I spent last weekend in Knoxville, Tennessee for a conference.
For me, a new city always means new restaurants.
But because of the nature of the conference, we were limited to only one meal on our own in Knoxville. The group I was with decided on Tupelo Honey, which to be completely honest, I was not excited about.
Anyone that knows me knows I hate going to chain restaurants, especially when I am in a new city. Nevertheless, I found myself waiting for a table Friday night at Tupelo Honey. About 30 minutes after our reservation, we were finally seated and given a few free appetizers to compensate the wait.
It was time to see if this place was any good…
Tupelo Honey is known for their southern comfort menu with everything from fried okra to pimento and fried pickle burgers to sweet potato pancakes.
To be fair, everything on the menu sounds really tasty, but because it’s a chain, I continuously doubted the quality of the food.
And then the appetizers came. The manager comped our fried okra, crispy brussels and pimento cheese nachos. Thanks to Lent, I couldn’t try the fried okra (I’ve never had okra though, so I have nothing to compare it to).
On that note, I had never tried brussels sprouts before either. Mainly because I’m picky and they sound gross. However, in that moment, I knew I had to try them.
Oh. My. Gosh. I loved them.
They were crispy and had an amazing flavor that went so well with the buttermilk ranch. I would definitely recommend them, even if you don’t think you like brussels.
The pimento cheese nachos were underwhelming. Given the fact that “pimento cheese” is in the name on the menu, I was disappointed by the lack of pimento cheese. The portion size was small too, which added to the letdown.
For the main course, I ordered the shrimp and grits, per the server’s recommendation. It didn’t fall short. The grits were creamy, peppery and full of goat cheese, my favorite. The meal came with a good amount of shrimp, too.
After a quick lemon squeeze along with the peperonata served on top, the flavor was absolutely delicious.
After the food proved itself to me, I finally allowed myself to take in the atmosphere and appreciate the decor (which I’m sure is the same at every location).
Inside, it feels very homey. The browns and blues in the decor made it feel comfortable. The cascading lights along with the wood paneled glass windows brought a certain warmth to the space. There was a lot of booth and table seating, but the bar area felt small.
The southern menu compliments the interior and felt like a good ole’ (classier) country dining spot.
Despite the fact Tupelo Honey is a chain and I have some weird feeling towards eating at chains, I actually liked the place. It is a little pricey, but I’m happy I tried it.
If I’m ever stuck in a position where I have to go to a chain restaurant again, and there’s a Tupelo Honey around, I would definitely go there.