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Dec 3, 2007 12:36 PM

Seattle-Tacoma Couple in Knoxville 12/13-18, Need Eating Guidance!

My husband and I will be in Knoxville for 5 days for my sister's college graduation, staying near Cedar Bluffs. We are HUGE foodies and eager to try new cuisine. We are spoiled at home with lots fabulous eateries who use local fresh ingredients, and have unique menus. Would love to try any foodie treasure wether it be comfort food done right, or something fancy but delectable. We are not big chain fans with a few exceptions.

I would like some input on Flemings too. I am told we are having dinner there on Sunday evening. I hear it is a steakhouse chain like Ruths Chris Steakhouse or Mortons. Anything I should try or stay away from?

Thank you for all your good advice!

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  1. In the Cedar Bluff area is Puleo's-not a chain but the owner has now expanded to 3 or 4 locations. It is Southern with an Italian twist or vice versa-really, really, good. Voted best restaurant in Knoxville for the past 2 years. Also downtown is Market Square-used to be where farmers brought their produce to sell.- Try the Tomato Head for pizza, sandwiches - all with a twist of fresh ingredients. Flemings is a chain like other steakhouse chains. For regular folks barbecue-try Buddy's-another local chain with several locations. The pork is really lean and the chicken is great. (hushpuppies don't measure up for me). An old time cafeteria where all the local politicians eat is Wrights on Middlebrooke Pike-great homemade pies and yeast rolls. Connors or Chop House are also locally owned and have some interesting items. Other than the high end steak houses, Knoxville is pretty inexpensive for eating. I don't think our food is anywhere near New Orleans or Charleston or Atlanta, but we have some very satisfactory places.Litton's in the Fountain City area of North Knoxville is a great experience of a 4th generation eatery-they grind their own meat and make their own buns for their hamburgers and the cakes absolutely melt in your mouth. People go to Cracker Barrel for breakfast(big chain) but I think it is too salty and too greasy. I think it is difficult to find a healty breakfast in Knoxville. We do have Krispy Kreme donuts if you want the ultimate experience watch for the "Hot Now" sign to come on. Happy eating

    1 Reply
    1. re: LGD

      We ate at Puleo's when we were there this summer and were very pleasantly surprised.
      We got a complimentary fried green tomatoes from our hotel and they were fantastic. The tasso gravy is incredible.

      I had the shrimp and grits and it was excellent.

      There were also a few places down in market square that looked very good too.


      1. re: Choppedonion

        We have since returned to our excursion in Knoxville, and I am happy to report we found a special place in our palate for Litton's! While simplistic in accutrouments and presentation, that was by far one of the best burgers I have ever eaten. My husband and father echo similar sentiments. The patty was sensational, and the homemade buns were very complimentary to the patty in taste texture and size, yum!

        We also had sunday lunch at the Appalachian Musuem. Chicken dumplings, sweet tea and deviled eggs! My southern husband was in heaven. Even served on styrofoam plates, the love in the food was easy to detect.

        The other stand out, but not in a good way, was Flemings. When we arrived our group of 7 was seated in the middle of the restaurant. We had asked that the waiter speak over by my dad who is hard of hearing, but he refused to do so, which left my dad in a lot of confusion as it was very noisy. It was 45 minutes before our orders for appetizers were taken, and then another hour after that before our entree order was taken. Our appetizers arrived sans one that was ordered, the raw tuna had a tinny flavour from sitting under the heat lamp. Once again, we waited another 45 minutes before our food was brought out. It was now 10pm at night and everyone was hungry and tired. Several complaints were made to the waiter that were met with apoloigies and "we're really busy", which made no sense becuase the place had cleared out by 9 pm. When we received our food, the prime rib was almost raw, the beef flemington almost a rock, and the new york strip was as tough as a hard tack roll. We had asked to have the dishes re-cooked as they were ordered, and they said they could only accomodate the NY strip, since they were trying to close. After all was said and done, absolutly no compensation was given, we were charged for things we didn't eat, and had to pay a gratuity that was unwarranted due to our large group ending in a $885.00 bill. Myself and another member of my family contacted the restaurant to complain and was not dignified with a response. Never again will I, or any member of my family, set foot inside a Flemings.

        In the end we took away a fondness for sweet tea, Litton's fabulous burgers, and the bitter taste of Flemings. Thank you for your words of advice!

        1. re: iheartgrittytacoma

          On the other hand, I celebrated my 60th Birthday at Flemmings. We had three staff members at our service and went without nothing. Our head server, Laura, anticipated every need and surpassed all expectations.

          Probably one of the best meals of memory. Before that had to be the Dining Room Ritz Carlton in Buckhead or the 95th in Chicago.

          1. re: iheartgrittytacoma

            I have been to Flemmings in Ktown , not my favorite or not the worst... just eh. But that said I am trying to figure out what in the world you ordered to have an almost nine hundred dollar bill? I dont think their prices are that outlandish so was it mostly alcohol? Anyway there are much better places in Knoxville for way less $$$.

            1. re: LaLa

              I would assume that the fares are similar between PHX and K'ville, so that would be ~US$125/person. I can easily image that with a couple of good wines, I'd likely spend more. Have not done the math from their menus, but I think I could do this in a heartbeat - wines included.

              To iheartgrittacoma, sorry about the bad service. One thing that I have to say about the folk in AZ is that the staff is really pretty good. Your simple requests should NOT have been beyond the staff's abilities.


              1. re: Bill Hunt

                As I said in my post it must have been the alcohol because the price of the food is not that outlandish.

                1. re: LaLa

                  I understand. That is why I catalog my wines, when doing a review. It only takes a few bottles of 1er Cru Bdx., or some producer's Burg, and the tab is over the top. I want folk to know about what the food cost, and then let them order the wines, that they want. It is not unlikely that my total bill will be 40% food and 60% wine. The reader might not have any inclination of doing similar, so they need to know. It's tough, when reflecting on a past bill though. Recently, someone wanted to know how much I'd paid for Alan Wong's Chef's Counter in Honolulu. I had to point out that we also did the sommelier's pairing, plus maybe 4 exter b-t-g wines.

                  Thanks for the clarification,


        2. I cannot speak directly to the Flemming's Steakhouse in K'ville, but yes, it is a chain, albeit a small one.

          Paul Flemming (Tulane grad) was the force behind the Ruth's franchise. Before, it was an old NOLA steakhouse, that had changed ownership. He created the Ruth's "franchise." He was also behind the P F Chang's franchise, and a few others. He created the concept of Flemming's Steakhouses.

          Now, I have to tell you that I am not a "steakhouse" sorta' guy. We end up at many, as guests, but I almost never choose any, given the opportunity. I have have nothing but bad experiences at any Morton's, and someone else has always picked up the bill. I have also been the one to choose the wines from their rather deep cellars. How can I complain? Well, the service has been poor, and so has the food. The various Ruth's have been a notch better, but I'd never choose them.

          Now, Flemming's is above the previous two. I like a lot that they do with their wines. I have actually suggested them on a few occasions. These occasions have been in Scottsdale, AZ, where we have a half-dozen Morton's, about as many Ruth's and then three-dozen other "steakhouses," many of which have ties to top-rated chefs from around the country. I still would pick Flemmings over the rest. They are a good "little" steakhouse, and they have fun with their wines.

          That said, still 99% of my dining choices are for "chef-driven" spots, regardless of where I am. I'd not put Flemmings up against Bern's (Tampa, FL), or Rainwater's on Ketner (San Diego, CA), but they are not bad. I also would rather do them than most.

          Locally, the only steakhouse "chain," that beats them is Capital Grill. Ours (Phoenix) is actually better than the original in DC.

          One thing that I have to say of Flemmings, is that it is not just for guys, like so many. It is less "clubby," and more "family." I'd rate it behind Del Frisco's and Capital Grill. Above all Morton's, Ruth's The Palm and even places like Craftsteak in LV.

          Please remember, I am talking about the Flemming's in Scottsdale, AZ. I also think that this was his first venture, under this name.

          Trust me, you could have done worse. Hope that the K'ville location is as good as Scottsdale's.