After one more visit with Dear and lunch at Dreamland, Nancy and I left Birmingham in the afternoon and headed up to the Marriott by the convention center in Chattanooga. It’s a nice hotel, and had a particularly interesting clientele that night: a major boxing tournament, a large (962 guests) Indian (Asian Indian, not American Indian) wedding witHh the almost exclusively non-Indian guests dressed culturally appropriately for the pre-wedding festivities, and a large Furry convention, with hundreds of attendees in, uh, uniform. It was an interesting mix.
Nancy and I strolled down to the Chattanooga Choo Choo terminal, got a shoeshine by track 29, and then headed to the Public House for a good, light dinner — a steak salad for me, even less for Nancy. You don’t need much of a dinner after lunch at Dreamland. And a few snacks at the concierge lounge.
The next morning we said farewell to our fine furry friends and headed to Blowing Rock, North Carolina, to see my brother Jim and his wife, Cantey. You may know Cantey as the creator of the lovely sculpture in front of the library in Blowing Rock,
and you may know Jim as the owner of the baseball autographed by the 1961 New York Yankees that expropriated for a sandlot game or ten.
On the way, we stopped for a late lunch in Johnson City, Tennessee, at Southern Craft BBQ, not at all to be confused with the excellent Southern Craft Stove + Tap in Oxford, MS. It’s a large restaurant situated in an old warehouse, with lots of exposed brick and lots of big wooden beams. It’s a nice space, happily situated adjacent to Great Oak Brewing.
Southern Craft BBQ was voted the best barbecue in the Tri-City area by the Johnson City Press.
We started with some deviled eggs.
They were standard deviled eggs, which means they were good, and worth ordering.
I ordered a sliced pork sandwich and greens, and it came with a small serving of slaw.
The pork was unusual. It lacked any real smoke flavor, although the waitress assured me that it had been smoked. It wasn’t a pork shoulder or butt. I would guess loin or fresh ham. Ridgewood Barbecue is in the same region — the area of the short-lived Free State of Franklin — and is well known for barbecue made by smoking fresh hams and serving them shaved and with a sweet tomato sauce. Southern Craft BBQ offers a choice of excessively sweet barbecue sauces, all of which I tasted and rejected. The greens were very good, cooked with chunks of pork belly. I dipped my sandwich in the pot likker from the greens in lieu of a good barbecue sauce. It was a good move.
Nancy ordered sweet potatoes, potato salad, grilled vegetables, and cole slaw.
The slaw was good, as was the potato salad, made from redskin potatoes. The sweet potatoes were very good, a dessert in the guise of a vegetable, as sweet potato casseroles always should be. The grilled vegetables, however, were pretty bad. Cauliflower and broccoli aren’t really made for grilling, and they tasted as if they’d been steamed and then tossed onto a griddle without seasoning.
I did not try the Great Oak Brewing products as I was driving — over mountain roads, no less.
Southern Craft BBQ had some hits and misses. If I were staying overnight in Johnson City, I definitely would go there for dinner. I might have a Franklin Amber while selecting from the interesting lists of starters and sides, and then ordering one of the burgers and a Thunder Pig IPA. I think that would hit the restaurant’s sweet spot.
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