By LARRY VAUGHT
SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. — One thing I always like to do when we come to the Smoky Mountains is look for new experiences. New places to visit, new hiking trails, new places to run, new shows to see and always new and different places to eat.
This last week we found four new restaurants in Sevierville that have opened in the last year we had yet to try, so with the help of Amanda Marr, marketing director at Sevierville Chamber of Commerce, we found four places to try for the first time.
LOCAL EATERY & GRILL
Okay, let me be honest. This restaurant is about a 25-minute drive from where we were staying in Pigeon Forge. The drive out Boyds Creek Highway was scenic and peaceful but had me wondering just what a restaurant that looked like it would be in the middle of nowhere might be like. However, that thinking changed when we got there, we walked inside and I saw the menu.
It had a little bit of everything unique salads to hamburgers from farm raised local beef to seared salmon to local rainbow trout to the Hoosier Daddy, a breaded pork loin cutlet that Tony Wilhelm, one of three owners, created since he grew up in Indiana and couldn’t find a sandwich like he was used to anywhere in this area.
The restaurant has two chefs — one if even a former University of Tennessee football player — and on UT game day has a baked potato bar and shows the Orange on 12 big screen televisions. On Sunday there is a brunch for the church crowd and then any NFL game you want.
“We have a group of New Orleans fans come. We have folks from Wisconsin living here who want to see the Packers. We have a couple that likes to see the Bucs,” Wilhelm said.
It also has charging outlets for cell phones or laptops at many of the seats and long with free internet for customers to use.
“Most of our business is from Seymour (about six miles away) and the locals here. Some drive from Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg and we certainly don’t turn tourists away but this is a place where locals come in and see folks they know and we get to know them all,” Wilhelm said.
The owners hope to eventually open a Local Eatery in other cities and my guess is they will because the food is that good. I had the best trout almondine I’ve ever had and the serving was two large pieces of tender trout. My wife went for the Hoosier Daddy and barely ate half of it (we took enough our lunch home to have dinner that night). Pinto beans and banana pudding were both superb as well and the hamburgers really looked good long with the loaded nachos folks at the table beside us had.
Here’s another plus. The prices are more than reasonable, especially considering the quality of the good, size of the servings and the friendliness of the staff.
The restaurant has a full bar — the only one anywhere close — but Wilhelm was quick to point out. “We are a restaurant that serves drinks, not a bar that serves food,” he said.
Address: 2453 Boyds Creek Highway. Phone: 865.453.3463. Website: http://localeaterygrill.com
THE WILDFLOUR BAKEHOUSE
Stephany Houston worked 29 years in a 911 office before retiring. She always wanted to have a bakery, so she opened one in historic downtown Sevierville and she knew any patron by name that came into the restaurant while we were there.
“Most of our customers are regulars that come two or three times a week,” she said.
Wildflour Bakehouse is open for breakfast and lunch and Houston has a lot of daily specials listed on the restaurant’s Facebook page.
You can find dill pickle bread, tamale and sausage balls on Friday that go quickly, cranberry pecan bread and more desserts than I could list. Let me just say not only were the cinnamon rolls huge, but they were delicious. Same with the bean/ham soup that I had. She cooks the pinto beans in chicken broth and the taste was great. My wife is not a bean soup eater but she ate this one.
Marr told us to make sure to try the chicken salad and it was filled with pecans, apples, grapes and craisins. Several locals told me they buy a pound to take home at least once a week and I could see why. But the pimento cheese was just like what my grandmother used to make, so I loved that.
If you want a small, quaint place with terrific soups and salads — before you try to decide which cookie, danish, brownie or even some healthier options — this is the spot for you.
Address: 240 Forks of the River Pkwy. Phone: 865.365.1295. Facebook: The Wildflour Bakehouse.
You really are in a historic spot here because the restaurant is in the first building built to be a post office in Sevierville. It’s not the oldest post office, but the first building built for the postal service and behind the bar the window remains that was used to throw the mail bags out to the horse-drawn wagons that delivered the mail.
As the name would indicate, the burgers are the speciality here. The all natural, grass fed burgers come with some unusual combinations. I had the Chili Chili Bang Bang burger that that chili obviously, aged cheddar cheese, roasted peppers, slaw, and bean and corn salsa. The best thing I did was order the burger without a bun because no way could I have kept all those toppings on the bun.
The Tennessee burger came with bacon jam, bourbon barbecue sauce, beer battered onion rings and slaw.
Both our burgers were cooked perfectly and I went with half fries, half onion rings and had no complaints with either.
You can also get a lot of speciality drinks that pay tribute to the history of the building. The Goin Postal (featuring gin), Off the Rails (rye and brandy) is a reminder that the Knoxville, Sevierville & Eastern railway once passed in front of where the restaurant now stands.
Major street renovation makes it a bit difficult to get into the restaurant and will for up to another year. But it is a charming spot that has music and patio seating in the summer.
Address: 125 Bruce St.. Phone 865.206.9822. Website: www.grazeburgers.com.
FIVE OAKS FARM KITCHEN
This is a totally different experience. This year-old restaurant can seat 300 and is located on the Parkway across from the outlet mall so traffic can be an issue on certain days. But if you get inside, you will find two floors with its own kitchen on each floor so you don’t have to worry about your food getting cold or taking a long time to get to you.
We didn’t get there early enough to order a Belgian waffle topped with whipped cream that several locals told us about and I almost order the Eggs Benedict for lunch after seeing a server bring an order out for another patron.
I went for the big bowl of pinto beans (you might be able to guess I don’t get to eat beans at home often) and my wife picked the chicken and dumplings that had more chicken than dumplings. I added a small house salad that plenty of vegetables and a really good thousand island dressing.
Our server raved about the pan-fried trout available at dinner and pointed out the restaurant also had fried chicken livers, something one cannot find in most restaurants.
I tried to resist dessert but I am glad I didn’t because the blackberry dumplings were amazing. If nothing else, stop and get a to-go order if you are nearby — I know I will next time I am back in the Smoky Mountains.
Address: 1638 Parkway. Phone: 865.365.1008. Website: https://fiveoaksfarmkitchen.com/.