A huge statue of Buddha watches over the dining room at Surin of Thailand, although his peaceful gaze is subverted by complex curries, spicy stir-fried noodle dishes, and flavorful barbecue-chicken entrees a day in the making. Half chickens are marinated in Thai barbecue sauce overnight before being slowly roasted and grilled, then they’re plated with scoops of shrimp fried rice and reminders to chew each bite thoroughly, not matter who’s threatening to steal the flavorful dark meat.
Surin measures its dishes' spiciness on a three-pepper scale, where one is "spicy" and three is "Thai hot." Though most dishes fall between nonspicy and hot, a few earn their trio of peppers, including a medley of mussels, scallops, and shrimp with spicy basil sauce.
Another Buddha—actually, just a head—guards the sushi bar, where nigiri, sashimi, and creative maki rolls are born. Under the two Buddhas' protection, diners settle into leather seats or tuck into booths backed by ferns and foliage. Outside the stone-walled eatery, a patio seasons dishes with sunlight and refreshing breezes.
Jennifer McRoberts took a cake-decorating class that ignited an already present passion for baking. In 2008, she decided to open her own business, House of Cake, from which she sells a variety of handmade, hand-designed treats, such as birthday and wedding cakes, cookies, cupcakes, cake pops, and cake in a jar, shippable mason jars stuffed to the brim with sweet frosting, fillings, and cake bites. McRoberts also brings her skills to her kitchen at home, where she’s licensed to teach lessons in cake decorating.
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.
Copeland?s of Kingston sources its sport peppers, hot giardiniera, and neon relish directly from Chicago. That?s because owner Jeremy Copeland is serious about his passion for Chicago street fare and 50's rockabilly. Teal walls and checkerboard linoleum floors surround guests as they perch on chrome soda-fountain stools, chowing down on Italian sub sandwiches filled with salami, pepperoni, and homemade vinaigrette, corned beef reubens, or hearty cheesesteaks with rolls sourced from Amoroso Bread Company in Philadelphia. An extensive hot dog menu, with dogs chosen among the top five in East Tennessee, treats hungry patrons to sausages covered in southern-style chili and saut?ed onions, or dogs prepared in the traditional Chicago style: with Vienna Beef franks run through a garden of relish, mustard, pickles, and tomatoes, all tucked into a tiny winter coat.
To the cooks at Papa Dom’s, the line between entree and pizza is hazy. That’s because the ingredients in classic Italian and American dishes sometimes double as eclectic toppings for their pizzas, creating pies that emulate the flavors of chicken alfredo and philly cheesesteaks. The kitchen staffers also whip up non-pizza dishes, including lasagna and meatball hoagies, and bar snacks such as Southwestern egg rolls and potato skins. They allow guests to customize their wings, pizzas, and sandwiches with desired toppings or accommodate food allergies with gluten-free crusts.
At Burchfield's, located within the DoubleTree hotel in Oak Ridge, cooks prepare comforting Southern and Cajun cuisine. Goat cheese lends a creamy bite to fried-green-tomato BLTs, and drizzles of maple syrup and fruit compote sweeten plates of kettle-fried chicken and buttermilk waffles. Diners can also savor shrimp po' boys, grilled pork chops, or penne pasta tossed in boursin sauce with kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, and mushrooms.