Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Restaurants – New and Re-Invented

…continuing with our break from my ongoing series of posts about our late summer road trip to Michigan and beyond.

This post is all about local restaurants near us in East Tennessee.  One is a brand-new venture and another long standing restaurant that is now under new ownership.

Starting with the new dining option, Rice Kitchen Thai Sushi and Hibachi Restaurant is located in the center of Tellico Village, a census-designated place and unincorporated planned community situated along the shores of the Tellico Reservoir in Loudon County Tennessee.  With a population exceeding 7,500 residents, although it is populated primarily by retirees, Tellico Village isn’t gated and there are no age restrictions.

Rice Kitchen has taken over a space in a small strip shopping center that has been home to 2 or 3 other restaurants over the past 10 or more years ago.  To say that the sign on the front of Rice Kitchen or its dining room décor is minimalist would be an understatement.  The interior looks much the same as it has for several years now.  It was a pizza restaurant when we first moved to the area over 13 years ago…

Of course, décor isn’t everything.  It’s really about the food isn’t it?

The Rice Kitchen has been wildly popular since it opened.  When we arrived just before they opened for dinner at 5 PM, there was a line of folks waiting to get inside.  Part of the attraction may well be that it is different from other restaurants in the vicinity… With a couple of exceptions, (Thai Bistro for one), Loudon County and to a great degree, even nearby Knoxville is almost an ethnic food ‘desert’.  Local Tellico Village residents are from all over the USA…usually from large cities…and they crave ethnic food options.

The chef and his staff were very busy indeed as the Rice Kitchen filled up with customers very quickly.  Service was a little uneven due to the rush of customers as well as staffing.

To start us out, we ordered the Sharon Shrimp…shrimp stuffed with Thai herbs, wrapped in rice paper, fried and served with a sweet chili sauce. ($7.49) It was good if not great…but then again the menu is quite expansive so we were learning about our options as we ordered in the midst of a rush of other diners.

Our entrées were delivered together on a large plate.  I’m assuming that the idea is that we each were to share part of our individual selections.  Laurie had ordered the Rainbow Roll, with crab meat, avocado, cucumber and topped with slices of tuna, salmon, red snapper and shrimp. ($13.00) I had ordered the Crunch Munch Roll, with spicy tuna, tempura fried jalapeno and cream cheese, topped with spicy crunchy shrimp and spicy eel sauce. ($14.49)

Laurie really enjoyed her entrée and I thought that mine was OK.  Next time I will try either a hibachi or teriyaki offering.

Rice Kitchen is open for dinner starting at 4 PM, with closing at 9PM.  They are also open for lunch from 11 AM until 3 PM.  Rice Kitchen is closed on Sundays.  At this point they do not have a useful presence on the Internet.  Rice Kitchen is located at 206 Village Square Drive in Loudon Tennessee. (Tellico Village) Phone: 865-657-9474.  

Countryside Restaurant is located in nearby Vonore Tennessee.  This restaurant has been serving its loyal customers for many years.  We had eaten here a couple of times in the 13+ years we’ve lived in the area and it was just OK…a fuel stop for folk’s stomachs. 

However, quite recently the former owners retired or gave up the business and Countryside is now operated by a known local restaurateur who has a loyal following and a reputation for delivering good food…basic quality menu items…and who is known for running an efficient operation.

On this occasion we dined with friends Linda and Norm… Countryside was very busy...almost always a good sign.  We didn’t order any appetizers but several interesting choices were available.  Perhaps the next time we’ll try the Chili Bean Nachos, the shredded Pork Potato Skins, Loaded Tots or the grilled Shrimp on a Stick. 

Both Laurie and Linda ordered the Fried Catfish with Hushpuppies, French fries and coleslaw. ($13.00) Laurie chose the buttered corn for her side but other options include mashed potatoes, potato salad, mac n’ cheese, rice, fried okra, green beans, pinto beans, baked beans and turnip greens.  Other seafood options include Mahi Tacos ($15.00), Grilled Grouper ($16.00) and Seasoned or Blackened Atlantic Salmon. ($15.00)

The ladies definitely enjoyed their entrees.  The catfish was nicely done and Laurie reported that the French fries were superior to most others…

For my entrée, I ordered the Country Fried Steak. ($11.00) For my sides I chose the mashed potatoes with gravy and the corn.  The server also brought the green beans…which, unfortunately I can’t eat due to my medications.  The country fried steak was good and the meal, especially given the prices we pay in today’s inflationary environment, was very reasonably priced.

I’d also considered 4 different sandwiches for my evening meal.  They included the Brisket Grilled Cheese ($12.00), the Brisket Hoagie ($13.00), a Grilled Reuben ($11.00), or a Catfish Po’Boy. ($12.00) FYI, sandwiches come with one side.

Norm ordered the evening's special entrée, Grilled Pork Chops, for his dinner.  They came with baked apple slices and for his sides, Norm chose the Tater Tots and Pinto Beans.  The chops looked good and Norm said that they were grilled to perfection.  As it was a special and not listed on the menu, I didn’t get the price for his entrée. 

Other dinner entrees not already mentioned include Beef Tips ($17.00), Southwest Grilled Chicken ($14.00), Hamburger Steak ($14.00), Meatloaf ($11.00) and, Grilled Beef Liver with Onions. ($12.00)

We were happy with our dining experience and we were pleased to discover that the ‘new’ Countryside Restaurant has taken a huge step forward in both quality and variety while keeping prices as reasonable as possible and still make a profit.

Countryside Restaurant is located at 2021 US Hwy 411 in Vonore Tennessee.  This restaurant is open from 11 AM until 9 PM Tuesdays through Saturdays and from 11 AM until 3 PM on Sundays.  They are closed on Mondays.  Phone: 423-884-6673.  Website: https://www.countrysiderestaurant.com/.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 


  1. I grew up eating a lot of rice, so I am not a fan of them..but I do love the seafood toppings :-)) I LOVE steak and have never tried a fried steak though...

  2. The only reason I will step foot in Denny's is to get a country fried steak with mashed and gravy. It never disappoints.

  3. Glad to hear that Countryside is putting out some good food.