Food and Beverage at the Bluegrass Grill, Chattanooga, TN. A Real Treat!
by Douglas Beliakoff
It was last Sunday, and while I eat our just about everyday, I was in the mood for something new and something I could write about. Several weeks ago, I tried to have breakfast at the new Bluegrass Grill on Main Street, but was too hungry to manage the 30 minute wait. I knew, however, that I would come back soon after some of the "new" had worn off and I'm glad I did.
My overall impression of Bluegrass Grill is that the place is genuine. As part of the Main Street restoration project, and located in a beautifully restored 1904 classic brick building, it's a family owned and operated little place with nice aromas and a homey feel. It's clean and tidy, and not ultra-designed and super-hip. Actually, I thought the sound of bluegrass music was an interesting twist in this downtown neighborhood. I immediately felt comfortable as co-owner, Joan Marie encouraged us to pick any table as she scooted by to take care of her other guests. From any table in the place, you can see her husband, Jonas, hard at work in the kitchen and passing food through his window.
From what I've read, this couple opened their first restaurant, Brother Juniper's, in Memphis and soon was named Best Breakfast in Memphis in a Memphis Association reader's poll. It appears that they have now made quite an impression on the Chattanooga food and beverage community. The reviews have been terrific, and the place is always busy!
The front of the menu touts that "Bread is all homemade and all our potato dishes start with boiled red potatoes sauteed in garlic and onion". Sounds good already! We decided to try the lunch this time, and I knew that if I was going to write about our experience, I should try the most interesting thing I could find. For me, that turned out to be the "Joan Marie Special". On your choice of homemade bread, this sandwich is made with herbed cream cheese, fresh spinach, tomato, red onion, and aged swiss. Joan Marie suggested that I try it on toasted raisin bread. At first, I hesitated, thinking it an odd combination, then agreed. After all, it WAS her special!
What a great sandwich! Served with a side of homemade, very delicious, potato salad (I suspect that his secret ingredient is fresh dill), and a dill pickle spear, my lunch was almost complete. I couldn't wait to try the Baklava.
It was really nice to catch these folks towards the end of their day, while they had time to chat. Joan Marie let us know that Jonas arrives at 3:00 in the morning to start prepping for breakfast. With one glimpse at their breakfast menu, I understood why. Not only does he make from scratch the breads, muffins, and cinnamon rolls everyday, they offer something for everyone. The choices range from authentic, southern style breakfast to quiche, frittatas, pancakes, fresh fruit, homemade granola, and a terrific variety of omelets. They also offer scrambled tofu, tofu hash, and cilantro lime tofu hash.
There is definitely genuine Greek influence to this Bluegrass Grill. From the Mediterranean and Spanakopita Omelets at breakfast to the Gyros with Zadzeke dressing at lunch, you'll find Greek flavors offered all over the menu. Homemade soups are made every day except Saturday. While breakfast seems to be the specialty and is served all day, I thoroughly enjoyed my lunch and look forward to going back.
Oh, and the Baklava? Outstanding. With a huge mug of coffee and a few tips from Joan Marie on how to handle phyllo dough, my lunch was complete!
55 E. Main Street
Tuesday - Friday: 6:30 a.m. - 2:00 pm
Saturday: 6:30 a.m. - 1:00 pm