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Food is a sensual experience to be savored - and shared!

I love to cook, too!

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Countryside Cafe

 8223 Mahan Gap Rd
Ooltewah, TN
 

Country Cooking in the Country

You would think that country people would get enough country cooking at home, but the lines at the Countryside Restaurant say it just ain’t so. And with food this good, it’s easy to see why.

Countryside offers homestyle entrees like meatloaf, hamburger steak, pork chops, even spaghetti, and some of the tastiest fried catfish to be had anywhere. The entrees are complimented by a wide selection of vegetables and side dishes like turnip greens, fried okra, and mac and cheese.

Along with the catfish, the hamburger steak is always a good choice; try it smothered in onions. Avoid the salmon patties; they’re heavy, bready, and not worth the trouble. Most everything else on the menu, though, is first rate. They do tend to run out of popular items as the night wears on, so get there early.

As in any good southern kiitchen, desserts are a specialty. Pies are the order of the day, including lemon, pecan, coconut, and my personal favorite, buttermilk pie. Portions on everything are generous, but no matter how full you are don’t skip dessert. Take it home with you if you have to, but don’t pass.

Lines get long during peak dinner hours, so plan ahead and be patient. Foks are pretty friendly in line and it’s worth the wait. The staff is mostly young and the service is not always polished but it’s pleasant and fast.

If you live in Ooltewah, or even if you don’t, Countryside is a great meal at an almost unbelievably reasonable price. When you’re in the mood for simple food, well prepared and served with a smile, Countryside is your place. Do yourself a favor: try the catfish or the hamburger steak, and have a piece of buttermilk pie. You’ll tell somebody about it the next day, I guarantee.

Catfish

Crisp, lightly breaded with cornmeal, hot, tender, and mild but tasty. Just about the best catfish I’ve had anywhere, at any price. The two piece meal is quite generous; one piece is probably enough for moderate appetites. If you’re new to catfish, try it with a healthy squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of salt I rounded my meal out with coleslaw, fries, and cornbread, all fresh and tasty.

Hamburger Steak

A nicely portioned ground beef steak (but not too big), tender, flavorful, and delicious smothered with tasty grilled onions. My husband’s favorite add-ons are fries and coleslaw, but it’s really good with mashed potatoes and green beens or turnip greens, too. Just enough to satisfy and still have room for a slice of pie!

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Ramblas

 557 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA
 

Ramblas - Nice Tappas, Great Paella

I visited San Francisco with a friend who lived there previously. When I asked him to pick where we would have dinner, he immediately chose Ramblas. He remembered the Paella from his time in the city and couldn’t wait to try it again.

Ramblas is a smallish place, neat and unremarkable. The service was good, and my basil lemonade cocktail was a delightful surprise. Fresh basil leaves, simple sugar, fresh lemons, vodka…delicious!

We shared an order of paella. It was enough for two but barely, and it really was good. Prawns, clams, muscles, and flavorful saffron rice in a hot iron skillet.

We also sampled the empanadillas and a cheese plate from the Tappas menu. Both were nice but no extraordinary. The cheeses were local, and the plate included sweet honey comb and stone ground mustard, both of which added a nice touch.

The restaurant is a little off the beaten path, not a touristy destination. I’d go back for the paella, but it was that tasty basil lemonade that really sticks in my memory. Be sure to try it!

Paella

Lovely paella, well seasoned with plenty of chicken, sausage, clams, mussels, and prawns. The saffron rise was richly flavored and the dish was served on an iron skillet so it stayed warm.

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Eddie Rickenbacker's

 133 2nd St
San Francisco, CA
 

Good Food and Great Atmosphere

Lunch at Eddie Rickenbacker’s was my first experience dining underneath a half-million dollars worth of antique motorcycles suspended from the ceiling. I was so busy checking out the fascinating bikes and reading the little bits of history posted with each one that I almost forgot to check the menu. That would have been a mistake. The food was just as good as the decor.

We ordered chicken Ceasar salads and French onion soup. The romaine was crisp and fresh, the chicken tastily grilled, and the dressing was wonderful. The soup was delicious, too, with just the right balance of sweetness for my taste.

I enjoyed my meal enough that I went back a few nights later for dinner. The place was packed and the service was still fast and friendly. I had a burger with blue cheese, avocado, and onion. The burgers are thick and juicy, served on grilled bread, and zingy with black pepper. The steak-cut fries were hot and crisp. Be aware, though, that unless you’re really hungry, you may want to think about splitting the burger and fries between two people. It’s a lot of food.

There’s a nice selection of beers, including Guiness on tap and at the right temperature.

After dinner, I had more time to check out the bikes and other memorabilia. The somewhat cluttered, eclectic collection adds a unique ambience to the place that I loved. There’s nothing particularly “relaxing” about Rickenbacker’s; it’s more for energizing and stimulating conversation than for chilling out. From the bikes, to the Tiffany lamps, the model trains, and the WWII memorabilia, there’s something to look at and talk about everywhere. Don’t be caught off guard by the cat. He’s a Katrina rescue, and weighs about 30 pounds, a fat, orange, fuzzball who softly walks through from time to time. He’s beautiful, friendly, and loves a belly rub.

The owner’s “nest” is just inside the front door on the right. He’s elderly, appears to be mostly blind, and in failing health, and I overheard someone say, “He’s kind of mean,” but he runs a great pub. He didn’t seem too interested in conversation so I passed on telling him how much I enjoyed his establishment. For moderately priced pub food and great atmosphere, you can’t beat it.

Burger and fries

Big (almost too big for one), juicy, delicious. Loved the grilled bread. Highly seasoned with black pepper, perfect for my taste but may have been a bit heavy for some. The fries were perfect – thick, steak cuts, crisp, super hot. Delicious meal!

Ceasar salad with grilled chicken

Fresh, crisp, flavorful; nice size, fresh croutons; chicken was tender and flavorful; dressing was outstanding.

French Onion Soup

Nice soup; balanced sweet/savory flavor; not a lot of onion in the bowl.

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