Today marked the second day of our travels. I had a very rude awakening this morning…someone *cough cough Dad, even though he denies it* decided to turn on the shower massage sprayer (that second showerhead on a rope), so when I turned on the water this morning, the showerhead welcomed me with a mouthful of cold bath water. Before I managed to recover, it managed to paint half the bathroom walls, so that escapade provided some early morning excitement.
Now fully awake and bathed, we ate breakfast in our hotel room. We had a very strenuous, difficult time finding any pastries to eat for breakfast. After some long searching, we found our bags/boxes of baked goods left over from the day before and went to town. We split the cream cheese and chocolate muffins leftover from yesterday’s trip to The Bread Basket and ate the rest of our donuts from Julie Darling–two pancakes and bacon, a chocolate covered cream filled, and a Samoan (like the Girl Scout cookie). Everything was excellent!
We checked out of our hotel just south of Chattanooga and headed town I-59 toward Birmingham. Traffic was backed up for several hours because of a wreck, so we headed straight to downtown to kill a few minutes before lunchtime. We found a neat book and record store and perused some of their LPs, and then walked a couple blocks back to our lunch spot of choice, a unsuspecting location called John’s City Diner a few streets off of the legal district.
John's City Diner
Lunch was incredible. We started with their appetizer of the day, Brussels sprouts roasted in a bacon vinaigrette with candied pecans and golden raisins. It was definitely one of the most unique appetizers I’ve ever had, and it was extremely delicious. Dad and I devoured it in a matter of seconds.
For our main courses, we ordered two plates and split them 50/50. I got parmesan crusted trout and Dad ordered “Not Your Mama’s Macaroni & Cheese (Three Little Pigs Style)”. The trout came with “garlicky” roasted spinach and corn grits–thick Southern-style grits with sweet corn added. It was all excellent, but paled in comparison to Dad’s mac & cheese. The dish came with Cellentani-style pasta and a thick, buttery cheese sauce–but that wasn’t the best part. Here comes the pig: the dish had chopped prosciutto, tender pulled pork, thick-cut local bacon from Fudge Farms, and was topped with homemade crispy fried onions. Any single element from that dish would have been delicious, but combined, they provided a life-changing food experience. We unanimously agreed that it was the best macaroni & cheese we’ve ever had.
John's City Diner
This is southern food at its finest – classic dishes, but with a little bit of a twist.
* – Would definitely visit again
** – Exceptional, must visit if you’re in the area
*** – Worth making a special trip to eat there
Sadly, we don’t think that any meal for the rest of this trip will measure up to our lunch today, but there might be hope!
We noticed on our map that there was a highly acclaimed donut shop called “We Have Donuts” two blocks down the street. Not wanting to pass up an opportunity for dessert, we walked down the street in hopes of a quick, sweet finish to our meal. Disappointingly, we were met with this sign:
We walked away dejected and disappointed. Thankfully, I located another donut shop, though less acclaimed, a few miles outside of town. We stopped at “The Heavenly Donut” and got a half dozen, consisting of two sour cream old-fashioneds, one strawberry, one vanilla/M&M, one Nutella filled for me, and one chocolate covered cream filled for Dad.
I ate the M&M donut and Dad ate the strawberry iced on our way down to Montgomery, which proved to be a much more enjoyable trip because of both the donuts and the lack of traffic. Also, I remembered that Super Mario Run was released for iPhone yesterday, so I was able to relive some childhood memories during the hour-long car ride to our hotel in Montgomery. After checking in to our hotel, we relaxed in our room for a while, and then headed down to the Riverwalk to meet up with some friends of ours. On the way over, we ate our old-fashioned sour cream donuts, which were also excellent.
Camellia Bowl Pep Rally
The Camellia Bowl pep rally and fan fest started at 4pm at Wells Fargo Union Station. We arrived, played some sports games (throw/kick the ball through the target type stuff), and then watched the pep rally for each team. Toledo University didn’t have a very good showing; App fans definitely outnumbered and out-yelled the Rockets’ fans. We saw a lot of friends of ours (shout-out to the Davises, the Langdons, the Hughes, and the Kirbys), and had a great time.
Jim 'n' Nick's BBQ
After the pep rally, we decided it would be a good idea to find a quick bite to eat for supper. Neither of us was extremely hungry, so we decided we would get something small somewhere. We opted for Jim ‘n’ Nick’s BBQ, where we ate after the last year’s bowl game. Jim ‘n’ Nick’s is a chain that runs across the South, and they have a location in Concord, NC. They only use fresh ingredients, and make everything down to their dressings from scratch.
Dad and I opted to split a salad and two ‘small plates’ (which is apparently millennial-speak for miniature appetizer), which turned out to not be small. We got some BBQ pub chips and 5 “mild” buffalo wings, which turned out to not be mild. It was all very good, but we were full from our earlier meals and snacks, so the meal did not reach its full potential.
Once we got back to the hotel, I went down to the workout room to run on the treadmill, and then we relaxed in the room for the rest of the evening.
Tomorrow is G A M E D A Y.
Goodnight, and Go Mountaineers!