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By Bethel Poston
Readers of previous “Out to Lunch” articles may remember that I arrange lunch meeting with my former Oak Ridge High School classmates to plan reunions for the classes of 1954, 1955 and 1956.
We’re at it again. All the people in this article either went to school with me or married a classmate.
Our group had an evening meal a couple of years ago at Riverview Grill — Seafood & BBQ. Take Hwy. 61 from Oak Ridge toward Clinton; the Grill is on the right just before getting into Clinton.
Riverview had been closed for a few months when Hossein Ghodrat became the owner last January. He lives in Oak Ridge and has been in the restaurant business for 12 years. He has operated Knoxville’s Market Square Kitchen for the last seven years.
His Riverview Grill business card says, “Voted best BBQ in Anderson County for the past three years.” The website, www.riverviewgrill.com, also says, “You’ll get true heartland Tennessee barbecue — hickory-smoked pulled pork, chicken and ribs.”
The cooker out front filled the air with tantalizing aroma of barbecue smoke as we entered. It’s better advertising than a flashing neon sign.
My high school sweetheart and wife for almost 56 years, Carol Nussmeyer, ordered something she had never had before, the barbecue pork salad.
Made with Romaine lettuce, shredded carrots, sliced cucumbers, hard-boiled eggs, diced tomatoes, shredded Cheddar cheese, red onions and mixed greens, it is topped with a generous serving of either barbecue-smoked pulled pork or chopped barbecue chicken.
She ordered ranch dressing but decided to first try some mild barbecue sauce. She never made it to the ranch. Days later, she is still saying, “It was the most delicious salad I’ve ever had.”
When the salad was served, I said to myself, “She’ll never eat it all.”
She didn’t. We could have split the large, piled-high bowl and still have some left.
Chef and house salads are also on the menu, along with a beef and bleu cheese. The “strawberry field” salad is made with delicious ripe strawberries, walnuts and blue cheese crumbles served on a bed of greens.
I was drawn on the website to, “We’ll serve seafood so fresh you’ll think you’re at the beach.”
The calabash shrimp po’ boy served on a large hoagie bun with creamy cocktail sauce and lettuce caught my eye. I added fries from the selections of side option.
“Good choice,” our server, Sherry Suffridge, said as she took my order.
She was right. It was a tasty effort that I ate with a knife and fork, but I consumed all the shrimp, leaving some bread and a few fries.
Other po’ boys on the menu are tilapia, catfish, grouper, oyster and shoyster. I assume “shoyster” is a combination of shrimp and oyster.
Seafood entrees are prepared grilled, blackened, or hand-breaded and fried with choices of grouper, flounder, crab cakes, clam strips, tilapia, catfish, oysters and shrimp.
Seated near me, Marjorie Card Matthews and Barbara Walker White both did good jobs on their pulled-pork barbecue sandwiches on toasted buns. Marjorie chose beer-battered onion rings as her side; Barbara had fries.
From the wide selection of grilled, hand-pattied burgers on the menu, Jan Harlan was very complimentary on her 8-ounce burger with all the fixings and fries.
“It was one of the best I’ve ever had,” she said
Former classmate Ellis Mae Darby Stonecipher and her husband, Nathan, both ordered bacon and blue cheese burgers.
The menu’s description of a burger covered with barbecue sauce and topped with Cheddar cheese and bacon sounded interesting. There’s also a burger topped with a bourbon glaze.
The most popular item with our group was the Reuben, made with thinly sliced corned beef on grilled rye bread with Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and a special sauce.
For sides, Mimi Small Brock had hushpuppies, Benny Houser had potato salad and Don Cobb had fries. Kendall and Barbara Phillips Beaty also had fries, but without salt.
Other available sides are green beans, steamed broccoli and baked potato.
A crispy bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich on Texas toast with fries was Jean Davis Houser’s choice this visit.
Some of the other sandwiches to choose from are fried bologna, turkey and bacon, Philly cheese steak, and roast beef.
Pam Benton, dining room manager, said the most-ordered items are pulled pork, ribs and catfish.
The Monday special is beer-battered cod and chips. Wednesday through Friday is all-you-can-eat catfish with fries, Northern beans and hushpuppies. Weekends, it’s smoked meatloaf, mashed taters with gravy and a choice of sides.
The Smokehouse BBQ for Two is listed as the best of everything. It consists of smoked pork, beef brisket, 1/3 slab of ribs, smoked sausage and a quarter chicken served with barbecue beans, slaw and potato salad. Sounds like it could feed a family.
A BBQ and Seafood Platter for Two is also on the menu. There’s also ribeye steak, chopped sirloin steak, grilled chicken breast and others.
Riverview Grill is open seven day a week from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. In addition to standard beverages, a selection of domestic, imported, specialty and draft beers are available.
We ate on an enclosed patio with windows that are opened when weather permits. I was told that the regular dining area and patio can seat about 200 customers.
On the day of our adventure, everyone got so full no one responded when the server asked about desserts.
The menu says homemade soups are prepared daily, but we didn’t ask about the special the day of our visit.
Kids get a drink and fries with orders of grilled cheese, bologna or peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches; Mac and cheese; or a kids burger.
The following message on Riverview Grill’s website and menu describes our impression of our visit:
“At Riverview Grill, we believe your dining experience should be like taking a vacation. That’s the way we want you to feel when you walk in the door. Loosen the tie, or hang up the hard hat, or trade those uncomfortable heels for some flip flops, and get ready for a great meal. Enter as strangers, leave as friends.”
My previous “Out To Lunch” article on Taters, Maters & More unfortunately was published on the day they closed the business.
I had hoped my article would help their business survive during difficult economic times.
We’ll miss them.
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Bethel Poston is a Roane County businessman and entrepreneur who writes about places of interest in our area. E-mail suggestions and comments to email@example.com.