Taking a Break to Focus on My Health

This was going to be a goodbye post, but a couple of people whose opinions I respect have convinced me to make it a “so long for a while” post.

Why I need a break

I love food and I love writing about food. I the former too much and the latter helps me justify acting on the former. I truly enjoy finding and trying a new restaurant and sampling its food, and when I do that, it’s really easy for the writer in me to enable to food lover in me to try an extra dish, or dessert when I really don’t need it. I also enjoy frequenting my favorite restaurants, as much for the relationships I have formed with the owners or employees as I do the excellent food they serve. For me, eating out is as much about enjoying the experience and atmosphere as it is the food, and I like the smiles I get when I walk into a place as a regular.

But the simple truth is that I’m a big guy – no, I’m a fat guy, and I’m tired of it. I need to lose a lot of weight and work on getting more fit. I can’t do that if I keep eating out 5-6 nights per week and indulging my Southern hankering for fried foods and lots of beef.

For now, I need to focus on losing weight, exercising more, and eating the right kinds of foods in reasonable quantities, and two of those would be difficult, and history suggests impossible for me, if I keep eating out and blogging about it.

I’ve been asked if I might want to blog about my efforts to lose weight, and the meals and products I’ll be trying along the way. My response to that is no, at least not until I’ve made enough progress to prove to myself that I’m writing about something successful, not another failed attempt to lose weight.

So Long, Not Goodbye

For now, this is so long. Once I’ve made more progress and once I’ve proven to myself that I can balance my passion for writing about food with my real need to stop indulging my love to eat that food, I’ll return to being the Geek Food Critic. Until then, I’m going to be the Geek Weight Loss Trainee.

A Random List of Great Places to Eat

In no particular order, I’ll list some of my favorites, and my reviews if I’ve posted them.

It’s All So Yummy – Sandwiches, Soup, and Ice Cream in Knoxville

Mario’s Pizza & Grill – Pizza, Sandwiches, and More in Knoxville

Forte’s on the Square – Pasta and More in Crossville

McNamara’s Irish Pub – Irish Food in Nashville

Blackhorse Pub & Brewery – Burgers, Pizza, and More in Knoxville

Long’s Drug Store – Lunch Counter, Tater Tots, Milkshakes and More in Knoxville

Little Joe’s – Pizza and Pasta in Knoxville

Champy’s – Fried Chicken and Hot Tamales in Chattanooga

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Review and More: Lone Oaks Farm

I recently had the opportunity to eat a simple but delicious meal prepared for some of my colleagues and me at a place called Lone Oaks Farm. So I’ll write up a quick review of that meal to follow my form here, but the purpose of me writing this post goes way beyond writing about a great meal.

I may have mentioned it before on this blog, but I work in IT, currently for the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture. I’ve worked in higher education IT for most of my career, and I’ve been with the Institute since late 2013. The Institute is composed of four units, one of which serves as its outreach unit, UT Extension. 4-H is part of UT Extension, and that’s where my trip to West Tennessee comes in, and why I ended up eating a great meal prepared by Chef Allen Cain.

The Meal

After a day of meetings to work on developing a strategy to improve and support the IT infrastructure at Lone Oaks Farm, we were treated to dinner.

Dinner was served buffet style, which was nice because it let me decide how much of each item I wanted. Once I’d tried them all, I was glad there was enough left for seconds.

Everything on this plate was great. The salad had just the might mix of veggies and whatever dressing it was tossed in was good. The sweet potato medly to the right of the salad was outstanding. I don’t know how he did it, but Chef Allen made sweet potatoes exciting and flavorful. The shrimp were great, but I’ll be honest, I worked my way through them with my mind on the steak. The steak was marinated and grilled to perfection, and the second one I snagged off the buffet (yes, I took the last one) was just as good as the first. The cream cheese-filled pastries were also delicious, but I limited myself to two of those.

So that’s the review of the meal – it was outstanding. The one thing I hope is that I will spend another night at the farm when Chef Allen prepares some of the trout you can catch right behind the main building.


The Farm

I don’t have the words to describe just how beautiful a place Lone Oaks Farm is. Lone Oaks exists on 1,200 acres of some of the most inspiring land I’ve ever seen. I didn’t have a clear idea in my head of how large 1,200 acres was before spending a few days on the farm.

What I can tell you is, especially since some of the cabins are located deep within some of the wooded areas, reachable by twisting trails, 1,200 acres is big. My boss and I stayed in a lodge at one end of the property and one of our coworkers stayed at a cabin at the other end. Driving to pick her up each morning took 5-7 minutes.


This is just one of the cabins/houses at Lone Oaks, one of thirteen. It’s called the Waterfall Cabin because it sits next to a lake with its own waterfall. I’d love to drop our son off at my parents and take my wife out here for a romantic few days away from it all.

There’s too much about Lone Oaks for me to go into here – check out the website if you want the incredibly interesting story of its history and plans for its future by UT.

The Experience – Why I Love My Job

I made a second trip out to Lone Oaks Farm recently – in fact I left Knoxville at nearly 9PM and drove the 5.5 hours to reach the farm so I could be there for an early morning meeting the next day. I was exhausted the next morning, but the work being done at Lone Oaks is important, and I was happy to do it. While the purpose of the trip was to work on the networking, IT, and video conferencing needs of the farm, what I saw that morning before breakfast cemented for me why I love my job and am so proud to be a part of what the Institute of Agriculture and UT Extension does across our state.

As we drove up to the Sale Barn for our breakfast meeting, I saw a large group of kids, probably pre-teens, playing volleyball outside. Considering I was working on about 4 hours of sleep, volleyball was the furthest thing from my mind, but those kids soon came inside and I realized they were staying at the farm as part of its role as a 4-H camp. What happened next took my breath away with its quiet power and simple goodness.

Chef Allen had prepared a pancake breakfast for everybody that day, and the 4-H kids were gathered at several large tables near us. Gary Rodgers, County Director and 4-H Agent in Hardeman County, got the kids’ attention and said to them something like, “As is our habit, we guys will wait for the girls to go through the line and get their food. Once we all have our food, we’ll give thanks.” And that’s exactly what they did.

And just like that, I was wide awake and excited about the day and our mission at Lone Oaks in a way that I hadn’t fully understood before. Here was a man, modeling courteous, respectful behavior, and reinforcing it with a group of boys and girls. I was raised in the South, in Tennessee, and this resonated with me. I knew right then that, even though I don’t want my 4 year-old son to grow up any faster, I look forward to the day that he can be in 4-H and be exposed to examples of leadership and citizenship like those kids at Lone Oaks have in Gary. Knowing that the work I do helps just that one part of 4-H and UT Extension be more connected, more technology-enabled, makes those trips across the state more than worth it. I didn’t take this pic, but it shows Gary working with some 4-H’ers.


If you have a chance to schedule an event of the kind Lone Oaks Farm can host, even if it’s just staying a night or two at one of the cabins, you should do it. You’ll see a place like no other you’ve seen before, and you’ll be supporting the great programs of Tennessee 4-H.


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Review: Carnivore Club March Shipment

You know your day is going to be interesting when you receive an email from a company offering to send you a box of meat.

I was intrigued by this offer, even though I had previously never heard of Carnivore Club. I actually thought somebody might be punking me, but nope – it turned out to be completely legit. If you’re looking for a good laugh, go check out their website and watch the video – it’s a riot. I just watched it again and still laughed.

I had no idea subscription meat services were a thing, but they are, and since that video was so funny, I let the company know that, sure, I’d be happy to receive a box of meat and write about it.


I will say that arriving home to discover a box of meat on my doorstep was kinda thrilling. I’d seen the box in the video, and even seen it in a review video I found on YouTube, but seeing it there on my porch made it real.

I will say when I took the box out of the envelope it shipped in, I did chuckle a bit at it being referred to as an “impressive faux wood box” on the Carnivore Club website. It is, in fact, faux wood, but it’s cute, and I’m pretty sure, especially given the video on the site, that the CC folks very purposefully call it faux wood.

Inside the box were six types of meat.


All of the meats were uncured, and they included sliced Sopressata, Capocollo, Chorizo, and Prosciutto. Also included were two tubes (?) of Hot Sopressata and Hard Salami. The sliced packages were 3 ounces each and the tubes were 4 ounces. I’ve tried all of them, and whether I liked them or not, they were all obviously of good quality.

Here’s how I would rank the meats:

#1 Hot Sopressata – spicy and full-flavored
#2 Hard Salami – great flavor and consistency
#3 Sopressata – the first I tried, very tasty
#4 Chorizo – lots of flavor, and my wife, who doesn’t like chorizo, liked it
#5 Capocollo – good, but not a huge fan
#6 Prosciutto – I did not care for this one, but I’ve never liked prosciutto

How Did I Eat Them?

The first couple I tried, I just rolled up the slices and ate them like that – and it was great. Then I got the bright (not) idea to try to make a sandwich with some of the sliced meats, but that didn’t turn out so well. It wasn’t a fault of the meat – this just isn’t deli meat and it requires more chewing than the sandwich I slapped together could handle. I sliced off a few bites of the tube salami and loved it. We eat out a lot, so I grazed on the box of meat over a few days.

Then my wife suggested we put together an antipasto with the meat and some cheese and fruit.

That turned out remarkably well, and I’d imagine that’s how most folks would choose to serve this selection of meats. The chorizo especially mixed well with the pepper jack cheese.

Overall Thoughts

I liked the selection of meats from Carnivore Club. I’ll admit that I was mildly disappointed when I discovered mine wasn’t filled with various types of jerky like one of the YouTube videos I’d seen, but I’d say this one likely made for a healthier, more well-rounded collection.

Carnivore Club costs $50 if you subscribe for at least 3 montly shipments, or you can purchase a single month’s shipment for $55.

Is it worth it? I can’t say, as I didn’t pay for it. I also don’t typically buy this type of meat, so I have no concept of what it costs. I can say that my wife and I could have enjoyed at least 2 meals based on the antipasto she prepared, and while we bought the cheese and fruit separately, we’d buy that stuff anyway. We’d pay more than $50 for a dinners out over two nights, so I suppose the price really isn’t bad. My wife said if we were going to throw a party and want to prepare the same type of meat & cheese tray for our guests, she’d be happy to buy this type of meat to use in it.

I liked Carnivore Club’s meats, but then again, what’s not to like about having a box of meat delivered to your door? If you’re a discerning meat-lover, give it a shot.

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Review: Primo Ristorante Italiano

Every now and then I feel really lucky to write this blog, usually because it gives me a reason to try new restaurants when I hear about them, and, very rarely, because I discover a true gem in doing so. I was recently invited to be a guest at Primo Ristorante Italiano, and I can’t wait to return.

Before I write about our experience, I’d like to direct you to another write-up on Primo, if for no other reason than all of the awesome pictures of the restaurant and its staff. I snap pictures of my food mainly as a quick reference, but in this blog post you’ll see just how elegant Primo is. I’ll admit that, as parents of a 4 year-old with no family in town, we don’t often eat at restaurants like Chef Bruce Bogartz’s new establishment, but after the meal we enjoyed the other night, I’m thinking we need to find a sitter more often.

Location, Location, Location

Please do click through to see the pictures in the write-up I mention above – I’ll wait. Now I’ll admit something that may come as a shock: I’ve lived in Knoxville since 1993 and the first time I stepped foot in the Sun Sphere was last week in March of 2016. I’ve walked by it and around it numerous times, but never had a reason to enter it. The view from our table was beautiful, especially as the even progressed and night fell.

The Chef

I’d never had the pleasure of meeting Chef Bruce Bogartz until last week. He’s a great guy – obviously passionate about what he does and proud of what he, or his family (more on that later) creates. He was very nice to us and I observed him stopping by each table as diners arrived for the evening. Conversing with the owners of some of the restaurants is a common thing for us, but this is the first time I got to do that with a chef at such an elegant establishment.

The Star of the Show

We started off with some delightful biscuits – both fluffy and crispy in all the right places. The house-made pesto they were served with was outstanding.

For our appetizer, we selected the Truffle Fundata. We might have been a bit more adventerous if it had just been my wife and I, but with a four year-old to share with, we decided on something we could present to him as similar to other appetizers he’s had. The fundata was delicious, and it complimented the bread, broccoli, and chips.

Chef Bruce wanted us to try a variety of food, so he whipped up some D’oro Patata Gnocchi for us. This was delicious in such a decadant way that, had I been by myself and not worried about what anyone might think of me, I would have asked for another bowl of it. The pears were firm and sweet and the gorgonzola cream, especially with the walnuts, made me think I had skipped to dessert. Everything I had that night was wonderful, but this little dish is the one thing I’ll keep coming back to.

I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted, but I knew I wanted to at least try one of the pasta dishes. Chef Bruce explained that the pasta was offered in a small or large portion, which made the choice easier for me as it meant I could also try another dish that piqued my interest. I selected the Cannelloni Piccolo, and I’m glad I did. My wife and I shared it, and for it to be the small version, it was a good amount of food. This was a thought we had repeatedly throughout the meal, that the portions weren’t what we’re used to at upscale restaurants – tasty but too small.

The duck confit in the Cennelloni was delicious, and while this isn’t the sort of dish I’d normally order, I was so glad to have tried it. I told Chef Bruce that night that I could eat it every day, and I could.

For my entree, I ordered the Pork Chop Vesuvio. The pork chop itself was enormous and very tender. I shared a goodly-sized slice of it with my wife, and as I reached my last couple of bites, I felt a tiny pang of regret at my generosity. The pork chop alone would have been great, but it was covered with house-made sausge that itself was incredible, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, and mushrooms. Served on top of polenta, it was a symphony of tastes and textures.

My wife ordered the Chicken Nona for herself and to share with our son. She liked it, he liked it, and to the extent that I was given a couple of small bites to try, I really enjoyed it as well. The carmelized onion and lemon combined to the tender juciness of the chicken itself.


Keeping it in the Family

For our first dessert, we had the Cannoli Cake. Chef Bruce told us how his fifteen year-old daughter had learned to make it and came by the restaurant three days a week to prepare it. The pride in his face and voice were moving, especially to the father in me, and that pride was backed up by the outstanding dessert we were served. Our son loved it, and we both deeply enjoyed it as well, at least as much of it as he was willing to share with us. I’m not normally a huge fan of chocolate, but I’d make an exception for this any day.

Our second dessert was Rice Pudding with amaretto and apricots. This was more my speed and after letting my wife try it, I kept the rest of to myself. And no, I’m not a bad father – my boy is just too young to turn away from chocolate to anything else!

A Truly Delightful Experience

Before dinner, as we were early and needed to encourage our son to work out some of his limitless supply of energy, we parked across the street by the convention center. When we return to Primo for a romantic dinner in the near future, we’ll take advantage of the valet parking, especially since the maitre d’ pointed out that, had we done that on this visit, they’d have the car waiting for us after our meal.

I look forward to our next visit to Primo Ristorante Italiano. If you’re looking for a new place to have an awesome meal, I can whole-heartedly recommend it.

Primo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Quick Review: Quality Turkish Market

I love discovering new (to me) restaurants – especially when I do so via personal recommendations. Last week I took action based on independent recommendations my wife and I had received from coworkers to try Quality Turkish Market, and let me tell you, I am so glad I did.

Round One – Great First Impression

I stopped by on Tuesday afternoon on my way to an evening class I’m taking right now, planning to scope the place out in anticipation of brining my wife and son by for dinner in the future. I had a great chat with the owner and really enjoyed the food, knowing I would be back soon.

I ordered the Hummus to start. Once I saw how large my entree was, I knew I didn’t need all this food, but I soldiered through eating it all so I could report back to you, my readers, that it was awesome. The hummus was simple and tasted great.

For my entree I ordered the #1, the Döner Kabab platter. It was outstanding, and even better than the meal by the same name I’ve had at Grujo’s twice in the last few weeks. Everything about this dish worked for me. The pita was warm and fresh. The vegetables were crisp and juicy. The rice (pilav) was light and accentuated the döner meat perfectly. I really liked the döner meat – I could eat some of this every day. It’s shaved thinly and full of flavor.

Something that impressed me about the owner, AJ, was that when I mentioned that I had come at the recommendation of a coworker, he remembered exactly who she was and described her precisely to me even though she must have been one of many customers he’d seen in the last week. I told him I’d be back with my wife and son soon, and I made good on that promise just two nights later.

Round Two – An Instant Favorite

Our first family visit to Quality Turkish Market was very enjoyable. My wife and I both ordered the Döner Kabab platter and she liked it every bit as much as I did. We also split the Hummus, and in fact we picked up a couple extra pitas to take with us for lunch the next day since we couldn’t finish it all. Our now 4 year-old boy loved the pita and tried everything else, which was a victory in and of itself.

We had a really comfortable time and learned a lot about the history of the market from AJ, who was happy to discuss it. One of the things I like most about writing this blog is getting to know so many hard-working small business owners who run their own restaurants.

Baklava – Out of this World

I remember the first time I ever tried baklava. I was a freshman at Rhodes College in 1988, away from home for the first time. To this day, that baklava stands out as one of the best-tasting things I’ve ever put in my mouth – at least it did until I tried the two different types of baklava at Quality Turkish Market.


The one on the left is made with walnuts and the one on the right with pistachios. Both were outstanding, so light, fresh, and obviously homemade. If I had to pick a favorite, it would be the pistachio.

A Call to Action – Support Local Eateries

I can whole-heartedly recommend Quality Turkish Market. The food is outstanding, the prices are more than reasonable, and, just as importantly, it’s a family-owned business run by somebody serving up great food to happy customers.

I’m going to be doing a lot of traveling for work over the next year, and more often than not those one or two day trips don’t leave a lot of time for research into local restaurants. I can promise you that, for every meal I’m forced by time and circumstances to eat at a Wendy’s or Cracker Barrel, I’m going to balance it out once I get home with a visit to a place like this.

Quality Turkish Market Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Quick Review: Grujo’s

We were returning to Knoxville last week from Johnson City, so my wife and I decided to look for something new on the East side of town for dinner. We asked for recommendations on Facebook but ended up finding something interesting-looking via Trip Advisor. Grujo’s bills itself as German Fast Food – German Beer. I can’t speak to the quality of the beer, but we were thrilled with the food and everything else about this little gem.

Family Friendly

We read in some of the reviews online that Grujo’s was family friendly, but had gotten the impression that was primarily because the kid’s meals come with some German chocolate. That would’ve been nice by itself, but we discovered something else as soon as we settled into the restaurant and reviewed the menu before ordering. The restrooms at Grujo’s, both men’s and women’s, are the most family friendly restrooms I’ve seen. Each restroom had a stool for smaller children to stand on while using the sink – not common at all and very much appreciated. Each restroom also had a detachable toilet seat for young children to use, and this is the first time I’ve ever seen that in a restaurant. My wife told me to be sure to mention this in the review because it would be very important to parents – so here it is. I was impressed, and combined with the friendliness of the owner’s mom, I’d call this the most family friendly restaurant we’ve encountered.

Great Food – Hard Choices

We ordered the Small Bratwurst plate for our almost 4 year-old son. To him it was a tasty hot dog and fries, along with a creme-filled piece of German chocolate.

My wife ordered the Bratwurst. We thought about getting the Jaeger Fries, but weren’t sure if we’d like the mushroom gravy. May try them next time. She was torn between ordering this and something else, but really liked the Bratwurst.

I wasn’t torn at all about ordering – I knew I wanted the Bratwurst and the item listed as their #1 seller, the Döner Kebab, so I ordered the Kraut Platter and the Döner Kebab and shared some of the Kebab with my wife. I ordered one each of the two different kinds of sausages, red and white. I liked them both, but if I had to pick one, I’d go with the white.

Here was the real star of the meal. If you thought of this as a German (actually Turkish) Gyro, you might be kinda right, I guess. I was told the meat is a combination of beef and lamb, and it is shaved off a big chunk like a Gyro. But this was better than any Gyro I’ve ever had. I ordered mine with Spicy Yogurt as the sauce, and it was fantastic. The bread, meat, and vegetables all worked together to make an explosion of yummy. It was a bit hard to eat, even after cutting off some for Rachael, but I wouldn’t want to do without the bread, so next time I’d probably just carve it up and eat it like a platter of food rather than as a sandwich.

Final Thoughts

There are four mustards to choose from on a bar in the dining area. I tried the Beer Mustard and Spicy Mustard and liked both, although I would go with just the Spicy next time. Speaking of next time, which may be as soon as this Wednesday since kids eat free, I’m going to try the Schnitzel. Another item to note – Grujo’s was packed the entire time we were there on a Saturday evening, with people hanging out at the bar along the front wall waiting for tables to open up as we were leaving. With food this good, I can see why it would be so busy.

Emory Road isn’t exactly convenient for us given where we work and live, but we’ll be making the trip to Grujo’s again.

Grujo's German Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Quick Review – K-Town Tavern

Peerless, a longtime west-Knoxville restaurant on Parkside Drive, of which I was not a fan, recently rebranded itself as K-Town Tavern. It’s close to our house and even though I didn’t care for Peerless at all, we decided to give it a try.

We’ve eaten at K-Town Tavern twice now, and I would say I was mildly satisfied with some of the food on the first trip and extremely dissatisfied the second. The only reason I’ll give it another chance is because of my “wait 6 months and see if they work out the kinks” policy. Since the main issues I have with K-Town Tavern are people/service-related – they ought to be fixed over time if the management is good.

What I liked

So far, the main thing I liked from K-Town Tavern is the Big Orange Ham & Jam Fritters. These are good enough that, if I weren’t so irritated by the terrible service we received last time, I’d go back and just order a couple plates of these as my meal if I were eating alone.

The fritters were truly excellent. I liked the pimento cheese, I liked the red pepper jam, and even our 3 year old admitted they were great.


I also liked the burger I ordered on our first visit, but only the burger itself. The Mac-n-Cheese on it tasted funny. Not like something in it had gone bad, but like one of the 3 cheeses they used was unusual – like a gouda or something. The burger itself, ordered medium, was very good. If I’d just scraped the Mac-n-Cheese off it, I would call it one of the best burgers I’ve had in a while.


What I didn’t like

In general, I’d say I didn’t like the lack of familiarity of the servers with the menu and its offerings, although as a just-opened establishment, I’m willing to cut them some slack on that, especially if they own up to it. I’m less willing to be tolerant of what I experienced during our second visit, which I’d call confident and assertive ignorance, combined with a seeming lack of interest in customer service.

I was completely underwhelemed with the desserts. Called out as “hand-crafted” on the menu, but having eaten plenty of “homemade cheesecakes” that come from a food service business, I have my doubts about K-Town’s. I was also disappointed when I left the restaurant after trying the desserts the first time, as I was asked if I would like dessert to go, and I noticed a plain New York Cheesecake – something I would’ve vastly preferred over what I ordered, but unfortunately plain cheesecake wasn’t on the menu and I wasn’t told it was an option.

Here’s one of the desserts we ordered – a Baklava Cheesecake. It was only OK, and not nearly as good as I expect for $8/slice.

Another disappointment was the Tavern Hash on our first visit. I asked what it was, and while the server mentioned a couple of vegetables, what he did not mention was mushrooms, and it was full of them. I didn’t bother to take a picture because I didn’t want to remember it.

What I really didn’t like

Our entire second visit. In fact, if I could go back in time and warn myself, I would have skipped it entirely. But a friend was in from out of town and he wanted to meet us for dinner had asked me to pick a place, so I picked something close to home and new.

The entire visit was a wreck. We were seated in the open area with the slide-up doors and the ridiculously overpowered ceiling heaters. I’ve been in places before with this setup that weren’t physically uncomfortable to be in, so I know it can be done right, but we even joked that it was painful to stand up in the room and a relief to sit down.

We were seated in a room that had quite a few open tables, and our drinks were brought to use by a manager or hostess who noted our server would be over shortly. That evening’s definition of shortly definitely didn’t match ours, because by the time he showed up with 3 glasses of water we hadn’t asked for, for the 4 people at our table, we were beginning to regret our choice of venue.

Everything took too long that visit. Drink refills took several minutes. Our son’s burger came out first, which was fine, then my wife’s pizza arrived 5 minutes later, and it was a good 15 minutes before my Taco Board and my buddy’s Fajitas arrived. Luckily we’d ordered the Ham & Jam Fritters as an appetizer, so we didn’t go completely hungry for that time.

The true tragedy of the evening, though, was my entree, the “U” Build Taco Board. Here’s how the menu describes it – something I didn’t pay a ton of attention to then, because I assumed if I ordered something from the menu, I’d get what’s on the menu. I know, crazy, right?

Jose Corn Salsa, White Mexican Cheese, Black Beans, Guacamole, Sour Cream, Lettuce, Jalapeño, & Southwestern Rice. I bolded the items that did not arrive with my Taco Board, as you can see in this picture.

That’s right – what I was served was the fried catfish (wouldn’t make that mistake again), black beans that obviously had any trace of liquid drained from them, the driest and most tasteless two tablespoons full of rice I’ve ever had, 3 bone-dry tortillas, and … a random handful of tortilla chips someone seemingly just threw on top of the board as it was being carried out of the kitchen. I wish I’d taken a picture of it as it arrived at the table, but like I said, my meal arrived a good half hour or more after we ordered, so I was hungry.

So I sat there trying to make sense of “build your own tacos” consisting of dry meat, dry beans, dry rice, and tortillas so dry that they cracked even more as I folded them around the items I’d been served, and I just couldn’t imagine this was correct. It wasn’t, of course, so I managed to get our server’s attention and asked him if there was supposed to be some salsa or sour cream or anything with this, pointing at the board and its contents.

And this was where the confident ignorance made its strongest appearance that night, which in hindsight made me question all of his other assertions about the menu earlier. He said, and I’m pretty sure this is an accurate quote, “We don’t have salsa. I can bring you some sour cream.” What he brought was the tiniest of sauce containers with maybe a tablespoon of sour cream on it and, wonder of wonders, a mexican-style pottery jar containing corn salsa – almost as if they had something in the kitchen specifically designed to hold a garnish he’d just asserted they didn’t have.

So I made do with the salsa and enough sour cream for half a taco and had the worst meal I’ve eaten in quite a while. It might have been drastically different if I’d been served the items listed on the menu under the Taco Board – who knows?

Bottom Line – Can’t Recommend Right Now

Like I said above – I’ll give K-Town Tavern a second chance in 6 months. It may well be possible to get a decent meal there right now, but that Taco Board screwup really soured me on the place, and there are way too many great options in Knoxville for me to risk it again for now. I might be willing to meet some buddies there for a giant 32oz mug of cider and an order of those fritters in the meantime, but when it comes to taking the family out for dinner, I’m looking elsewhere.

K-Town Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Quick Takes VI – Little Joe’s Pizza Still Great

I often lament the lack of good deep dish, let alone true Chicago style pizza in Knoxville. Even so, when we want pizza, Little Joe’s is always there to serve up a great thin (almost cracker) crust pizza 

We ate there last night and it was great. We ordered our usual – a large pepperoni $ sausage and an adult portion of the mastaccioli past with meat sauce. The bread sticks were fresh and tasty, as was the pasta. 
When Little Joe’s is on their A game, and they were last night, their pizza is awesome. The sausage feels and tastes homemade. 

Can’t wait till we eat there again.

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Quick Takes V – Taco Bell on Lovell Road

No, I’m not punking you. Those who know me know that, with almost no exceptions, I avoid eating at chain restaurants as much as possible, and fast food chains especially. I’ve often had a granola bar or a couple tablespoons full of peanut butter out of the jar (you do it too) instead of getting even quick food at McDonald’s or similar places.

But these days I have a men’s group that meets at church on Thursday afternoons. I have no time to stop for dinner at a sit-down restaurant on the way to the meeting, so I started grabbing whatever was on the right-hand side of the road near church. I tried something different each week, and only once until I stopped at the Taco Bell on Lovell Road.

Was the food there spectacular? Not really. Don’t get me wrong – it’s OK, but it isn’t something I’d choose to eat if I weren’t in a rush. In fact, the food there is no different than the food at the Taco Bell past church on Kingston Pike, which I tried the week before when I couldn’t decide on a place until I’d driven past my destination.

You know why I’ve eaten at the Taco Bell on Lovell Road every Thursday for the last several weeks and why I’ll keep eating dinner there for the forseeable future? Because the lady who works behind the counter there is nice and friendly and remembers me from the last time I came in. She’s practically overflowing with cheerful friendliness – and that’s pretty rare in fast food employees. Given a choice, which I have, I choose to keep eating at a place where I know I’ll get to exchange a few words with somebody who obviously cares about not only projecting a positive, happy attitude, but seems glad I walked in the door.

So yeah, I eat a fast food dinner once a week. If you’re curious about what I have, and I don’t take pictures of it because who wants to see pictures of fast food, I have a Chicken Quesadilla and 2 Grilled Steak Soft Tacos. And they’re not bad.

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Quick Takes IV – It’s All So Yummy Still a Favorite

My wife did something she almost never does yesterday. She stayed home sick because she was sick, not because our son was. So when I was bringing The Boy home from daycare, I asked if she wanted me to bring food home or pick her up to go get some, and she said pick her up.

I asked if she wanted to to go It’s All So Yummy, one of our favorite places, and get some soup, and she said that sounded great. They serve comfort food and delicious homemade (albeit in large quantities) ice cream at It’s All So Yummy, so I couldn’t think of a better place to eat.

The Boy got his usual – Fried Bologna & American Cheese. My wife got a cup of Chicken Soup and a half Deli Sandwich. I noticed a soup I hadn’t seen before, the Buffalo Chicken Chili, was given a taste of it, and ordered a cup of it and the Cuban sandwich.

The sandwich was great, as usual. The chili was outstanding – very hearty with a big kick to it. I may just order a bowl of it next time as my meal.

We can’t go to It’s All So Yummy without getting ice cream. This is where my pal Phillip can feel free to give me a hard time since ice cream definitely doesn’t fit my goal of losing weight. The Boy ordered a kid’s scoop of Oreo icecream in a bow. Rachael got a scoop of Oreo in a Waffle Cone. I ordered a scoop of Salted Caramel in a Waffle Cone.

When Kim, the owner, saw that I’d ordered the Salted Caramel, she asked if I wanted sea salt on it. I wasn’t sure but I said yes, and I’m glad I did. I’ve had it without sea salt before, but it’s definitely even more awesome with it.

Another happy trip to It’s All So Yummy in the books. If you’re in Knoxville and you haven’t tried it, you’re really missing something.

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