Archive for the ‘Restaruants’ Category

Cafe Lola

Hidden on North Roan Street, Johnson City, Tennessee,  Café Lola shines  in the way a true bistro should. The red and gold décor towering over the small, cozy room will allow you to step into a perfect meeting of French cuisine with American. A friendly atmosphere with servers that actually know what they are doing will make for a meal to remember. A very impressive wine list will pair well with any of the entrees such as the chicken breast stuffed with golden raisin herbed goat cheese in cranberry-walnut crust or a miso-glazed Chilean sea bass topped with Japanese miso and baked to perfection.  If only interested in lunch or brunch you will not be disappointed with any of the pressed Panini sandwiches that include selections such as a pressed ciabatta bread sandwich with smoked honey ham, muenster cheese, Dijon-mayonnaise, tomato, red onion and lettuce. You will find it difficult to resist the seductive crème brulee with Grand Mariner or the profiterole, a warm puff pastry filled with vanilla bean ice cream topped with warm chocolate sauce.  Prices are reasonable and an outstanding value for the quality of food you will enjoy. You will not find it difficult to forget you are in Johnson City, Tennessee.  Bon Appetit!

Faced with the most difficult decision of the day, red or white, we chose a flyte of both.

Red and White Wine Flyte

Our choices from left to right: Lurton Malbec, St. Suplic Bordeauz, Albera Barbera, Oyster Bay Savignon Blanc, Valckenberg, Gweurztraminer, and Lous Jadot Macon Villages.


Croque Monsieur  (Sourdough Bread Sandwich filled with Gruyere Cheese, ham and mornay sauce topped with Gruyere custard.) Best wine pairing: Albera Barbera

Croque Monsieur

Pressed Panini Sandwich with Smoke Turkey Breast (Smoked Turkey Breast, Swiss cheese, tomatoes, homemade pesto and cranberry chutney.) Best wine pairing: Valckenberg, Bwertraminer

Pressed Panini with Smoked Turkey Breast

MoJoe’s Trailside Coffeehouse

MoJoe’s Trailside Coffeehouse

An interesting coffee house, upscale for Damascus, Virginia and surprisingly busy. If you want a really good Latte  then this is the place to go.  MoJoes’s Mochas are better than Starbucks. You may also enjoy the Iced Coffee or Tea and the Fruit Smoothies are fresh.   The food can be hit or miss, but the Gypsy Toast is always delicious.

Mojoe’s Trailside Coffeehouse
331 Douglas Drive
Damascus, VA 24236
(276) 475-5505

Rural Retreat Windery and Dye’s vineyard

Rural Retreat Winery and Dye’s Vineyards

Hot Turkey SandwichIf you are looking for a gratifying deli sandwich and a local glass of wine, I found it! I know this does not sound like much of a challenge, but I have been disappointed many times. Rural Retreat Winery and Dye’s Vinyards, Rural Retreat, Va, located off I-81, exit 60 has a selection that will be worth your stop.  I recommend the Hot Blue Ribbon Turkey and Cranberry Chutney with lettuce and tomato served on grilled sourdough bread. The deli has a mix matched collection of items that range from gift baskets to local wood working. You can also enjoy a wine tasting of their local wines for a very reasonable price of $4.50. The wine selection includes full body reds from locally grown Cabernet Francs, Steubens and DeChaunacs and whites from Muscats, Vidal Blancs, Taminettes and Chardonnays. If you are a wine snob, (like me) these wines do not, nor should they have the full body and flavor you will find in a French wine. Just enjoy the experience of a delectable sandwich and a local wine!

Rating 3 out of 5.

Whistle Pig Bistro

A new find in Damascus, Virginia, the Whistle Pig Bistro is a new and unique restaurant that you do not want to miss.  Located near the Creeper Trail, next door to JC’s Outdoor Bike Shop you will find items such as fried pickles and hummus tortilla chips at reasonable prices.  The decor

could use some improvement, but the restaurant is clean with fast service and a sunny patio on the back with outdoor dining near the water.

My recommendation is the homemade hummus sandwich with cucumber, spouts and avocado and a side of sweet potato fries served with curry ketchup. This combination is excellent with the Woodchuck Draft Cider. My husband, Jeff was even happy, as they also serve Guinness Beer. I know what you are thinking, humus? spouts? You will have to trust me on this one.  Your palate will thank you.   While you are there, take a bike ride on the Creeper trial and work up your appetite.

Rating 4 out of 5


1.One day before: Call JC’s Outdoor Bike rental,,  and arrange a 10:30 am Bike Rental for next day.

2.Arrive early, choose your bike and gear and prepare for ride up to White Top, Virginia.

3.Enjoy a fantastic easy downhill (17 miles) ride back to Damascus, Virginia.

4.Visit Whistle Pig located next door for a tasty affordable meal!

Town House Restaurant

Warm Bordeauz Punch

Town House

132 East Main Street

Chilhowie, Virignia


Executive Chefs John B. Shields and Karen Urie Shields

Town House, Chilhowie Restaurant is my first review for several reasons. Town House stands alone in food class. I am not a regular guest and suspect this is true for many of you. Let’s explore why such an exclusive restaurant may not be for everyone.

Town House Chef’s John and Karen Shield offer an experience that enhances the very best “togetherness” food and wine offer.  Town House is best approached as an experience and an opportunity to taste cuisine that cannot be found in our region or even near. As you eat the very small portions, you must remember this as you will be disappointed, or washing dishes, when the $175-$300 bill arrives.

The event “Christmas in Bordeaux, a four course dinner, with two wine pairings (per course), was worth the price of admission ($125) per person. The opportunity to taste the  wine paired expertly by Katherine Rose of Wines of Distinction, Abingdon, Virginia, and Sommelier Charlie Berg greatly enhanced the experience.  As the small restaurant was sold out, we were not alone. In case you are not sure and most are not, Bordeaux is any wine produced in the Bordeaux region of France. 88% of wine produced in Bordeaux is red, with sweet white wines, dry wines, rose and sparkling making up the remainder.

The Experience: A warm punch Bordeaux punch was a perfect beginning, followed by braised stem of broccoli (brie, pistachio, roasted apples, parsley), bay scallop (pork belly, bitter grapefruit, reduction of saffron, whole roasted pineapple (duck foie gras, bay leaf, quinoa, honey) and fallen soufflé (red wine, sweet spices, toasted chestnut).

Katherine Rose of Wines of Distinction gave individual explanations of the Bordeaux . These wines can be found at her shop, but you will not find them in the supermarket. Prices range as you can imagine, but some can be purchased around $17.

My favorite pairing came with dessert. The 2004 Chateau Margaux ‘Pavillon rouge,’ Margaux enhanced the ginger in the fallen soufflé sorbet magnificently.   As you follow along you will see this does always happen, so a magnificent pairing is not so common.

Fallen Souffle

We all know wine enhances the flavor of food, but I have left  dinners in my pre-sensual palate days, still trying to figure out how the wine recommended had actually enhanced anything but my bill.  I choose my own wines and you can learn too, just follow my blog.

The service was slightly less attentive than expected, but adequate.Town House is out of the price range and palate pleasure for many, but those who want a special experience in the food world, go forth and taste.


Rating 5 out of 5

Next review: Black Rooster, Marion, Virginia.