Tim Mercier grew up beneath the shade of apple trees at Mercier Orchards, helping his father tend the fertile mountain soil while snacking on juicy winesaps plucked straight from the branch. To this day, Tim continues to run his family's 50-year-old farm, where he harvests apples by hand, wears John Appleseed’s cooking pot hat, and manages the market alongside his wife, children, and grandchildren. At the 200-acre farm, tree branches sprout dozens of kinds of apples, including sweet ambrosias, tart dandee reds, and crisp pink ladies. Beyond the apple groves lie stretches of cherry trees, peach trees, and blueberry bushes, as well as strawberry fields blossoming with chandler, camerosa, and sweet charlie varieties.
The Mercier family opens their farm to visitors year-round, inviting guests to stroll the verdant grounds and pick their own berries and apples. Afterwards, guests pop into Mercier Orchards’ rustic shop to survey jugs of fresh cider, colorful jams, and caramel-coated candy apples. In the bakery, they sample apple cider donuts, pecan breads, and the farm's famous fried pies, which can now be found on the shelves of local Whole Foods.
In addition to cultivating a rich assortment of herbs, Erin's Meadow Herb Farm welcomes visitors into its greenhouses, fields, and classrooms to learn the best uses for its multitudinous varieties of herbs. Inside, visitors can peruse a variety of gifts and products made using all-natural ingredients, or drop in for classes that include demos, spa-centric herbal recipes, and the recipe for creating a love potion disguised as peppermint tea.
The cooks at Suck Creek Bar and Grill crowd a grill with sizzling patties and load hearty sandwiches with fried chicken, thick-cut bologna, and bacon. Patrons crack open a Budweiser ($2) while perusing a menu that promises starters of fried mushrooms ($4.25). Hearty specialty burgers ($3.75) romp on fluffy buns loaded with american, pepper jack, or colby queso. In a cozy dining room with crimson trim, a hamburger-steak dinner ($6.75) prepares diners for revelry like a save-the-date note from Bacchus. Fried-fish sandwiches ($3) arrive on a tidal wave of tartar sauce, and the crispy bacon and tomato slices of a time-tested BLT ($3.50) fuel karaoke performances and air-guitar smashing on Friday and Saturday nights.
The sandwich sages at Westland Market & Beer Gallery turn to a stockpile of hand-sliced meats to construct portable dining masterpieces, all of which make up the eatery's hefty menu of deli delights. Oven-roasted turkey tags out corned beef to accompany the savory stack of sauerkraut, swiss, and thousand-island dressing that composes the turkey Reuben ($4.49 for a 6"). The smoked chicken-salad sub ($7.29 for a 12") spans the distance between two slices of wheat bread with smoked all-white-meat chicken salad and a brace of red onion and sliced tomato. Logan's pulled-pork sandwich ($5 for double meat) lays down a hearty pile of double-rub barbecue pork upon a sesame bun while democratizing the sandwich-ordering process with a choice of sweet or spicy sauce. Locally roasted coffee keeps diners from falling asleep while tucking napkins into their shirt collars, and pies wait in the wings to satisfy postmeal munching.
At each of The Shrimp Dock's three locations, you can reap the fruits of fishermen's labors, inspecting market catches ranging from salmon and snapper to mussels, lobsters, and scallops. Their fresh Gulf shrimp comes in five sizes, ready to quell hungers ranging from petite to gargantuan. True to their origins, the markets also stock Cajun favorites, with recipe-ready meats including alligator and catfish. With shipments arriving straight from three coasts six days a week, their stock stays as fresh as it is delicious. In addition to filling area kitchens with just-caught seafood, The Shrimp Dock also specializes in prepared fare; lunch specials from the kitchen, served from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., include Knoxville's beloved Gulf shrimp and oyster po boys and homemade soup.
The Captain enthusiastically touts the potential benefits of a diet rich in fish, including regular doses of omega-3 fatty acids, reduction in risk of heart disease, and a conversation-starter with pelicans.
The chefs at Wok Chow create a variety of Asian mainstays including pad Thai, sushi rolls, and crab rangoon. In addition to sweet desserts of Chinese donuts tossed in cinnamon and sugar, they also offer a living healthy menu with low calorie options such as steamed pot stickers and ginger broccoli chicken.