Friday, April 12, 2013

Sofa King Juicy Burger

Sofa King Juicy Burger
1743 Dayton Blvd
Red Bank, TN 37405
(423) 490-7632

Considering the local kerfuffle surrounding Sofa King's pronunciation, and the urban legends regarding long waits in the snow uphill both ways, food shortages, etc., etc., I felt this review warranted blog treatment.

I stopped by for an early dinner on a weeknight and had only a short wait. Sofa's menu includes a lineup of several house burgers plus build-your-own, a list of sides, and a list of shakes plus build-your-own. The burger options are a little eccentric, and I'll get to that more later, but the gist is all the burgers are doubles (6 oz), and you can get a classic ("normal") or you can get it with jam and Boursin cheese or peanut butter. The sides run the gamut from french fries to onion rings in Aretha Frankenstein batter to fried veggies. The term "shakes" is a little misleading. It's more like a soft serve blended with a few extra ingredients.

This was something of a tourist eating experience, which is to say I didn't mind driving through this once but I wouldn't want to live there. The highlight was definitely the onion rings. The pancake batter adds an interesting sweetness to the caramelized onion and it made a nice indulgence. The Awesome Burger was a miss for me, as well as the others in my party who tried it. The strawberry jam didn't mesh well with the burger, which was heavily peppered and, surprisingly, not very juicy. There was too much Boursin cheese. The shake was essentially what I described above: a tall cup of soft-serve (with a few cashews thrown in for the Cat Man Du, in my case).

Sofa may have been at a slight disadvantage, because I just ate at Urban Stack the other week and I had a really excellent, juicy burger there. If you require trendy burger dining, my vote still goes with Urban Stack.

I don't think you can talk about a restaurant like Sofa King Juicy Burger without addressing the whole package. When I first arrived I noticed a few unusual things. The layout was weirdly inefficient, with emphasis on aesthetics rather than seating. There was a shelf of souvenirs, including glasses and T-shirts, by the door. And then there was the menu, which offers a lot of choices, but very few of the right ones. There are many references to grass-fed beef and local produce and condiments, but no reasonable portion control. There's no one-patty burger option or small size shake. The burger options are house, jam, or peanut butter, of all things. Who designs a menu like this, anyway?

I considered the whole package--the "infamous" name, the eccentric menu, the use of space, the garish souvenirs, and reached a conclusion. Sofa King Juicy Burger is restaurant pageantry. It seems to be part of a larger trend, an idea that eating out isn't just about eating anymore. There are a several restaurants in Chattanooga that have successfully managed to balance the line between being hip and being a good, functioning restaurant, so it can be done. I'm just not sure that Sofa King Juicy Burger is going to be one of them.

Sofa King Juicy Burger on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 21, 2012

Brewhaus

Brewhaus
224 Frazier Ave
Chattanooga, TN 37405
(423) 531-8490

Every now and then I make a mistake and something flies under my radar. It doesn't happen too often, but it does happen. I have no idea how I missed this place. I'm sorry. I mean that.

I'm digging Brewhaus for a few reasons, and not just because they serve liters. Is it like being in Bavaria? No, but that's okay. You want to be in Bavaria, go to Bavaria. Bring me back some mustard.

The menu features a good selection of snacks and entrees, most of which is traditional German fare with a modern American twist. The Rooster Schnitzel is my latest obsession (Fried egg on a breaded pork loin? Yes, please!) but Brewhaus serves up a fine, fine bratwurst that isn't to be overlooked. The beer prices are excellent and the list itself isn't too shabby: a decent selection of German bottles along with the obligatory microbrews (if you must). It could be better. I want stuff from breweries established in the stone age, stuff with 30-letter names that sprain my tongue when I try to pronounce them. This is the only time and place you will read me type, "Screw Fat Tire," but seriously--screw Fat Tire. I don't go to a place called 'Brewhaus' for a Sam Adams, either. The day I walk into this place and the draft board is nothing but German beers is the day I quit my job, make a little nest under one of the tables on the back deck, and drink myself into a coma. A beautiful hefe coma.

(Yes, they have a back deck.)

Service is touch and go. These guys are nice, but it's like Hair of the Dog--expect to hang around. Which is possibly intentional. After a few liters of beer you really shouldn't be going anywhere in a hurry, right?

The bad news? You've heard it before, no doubt--avoid the potato salad. Not sure what's going on there.

Brewhaus on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Chattavore...

...Has toppled me from my lofty perch on Urbanspoon's Chattanooga blog leaderboard.

Well played, fellow Noogan. Well played.

If you like (sweet, sweet) pictures of food, and regular updates, and recipe talk, you should check it out.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Kay's Kastles

Kay's Kastles is a dying breed: the old-fashioned, earnest ice cream parlor. There are no branded T-shirts or knowing winks. There are no gimmicky flavors of the month or walls of local art. This place is far removed from modern ice cream joints of Chattanooga's revitalized Downtown. It is nestled in the more rural reaches of Soddy Daisy, amongst the good people, and it still retains the characteristics that defined it in the mid-eighties.

Let's be clear: the staff hates you. They really, really do. They are, without question, some of the surliest people you will ever meet in food service. They hope you die; barring that, they'll grudgingly take your money and give you ice cream if they must. (How one can maintain a frowny face in a place like this I'll never know.)

The experience really takes me back. They've got kitschy ice cream decor (ice cream posters, ice cream signs, ice cream ceramics), old arcade machines, and a juke box. Remember the days when Pac-Man machines and ice cream cones were ubiquitous? Oh, happy days!

And be assured, Kay's Kastles makes one mean banana split.

There are hot dogs, sandwiches, and other things happening. But if the banana split is the ultimate measure of the ice cream parlor experience (and I believe it is) you should definitely check out Kay's Kastles. Avoid direct eye contact, ask no questions, and make no sudden movements and you'll be fine.

Kay's Kastles on Urbanspoon

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Taco Roc

Taco Roc
6960 Lee Highway
Chattanooga, TN 37421
(423) 653-1001

Forget Amigo's, El Meson, Cancun, and the various Las Margaritas. Taco Roc has your combination plate.

The menu lists 40 items and offers a huge range of food, from the tacos, tamales, gorditas, and enchiladas to ribs and steak, as well as a few surprises--yes, #37 (Mojarra) is a whole fried fish, head included. They usually have a few aguas frescas to choose from (including that delightful king of beverages, the cinnamon-rice drink horchata) and flan or other desserts. It really is a menu with something for everyone.

I really like this place. It's a clean, casual environment, everyone is nice, and the wait is relatively short. The food is true comfort food, it's fresh and delicious, and I haven't had a disappointing meal yet. The food is definitely a few steps above most of the area's Mexican fare. (Contrast this with the Cancun right down the street, which is dirty, run-down, and has the dubious distinction of serving me the worst chorizo ever.) As far as local Latin American restaurants go, I'd rank Taco Roc right behind Conga Latin in terms of quality.

Taco Roc is my go-to for combination Mexican. It will take me a while to eat my way through all 40, but I'm working on it. Maybe I'll take the plunge and go after #37 on my next visit.

Taco Roc on Urbanspoon