I recently got to do two of the things I love best: take a short road trip and try a new-to-me restaurant. With the COVID lockdowns starting to ease up and with small businesses still struggling, what a great opportunity to get out – safely with those in my household – and visit somewhere magical with a great view along the way while supporting local business. I hope everyone is able to take a break and find a way to find your own brand of magic in your neck of the woods and relish an opportunity to get out and about again – safely, of course. It was wonderful!
If you are not familiar with Tennessee, we have what is not REALLY a mountain, but part of a plateau that is still called a mountain by name – confusing, right? Monteagle Mountain. It’s right smack between Chattanooga and Nashville and offers a beautiful drive in both the spring and fall. At least those are my favorite times to drive that route along with the route to the beautiful Great Smoky Mountain National Park, but I’ll save that for another article.
While I’ve taken this route many times, I never knew about the fabulous High Point Restaurant. It’s actually a 1929 mansion with original fixtures and hardwood floors and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in December 1997. Supposedly, Al Capone – yes, Al Capone the infamous gangster –providing funding for this place and had all sorts of secret passageways and tunnels for transporting liquor back and forth in the 1920’s and 1930’s. The restaurant’s website even touts tales of Capone and John Dillinger “lounging outside on the mountain stone patio having drinks and playing numerous hands of cards.” It has some history, for sure, and is just a fun place to visit. Being inside made me feel like I was in an English mansion from long ago and living ‘back in the day’ for a moment or two. There was a beautiful outdoor patio for dining which was a little chilly for our visit, but one which I want to try again when I go back.
I think since the lockdown even the ‘ordinary’ of just going to a restaurant has taken on new meaning, at least for me. It was wonderful to get to try a new-to-me place, see the gorgeous scenery, and try some amazing food. I had Harvest Salad with brie, pear, and warm honey vinaigrette to start my meal and had an incredible Steak and Gorgonzola-Alfredo that was wonderfully paired with a balsamic glaze on the side, fresh parmesan, and hot, homemade bread. Topping it off was an amazing chocolate lava cake with vanilla bean ice cream and fudge sauce. It was quite an extraordinary meal and the setting was beautiful as always.
The way I found this diamond-in-the-rough of a landmark and restaurant was at an earlier trip to the Jack Daniels distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee when a tour guide recommended it. I am glad I took his advice! Lest anyone be making the connection that both places involve liquor and at least a couple of gangsters, I can assure you I am not a gangster or connected to any bootlegged liquor – even if I felt like it for a couple of hours on both of my visits. It’s amazing what you can find when you venture out of your own backyard and go just ways down the road for an hour or so. I hope many of you do the same as we are all able to venture out in our own time and ways post-COVID.
Here’s to getting out, safe journeys, and enjoying road trips and food!