Whenever we go to Chattanooga, Tenn., it’s difficult to leave the eclectic exuberance of Northshore food (doughnuts, hot dogs, beer, coffee, wine, biscuits, pancakes, cupcakes) for the more uptown feel of downtown eateries. But recently Younger Daughter recommended 212 Market Restaurant, which is at … 212 Market St., near the Tennessee River. And she was correct. From the strangely comforting 1980s-style decor to the exemplary service and fresh-tasting food — much of it from local farmers and ranchers — 212 Market is a winner. We ordered as we like to do — mainly from the salad, sides and appetizer sections of a menu — and ended up with yummy vegetables and well-dressed salads that blended contrasting tastes and textures together deliciously. Warm homemade bread and glasses of reisling were the perfect touches. And of course we have to check out the dessert menu, too. After all, woman cannot live on lettuce and carrots — albeit satisfying and tasty lettuce and carrots — alone. And who can resist a dessert sampler of creme brulee, cheesecake and chocolate truffle cake? I think we all know the answer to that. 212 Market also is known for its wine selection and offers a solar deck out back where dogs and bicycles are welcome. You’ve gotta love a place where dogs, bikes, wine and creme brulee mingle comfortably.
Downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee, is a seriously awesome place. I fell in love with it when I was young and my dad would drive the hour it took to get us there so we could eat at the Chattanooga Choo-Choo and then wander around the top of Lookout Mountain. Luckily, my middle brother and his family live there, so we still get to visit lots. And it’s still one of my favorite places. Chattanooga has done a stellar job of downtown renaissance and making itself into A Must-See Destination. Such as this Broad Street block that’s just up the street from the Tennessee River and the Tennessee Aquarium. This block is home to Sticky Fingers Smokehouse, the barbecue restaurant-chain that three friends who first met as seventh-graders in Chattanooga started in 1992 in Charleston, S.C. My brother and I were there to pick up wings, pulled chicken and pulled pork for my nephew’s 12-year-old birthday party, and I have to say that Sticky Fingers’ wings rate right up there — meaty, juicy and just-right-hot. I can see why my nephew requested Sticky Fingers for his birthday. (I think I’ll do the same, even though that means moving my birthday to a city four hours away. Worth it.) Another treasure on this block is Greyfriar’s Coffee and Tea Co., one of my brother’s top choices for coffee — and he knows coffee. And of course there’s more to Chattanooga than wings and coffee. You’ve got history, hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, shopping, music, art, more eating and more good times. Go check it out, and tell my brother I sent you.
This past Friday, before everybody scattered to ballgames and festivals and weekend getaways, some friends and I got together and cruised up Pickwick Lake in Florence, Alabama. We were on the Pickwick Belle, a paddlewheel riverboat that tours the Tennessee River. It was a wet and cool day but we had a fantastic time, especially after the boat captain found a couple bottles of champagne to help us warm up. Most of the other passengers had cancelled, leaving the top deck to us. But that was probably a good thing! We giggled and talked and were entertained by those of us who had spent their childhoods climbing and jumping off the river bluffs we were passing. You know, come to think about it, the champagne was probaby a bribe for us to stay upstairs away from the more sane passengers who opted for the warm and cozy dining room — and it worked! I love these women. They look so sweet and pretty but actually are kick-butt, take-no-prisoners tough females who are taking risks and making hard decisions with grace and strength. I’m just honored they let me hang around.
We fell in love with the Pickwick Belle. What a cutie! She can take up to 149 passengers, and there are all sorts of cruises to choose from: dinner, lunch, mystery theatre and just sitting back and relaxing as we did. It’s also available for parties and weddings. During the summer at Pickwick Landing State Park in Tennessee, the captain holds a church service at 10 a.m. on Sundays. Learn more at www.pickwickbelle.com.
Oh, wow! Blogging is fun. Thanks to all for positive comments via e-mail. Much appreciated!
My PEO meeting was like a reunion. Those women are so much fun — smart, kind, generous and caring. They didn’t even care that I’d been missing for about five years. The hostess’s home had a stunning view of the Tennessee River, too. I think I’m going to enjoy being a part of this group again. My advice to anyone who’s been a less-than-active member of any group you care about: Give yourself a good talking to and start back! The rewards will outweigh any misgivings you have about reconnecting. I promise!
I also stopped by to visit my mother-in-law at her nursing home, although it was lunchtime and she was too busy finishing her fried chicken to converse. She’s very single-minded when it comes to food, but then, why not? If you can’t enjoy your food at 93, then it’s a sad, sad world.