Archive for the ‘Restaurants’ Category

Bravo’s Italian Restaurant


Today’s post is a restaurant post, but it does not feature some quaint little one-of-a-kind restaurant nestled in the hills of Tennessee.  In fact, this restaurant is a part of a chain of restaurants scattered all throughout the United States, but there aren’t quite as many as the ever abundant Olive Gardens.  In order for my family and I to eat at Bravo Italian Cucina, we have to drive almost two hours to Knoxville, Tennessee.  But I tell ya; it’s worth it! I’ve had some good Italian food in my life (I’ve even spent three weeks in Italy!) but the food at Bravo is quite possibly the best around.


On this particular sunny day in March, I was here with my parents and my Nana.  The menu offers a variety of options and I took my time perusing it.




While I perused, the server brought a basket of the tastiest, softest, most delectable bread to dip in olive oil and herbs.  We all had to refrain from eating the entire loaf individually.  When we did order, I selected the special of the day, which was Pesto Chicken and Pasta.


It was a Heavenly mix of garlicky, buttery spaghetti noodles, Roma tomatoes, basil and pesto, and tender pieces of chicken topped with freshly grated Parmesan.  It also came with a salad which my Nana and I split:


It is a chopped salad which includes bacon and cheese in a creamy homemade Italian dressing.  Yum!  Nana got the lasagna, which is probably the closest thing I’ve tasted to the lasagna I had in Rome.


Mom got spaghetti bolognese (to die for!)


And dad got the Pasta Bravo, the restaurant’s signature dish, which is rigatoni tossed in a creamy red pepper sauce with mushrooms and chicken.


You can definitely say I enjoyed my meal as I cleaned my plate:


Bravo, and everything about it, certainly gets 5/5 herbs in my book!  Check out their website to find a location near you.


Becky’s Diner in Portland, Maine


As mentioned in our previous post on Portland Pie Company, Mr. Herb and I spent this past New Year’s in Portland, Maine, exploring the snow-covered city and other parts of beautiful Maine.

Of course while we were there, we wanted to check out the best dining spots in the city, and Mr. Herb found out about a great place near the water called Becky’s Diner. He had read somewhere that Rachael Ray had featured it on her show, $40 a day, and that they had amazing blueberry pancakes.

Being breakfast lovers, we were very excited about going to Becky’s, and we were not disappointed!

Mr. Herb at Becky's Diner in Portland, Maine

Mr. Herb got the blueberry pancakes and I opted for the French Toast. Both of our meals came with scrambled eggs, bacon, breakfast potatoes, and raisin toast. A whoooole lot of delicious food!!!

Becky's Diner in Portland, Maine

Becky's Diner in Portland, Maine

 This was one of our favorite meals of the trip! If you’re ever up in Portland,   go visit Becky’s! They open at 4 am  (for the fishermen?) and are open 7 days a week.

Becky’s Diner easily earns 5/5 herbs!

The Twisted Crepe in Asheville, North Carolina

The Twisted Crepe - A Creperie in Asheville, North Carolina

This past weekend, Mr. Herb took me to Asheville, North Carolina for a weekend getaway in celebration of my birthday! It was wonderful. The weather was beautiful and sunny, and it was the first time we were able to dine outside in months!

Asheville is only about a 90-minute drive from where we live, so we go there several times a year. It can difficult to decide on a place to eat because we have our favorite dining spots (Salsa’s, Tupelo Honey Cafe, and Mayfel’s to name a few!) but we always want to try other yummy looking restaurants too!

I decided to get on Trip Advisor and see if I could discover something interesting. I was immediately excited when I saw that there was a crêperie in Asheville called The Twisted Crêpe.

We visited  The Twisted Crêpe on Sunday morning. They have a wide variety of crêpes, from breakfast crêpes filled with eggs and sausages to lunch-type crêpes with meats, veggies, and cheeses, and then of course my personal favorite, the sweet dessert crêpes!

Mr. Herb opted for Another Manic Monday crêpe, which was filled with eggs, bacon, cheddar cheese, and his choice of 3 veggies and a sauce- he chose mushrooms, green peppers, spinach, and opted for no sauce.


My sweet tooth was calling, and I opted for Cassie’s Ladybug, which was a heavenly crêpe filled with nutella, strawberries, white chocolate, and caramel. Oh. Yeah.


Both of our crêpes were delicious and were wonderful with a cup of coffee on a beautiful Sunday morning in Asheville. You better believe that next time we’re there we will be hitting up The Twisted Crêpe to try some more! I want to try one of the savory crêpes and some of their delicious sauces (they have tzatziki!)

So if you’re a fan of crêpes, OR if you’ve never had a crêpe and wonder what all the European fuss is about, do yourself a favor and savor a crêpe. You won’t be disappointed!

Mayfel’s in Asheville, North Carolina

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So, after last Friday’s pig-out session at Salsa’s, Mister Spice and I lazed around Asheville Saturday morning and decided on brunch at Mayfel’s.  My friend Jennifer recommended this restaurant to me, and I’m glad she did!

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It’s just down the street from the wonderful Tupelo Honey, and thankfully, at 10:30 on Saturday morning, the wait was not very long.

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In the summer, customers can dine outdoors under the black and white striped awnings; during the winter, heaters are placed in this space to keep customers warm while they wait on a table inside.

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This New Orlean’s themed restaurant is not very big, but it is colorful, casual, and quirky.

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They serve breakfast all day, and even though they have a “Crab Cake Burger” that sounded amazing to me, seeing people around us with breakfasty-food was too tempting.  We ended up splitting a half order of Beignets (just $3.00 for four of them!) and I savored every bite alongside a glorious cup of coffee with farm fresh cream.

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I ordered the Hillbilly Breakfast, which was really quite safe and traditional but was simply AMAZING!  I had previously thought that my favorite breakfast EVER was found at Early Girl, great another Asheville eatery, but this was fabulous.  Scrambled eggs, crisp bacon, a fluffy, buttery biscuit with farm fresh gravy, and the BEST, I repeat, the BEST home fries I’ve ever had in my life!

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Mister Spice got the Asheville Scrambler, which was basically like an egg and veggie hash with two pieces of veggie sausage (delicious!) and some whole wheat toast.

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This restaurant is sheer Heaven and truly one of the most reasonably priced places in the area.  I cannot wait to go back for lunch or dinner, even though I know I will find myself tempted to order breakfast again.  🙂  Mayfel’s easily earns 5/5 herbs!

Salsa’s in Asheville, North Carolina




Some of my favorite restaurants EVER are just across the mountain in Asheville, North Carolina.  Back in early fall, I even posted about the wonderful Tupelo Honey Cafe.  Salsa’s, as you can see from the sign, offers Mexican Caribbean food that’ll put any other Mexican cuisine to shame.

As is typical for most Asheville restaurants, the ingredients in the recipes at Salsa’s are hormone-antibiotic free, locally grown and purchased, and as fresh as they can possibly get.  The restaurant itself is not very big, and people will line up outside and wait however long it takes to enjoy a pomegranate margarita, steaming molcajetes, or sweet potato paquetez.  Every few weeks, the restaurant’s interior features artwork by local artists.

Salsa's Artwork

Salsa's Artwork

Salsa's Artwork

Last Friday night, in celebration of Valentine’s Day, Mister Spice decided the best gift he could give me was a weekend getaway to Asheville, starting with Salsa’s.  We didn’t have to wait at all to be seated, and even though their menus are printed daily, I already knew what I would be ordering.  Mister Spice took his time perusing his options first.



He opted for steak fajitas, which is actually one of their more traditional dishes.  I got what I always get:  chicken nachos.  Their nachos come with onions, peppers (RED, thankfully, since I don’t like green), cilantro sour cream, queso, refried black beans, and your choice of two salsas, which are always changing.   This time, I selected pineapple poppyseed and guacamole.  My favorite salsa, mango jalapeno, was not on the menu this time around.


steak fajitas



When those nachos are in front of me, you can forget conversation and lady-like manners.  I pretty much just dig in with my hands and savor every single bite.  Every bite is packed with such unique, bold flavor, and I find myself too eagerly licking my fingers between bites.


I was so sad to be full, because every bite is so wonderful I regret wasting any of it!  When people take a trip to Asheville, my first restaurant recommendation is to eat here.   Staff is friendly, food is served quickly, and the menu is interesting and extensive.  There is no doubt that this restaurant easily earns 5/5 herbs!

Portland Pie Company

Portland Pie Company Pizza - Restaurant in Portland, Maine

One of our favorite restaurants in Portland, Maine was when we visited Portland Pie Company on New Year’s Eve. This delicious pizzeria claims that “It’s all about the dough.” You get to choose the flavor of your pizza crust! They offer several different flavors of crust: blonde, wheat, garlic, beer, and basil! They also have a gluten-free crust that is flavored with basil and honey.

Herb and I each ordered a different pizza and shared. Being in Maine, I decided it was only appropriate to order The Red Claws pizza, which was a delicious combination of garlic, butter, and lobster. It was unique and wonderful!

The Red Claws Pizza at Portland Pie Company

Herb ordered The Old Orchard pizza, which had a red sauce, green peppers, fire roasted red peppers, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, garlic, a three cheese blend and crushed red pepper. It was also delicious, although Herb found it a bit too spicy for his taste (I thought it was perfect!)

The Old Orchard pizza at Portland Pie Company

Typing this post and remembering the cheesy, flavorful goodness of these pizzas is making my mouth water! Wonder if Portland Pie Company delivers pizzas to Tennessee? 😉

We give Portland Pie Company 5 out of 5 herbs! If you find yourself in Maine, be sure to stop by!

The Dillard House

The Dillard House in Dillard, Georgia

In Dillard, Georgia, not very far from the North Carolina border, is a wonderful place called The Dillard House.

The Dillard House is a delicious restaurant (the topic of this post), but it is also so much more. There are rooms, suites, cottages, chalets, beautiful views of the countryside, and horses, goats, and other animals that roam nearby.

The Dillard House in Dillard, Georgia

The Dillard House in Dillard, Georgia

After Honeymooning in Asheville and then Highlands, North Carolina, we decided to take a short drive to visit The Dillard House. My dad had told us about it and had heard only great things, so we decided to check it out.

The Dillard House Restaurant serves family style – all you can eat! Their menu varies daily, but they always bring you several meats as well as an assortment of delicious veggies and bread. You can eat to your heart’s content!

The Dillard House Restaurant in Dillard, Georgia

Within probably 2 minutes of being seated at our table, the waiters brought over a HUGE tray of food for the two of us! You don’t even have to order – they just bring you what’s being served that day. If you finish a certain side and want more, they just bring you more! SO. MUCH. DELICIOUS. FOOD.

The Dillard House Restaurant in Georgia

We had fried chicken, country-style steak, cornbread, biscuits, green beans, fried catfish, O’Brian potatoes, country ham, coleslaw, lima beans, acorn squash souffle, fried okra (my favorite!) and more! No joke. Then, blackberry cobbler with ice cream for dessert.

Blackberry cobbler at the Dillard House in Georgia

If you’re wondering where we put all this food, I have no idea. What I do know is that we were SO stuffed afterward and I thought I would probably never want to eat again!

We give the Dillard House 5 out of 5 herbs!!! Better come hungry!

Blue Ridge Bistro

Every year in early October, I take a trip to Banner Elk, North Carolina with my mom and Nana. Usually the weather is gorgeous and the fall colors are on full display. We like browse to around some antique stores and eat lunch, but mainly we go to pick out some fun fall pumpkins and gourds at the pumpkin patches around town. This year, Sister Spice was able to make the trip with us. Unfortunately, the weather was a bit on the dreary side, but we didn’t let it dampen our spirits too much!

Aren’t they cute? That’s mom, Nana, and Sister Spice.

After a bit of antiquing, we decided to stop in at the Blue Ridge Bistro for lunch. None of us had been to the bistro before, but we found it very charming and the perfect place to warm up on a chilly fall day.

The Bistro is a self-proclaimed “farm-to-table” restaurant and strives to utilize local sources for food. On their facebook page, they state, “Not only are we locally owned and operated, we strive to only purchase goods made sustainably, locally and in the USA. What we can’t find here, such as cocoa and coffee, we source fair-trade.”

All four of us ordered one of the soups of the day, which was Tomato Basil. Mom and Nana both got the Blue Ridge Salad, which was a fresh and tasty arrangement of “sliced apples, raisins, carrots, bell peppers, and red onions over local mixed greens with toasted sunflower seeds and blue cheese crumbles, served with fig vinaigrette.” I ordered my soup with a chicken salad sandwich, which was somewhat plain but was fresh and enjoyable.

The BEST PART was dessert – they were offering pumpkin cinnamon rolls! Yum! Mom and I both ordered one of these and really enjoyed them. Sister Spice warmed up with a steamy mocha.

Overall, we enjoyed our meal and would definitely go back. The only negative was that they are cash only for some reason, though they do have an ATM on site.

Anyway, if you’re ever in Banner Elk, we recommend you stop by the Blue Ridge Bistro!

Anyone know of any other good places to eat or visit in Banner Elk?

Tupelo Honey Cafe

Tupelo Honey Cafe is an award-winning restaurant in Asheville, North Carolina. Actually, with TWO locations in Asheville and now, as of October 15th, a store in Knoxville. The cafe has been featured in dozens of magazines (like Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Southern Living) and has even been on Rachel Ray’s “$40.00 a Day”. In October, I FINALLY got to visit the restaurant!  Though it didn’t  look crowded from the outside, there was an hour and a half wait to be seated.  It was a Saturday at 6:00 pm, after all, so Mister Spice and I perused the fun, local shops while we waited.

When we were seated, I was delighted to find that they brought my water in a glass with NO ICE! I love ice-less water, and it was just a tad cooler than room temperature.

After our orders were promptly placed, our waitress brought two large, fluffy, warm biscuits with some “tupelo honey” and fresh blueberry jam.

I drenched one half in honey and the other in jam.

Then I proceeded to stuff my face.  We really hadn’t waited very long when our meals arrived!

I had an omelet with spinach, bacon, and goat cheese with a side of home fries; Mister Spice had the Southern Fried Chicken Saltimbocca with Country Ham and Mushroom Marsala…say that ten times fast!  It was a hormone and anti-biotic free chicken breast smothered in harvati cheese and country ham, drenched in mushroom cream sauce.  Oh. My.  We also had a side of fried okra.

My omelet was amazing, and the potatoes were the crispiest, most well-seasoned potatoes I’ve ever experienced!

This is what we ended up with…

We were stuffed, satisfied, and very eager to go again and try as many other items on their extensive menu as possible!  I HIGHLY recommend this restaurant; it’s even worth the 90-minute wait!

Scratch Brick Oven Pizza


PIZZA: who doesn’t love pizza? There are so many different variations of crusts, cheeses, and toppings. Mister Spice and I are pizza lovers, and even though I’ve had pizza from a lot of places (including Italy!) Scratch Brick Oven Pizza in Johnson City makes the most unique, mouth-watering pies I’ve ever had.
It’s just a little house on the corner of East Unaka and North Road Street in Johnson City.

Parking is helter skelter and very limited, but I would park miles away and walk to Scratch because it is just that good!

On the back side of the house is the large brick oven where they are firing up pizzas right and left.

Upon entrance, there is nobody there to greet you or seat you; you simply pick a table and plop yourself right on down. There is a cooler there with bottled Cheerwine, waters, and sometimes Cokes, but Scratch is BYOB so it is most convenient to bring your own drinks. My friends and I usually bring a bottle of wine and some waters. You can bring your own cups but Scratch does have some mugs/glasses to use. **They also have a bottle opener and corkscrew**. You just make yourself at home!

When you’re ready to order, simple go up to the bar and grab one of the many clipboards with menus. Take it back to your seat and peruse the many choices. Scratch is known for their “trust” pizza, meaning you just trust them to put whatever they so desire on your pizza. I’m a little picky, so I go with the “limited trust”, merely marking out the toppings that I DO NOT want on my pizza.

On this particular visit, I selected a French crust with red sauce, then marked through black olives, onions, green peppers, artichoke hearts, and mushrooms. Everything else on the menu looked great to me! Most of their toppings are locally grown and purchased, and they even make some of their own meats (their cranberry smoked turkey sausage is heavenly!)  Also, just because you didn’t mark through an ingredient doesn’t mean it’ll still be on your pizza; they just kind of go with the flow and see what they’re inspired to throw on top of the sauce and cheese.

Once you’ve make your choices, you simply put your name on the bottom of the order and go back to the pizza bar to hand your order to a worker. Then, you wait! Feel free to select a vinyl record to play for everyone in the meantime.

Then, there will be that glorious moment when you hear that your pizza is ready. It comes in a large pizza box, and you think to yourself, “This is so much pizza! I’ll have to take the leftovers home!”

Oh, if only it worked out that way.

You have paper plates and paper towels at your table. You open your box to reveal…PIZZA!

It is YOUR pizza, made from “scratch”, fired in the brick oven…just for you. Smell it. Touch it. Taste it. Eat it.

The French crust isn’t too thin or too thick; it’s nice and crusty and perfect. I love the red sauce and the cheese, but my favorite thing about this particular pizza on this particular night was the combination of the sweet, juicy mandarin oranges, the crisp, spicy banana peppers, and the salty slices of homemade pepperoni and chunks of ground turkey sausage.


Between Mister Spice and me, this pizza lasted less than 10 minutes. And the beauty of Scratch is that the next time I go back, even though I will still mark through the same ingredients on my menu, my pizza will still be a surprise. It’s a little bit different everytime, but always just as scrumptious. I enthusiastically encourage you to check out Scratch Pizza as soon as possible!

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