Depalma’s creates divine authentic Italian in Tuscaloosa (4.5/5 stars)

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I absolutely love when I find a hidden gem (delicious restaurant) in the most unexpected places. Recently, for spring break my roommate and I stopped in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on our way to Louisiana. I checked out the small hotel guide for restaurants and we were both feeling Italian. We were so close to just walking to the Pizza Hut next door and thank God we didn’t. Depalma’s was worth the drive and the annoying parking.

The restaurant has a classy feel entangled with vintage decor. There are signed wine bottles displayed around the tables. The menu was moderately priced and contained lots of options.

To start we got the breadsticks with meatball, onion, and cheese. They were braided with the filling inside. Generally I’m not an onion person, but these breadsticks were exquisite. The cheese and meat along with fresh dough married perfectly together when dipped in their homemade tomato sauce. For my entree I got the mushroom ravioli. The filling was tasty and the cheeses were tangy with the musky flavor that the mushrooms bring. However, I disliked the amount of oil that the ravioli came soaked in. It wasn’t really a sauce and it made them seem greasy. The real star of the menu were their homemade meatballs. I only ordered them because the people at the table next to me got them and they looked amazing. As a proclaimed carnivore I had to experience them for myself. They were honestly the most amazing meatballs I’ve ever eaten. Moist and tender with perfect flavors. The tomato sauce really amplified the meatballs. (Insert ball joke here) now that I’m done talking about meatballs…..

Overall, Depalma’s was a hidden Tuscaloosa gem that I happened to stumble upon. The Italian food was one of the best I’ve ever had and it makes me even more excited for my trip to Italy in July! :)

DePalma's Italian Cafe on Urbanspoon}

Lunch with the girls: Old Mill Pottery House Cafe [4.5/5 stars]

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Over winter break I was juggling two jobs and trying not to yell at crazy middle aged shoppers during the Christmas retail uproar. Somehow I managed to get a day off and me and the girls decided to take a trip to Pigeon Forge. I suggested we eat at the Old Mill Pottery House Cafe. I’d eaten there before and one special item on the menu kept me coming back for more. I somehow found this special menu item by chance and have never been the same since. The chicken Reuben is made with fresh shaved rotisserie chicken on toasted rye bread with thousand island dressing and special coleslaw. The sandwich is accompanied with house made potato chips. The sandwich had perfect flavor. The chicken is fresh and salty perfectly paired with the crisp sweetness that the coleslaw brings. The buttered toasted rye bread really seals the deal for me. The added bonus to the meal was my peach tea. I really love flavored teas and I always ask any restaurant if they have them. If you are ever going to the smokey mountain tourist area stop by Old Mill Pottery House Cafe. The food is delicious and the sites aren’t too bad either. Happy Eating!
The Old Mill Pottery House Caf\'e9 & Grille on Urbanspoon

Market Square burger joint with class: The Stock & Barrel [4.5/5 stars]

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I absolutely adore Market Square in Knoxville. The people, food, and shops are amazing. So I wasn’t surprised when I found a delicious new burger joint that brought the same fresh local ingredients as Tomato Head, but catered to us carnivores with their delicious locally raised all beef hamburgers. The lunch crowd was pretty busy and the seats were arranged rather closely. I did enjoy the bar like atmosphere and the scent of the burgers cooking was vivaciously appetizing. I ordered the steakhouse burger which had fried onions, cheddar, and steak sauce. Originally it had horseradish, but me and horseradish have never gotten along. I opted for the aged cheddar instead. Additionally I got the onion rings which were crispy, light, and full of flavor. The sweet onions were a great contrast to the salty batter. The beef was juicy and cooked to perfection, not overly seasoned and sandwiched between the freshest bread. It was a burger made in heaven. My lunch was only $12 and I left utterly satisfied.

Stock & Barrel on Urbanspoon

RouXbarb brings innovative menu to Knoxville [4 out of 5 stars]

Herb-crusted salmon on top of mashed potatoes with smoked tomato cream.

Herb-crusted salmon on top of mashed potatoes with smoked tomato cream.

I heard about RouXbarb because one of my writers for The Tennessee Journalist did an article on the chef and his take on bringing fresh ingredients to the table. The article sparked the food writer in me and made me want to see what my take on his innovative flavors were. I have to say that I wasn’t disappointed. The prices are pretty fancy, my bill was $40 including tip and that’s pretty steep for a college student. However, I will say that it was worth the money. At times I thought it wouldn’t hurt for lower prices. I think he’d attract a larger college audience if the menu prices were lower. Anyway back to the food, we started off with the cheddar biscuits (which were complimentary, thank God). The cheddar biscuits were like most I’ve ever tasted. The wow factor came with the marinated mushrooms which were served cold, but had the most amazing flavors. They were salty and savory paired with the smoked rhubarb marmalade the starter wasn’t a bad beginning. I ordered just a simple sweet tea to drink, but was delighted at the mint simple syrup incorporated sweet tea that was set before me. It was absolutely amazing. In fact, I feel sorry for people who walk in there and just order a coke. The tea wasn’t advertised as that superior, but I’m lucky that I got to experience it. For my main entree, I got the herb crusted salmon on mashed potatoes with smoked tomato cream and green beans.

The fish was nicely seasoned although the herb crust I expected turned out more like herb mush on top. The herbs were way too overpowering for the fish. The mashed potatoes were nothing special and the tomato cream had decent flavor. Overall, there was nothing displeasing about the entree, but nothing extraordinary either. My roommates shrimp & grits however, were especially delicious with cajun spices that made me think I was back in the bayou. I guess I ordered the wrong dish, but that’s why you also bring along people who don’t mind to share a little ;)

The meal ended on a sweet note with vanilla icecream topped apricot bread pudding. The bread pudding was very excellent although not the best I’ve ever had. Overall, the meal was delectable. The lack of a star is due to the herb fail and my entree miscalculation. However, I look forward to come to RouXbarb for brunch possibly when I get more money. :)
Rouxbarb on Urbanspoon

Thanks for being patient with me

I really appreciate the amazing responses that I’ve gotten from readers. This semester of school has been pretty long and with finals coming up it has been super crazy.

Thanksgiving is approaching, the mother of all food holidays. Perhaps I will post a recipe, but I can’t promise anything.

Special shout-out to steamboat bill’s for featuring me on their website. :)

Thanks again for reading. It honestly means a lot to an aspiring food writer like myself.

Flying Biscuit Cafe: Soars in my book (4.5/5 stars)

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I’ve been to Atlanta three times now and each time I’ve never found a place that left me wanting to go back. If you’ve been reading my blog it’s very apparent that when I travel I ALWAYS focus my attention on the food. Atlanta wasn’t any different, but my researching always failed and even asking locals hadn’t helped. However, fate was smiling upon me this weekend when our taxi passed by the flying biscuit cafe. I remember the restaurant being on food network many moons ago. My friends and I decided to try it on Sunday for brunch. The wait was pretty long about 30 minutes. It was seriously worth it though. I got the salmon scramble and a half order of the French toast. To quench my thirst I ordered the chai latte. It was one of the best chai latte’s I’ve ever drank. Hot, creamy, with hints of cinnamon. It was more than satisfying. My salmon scramble was slightly more fishy than I would’ve liked, but not too overpowering. The grits had to be my favorite. Combined with the salmon scramble and the creamy saltiness of the grits. It was a win-win bite each time. Their claim to fame biscuits didn’t disappoint either. The French toast was more like toast with sweet dipping sauces. It wasn’t the best, but the Creme anglaise sauce was definitely a redeeming factor to the dish itself. Overall, this is the go-to brunch spot in Hotlanta. There is always a wait, but the meal is always satisfying.

The Flying Biscuit Cafe on Urbanspoon

Cheesecake Factory: Mediocre at best [1.5 stars out of 5 stars]

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When you hear of a place like Cheesecake Factory then you are like, “Wow, that sounds like a nice establishment and it’s a pretty well known chain.” Well, at least that’s what I thought. Also, it just opened up in Knoxville and my friends peer pressured me. Anyway, we got there and the wait was terrible. About 40 minutes and I wasn’t too upset about it because it’s a new restaurant so, I expected it to be that crowded. We were a party of 6 and it took us that much longer to get seated. However, nothing was going to break my happiness. I got to spend time with my friends so, I was happy. That is until I tasted my food. I was on a semi-health kick so, I ordered the lunch portion salmon with mashed potatoes. When I got my food the salmon was of mushy texture and the blandest that I’ve ever tasted the fish. The mashed potatoes reflected the fish as a pile of sticky goop with little to no flavor. Here was a menu full of literally a plethora of options and yet none of my friend’s food was above mediocre. The happiest part of the meal was the exquisite cheesecake and macchiato I ordered, but come on! At that point that’s what I was hoping for since they specialized in that at least. Overall, Cheesecake Factory was overpriced, time exhaustive with bland food. My advice is go for the cheesecake and eat your main meal somewhere else.

The Cheesecake Factory on Urbanspoon

New Asia in Maryville, TN [4.5/5 stars]

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If you think about how rare it is to find good Asian food in such a small town as Maryville, TN then you are left with the question, “When will I ever find yummy Asian food in this town that doesn’t even have a P.F. Chang’s?” Well, I think I have lucked out folks. With a little help from my dear friend Google, I found New Asia. A small Vietnamese restaurant located in my current hometown (at least until I go back to college for the semester). They have awesome lunch specials featuring some of the classic Vietnamese dishes I have come to know and love. Their shrimp in pants appetizer pictured above was let’s be honest pretty much a spring roll with shrimp hanging out of it. However, it was still very much delicious. The presentation might need a little bit of work, but I’m definitely not complaining. Their Pho has great flavor with small hints of cilantro and lime. My favorite dish is the grilled pork. It is perfectly marinated with a smoky flavor from the grilling preparation that takes place. Add some of the steamed rice and you have an exquisite bite of Asian deliciousness. I really hope this place makes enough business in Maryville to stay open. It’s so close to my house I know they’ll be getting LOTS of business from this little Asian college student. (:

Happy Eating <3
New Asia on Urbanspoon