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“If is wasn’t for this place, I’d starve to death. My cook (wife) is a registered nurse and works eight hours on, and eight hours off,” Greg Buckner told me on this “Out To Lunch” adventure at Countryside Café.
Greg is broker with Darrell Murray Auction & Realty Co. in Athens, and also a farmer. He lives about a mile north of Countryside Café, up Hwy. 58. Today he was having a hamburger steak dinner with a baked potato.
Longtime friends, Danny and Mary Ann Van Dan, have encouraged us for some time to join them on a visit to Countryside. Taking the scenic farmland drive south on Hwy. 58, from Kingston at Hwy. 70, the Café is located 17.5 miles on the right, at 28821 Hwy. 58 N, Ten Mile. Watts Bar Dam is only seven miles down the road.
On this visit Danny and Mary Ann split a club sandwich, with fries and onion rings. When they were served their halves on separate plates, I knew they were regulars.
With them were Mary Ann’s mother, Mona Pahl, and her brother, Vernon Pahl. The family just lives “up the road” from the Café.
Vernon works at Scandlyn Lumber in Kingston and had a plate in front of him filled with fried catfish, tater tots and corn nuggets.
Mona was having one of her favorites, a chef salad. She said that she also enjoys the fresh hand-patted hamburger. I was told that last Saturday Countryside prepared forty pounds of fresh ground hamburger.
Mary Ann added that she also really likes the taco salad.
Readers may remember that I have previously mentioned Danny. Several years ago, when my wife spearheaded the development of the historic 1840’s Pennybacker House for a restaurant on Third Street in Kingston, he did the remodeling.
Adelaide’s now continues the dreams she had for a restaurant and preserving this picturesque stately house.
Countryside Café is family owned and operated by Michelle and Eddie Ellison, plus assisted by daughter Timika, who is a junior in high school. They were all in and out of the kitchen on the day of our visit. Their 12-year old son is also occasionally seen helping out.
Michelle worked “up-the-road” at Ten Mile Grocery for 21-years. During this time she built a friendship with Rob Sherman, serving him food from the deli. When he passed away he had asked his family to make his house available to Michelle for a Café.
The Ellison’s remodeled his house and seven-plus months ago opened Countryside Café. They are now in process of tearing down the building next door that was once Rob Sherman’s store.
Having seen a serving of fried catfish on Vernon’s plate, I should have known it was too much for me to eat. Half of my order, including fries and cole slaw, went in our refrigerator for a later meal.
Michelle told me that the catfish is cut and hand-breaded with a special recipe on-site, before frying. The cole slaw, pinto beans and chili are also made-in-house.
My wife, Carol, was in the mood for vegetables and enjoyed potato salad, corn nuggets, fried okra, and cole slaw with a corn muffin. With my help on a few of those tasty corn nuggets, she cleaned her plate.
Mickey Presley has known Michelle for several years and eats at Countryside a couple of times a week. She works for Bechtel-Jacobs at TVA Watts Bar and lives on Red Cloud Road in Ten Mile.
Today she had a fried shrimp dinner with fries and cole slaw. Although she highly recommended the homemade chocolate or coconut cream pies, she passed on having a slice of either.
In a booth across the isle from us was Craig and Sherrie Devaney. As residents of Ten Mile they are also regular customers of Countryside. Craig went to school in Rockwood and now works for Kimberly Clark in Loudon; Sherrie will be working for Amazon when this article is published.
Craig had the cubed steak with gravy dinner, plus mashed potatoes and a corn muffin. Sherrie was working on a large chef salad.
In addition to a dinner salad on the menu, a grilled chicken or chicken tenders over mixed greens salad is available.
When asked about dessert Craig said, “I’m thinking about some butter pecan ice cream.” Carol said she saw him leaving with a large ice cream cone in his hand.
Countryside Café is a cozy place, with seven colorful booths that will seat 28 customers. On our Monday visit they were almost all occupied, but the flow of traffic didn’t cause a wait for anyone. There is a table on the front porch.
Current hours are 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday and closed Sunday. When the weather warms up in the spring, closing time will be 9 p.m. Major credit cards are accepted. Call (423)
334-0006 to confirm or place carry out orders.
The Ellison’s said the most ordered items are catfish, hamburgers and cheeseburgers, with a large amount of call in orders.
Dinner plates come with two sides. Other dinners not mentioned here are chicken tenders, open face roast beef, barbeque, and grilled or fried chicken. Some days they create specials not on the menu.
Other sides not mentioned are tater babies, squash and green beans.
Beverages offered are tea and coffee, plus free-refills on fountain drinks of Pepsi, pink lemonade, Mountain Dew, Orange Crush, and Sierra Mist.
Kimberly Harris and her two children live in Niota but come to Countryside to eat every couple of weeks. Today Kimberly chose the fried chicken livers with a baked potato and cold slaw.
Twelve-year old daughter, Abigail Harris, went for the hamburger steak, baked potato and salad. Thirteen-year old son, Denver McGrady, had a 12-inch Mr. Munchie Pizza with a side of potato salad. “He really likes their potato salad,” mom added.
Readers will know that I am happy to write that Countryside has a hot dog on the menu, with homemade chili and slaw optional. On a cold day a bowl of their homemade chili or cooked-on-site pinto beans with cornbread sounds good.
Sandwiches include grilled chicken, fish, Philly steak, cubed steak, ham, barbeque, grilled cheese and B.L.T.
By the price of a “mini burger,” I’d guess it might be like a copy of the highly advertised hamburger you buy in quantity from a well known chain. Sometimes it’s called a “slider.”
Kenneth and Jacquie Millsaps also live “up-the-road” on Hwy 58. Kenneth is a retired builder-developer in Knox County, and now a farmer with 128-Black Angus mama cows.
“We eat here two or three times a week for lunch,” he said. Today they were sharing a pizza with all the toppings available.
As Danny and Vernon finished the servings of the made-on-site coconut cream pie, Danny said, “I’ve had breakfast here several times and the western omelet is great.”
The breakfast menu offers biscuits and gravy; eggs with country or city ham; pancakes; and oatmeal, grits, plus other omelets – all cooked to your order.
For those on-the-go, bacon, sausage, ham or cubed steak biscuits are available with the option
of adding an egg.
All of our “Out To Lunch” visits are truly adventures. We were impressed with the tasty “home cooking” food of Countryside Café. Also the way this family operation interacted with their customers made us feel comfortable.
It’s a place where “everybody knows your name.” Tell’um Bethel sent you.