bear and her 3 cubs.  We only captured 2 of the cubs in the photo but we got a decent head shot of mama. 

As always happens, a traffic jam took place with tourist getting out of their vehicles to get close up photos.  Fortunately a ranger or volunteer showed up, put people back in their vehicles and got traffic moving again.  If it had been a nice sunny day with heavy traffic, we might have spent an hour or more trying to get past these bears…

To learn more about Cades Cove, its history and its people, just go to

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Mostly Shopping…

We’ve been busy during the past week or so.  But before I get into what we’ve been up to via verbiage and photos, I thought that I’d throw in a couple of photos that popped up in our general neighborhood.

This cement truck lost it as it rounded a curve approaching the only stoplight in our village.  That guard rail has taken a beating lately with a moving van and lawn care service all losing it on that particular corner.  It may be a problem with braking too hard on a slick surface as these heavy vehicles are rounding the corner approaching the stoplight…

Other local news was of a more serious nature.  A woman in the village was attacked and killed by her own dog…an Alsatian Shepard.  It was the family’s trained guard dog so it’s a mystery as to what set it off.  Police had to put the dog down in order to approach the woman as the dog was ‘guarding’ her.  Very sad indeed…

This stunning photo was taken by a resident in the nearby Rarity Bay residential development.  This is mid-spring in East Tennessee with greenery up close and snow in the Smoky Mountains.

We once again had visitors!  It’s been awhile since Laurie’s sister Bonnie and her husband Bill have driven over from St. Louis Missouri to visit us at our home.  Of course, last October we did meet up with them in Kentucky to explore the area around Lexington.

So, our first ‘adventure’ from this visit involved shopping.  Note: While neither of the sisters buy much they do love looking.  Bonnie’s husband Bill also likes shopping.  I usually take photos and search for old postcards…quickly moving on if I don’t find any. 

Laurie and Bonnie posed for me in this photo.  They sure do look like sisters don’t they?  Bonne was looking for clothes for her granddaughters Barbie dolls…and she scored too!  It’s a good thing that Laurie has stopped collecting Teddy Bears or we would have owned that one…

The preceding photos will give viewers an idea of the variety and quality of the offerings at the unimaginatively but accurately named ‘Highway 411 South Antiques’ shop.  Unlike many ‘antique’ shops, the displays here are not overwhelming nor are most of them cluttered with junk masquerading as ‘collectibles’.  There are 5,000 plus square feet full of items to explore…

I did find one nice postcard as shown above.  It shows the “Cotton Yard” in New Orleans in 1909 or earlier.  Walter wrote Ethel…romantically talking about sweating…and signing it “Lovingly, Walter”.  I look for postcards mailed by 1915, preferably earlier, and still with their stamps intact.  I love the whimsy and history recorded in the images as well as in the prose…

Highway 411 South Antiques is located at 5003 US Hwy 411 in Maryville Tennessee.  Phone: 865-856-5500.  They are on Facebook at

‘Roost’ is a home décor/decorator shop in downtown Maryville Tennessee.  It offers high quality and interesting items for the home with furniture, carpets, lamps, art, and accent pieces.  I generally don’t like stores like this but not in this case.  The items on display are imaginative and interesting, even to me.

This eye-catching outdoor display in the patio at the entrance to Roost is an example of the owner’s imagination.  That cozy little shelter, made with branches by a local artisan, just draws you in and you feel like you have to look closer at the overall display.

I rarely include more than 2 photos of the interior of any shop unless it is humongous.  In this case, I made an exception so that I could show off some of the variety and imagination shown by Paula Osborn, the designer/owner of this classy store.

Bonnie did make a modest purchase, accent pieces for her home.  The fact that our home is already so jammed with items that we have accumulated over these many years saves me (us) a lot of money.  Roost (Interior Design) is located at 109 East Broadway Avenue in Maryville Tennessee.  Phone: 865-984-4100.  Website: 

One more antique store on this first day of exploration and shopping… This is ‘Foothills Antiques’.  Bill was checking something out when I took this photo.  While this store has more ‘collectibles’ to offer than top notch antiques, the items being offered are well displayed and not piled up on top of each other.   If you keep your eyes open and you know what you’re looking at, there is a decent collection of items available.  I saw several items that appealed to me…but managed to leave without a purchase.

Foothills Antiques is located at 3723 East Lamar Alexander Parkway in Maryville on the road to Smokey Mountains National Park and Cades Cove.  Foothills Antiques’ phone number is 865-981-9590.  They are on Facebook at

An adjacent antique store is McQuade Antiques.  He was closed when we stopped by but the last time we visited his store, we were struck by the quality of his antique offerings.  McQuade Antiques is located at 4731 East Lamar Alexander Parkway.  Phone: 865-696-1268.  He is 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