OUT to LUNCH: Good home cooking is what you’ll find at Shoreline

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By Bethel Poston

“You need to visit Shoreline Café in Decatur,” said Buddy and Carolyn Koon, our longtime friends and members of our Kingston First Baptist Church Sunday school class.

“The food is really good.”

During the four years I have been writing “Out to Lunch,” I couldn’t remember any waterfront (shoreline) locations in Decatur. There is a bunch on River Road, which is also part of Meigs County.

My computer research on the café’s website, theshorelinecafe.webs.com, revealed, “The Shoreline Café name came from it’s located in Meigs County ... the ‘Shoreline community.’ Its entire western boundary is nestled against the shoreline of the Tennessee River.”

We asked Buddy and Carolyn to be our guides for this “Out to Lunch” adventure.

The Shoreline Café is a mile north of the Meigs County Courthouse on Hwy. 58 at Irwin Lane, in a former two-story grocery store/apartment building. The location was previously a pizza place.

It’s on your left, after you pass Decatur Pawn Shop on the right, traveling south on Hwy. 58 from Roane County.
The Koons discovered the café on a previous exploring stop at the pawn shop. They asked about it, then ate there.

Some readers may remember I operated Liquidation Outlets in Kingston and Rockwood. We sold returns and overstock merchandise purchased from major big-box stores. Decatur Pawn Shop is a similar operation.

Before we arrived, I already knew Carol would order the Gulf shrimp platter, because Carolyn had told her how good it was on her previous visit.

Carol offered to share some of her fried shrimp, which was served with battered fries, coleslaw, and hush puppies. Shrimp are also available grilled or blackened.

Carolyn, knowing that I encourage lunch partners to select different items for my writing purposes, politely ordered one of the specials of the day, a “small mouth burger of a select fresh ground beef patty,” served with fries.

I assume “small mouth” means a smaller burger for those who do not have a large appetite.

Buddy joined the team by selecting the catfish platter of fried catfish, served with battered fries, coleslaw and hushpuppies.

Shoreline’s signature battered fries, coated with a secret seasoned batter, are available without the batter.

My wife suggested I have the meatloaf platter, which came with a couple of sides and cornbread. I chose mashed potatoes and coleslaw, passing on green beans, white beans, corn, okra and cabbage.

Other tempting entrée choices were country-fried steak, Southern-fried chicken, pork chops and chicken tenders.

I hit the jackpot with my selection. Not only was it “good home cooking,” but I think they brought me the entire meatloaf. My take-home box had enough meatloaf for a later meal for both of us.

Tim Millsaps and Michael MeKeehan, Blalock Construction employees working on Hwy. 30, were seated at the table next to us.

I asked Tim, who lives in Sweetwater, if this was their first visit to Shoreline café.

“Yeah, this week,” he said.

He was doing a good job on a ole-timer burger, a half-pound of fresh beef with onion and mustard on Texas toast, plus an order of battered fries.

Michael, an Athens resident, had the same size large mouth burger, which came with cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, pickle and mayo. He also added fries.

As they paid at the counter, I noticed each had a cone of Mayfield’s black cherry ice cream in their hands, and smiles on their faces.

Other hand-dipped flavors are chocolate, cookies and cream, butter pecan, Super Cow (rainbow vanilla) vanilla, strawberry and peach.

Mildred Ware of Decatur proudly told me she’s 92 while she enjoyed a catfish platter with mashed potatoes, slaw and hushpuppies.

A regular customer at the café, she sold real estate in the area for 30 years, and her husband ran Volunteer Electric Cooperative.

While visiting with Mildred, my eyes caught sight of a large group of motorcycles pulling into the café parking lot.

“Oh, that group from Chattanooga usually comes on Saturday,” she said as the 12 bikers went upstairs to sit. (The day of our visit was a Thursday.)

Before interstates, folks used to choose to eat at places with trucks in the parking area, believing truck drivers always stopped where the food was good and reasonable.

The best advertisement is satisfied customers coming back for seconds, like the motorcycle group, Mildred and other regulars who seemed to know most of the customers.

Marty Revis, with occasional help of his wife, Nina, opened Shoreline Café last September. Marty is a lifelong resident of the Old Washington community of Rhea County, which is just at the door of Meigs County.

“Some of the signature dishes are from family recipes that have been passed down from generations of our family,” Marty said. For more info check out the Shoreline Café on Facebook.

A sign inside says, “Fish Fry Friday Nights: Fish, fries, hushpuppies, white beans, cole slaw. All you can eat – while you sit in your seat.” (For a bargain price)

Café regulars Pam Lagassee, Patti Roberts and Cortney Davidson work at Brookwood Nursing Center of Decatur.

They usually order the same thing they’ve had on their previous visits, as do most “Out to Lunch” people I previously interviewed in other places.

Pam, a registered nurse from Madisonville, chose grilled chicken salad served over a bed of fresh lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, eggs, cucumbers, grated cheese and croutons. She brings her own bottle of fat-free dressing, made in Nebraska.

Patti, assistant director of nursing from Athens, had a similar salad, but with blackened chicken.

Cortney, social services director from Athens, passed on her usual salad and went for one of the entrée favorites – “chicken your way, smothered and covered.” She chose okra and mashed potatoes as her sides.

Bill and Barbara Buchanan of Decatur both ordered the small mouth burger special on one of their many visits to Shoreline Café.

Bill, a retired president and CEO of Volunteer Electric, told me about Mildred’s husband, one of his predecessors.

Buddy commented that his home is on Volunteer Electric, as are many South of the River homes in Roane County.
Marty says fish is the most-ordered item, followed by fried chicken and burgers.

Other sandwiches available are chicken salad, grilled cheese, BLT, grilled or fried chicken, catfish and meatloaf. (They’re out of meatloaf, because I took it all home.)

Our server, Connie Havener, who began working at the café a month before it opened, had brought desserts while I was table-hopping.

Carol had ordered a large slice of pecan cobbler for us to share. She did good.

Passing on New York-style cream cheese, strawberry cheesecake, peach cobbler, chocolate cream pie and others, Buddy and Carolyn shared a serving of hot fudge cake with ice cream.

Shoreline Café can seat 100 people and is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Thursday, with extended closing hours on Friday and Saturday.

Local music is performed on a stage in the upstairs area on Saturday evenings. Standard beverages are available, no beer or alcohol.

On our next “Out to Lunch” visit to Shoreline Café I need to ask about one of the menu’s appetizers, snake eyes and tails.
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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 postonplace@bellsouth.net.