A little southern comfort...The St. John's in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Barb and I were recently in Chattanooga to see some relatives and while we were there decided to try out St. John's (www.stjohnsrestaurant.com) on the recommendation from people on the Chowhound boards (www.chowhound.com). The Chef is Daniel Lindley who puts on a fantastic seasonal menu. The night we were there the chef was away but his sous-chef Josh did a great job with our meal.
The restaurant itself is in downtown Chattanooga and is a converted hotel. The space is very open with high ceilings and a very nice feel to it. With 2 floors and the tables spread out nicely you never feel cramped. The staff do a great job of the service with everything being served smoothly and the pacing near perfect. I can only imagine how tired a new wait person must be at the end of the night after running up and down the stairs all night.
We were seated and our server Bethany came over and greeted us and spoke a bit about the menu and a bit about the restaurant itself. She spoke highly about two of the menu items and I decided to go with her recommendations while Barb chose a few others.
The first item that came out was an Amuse Bouche.
Hawaiian Walu fish with Tomatilla sauce, cucumber, radish, and basil.
The textures here were great with the vegetables giving it a nice crunch and the fish being soft and tender and a great slightly spicy taste of the sauce. I will give this a 7.
The fish was very delicate and tasty. The veggies were a nice combination and left us hungry for more. I too, give it a 7.
Ok, I normally do not show bread but this came with a nice little story attached. The white bread is the Chef's mothers recipe and from what I am told every time she comes to eat she makes sure to tell the wait staff to make sure they let people know that it's her bread. So, just wanted to pass that along and say yes, it is brag worthy. A great fresh bread is a hard thing to beat.
Barb's First Course
Roasted Texas Cross Quail with Apples and Chorizo Stuffing and a Whisky-maple Glaze
The quail was cooked perfectly, the presentation of it was cute (with the crossed legs) and the flavors were amazing. The glaze was delicious, and the stuffing was a nice mixture of stuffing, chorizo and apple. This was a great starter to the meal. I would give it an 8.
The quail was cooked very well, the skin nice and crisp and the glaze has a smoky sweet flavor that was great. The stuffing was good as well but I have to be honest here I was so taken with my first course that I do not have a strong memory of it. I will give this a 7.5
Maine Lobster & Saffron Soup - Delicata Squash Ravioli and Celery.
The soup also had roasted pumpkin seeds in it and a deep woodsy flavor that I just loved and paired with the lobster made for a taste that went together so well that I ended up eating this very slow because I wanted to savor the tastes more and more. The only thing I will say against this dish, and it is a weird thing to complain about is the ravioli really did not need to be there and added almost nothing to the dish. The soup and the lobster were the stars here! This did not pull a yum out of my lips but was very close to it, 8.5 is what I will give it
I had a very small taste of this as I was enjoying my quail so much. The flavors were deep and smoky, all in all, it was very tasty. I would give it a 7.5.
At this point the kitchen sent out a little bonus for us to enjoy.
Sequacthie Cove Farms Baby Beef, with a Red Wine Vinaigrette, Shallots, Capers, and Parsley with a Fried Egg and Mustard Aioli with some toasted bread.
I saw this coming out and was not pleased. I have had tartar two times before and both times I have been pretty underwhelmed but decided, well might as well give it a go and this was good. Very good. The meat and vinaigrette has a nice tartish flavor, the egg was still warm and perfectly cooked and the mustard aioli just gave the perfect additional flavor that you just caught at the edge of your tongue. Another 8from me. I would like to note even though this is the best tartar I have had it did not give me a yumm so can't give it a “best of type“ rating.
When I saw this I was skeptical. I am not a big fan of tartar, but when in Rome. The trick to this dish was getting a little bit of everything. And when done properly, this dish was a delightful surprise. I really didn't think I would like it, but I did. Again, I think it was the combination of all the flavors that made it unique and special. I would give it an 8.
Smoked Hudson Valley Duck Breast with Sweet Potato Gratin and Cherry Cognac Reduction.
Ok, this intrigued me. You bite into it and a citrus flavor hits you at first followed by a fairly strong flavor that I just could not figure out so I kept on poaching from Barb's plate trying to figure it out. Finally I asked, and the duck is rubbed with a orange rub then is smoked in hickory. This combo just gave a taste I really can't describe, but I liked it and it kept making me want a little more. I am not a big fan of sweet potatoes, so was not a big fan of those. I will give it a 7.
The duck was cooked perfectly and the mixture of cherry cognac with the duck was spot on. A slight sweetness mixed in with the duck taste. I liked the sweet potatoes, they were a nice contrast to the duck. My only problem was that the duck was a little tough for me, but all in all the dish was very good. I would give it an 8.
Broken Arrow Ranch Axis Venison with Wildwood Farms Delicata Squash, Stone Ground Grits and Summer Truffle Jus.
MMMM YUMMMM! Ok, deer is not supposed to be this tender, just is not suppose to be. Venision is a little tough and a bit gamey, it is not supposed to melt in your mouth like this did. Tender with an out of this world flavor that just sings. From what I understand, Axis deer are native to India and Nepal and you know it would almost be worth going to live there just to have this again. The grits were very good and the squash was nice but darn that deer was good. A solid 10, I doubt I will ever taste venison that tender again.
The venison was so tender that it almost melted in your mouth. I actually begged for a couple of more pieces, it was soooo good. The flavorings was perfect and the venison was tasty. I would give it a 9.
Pineapple & Butternut Squash Bread Pudding with Coconut Gelato and Run Caramel
This was nice and rich and different it was nice to see a inventive dessert that breaks the mold at the same time is really good. Too many restaurants seem to have great mains but the desserts are kind of an after thought. These here seem to have had a lot of thought put in to make it as much as an experience as the meal itself. A 7 here.
My dessert was very good. The bread pudding was nice and warm still, topped with caramel sauce and mixed with the coconut gelato. It was soothing to my mouth. I would give it a 7.
Carrot Cake Souffle with Cream Cheese Anglaise
This was not your standard carrot cake, this was rich and served warm with a flavor that had a carrot flavor but not a overwhelming one. I really liked it. I give it a 7.
I wasn't a huge fan of this. The server brought out the dish and then punctured the top of it with a spoon and poured in the cream cheese anglaise so that the flavors would mix together. The tastes were fine, but just didn't blow me away. I would give it a 6.
Banana Split; Banana Ice Cream in a Chocolate Gnosh Bowl with a Strawberry Caramel Sauce and a Chocolate Covered Cherry.
Very, very good. The house made ice cream was incredibly rich and of course how can you go wrong with a chocolate bowl. I'll give this a 8.
If I would have known they were going to throw in another dessert, I would have never ordered one - but what a nice surprise. The house made banana ice cream was the real treat in this dessert. I could have had a bowlful of it and been very happy. I would give this dish an 8 as well.
Numbers and such With the .75 add on for a 5 course or more meal St Johns scored a 8.44 score which is pretty good indeed. We had a great time here and would highly suggest you give it a try if your in Chattanooga! The chef answered a few questions for us and gave us a very yummy looking recipe which will be in next weeks post. The over all cost of this meal was 123.45.
Thanks as always for coming by and if have any questions or ideas where we should go in the future feel free to drop us a line at jonathan or barb @milehigheater.com
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