When we headed out on this sunny and warm Saturday, we had no real plans for where we were going to eat. We’d had a breakfast of waffles, bacon, and eggs at home, so it was a while before we were hungry. We knew we wanted to have a late lunch, but when we started feeling the hunger pangs, we couldn’t think of anywhere to go…and then it hit me. I’d been thinking about the Boathouse lately, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity. Two o’clock on a Saturday afternoon is generally a great time to visit restaurants and avoid the crowds, and I figured that a restaurant located on Amnicola Highway-possibly one of the most obscure locations I can think of in the urban part of Chattanooga-would be no exception. Boy, was I surprised! The parking lot was nearly full, and when we walked up there were multiple parties waiting to be seated. The hostess told us that if we wanted to eat indoors, we could be seated immediately, but if we wanted to sit outside, there would be a wait. We chose not to wait (surprise!). Still, we couldn’t believe that the large outdoor seating area was full at two o’clock on a Saturday afternoon but I guess that riverside view is pretty alluring on a 75+ degree afternoon in mid-March.
Our server, Tammy, quickly brought us a carafe of water and told us that since it was happy hour, there were appetizer specials (all “mini” sandwiches and tacos) and that regular appetizers were $2.50 off. We decided on the queso dip with roasted tomato salsa. The queso turned out to be the standard white American cheese dip served with a small cup of a very delicious, slightly spicy salsa and freshly fried chips. We mixed the salsa into our queso. It tasted very fresh and had a strong cheesy flavor, and I really loved the chips. Besides the chips on the plate, they also brought us a basket of additional chips.
According to the menu, the Boathouse specializes in “foods from the Gulf,” including several different seafood offerings (including a raw bar), rotisserie roasted chicken, and brisket. Tammy helped me decide between the wood-spit roasted 1/2 chicken with margarita sauce and the roasted chicken sandwich (she recommended the sandwich). The sandwich was French bread with a large slice of roasted chicken breast, pickle, onions (which I promptly removed), tomato, arugula, Swiss cheese, and mayo. It was served with olive oil fried French fries (called olive fries on the menu) and a very simple slaw-just shredded cabbage with a very light sesame oil dressing. The chicken on the sandwich was incredibly tender, and I loved the bitter note that the arugula added to the sandwich (I am crazy about arugula!). The fries were skin-on, and boy, am I a sucker for skin-on fries. I loved this meal! I really wanted to try the fries on this trip, but next time I go, I want to try the Lotta Lotta Garlic chicken, one of the Boathouse’s specialties, with black beans, rice, arugula, pineapple, tomatoes, avocado and feta. Sounds delicious!
Philip also had a little trouble deciding what to order. He knew that he wanted something with the rotisserie brisket, but didn’t want to order the brisket entree, so he asked Tammy to help him decide between the “You Don’t Have to Go to Texas” brisket sandwich with barbecue sauce and the “Texas Dip” brisket sandwich with Swiss, onions, and au jus for dipping. Tammy recommended the dip, since it is a pressed sandwich and a little more “interesting” than the other, which was pretty much just a brisket sandwich with barbecue sauce. Good call, Tammy! The Texas dip was pressed on French bread, with extremely tender slices of brisket. The au jus really set off the flavor. Perfect!
We were pretty much stuffed after we finished our meal, but if we had room for dessert, we would have ordered the tres leches cake. I’m dying to make one-I’ve never tried it-so my interested was definitely piqued.
Another thing I’d like to note about the Boathouse is that I just really like the atmosphere. The decor is interesting and I love the “open-ness” of the dining room with its high ceilings. I also love the color scheme and the large scenes of local scenery (Ruby Falls, etc.) on the wall.
Let me go ahead and address the elephant in the room. If you’ve been to the Boathouse, you either love it or you hate it. If you’ve never been, chances are you’ve heard from people who love it or hate it. The Boathouse has had some bad press in the past, and people definitely seem to have strong feelings one way or the other. Obviously, I am in the former group-I have been twice and have had great food and great service on both occasions. If you are in the latter group, I’m sorry for your experience and just want to remind you that Chattavore is a negativity-free zone! If you haven’t tried it, I encourage you to go and decide for yourself. I have heard several pieces of conflicting information regarding their check-splitting policy: (1) They don’t split checks; (2) They don’t split checks in the outside seating area, or they only split checks equally and not by individual orders; and (3) No problem with splitting checks. The third was in a comment left on this post (scroll down) and I am assuming that the person who left this comment works at the Boathouse. He (Charles) says, “Splitting Checks at Boathouse, inside or outside, No Problem, Come and eat!!” So, if this has been an issue for you in the past, I am assuming that this is a policy that has been updated.
Negative press aside, I really like the Boathouse. Their food has exceeded my expectations on both of my visits, and the service has been great on both visits as well. I am excited to go back and try another menu item!
Boathouse Rotisserie and Raw Bar is located at 1459 Riverside Drive, Chattanooga, TN 37406. You can reach them at 423-622-0122. Check out their website, http://boathousechattanooga.com. You can also “like” them on Facebook.
By the way, Boathouse shares owners with Sugar’s Ribs and Canyon Grille….both of which need to be reviewed by Chattavore…..hmmmm.