published Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Remember these?

  • photo
    Staff photo by Dan Henry Incentium has established their company headquarters in the former "The Loft" restaurant off of Cherokee Boulevard.

We tend to return to the restaurants that have served up some of our best culinary experiences. Whether it’s a meal enjoyed on a special occasion or a meal so good it became a special occasion, our outings to area restaurants later can trigger some of our most powerful nostalgia trips. How sad then that some of our favorite places to dine exist only in our memories.

For instance, there are moments when I wish I could bite into the Lookout Mountain pizza from Piza Pizza. And my mouth can’t help but water when I remember the great burgers I once enjoyed at George’s downtown.

I remember dates I had in my teenage years at Bethea’s in Brainerd. The owners would set up charge accounts for McCallie boarding students, so one of my favorite boyfriends and I would eat there often. I loved the fried chicken. But all that came to an end when his parents called and told the Betheas to stop issuing their son any more credit. It was nice while it lasted, though.

Here are others that take me down memory lane and make me wish I could go back in time just once and eat my way across town.

Rumor had it that Jolly Ox was a pseudonym for owner Steak and Ale. At the time, I’ve been told, Chattanooga law prohibited any reference to alcohol in a restaurant’s name. But the real emphasis was on mouthwatering steaks. There was a very good salad bar too, as I recall. Back in

the the mid-1970s, it was one of few places in town where a guy could take a date to really impress her, which happened to me a few times.

Shakey’s was the first chain pizza parlor in the Scenic City. This was back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and folks came in droves. It was a new experience for Chattanoogans, who could sit at the long tables and enjoy this great new taste. I loved it. These days, with so many topping options, I can appreciate the simplicity of Shakey’s pizza. Shakey’s still exists in other cities, but the closest is in Auburn, Ala.

The original Loft, before it burned and was rebuilt, was the coolest restaurant to open in Chattanooga in the 1970s. One might think of it as the cornerstone for growth along the North Shore, though it took a few decades for other restaurateurs to take note. I’ll never forget the salad bar and French onion soup. Both were incredible. And the filet? Mouthwatering.

The Brass Register was the meeting place. During the day, it was a popular spot for everything from ladies’ luncheons to business meetings. In the evenings, it turned over to the beer-drinking, burger-devouring crowd. The BR burgers were out of this world; nothing compared. And the potato chips were like none we’d ever experienced — they were homemade, cooked a little darker, all different shapes and full of flavor.

Mr. Fifteen had, hands-down, the best fries in town. Long before McDonald’s and Burger King proliferated, Mr. Fifteen was churning out those long skinny fries like they were coming straight from the potato patch. They had some competition from Krystal when it came to burgers, but not french fries. I don’t know what happened, but by the 1970s, the countdown for Mr. Fifteen’s demise had begun.

The Green Room at the Read House was one of those extra-special places where you went when expert service and superior food were on the night’s agenda. I’ll never forget one of the most romantic meals of my life was spent over an excellent bottle of wine and some of the best lamb chops I’ve ever put in my mouth.

Though I only visited Eidson's a couple of times, the home-cooked meat and veggies reminded me of my Grandma’s. The baked squash was outstanding. What’s so disappointing about its closing, though, is that it was an East Ridge institution for 56 years before it closed last month.

The original Town and Country, located at the corner of Frazier Avenue and North Market Street, is the best memory-maker for my husband and myself. Tom ate there growing up and constantly asks me to make the au jus for beef and the bleu cheese dressing for salads. Luckily, I was able to find a cookbook containing those recipes before the restaurant closed. For me, it was a meeting place for friends talking about event planning, enjoying some afternoon cocktails and some of the best home cooking in town. And less I forget, my favorite server, Mary Burton

We want to hear from you. Let us know which restaurant you miss. E-mail Anne Braly at abraly@timesfreepress.com.

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frankfeeny said...

The blackened amberjack was an immense fillet at the Fifth Quarter on Brainerd Rd. They had a fine salad bar, too. I'm happy for the success of the wonderful Kyriakidis family at the Acropolis, but preferred the down-home style and prices at their Little Athens in East Ridge. Don Penney's BBQ on Brainerd Rd was the best! The Q always came with a good char.

September 22, 2010 at 8:28 a.m.
SBrauer said...

Anyone remember "Oscer's" on McCallie Ave. Great burgers. You have to be really old to remember it. How bout The Green Lantern" and "The Sportsman Bar-B-Que on Brainerd Rd? Good eats.

September 22, 2010 at 11:14 a.m.
steve550 said...

My memories of the Town & Country included the Lava Lamp on the table in the front entrance (I finally got my own about 6 years ago), and the amazing Russian salad dressing. I still think of T&C whenever I have Russian dressing here in Metro Atlanta. Last time I was there a friend of mine happened to be playing the piano at dinner. There was a Dalton location for a few years as well.

September 22, 2010 at 4:20 p.m.
princehal said...

Forget Piza Pizza. The servers were rude and the food mediocre.

in an unrelated note, please refer to www.chaz-jerrybreakfastadventures.com for an interesting spin on breakfast in Chattanooga and its surrounding areas.

September 22, 2010 at 4:57 p.m.
dave said...

Georges did make wonderful hamburgers. I must say the chili burgers at Wally's are still good!

September 22, 2010 at 5:11 p.m.
captoverend said...

How about Fehns, a cullinary institution in Chattanooga since the 1930s. They are still doing business in an old victorian school house in Dayton, TN. They still have the best fried shrimp and fried chicken in the world...and great prime rib and fresh seafood. The macaroon pie is rightfully famous. Don Fehn, the grandson, makes everything from scratch. It's as close to the good ole days of Chattanooga restaurants as you can get.

September 23, 2010 at 2:19 p.m.
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