Back for our second visit to J. C. Holdway and it was a busier night at the corner restaurant. The fairly large place goes fairly far back with tables in various places with an L-shaped bar taking up the first room. On the way to the back portion we passed a couple cooking areas. Exposed ducts run across the ceiling opposite the older wood floors. Bench seating is along some walls and the tables are nicely sized bare wood set with large well starched towel shaped napkins. Lights are lowered but much light comes through the many windows before sundown, music is in the background and it was a bit noisy. Service was once again very friendly but pacing was quite a bit slower probably due to the crowd and several large groups.
Slow cooked farm egg was with gnocchi, chicken confit and mushrooms for our first dish. You were to mix the egg into the rest of the broth before eating. The broth was yummy good and filled with light gnocchi and pieces of chicken. The gnocchi had been browned on one side to give them an even better texture. This was comfort food at its best. It was perfect with the following cornbread.
Cornbread with Muddy Pond sorghum butter came out in its own skillet – freshly made. It was a tad sweet but even more so with the sweetened whipped butter. It was perfectly cooked with a wonderful crisp edge and tender middle. Not to crumbly, it was lovely and lasted throughout the meal to help with last bits of each course.
Charred pea and arugula salad was with goat cheese, mint and preserved lemon. It was decorated with red buds from the blooming trees everywhere around Knoxville. The arugula had lots of flavor and added a sharpness that worked well with the lemon, mint and radish. It was lightly dressed but it seemed just the right amount to accent all the flavors and give you a light taste of spring in each bite.
Pappardelle was with Benton’s bacon bolognese, parmesan and cornbread crumble. The long thin pasta strips were fun with the chunky sauce filled with tomatoes, carrots and bacon. However the smokiness was lost as the dish was on the table and you needed to break from it to renew the flavor. Overall it was good but we agreed that we liked last night’s orecciette better.
Whole Sunburst trout was served on grilled aspargus with bagna cauda, beurre blanc and crispy onions. The whole fish came with a bowl to discard bones into and you had to remove the filets yourself. The moist fish was great epecially with the crispy onions and sauce. The asparagus were tender and had lovely flavor. This was a fun dish but it did require you to work a bit.
Chocolate toffee semifreddo was with caramel and peanuts. The thick rich chocolate was loaded with tons of crunchies – toffee pieces and nuts. The caramel blended right in and it was a perfect finish for the two of us. It was filled with yummy flavors and textures.