Out to Lunch: Riverwalk has so much, you’ll have to go back

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By Bethel Poston

For this “Out to Lunch” adventure, I revisited a Loudon location I wrote about a year and a half ago.
Then operated as Stonewall’s BBQ, the new restaurant at Carmichael Inn is now called Riverwalk Grille, with new cooks and a different food menu.

I began making plans for a business lunch at Carmichael Inn when Bo Carey, my friend and furniture business associate, told me about the change of food served at Riverwalk Grill.

Bo owns Greer’s Furniture in Loudon. He purchased my Poston Furniture stores in Oak Ridge and Harriman some years ago to operate them as Greer’s.

He is president of TBG-The Buying Giant, a furniture-buying group I started in 1987. The group now has 85 storefronts in 13 states. I quickly arranged for an executive committee meeting of the group at Carmichael Inn.

Bo’s great-great-great-grandfather, John Hudson Carmichael (1780-1840), built the inn around 1810 on the Knoxville side of the river. The two-story log Carmichael Inn served as a stopping place for stagecoach travelers en route from Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga to spend the night before being ferried across the river to resume traveling the next morning.

Railroad passengers from Atlanta and Charleston also used the inn, because the train had to turn around at Loudon (which was then in Roane County) due to no bridge to cross the river.

Bo’s mother, Betty Barksdale Greer, bought the inn in the 1980s and donated it to the Loudon County Heritage Association. It was then dismantled and rebuilt as a museum behind the Loudon County Courthouse. Be sure to see the wall plaque at the inn acknowledging Betty’s gift.

On this visit, I chose a hearty sandwich called Italiano Chicken. It was made with grilled chicken, provolone cheese, pesto mayo, roasted red peppers and spinach on hot grilled rustic panini.

All sandwiches are served with a choice of fresh golden chips or a garden pasta salad. I went for the chips.
Until hearing they were sold out, I was considering the Riverwalk Reuben and a side serving of Tennessee chowchow. The sandwich consists of slow-cooked corned beef, Swiss cheese and tangy sauerkraut, with a choice of Thousand Island or spicy mustard, served on marbled rye bread.

I also passed on a grilled peanut-butter-and-jam sandwich, a smoked turkey BLT and a smoked pimiento cheese, served cold or grilled. My panini was delicious, and I cleaned my plate.

Bo took a Perfecto Panzanella Panini to his wife, Lisette. It’s made with fresh mozzarella cheese, balsamic marinated tomatoes, red onion and basil salad on ciabatta.

Larry Stansell of Trion, Ga., is the board chairman for our group. During our meeting, he had what the menu described as “a mouth-watering Riverwalk burger” called the Kick It Up!

It’s described on the menu as: “Not your ordinary burger. Juicy seasoned meat, pepper jack cheese, fresh guacamole with lettuce and tomato, on a cornmeal-dusted jalapeno Kaiser roll. The house favorite.”
All burgers are served with seasoned steak fries.

James Mayberry of Crossville is vice president of our group. He had the Smoke House Burger, a tender grilled burger with smoked Gouda cheese, bacon and caramelized onions served on a ciabatta roll.
Bo had the Top It Your Way Burger with a bunch of stuff on it.

The day’s lunch specials, written on a white dry-erase board, were pan-seared blackened tilapia with a house salad; or a herb-crusted beef tenderloin with new potatoes.

One of the classic lunch favorites on the menu is the Riverwalk soup and salad – a delicious bread bowl filled with the homemade soup of the day, and a signature salad.

The Black and Bleu Salad looked tempting. It’s grilled and sliced steak, chopped bacon, tomatoes, cucumbers on crunchy romaine lettuce, topped with bleu cheese crumbles and dressing.

Other salad choices are the chef’s choice chicken Cobb salad and a garden-fresh Greek salad.

One of Riverwalk’s house specialties is a pot roast sandwich served open face on ciabatta with melted provolone cheese, caramelized onions, mushrooms and peppers.

Another of the house specialties is the creamy chicken Alfredo ciabatta of grilled chicken, caramelized onions and mushrooms, creamy Alfredo sauce and provolone cheese baked together on a tender ciabatta.

Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. is touted as a special time together with family and friends for down-home comfort food, reminiscent of shared family meals.

Folks can select from honey-baked ham, fried chicken, pot roast, meatloaf, herb crusted pork, fresh green beans, vegetable medley, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, pasta salad, fresh garden salad and fresh breads.

You may want to save room for special desserts, plus snickerdoodle, oatmeal toffee, chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies.

If brunch means breakfast to you, you’ll like scrambled eggs with Madisonville’s own Benton’s bacon or sausage, plus a choice of hash browns, French toast casserole, farmer’s casserole, fresh fruit and pastries.

Breakfast is served starting at 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday. In addition to standard fare of biscuits and gravy, eggs, bacon, and sausage, Riverwalk also creates omelets your way and breakfast burritos to go.

The baked farmers casserole on the menu caught my eye: “Seasoned eggs, sausage, sharp Cheddar cheese, sautéed onions, peppers and fresh sourdough bread baked together is a delicious way to start your day!”

When I told my wife, Carol, that Bo had recommended Charleston Shrimp and Grits from the evening menu, I knew we would be going to Carmichael Inn soon.

Spicy shrimp is cooked in a creamy Charleston-style andouille gravy and served over grilled yellow corn cakes. A house salad is included.

Maybe the roasted vegetable fettuccine would be my choice of the evening. It’s roasted eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, portabella mushrooms, red pepper with caper and Kalamata olives in a balsamic demi-glace is served with fettuccine noodles and a house salad.

In addition to Sunday brunch hours, Riverwalk Grille is open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Dinner is served from 4 to 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

Ruthann Laghezza opened Riverwalk Grille last April, bringing her 15 years’ experience as owner of Gourmet On The Go catering business. She catered the food for the Watts Bar Belle river boat on our Mother’s Day “Out to Lunch” adventure in 2008.

Most items offered at Riverwalk are made from family recipes. Ruthann’s 15-year old son, Tanner, bakes the homemade cookies, cinnamon rolls, muffins, brownies, scones and other special desserts.

Ruthann said the Riverwalk Reuben is the most popular lunch item, with Charleston Shrimp and Grits being the most ordered evening entrée.

“We also have many good comments about our fresh salads,” she added.

Standard beverages, domestic and imported beer are available.

Two indoor dining areas can handle 100 customers, with additional outdoor seating for 50 at umbrella tables on the patio.

Check www.riverwalkgrille.com for additional information, including a well-written and tempting menu, or call 865-657-3222.

 “After shrimp and grits, there are so many other tempting things, we’ll have to go several times,” Carol said after proofreading this article on Riverwalk Grille at Carmichael Inn.

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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.