Monday, September 15, 2008

Best of Chattanooga - Fine Dining

If something low lit and desperately romantic is what you are searching for, St. John's Restaurant cannot be rivaled. This restaurant may be dining perfected. Chef/Owner Daniel Lindley is a master at his craft. Every bite is decadence.

Shane and I had the opportunity to dine at St. John's earlier this month. We had been there before, but before I named it my pick for the Best of Chattanooga, I thought I should experience it once more. Just walking to my table, I found it hard not to giggle in anticipation. The restaurant itself is stunning, with giant Corinthian columns reaching into the second story along with huge bulbous chandeliers floating from the ceiling. My grin couldn't be contained after being seated at a quiet table for two overlooking downtown Chattanooga, the white tablecloth graced with a single candle.

I started with the Summer corn ravioli with Alabama jumbo lump crab & forest hill farms’ sungold tomatoes. Sweet fresh corn, salty crab, ripe tomatoes and fresh basil created a perfect medley of summer. Shane had the smoked corn & white bean soup with butter poached Maine lobster & tomato concasse. I personally am not a fan of lobster, but was surprised to find this particular dish delectable.

For our main course I chose the Hudson Valley duck and quail breast with roasted sweet potatoes, arugula and mostada. If our appetizers encompassed summer, this dish was as if gracefully moving on to fall. The succulent fowl was perfectly accented by the peppery arugula and sweet potatoes. I found it a bold choice to combined these two meats, but I was amazed at how they complimented each other.

If you are worried that your husband may shy away by gourmet fare like I have described, not to worry. Shane ordered the "safe" Struba Ranch Kobe beef zabuton steak with ginger marinade, potato puree and chipotle pepper relish. I stole much of the dish for myself when he wasn't looking.

I could write pages about this one dining experience. The tuna tar tare lived up to my (Northwest) high standard of freshness and flavor. The fried green tomatoes added a bit of southern charm. The 3 page wine list is impressive; even to a non-drinker like myself . Our server, Bethany, was flawless.

We thought we could eat no more... until the desserts arrived. We were both amazed at the sophistication of the warm milk chocolate puddling and caramel ice cream. Pudding always seems so mundane, but this simple dish, warm and silky, cold and creamy was perfectly scrumptious.

The tasting of Mayfield Farm's Peaches -cobbler, brulee and cheesecake- seemed like an obvious choice. I enjoyed the mascarpone cheesecake surrounded in the ripest of peaches and the cobbler was classic. Shane and I were both mentioning how much we had enjoyed our meal when we took a bite of the peach creme brulee. We both paused, savored the dish then looked at each other with wide eyes. Shane simply shook his head and announced "bravo". Peaches, ginger and the most dulcet accent of basil. This dish was pure ambrosia.

St. John's Restaurant is a must if you are visiting Chattanooga, or if you are lucky enough to live here. Perfect for a birthday, anniversary or wedding party. Don't come on a night when the babysitter needs to be home early. We sat down a little after 8 pm and we strolled back to our car well after 10. This is a place that you don't want to rush.


Mommystired said...

My word! You missed your calling as a food critic! Everything sounded so yummy yummy. (I would be a poor food critic. Obviously.)

Paige said...

love that st. john's pic. did you know that daniel is going to open another restaurant in town?

are you really posting all of this from nyc?

Natalie Jane said...

Off to go eat at Spice on 8th AVE right now!

Paige said...


Anonymous said...

I LOVE this place too! Have you tried the Pork sampling? TO DIE FOR!


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