Bluff View Art District
by Douglas Beliakoff
Bluff View Art District
Neatly tucked away on the cliffs of the Tennessee River, and one of my favorite food and beverage experiences in downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee, is the Bluff View Art District. This wonderful neighborhood is reminiscent of a small European Village and located on the Tennessee Riverwalk near the Hunter Museum of American Art, the Tennessee Aquarium, and is accessible from Coolidge Park via the Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge.
Typically, we will visit Bluff View on a day when we have plenty of time. I like to get started early with a cup of delicious coffee and a light breakfast from Rembrandt's Coffee House and either find a seat inside the aroma filled restaurant or on the terrace near the fountain. I highly recommend the Breakfast Panini made with Pastrami, egg, and Provolone and served with a fresh fruit cup. We will usually finish the morning with a visit to the beautiful deli cases filled with an amazing variety of freshly-baked pastries, hand dipped-chocolates, and delicious cakes.
If you prefer something a little more upscale and full-service, be sure to visit Back Inn Cafe. Also open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, they offer indoor or terrace seating, both of which boast wonderful views of the river. The elegant global cuisine and extensive wine list make this a popular spot for Saturday or Sunday Brunch. You may want to arrive early or call ahead for reservations.
Tony's Pasta Shop and Trattoria completes our food and beverage experience in this district with terrific classic Italian food in Downtown Chattanooga. Their sauces are fresh, the pasta is hand-cut, and the breads are rustic and European. For many years, this has been the place that we celebrate birthdays and anniversaries. The staff has always been accommodating and professional while insuring an element of fun and good taste. Tony's also has indoor, patio or deck seating with beautiful views of the river and is open for lunch and dinner.
Once you have enjoyed your meal and are ready to stroll, be sure to pick up one of the brochures for a self-guided walking tour of the
district. With three blocks or so to cover, you will enjoy learning the history of the old homes and buildings that make up the art district of today. If a bed and breakfast experience is what you seek, Bluff View Art District has three beautiful old homes, dating back to the late 1800's, to accommodate you and provide you with a uniquely artistic experience.
In 1992, River Gallery was the first business to open in the Bluff View Art District and probably was the inspiration for all that followed shortly thereafter. Once the residence of Dr. Edward Newell, and just next door to Rembrandt's Coffee House, the gallery now represents the works of recognized artists from all over the world. River Gallery is both comfortable and inviting with many rooms and hallways filled with beautiful works of art.
While a variety of sculptures can be found throughout the district, be sure to visit the River Gallery Sculpture Garden just across the street from the Back Inn Cafe. Hanging almost magically on the bluff over the river and listed in Smithsonian Institution's Archives of American Gardens, the Sculpture Garden represents both a permanent collection and an annually changing exhibit. It is a wonderful setting for weddings.
Along the way, you will want to explore the Bocce Court Terrace, the Chocolate Kitchen, the Courtyard and Pastry Kitchen, and the stunning Bluff View Bakery and Pasta Kitchen. If you are clever and adventurous, you will even find the Rembrandt's Roasting Company, where all of the coffee is roasted for the restaurants and bed and breakfast homes.
I highly recommend that you visit Bluff View Art District on a clear day, take a camera, and take your time, as the entire district is very visual and picturesque. You may want to spend an hour, an afternoon, or an entire weekend enjoying the old world elegance, education and atmosphere that this unique and historical neighborhood offers. Classes, such as the "Winter Wine Series", and demonstrations in chocolates, pastry, and pasta pulling happen frequently, so be sure to check the website for details before you plan your visit.