Critic's star breakdown
- Food: 3.5
- Service: 3.5
- Atmosphere: 3
- Overall: 3.5
It's not often that I get up into the northeast regions of the Knoxville metro area, so once Kitts Cafe wound up on my radar, I made it a priority to focus some attention on an often-ignored corner of the local restaurant world. The Spouse tagged along for a lunch outing, and we found Kitts easily enough, not far from Knoxville Center mall.
We arrived at the height of the lunch rush and noticed that a clear majority of the tables were occupied, but fortunately, the queue to order at the main counter was cleared for us to step right up. We had researched Kitts' menu online beforehand, so it didn't take us long to make decisions.
The everyday menu is basic burger-and-sandwich fare. Selections include hamburgers and turkey burgers, a barbecue pork sandwich and a couple of hoagies as well as staples like pimiento cheese, grilled cheese, a BLT, fried bologna and a PBJ. Other offerings include hotdogs and corndogs, a handful of salads and Petro-esque items like a Frito Chili Pie and Kitts' Hillbilly Chili Pie.
I went with the club sandwich, which I ensured in advance was made in classic fashion, with three toasted slices of bread, bacon, lettuce, tomato and the usual meats and cheeses. I added onion rings for a side.
The Spouse looked over the daily specials ($6.99), which range from meatloaf and chicken biscuit casserole on Mondays to pork chops and fried chicken livers on Wednesdays to salmon patties on Fridays. We were there on a Friday, and The Spouse went with the other daily special, the country-fried steak.
All specials come with two sides and bread, and The Spouse chose mashed potatoes, black-eyed peas and cornbread, passing on the green beans and turnip greens. Other daily sides include navy beans, slaw, carrots, and corn on the cob.
We found a booth and waited for our orders to be prepared. I took more specific notice of the aesthetics in the dining room, which is essentially one large cinder-block space with white walls and red accents, particularly in the seat cushions. Otherwise, the room is rather drab and nondescript.
A server was delivering the orders as they came up, and we could tell, based on the pace of the order numbers she was calling out, that ours still had quite a while to go. Our wait wasn't unreasonably long, but it was definitely longer than what you might expect at the typical lunch spot. So take note of that if you have a narrow lunch window.
I had no complaints about the food. The club was solid and well made and was everything a good club should be, from the toasty bread to the crunchy bacon to just the right amount of mayonnaise. The breaded onion rings were also quite good.
The Spouse's special was a fair go at country-fried steak but nothing that struck me as particularly outstanding. The vegetable sides were the weak link in the equation, but the warm, moist cornbread comes highly recommended.
We had been jonesing the entire meal for Kitts' selection of homemade desserts, which that day included strawberry and chocolate cakes. Both were rich and moist and modestly sized though still fairly priced at $3 a slice.
I think Kitts is a reasonable mealtime option for breakfast or lunch, especially for northeasterners who don't have handy access to Knoxville's usual restaurant havens.
© 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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