Out to Lunch: Good Eats' creamed corn is just like Grandma's

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By Bethel Poston

I recently received the following e-mail message from Vickie Canupp, a former saleswoman of ours at Poston Furniture.

We also recruited her to join Fowlers Furniture when my wife, Carol, and I were part of management bringing Fowlers to Roane County.

“I wanted to tell you about the diner ‘Good Eats’ that my mother, Jo Simerly, and I ate at Saturday,” she wrote. “It is in Lenoir City and was originally a drug store in the 1940s, called Goodwins.”

She continued, “My mother lived in Lenoir City in the 1940s when her dad worked for TVA. It was fun to see the area that she used to live in.

“Good Eats has great food. I had the homemade chicken salad sandwich. It was delicious, with some great fries to boot.

“My mother had the best potato and bacon soup that I had ever tasted. She also had a salad with homemade chunky blue cheese dressing. All of their dressings are made on-site.

“I did not have room for dessert, but I had a taste of mother’s coconut cake. It was wonderful.”

She closed with; “You and Carol have to try this great place sometime.”

We found our way to Good Eats, in the old downtown area of Lenoir City at 123 East Broadway and on the corner of Kingston Street.

Not finding a place to park, we circled the block and found a space near the front door on our second pass.

Having to look for a place to park in the area was encouraging for downtown revival. The café seats 48 customers, and spaces were filling up as we entered.

As we parked the car, Carol was reading aloud the day’s specials, written on the outdoor sidewalk sign. Before she finished saying, “shrimp and grits,” I knew what she was going to order.

She selected sides of green beans and cornbread salad, each presented on the plate in individual white ceramic containers.

She kept saying how good and spicy the shrimp and grits were, so I had to have a taste. She was right.

Before I ordered, I visited with Kathy Shubert, a Walmart employee at Walker Springs in Knoxville. The Loudon County native was seated on a bar stool with her food served on what was the former drug store’s fountain counter.

On this visit she was having two chili dogs with fries — without the hot dogs, just chili. Previous readers of my articles will know of my appetite for hot dogs. I was disappointed until I saw on the Good Eats menu that they normally include hot dogs.

Kathy said she can probably be seen at least twice a week at Good Eats, and she usually has the daily specials.

“You got to try the creamed corn,” she said as I was going back to my table to place my order. “It’s just like Grandma used to make.”

I took her advice and  ordered the other daily special — meat loaf — plus pinto beans, slaw and cornbread. Carol had a taste of the corn, and we both agreed that Kathy was right.

  James Vineyard opened Good Eats Café & Bakery in April 2010.

His previous experience with Subway, Corky’s, Krystal and Old Mill Bakery plus culinary school time in Florida prepared him to fulfill the dream of owning his own restaurant.

Jeanie Hopkins, James’ sister and our server, said his food preparation and baking interests probably started when his mother, Reba Vineyard, took him to a cake decorating event at age 11.

Reba was taking care of the counter and cash register, and a nephew was working in the kitchen. It’s a family operation.

“We pride ourselves on old-fashioned home-cooking with a touch of French inspiration,” James has on the Good Eats menu. “We have a made-fresh-daily mindset, using only the freshest ingredients available.”

Tellico Village residents Bill and Sharon Elmore, along with Terry Bonta, were having made-on-site soup with selections of egg and tuna sandwiches.

“You gotta try the homemade vegetable beef soup,” Sharon said.

Bill is a retiree of Inland Steel; Sharon and Terry are retired educators.

Before Christmas, the Elmores had Good Eats cater a full-course fillet dinner for 16 people. The dinner was cooked and served in their home.

A group involved in the health-care business occupied another table. Linda Smith, executive director of Morning Pointe Assisted Living Residence in Lenoir City, was joined by co-worker, Kalena Carmen.

“Everything was wonderful,” said Loudon native Theresa Henslee, who is community liaison of NHC HomeCare.

Theresa had a hamburger and Linda a cheeseburger, both made with fresh ground beef. Both had sides of fries, and Kalena had the chicken club sandwich with hand-dipped onion rings.

The menu offers a wide selection of sandwiches served on white, whole wheat, rye or sourdough bread. There is a combo choice of any two — half a sandwich, a half bowl of soup or small salad.

Salad selections are chef, Caprese, house and Caesar. Homemade dressings include ranch, blue cheese, honey and balsamic vinaigrette, Caesar, Thousand Island, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Mama Vineyard said one their most popular dishes is the cornbread salad. Most recipes suggest tomatoes, green peppers, onions, pinto beans, and corn be layered over crumbled layers of baked cornbread, topped with ranch dressing and sprinkled with crumbled bacon.

Other favorites are shrimp and grits, catfish on Fridays and banana pudding.

Good Eats Café has been open only nine months, and regular customers are disappointed if one of their favorites has sold out before they order.

The first thing you see when entering Good Eats is a glass showcase filled with made-on-site desserts such as apple walnut, German chocolate, carrot and red velvet cakes; apple strudel, cow patties and coconut cream pie.

It’s taken me a couple of years of writing “Out to Lunch” to figure out I can’t eat a full meal, jump about a restaurant talking to people between bites, and think about saving room for dessert.

On this visit I made a change in my routine because there was only one piece of apple strudel left. I ordered it immediately, along with a carry-out container for part of the delicious food I had been woofing down.

Carol chose a slice of apple walnut cake. It’s a good thing I didn’t ask for a sample, because she ate it all.

Good Eats is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, serving breakfast and lunch. As the temperature warms up, it may stay open later in the evening.

Not sure of the route, I traveled north on Kingston Street, assuming it might lead to Roane County. We came out on Hwy. 70 at Eaton’s Crossroads and headed west to Kingston.

Getting off  the main roads and seeing the
well-maintained older homes of Lenoir City
just added to our satisfying “Out To Lunch” adventure.

• • •

Bethel Poston is a Roane County businessman and entrepreneur who writes about places of interest in our area. E-mail suggestions and comments to postonplace@bellsouth.net.