Philip has been sick for the last week and a half, so when we ventured out yesterday in search of a restaurant to review we had to choose carefully. In search of sandwiches, we tried to go to the Purple Daisy, but their parking lot is über small and it was completely packed, as was the entire St. Elmo area on this Saturday afternoon….so, we had to formulate Plan B. The Blue Plate sprang into my mind. We’ve been there twice before, with a few years in between each visit, so I guess it was time to head back. The first time we went-which was at least six or seven years ago-we were unimpressed (bad service, which you can’t necessarily judge a restaurant for. We were much younger then and I think our server assumed-incorrectly-that we were not going to tip well and instead focused her attention on the family at the next table while our drinks went empty…but the food was good). The second time the service was much better and the food was great too. Truth be told, the location (river front, near the Aquarium, tourists, and crowds) is probably the reason we don’t go more often.
The interior of The Blue Plate is a contemporary design with round booths, lots of high-top tables, and a grey and blue color scheme. Almost exactly a year ago they completed a renovation to add a bar, Local 191, which will celebrate its first anniversary next week. The menu is simple, not too many items, which I think is a good thing. When I go to a restaurant that has a million items on the menu, I have to wonder how many of those items they actually make well.
We were seated within a couple of minutes and our very friendly server quickly took our drink orders. We perused the menu (including a small menu of specials) for a few minutes and I finally settled on the fish taco special (fish tacos used to be a regular menu item, but not anymore). Philip decided on the turkey club then asked the server to talk him into one of their $5 milkshakes, which didn’t take too much effort on her part. The food came out within ten minutes…in fact, the food came before the milkshake!
The fish tacos were made with grouper, finely chopped and served on a flour tortilla with cheddar cheese, lettuce, corn, pico de gallo (or maybe it was corn salsa? I should have written it down), and a dollop of avocado cream, with a salad containing several of those components also served on the side. I think I would have preferred rice or beans as a side as opposed to things that were served on the tacos…but I didn’t make the menu, did I? The tacos were tasty, the fish mild but not too much so, the onions in the pico not too strong. The cheddar (which is not traditional on a fish taco) lent a nice sharp flavor, and the corn and lettuce were nice contrasts to the warm fish and tortilla. I liked the avocado cream as well. It was a little brown, as you can see in the photo, but it really is hard to keep avocado from browning the minute oxygen hits it….
Philip’s turkey club included thickly sliced rotisserie turkey, cheddar and Swiss cheese, bacon (Benton’s!), lettuce, tomato, and avocado cream on toasted bread, with housemade potato chips. As he is apt to say about many things, Philip’s comment was, “Well, it’s a club sandwich.” He’s the kind of person that thinks that all apples taste….like apples. And so on. He did rave about the turkey, though, which was incredibly tender and juicy. I tasted the sandwich and felt like all of the flavors worked together really nicely…and yes, it was a club sandwich. There’s a reason that pretty much every casual restaurant has a club on their menu, right? I liked the addition of the avocado cream, although if I were making the sandwich I would put sliced avocado on it…but then, I’m pretty much obsessed with avocado. The chips were great, cut super-thin. I am pretty sure I ate more of them than Philip did; not too surprising, since I could eat my weight in homemade potato chips. If he had been feeling better, I probably would have ordered their blue chips appetizer-housemade chips, Maytag blue cheese, and homemade cheese sauce. Oh dear.
The shake came about halfway through the meal, so it was kind of like dessert. It was large, and the shakes are made to order with extras (like crushed Oreos) if you like. Philip had his fingers crossed for a malt, but they don’t do malts. The insides of the cup were drizzled generously with chocolate syrup. The shake was made with vanilla ice cream, milk, and chocolate syrup…just enough chocolate syrup. It’s surprising how many places cannot make a good chocolate shake….but this one was quite good.
We had a couple of servers wait on us during this visit, and they were extremely friendly and helpful, as were the host and hostess that greeted us when we came in. So, the bad service we got the first time we visited was definitely a fluke, and the food really is very good here. I really appreciate the effort that The Blue Plate makes to use locally-sourced products on their menu (they list the many local suppliers they use on the back of the menu) and to make lots of items fresh and from scratch. I would encourage you to brave the crowds of tourists swarming the river front (okay, I am totally exaggerating) and try out The Blue Plate!
The Blue Plate is located at 191 Chestnut Street Unit B, Chattanooga, TN 37402. You can call them at 423-648-6767. You can visit their website, http://theblueplate.info, “like” them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter.