The Big Hoss and Cheesebread
Looking for a good pizza in this town can be a challenging not due to the scarcity of the product, but the overwhelming abundance of the needlessness of more pizza establishments. Ok that sentence was too much even for me. Basically if you want a pizza in Knoxville, close your eyes and point to the list. Who can choose? This particular night I wanted pizza, and I happened upon a small event happening at the Pizza Hoss. My good friend Mike Snodgrass was going to be playing music there and I thought I would take the opportunity to review this establishment. (You can find Mike at www.mikesnodgrassmusic.com)
I received the directions and headed that way. As I drove, I noticed I was getting further away from businesses and closer to the middle of nowhere it seemed. My GPS stated that I was there. Where was I? I didn't see any businesses. Finally I was able to locate the establishment. Could I really be in the right place? The building had black out windows and, with a small amount of cars, looked to be all but closed. I sat in my vehicle, pondering whether to go in or just go home. I decided to take the chance.
I walked and was greeted with a waitress that was surprisingly pleasant. I took my seat and of course the music was going in the background. I ordered my drink, which was a Hi-C fruit punch. The waitress was so puzzled that an adult would order such a drink but you can read all about that in my article, "Why Adults are Afraid of the Fruit Punch." I finally had my order taken. I decided to go with an order of cheese sticks and The Big Hoss.
What is The Big Hoss? It turned out to be only the meatiest pizza I had ever laid eyes on. When the food came, it was hard to see it because the atmosphere is very dark. However I knew what I was dealing with as soon as I took the first bite. The pizza was loaded with pepperoni, ham, Italian sausage, and bacon. I tasted each component with every bite. If I had a complaint about the pizza is that it was lacking in cheese and the bread wasn't the best I had ever had. The real star of this meal, however, was the cheese sticks. I don't know how much cheese they used on that bread, but it was nothing short of amazing. You simply must go get them.
To sum it all up, I can say after a rocky and unsure start, I had a pretty good time. I would recommend you give Pizza Hoss a try. That being said, I will give you the full and honest opinion of The Picky Fork. For an uninviting location, friendly waitress, and a mediocre dough, I have to give this restaurant a picky
3.7 out of 5.
Fried Seafood Platter
Chesapeake's is a restaurant which prides itself on being the premier seafood restaurant in town. The food is fresh because it arrives daily. I decided to sail on down for dinner to see if this restaurant would provide a bountiful booty, or leave me holding the barnacles.
My first impression of the restaurant was that the décor came from a low budget theme park. Yes, every table had a fish tank. Though those tanks were the same that one might put in your home. Nice in the right setting, but out of place for a large restaurant. I walked over to the hostess stand and found a nice young lady inserting paper into the menus. No one seemed to be in the restaurant yet as it looks like they had just opened for dinner. She instructed me she would be just a moment. As I stood there, watching her place the paper into every menu, I noticed this may take a while. So I took a seat. What seemed like forever was probably seven to eight minutes that I waited. Finally I was seated.
The waitress came to my table and she was very polite. She explained much of the menu to me and took my drink order. I asked for a boring water with lemon and began to decide. I decided to try the fried seafood platter. This would give me an opportunity to taste many types of seafood at once. It was suppose to come with fish, shrimp, scallops, and oysters. I had my reservations about the oysters as I know they are hard to clean and prepare. I also know the chances of the chefs being from the coast were slim to none so I opted to replace my oysters with more shrimp.
I was so happy to have made that choice. When my food arrived, I went straight for the scallops. Not because I love scallops (which I do), but to see if I was correct in passing on the oysters. I was not surprised to find the first one had not been properly cleaned and the third was not prepared correctly. This meal was sinking already. I went for the shrimp. Spot on! The fish was white and flaky, but the flavor just wasn't there. I had fries as a side. For a restaurant to have just opened, I found it odd to have old fries. The ketchup was in a small bowl as well. I find this way of serving ketchup to be the most disgusting of ways. The reason is the vinegar found in ketchup will rise to the top and hence you are now dipping your fries in vinegar. Not my idea of a good time.
So to put this trip in perspective, I had really good service, some good and not so good food, and a quirky, yet somehow enjoyable, seating arrangement. I'm not saying I won't sail with them again. I'm just saying I will be wearing my life vest next time. Chesapeake's gets a picky 3.4 out of 5.
Chocolate Chocolate Bundtlet
I found this sweet little place near the Bearden area and had to stop in. I believe it has only been open for a few months but already has created quite the buzz here in Knoxville. The building is small and, to tell the truth, looks like any of the other desert shops around town. That being said, this bakery has created a unique experience for dessert lovers of any type. They have chosen the bundt cake as their sweet spot.
As I walked in, I was greeted by a man who seemed to be welcoming and helping people navigate the store. Although it was nice, the store was very small and I felt him to be an unnecessary fixture to an already space deprived room. Nevertheless I was directed to try a sample. I made my way to the sample dish, not knowing exactly what to expect. It was love at first bite. The cake was moist and the frosting I found to be just sweet enough to really top the cake.
I decided I had better try a bundtlet in the case. The cakes in the case are never as good as the fresh samples, are they? I purchased the same flavor as the sample so that I could be fair about the experience. Although the register operator did not share the same enthusiasm as the man at the door, I felt with the amount of people in the small room, she was satisfactory. On my way out, the same man asked again if I found everything I wanted. Perhaps he used to sale high-end suits or something. He was just someone trying too hard.
I took the cake home to see what kind of staying power this cake had. I figured being a bundt cake, it could hold up well. That is the genius of this niche item. I went home and ate the entire cake in one setting. I couldn't put it down. I was excited to see the icing was a generous portion as well. You simply must try this place if you love dessert. For an overzealous greeter, delicious cake, and an uninterested cashier, I give this bakery a picky 4.3 out of 5.
Carino's Favorites Combo
I was looking for a great place to eat dinner in Pigeon Forge, when I happened to stumble on this restaurant. As I passed by, I was immediately drawn to the outside of the building. The sign was prominent and the building looked inviting. I quickly pulled into the parking lot and gave their website a quick visit. The menu appeared to be fantastic! The website was put together well and I had made my decision. It was time to eat.
As I walked in I was greeted with a hostess of few words. I believe she grabbed a menu and nodded her head in the direction of my table. When we arrived around the corner, what was aesthetically pleasing, slowly started to dwindle down to a run down Captain D's décor. The seats were red, ripped, and were about as comfortable as rocks in my shoe. All that aside, I was there for the food.
My waitress came to my table right away and took my drink order. She was very kind. Her energy could have powered a small city, it seemed. My drink came very quickly and it was time to order. Everything was happening so fast. I was looking frantically about my menu and decided I should try many things at once. I chose Carino's Favorites Combo.
The menu description of this dish read as follows: "A bountiful combination of our homemade lasagna and homemade chicken parmigiana served with spaghetti and marinara." I decided to try it and as such, placed my order. I believe 3 minutes passed by and my food arrived. I was in disbelief. How could a dish come so fast? I believe it was definitely homemade. In other words, they meant it was made at someone's home in Italy, and shipped frozen. Let me say also that bountiful was an understatement as well. If you eat with your eyes first, I was full before the first bite.
Even though all the red flags were there, I decided to taste the dish. The spaghetti had so much water in it that it was more of a soup than a pasta. The chicken parmigiana tasted like they took a frozen chicken patty, scooped out the middle, and stuffed it with cheese. Finally, the lasagna was overpowered by the spices. They were possibly trying to make up the underlying mess that was presented as lasagna. The food here was absolutely atrocious!
After the quick greeting, and even quicker food, my waitress was not seen again for a good hour. I was ready to leave after about 25 minutes. I waited about a half an hour just to pay for my food. This restaurant was a wolf in sheep's clothing. For poor seating, worse food, and a waitress who did a disappearing act, I give this restaurant a picky 1.6 out of 5.
I chose to eat at the Copper Cellar nearest to the University of Tennessee to find a great experience. What I found in the process surprised even me. I had went to this establishment first because I had heard they were serving half-off burgers. You can always tell a restaurant's quality by their specials. If your burger is half-price, you sometimes get a half-price burger. From the moment I walked in, I knew a burger was out to the question.
Now we come to my first complaint. The parking for this place was inconvenient. If you have a compact car, bring it because you will need it. As I tried to navigate my tank through the parking lot, I looked for a place far away from any other car, parked, and set the emergency break. The parking feels like it is on a ninety degree angle. I walked through the door and my experience started to improve.
As I waited in line to be seated, I overheard the person in front of me receive the news that they would have to wait on a seat. After all, the place was buzzing with people from all different walks of life. To my surprise I was seated right away. I know you are thinking they must have known who I was but I will tell you they did not. If they had, perhaps I would have sat somewhere other than the kiddie table. Sure, I am exaggerating a bit, but the seating did feel a bit undersized for me. Note I am a rather large person. The place kind of reminded me of a fake Irish pub. It had some stained glass and mostly rustic wood. I personally enjoyed it but I am sure it is not for everyone.
My server was with me right away and, although quite inappropriately dressed for my taste, was very kind and attentive. She pointed toward the specials and was very helpful in what to order. For some reason, the pork chop caught my eye. I inquired about it because I love a pork chop that is done perfectly. Most restaurants do not. (Refer to the Applebarn review) The server suggested it to be amazing and so I ordered it right away.
I will say the food took quite a while, however, while I was waiting, I was never wanting for bread or drinks. I can wait for delicious food, and I was assuming this would be delicious. Finally the food arrived and, as you can tell by the picture, it was beautiful. I almost could not tell that this was pork. It looks like an amazing sirloin. This is how a boneless pork chop should look if it is cooked perfectly. I took my first bite......By far this is the best chop I have ever had. The seasoning was perfect and it was executed with precision. The fries were really good as well. The potato was lacking in butter but still cooked just right.
I wasn't a fan of the parking lot but, as you know, you can't judge a book by its inconveniently steep hill. The atmosphere was, for the most part, nice. The server was great and really tried to make you feel excited to be there. The food was simply put.. Amazing! For great food, great service, and a seat that made me feel like a giant, I give this experience a picky 4.6 out of 5.
This time I travel to a local favorite, Calhoun's, on Bearden Hill. As I walked in, I was greeted by a very nice hostess. This was such a pleasurable change to the recent hostess encounters I have experienced in this town. Looking around, I noticed what seemed to be a brewery in middle of the restaurant. The rest of the décor was standard and unimpressive.
My waitress came by and took my drink order. She seemed nice as well and so far I was pleased to be in this establishment. My drink came quickly and it was time to order. Not knowing what to get, I decided to try a bit of everything and chose the Calhoun's trio. It came with chicken strips, hickory smoked pork, and baby back ribs. It also came with slaw. Now Picky Nation you know I don't eat white food as a rule. So I opted to get double fries.
The food finally came. If you have ever stood in line for an hour for a roller coaster that was just ok then you know exactly how I felt. The fries were nothing to write home about. The chicken strips were good. The best part about the chicken was that the flavor was very unique. The ribs were great. Great flavor and the meat did fall off the bone for me. (I eat ribs with a knife and fork.) Where the fall came was with the smoked pork. It was dry. It had a good flavor but still very dry.
Overall the experience was great. The food had its high and low points. I suppose that is exactly why I got the sampler. My next visit will be more educated and I am sure I will enjoy it a little more. Still, this restaurant gave me a fine experience and for that they are getting a picky 4.0 out of 5.
Romey's Salmon- Award Winning
I was strolling in market square in beautiful downtown Knoxville, when I happened upon a restaurant on the corner. The appearance seemed to be the kind of cool place I would like to be at. The hostess stand was outside, and the menu was available to look at before you made the decision to eat there. The thing that convinced me to dine was the asterisk beside the Romey's Salmon. It said "award winning."
How could I resist such a boast? Of course I like to try new things, but when something says award winning, don't you have to order it? The staff was very friendly and, as I walked in, I was quite impressed with the overall feel of the restaurant. There was a certain buzz and everyone seemed like they were having a good time.
The restaurant had large windows on one side and paintings for sale on the other. The tables were lovely and the chairs were comfortable. This restaurant had all the makings to be in the top tier for what we do here at The Picky Fork. The waitress came and took my order. I wanted the Award Winning Romey's Salmon. What happened next was most surprising.
Romey's Salmon was supposed to be a hickory smoked, pan seared, champagne glazed salmon over Cajun cheese grits. I am not one to like grits but, as your guide to the restaurant world, I felt obligated to give the entire award winner a chance. It would turn out that the grits were not the issue at all.
The fact is, Picky Nation, the grits were probably the best thing about this dish, save the potato. The champagne glaze was extremely sweet, but my complaints were with the salmon itself. If you are a regular reader, you know that I eat a great amount of salmon and so am most qualified on this subject. This salmon was very chewy. It was tough and didn't have a good flake to it. The hickory smoke would have been a good touch, however, I feel they ran out of hickory and chose to use cigarettes. This salmon tasted just like a cigarette.
The service was great and everyone else's food looked, and smelled, amazing. I will be back. As for the award winning salmon. It must have won an award for most likely to ask for a refund. For a great experience, but some less than savory food, I will give this Blue Coast experience a picky 3 out of 5.
Litton Cheeseburger Platter
This restaurant is one of Knoxville's favorite spots, so I have heard. I was so excited to dine here. Would the food live up to the hype? I wasn't sure. So to find out, I had to go and experience what Litton's had to offer.
When I arrived, immediately I could feel the nostalgia. This diner appeared to look like something out of a 1950's movie. I walked in and was immediately seated. My first impression of the inside was not a great one. Although there was much memorabilia on the walls to look at, it seemed all of the content was of the many good reviews that Litton's had received. I was happy for them, but not entertained.
The table was neat to look at, even though it was full of creative ways to advertise local businesses. The seat that I sat in was much like an old church pew: uncomfortable and hard to get out of. The entire inside seems like it needs an update. However, I gave them a pass on that because I assumed it was all part of trying to be like a diner from yesteryear.
The server came by and she was nice, but not too nice. She was just one of those people who needed to warm up to you before she made you feel welcome. In the beginning it was a little awkward, but by the end, we were speaking as if we had known each other for years.
Now I know Picky Nation, you are here to read about the food, so here it is. I looked over the menu in search of something amazing. The menu was small and seemed to be tailored for burgers. As many of the reviews on the wall suggested they had the best burgers anywhere, I ordered the Litton cheeseburger platter. The word platter was a little misleading because this included fries. Yes just fries. I ordered my burger plain, as I do most times.
When the food came, I was pleasantly surprised. The burger was large, but not too large. The fries were fresh cut potatoes. These kind of fries are my favorite, so this meal was already getting bonus points from me. The burger buns seemed to be freshly made. I took the first bite. It was fantastic. It had a good bit of cheese on it. The burger was very fresh and cooked well. The flavor of the bun really set it off.
During dinner all I could smell was the sugar in the bakery. So I decided to have a cookie!
This is the Litton chocolate chip cookie and it was delicious. I loved the large chunks of chocolate inside the perfectly baked cookie. This is a must grab after dinner. For awesome food, some uncomfortable seating, and some service that will warm up if you stick with them, Litton's gets picky 4.1 out of 5.