A few weeks ago, Lou and I hit the road and made the relatively short but very scenic drive to Chattanooga. We fielded recommendations for activities and restaurants from some friends, but weren’t quite sure what to expect during our long weekend. I’m pleased to report that we had a fabulous time and will most definitely be returning!
We arrived on a Friday afternoon and quickly checked into our hotel room at The Chattanoogan. After dropping our bags, we ventured out with rumbling tummies but without a game plan (the classic recipe for a cranky Jean). Ultimately, we made the mile-long trek to the riverfront for a light lunch (and beers for Lou). At The Blue Plate, we found a little porch overlooking the water and mountains to catch our breath and rest our feet. The food, however, wasn’t memorable.
We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the city by bicycle. Bike Chattanooga is a bike share that has stations set up throughout downtown and the waterfront – you pay to rent a bike and can return it to any of the stations across the city! I’d highly recommend getting a 3-day pass if you’re staying for a long weekend, as Chattanooga is best experienced in the fresh air.
On Friday evening, we had dinner at Public House, which came highly recommended from a number of friends. We dined on the open-air patio and basked in the absolutely gorgeous twilight weather. Public House’s atmosphere is casual and welcoming and the menu’s focus is clear: recognizable comfort food with gourmet flourishes (the hallmark of new and good “farm to table” restaurants). Disclaimer: the portion sizes are huge (as they frequently are down South!). To start, we (re: I) ordered the beef carpaccio, fried chicken livers, deviled eggs, and lobster bisque. Lou always jokes that I over-order appetizers and sides at restaurants (guilty as charged), but I like trying a variety of small plates! In this case, two appetizers would have been plenty – I really wasn’t expecting the portions to be so generous!
For my main course, I ordered the evening’s special, which was a braised pork shank with kale and roasted eggplant. Lou chose the seared sea scallops with succotash. Both of our dishes were delicious, but I should have substituted my eggplant for something more fun like macaroni and cheese. Or grits. Or mashed potatoes. Or seriously anything other than eggplant.
We forced down a piece of peanut butter pie for dessert, which was so creamy and delicious I could have eaten it until I exploded. Our waiter told us that a lovely woman named Dottie May bakes all of the desserts fresh from scratch every morning. Dottie May is a saint.
On Saturday morning we woke up bright and early for a bike ride across the Walnut Street Bridge. The pedestrian-only bridge offers gorgeous views of both the river and city. The pedestrian limitation is great for those reacquainting themselves to bike riding (it had been a while…) – as there are no cars whizzing by to make you a little wobbly.
Once we made it across the river to the NorthShore neighborhood, we parked our bikes and walked briskly to our next destination: Julie Darling Donuts.
Based on some very fast and last-minute internet research, I determined that Julie Darling would be the best place to try doughnuts in Chattanooga. Mind you, our doughnut expectations are VERY high thanks to none other than Sublime.
Don’t get me wrong, the doughnuts were good. Really good, actually. I’m sure there are people out there who go nuts for these doughnuts, I’m just not one of them. They were a little bit too sweet and too dense for my liking. Yes, there is bacon on that doughnut above.
After some issues with the bikes we were renting, we opted to take the free electric shuttle that runs through downtown back to the hotel. Next up and next post – Rock City!