Smoky Mountain Cheesecake Cafe
1758 Winfield Dunn Parkway
Critic's star breakdown
- Food: 4 stars (out of five)
- Service: 4
- Atmosphere: 3.5
- Overall: 4
On one hand, I despise driving in Sevier County during tourism season. On the other hand, I loves me some cheesecake, so in this case, my high-calorie cravings won the inner war of wills. Even better, The Grub Spouse and I found that much of the lane expansion has been completed on Highway 66, making our journey to Smoky Mountain Cheesecake Cafe even smoother than expected.
Open since November, the cafe sits right off state route 66 in a smallish yellow structure with a patio area and shaded seating outside. On busy days, the overflow is needed since the eatery only seats about 15 inside. The Spouse and I wound up claiming an interior high top so we could enjoy the cool breeze generated by the overhead fans.
We had pre-scoped the menu online, but as we stood at the counter to order, the owners gave us more details about their operations, including the cheesecake flavors available that day (they were on display in a display case that I was surprised wasn't covered in drool).
They recommended the Cuban and Reuben sandwiches in particular, and since The Spouse and I are both fans of rhyming, it sounded like a good plan to us. The owners pointed out that their Cuban is made Tampa-style, with a slice of salami, in addition to the usual Miami method of ham and pulled pork. They also told us that their Cuban sandwich bread is shipped in from Tampa and that their Reuben beef is marinated on site.
Incidentally, other deli/grill-made sandwiches available are a turkey Reuben, a Tennessee turkey sandwich, several different six-ounce burgers, a grilled chicken sandwich (regular or spicy Cajun) and a jumbo grilled hot dog.
After a reasonable wait, our sandwiches were brought out to us in plastic baskets and served with plain potato chips and a pickle spear. Neither item disappointed. The Reuben was as good as any I've had before, featuring fresh marble rye bread, layers of corned beef with that signature tart flavor, sauerkraut, dressing and Swiss cheese. The sandwich was substantial but not overwhelming in size, and the ingredients were present in palatable proportions.
The Cuban was even better, I think. The authentic bread, fresh meats and just the right amount of mustard and pickle made this a noteworthy treat. The Spouse ordered the regular, which was plenty for one serving, but a larger size is available for heftier appetites.
Naturally, we saved room for cheesecake, and in this case, we weren't about to go splitsies, especially for what I thought was a reasonable $5 per substantial slice. Our options included the Elvis (peanut butter and banana), Reese's cup, peach on the bottom, black-and-white, Key lime and Heath bar, to name a few of the ones on deck that day. Overall, dozens of flavors are in the rotating repertoire.
The Spouse got the coconut-laden Almond Joy cheesecake, while I wanted to sample their plain cheesecake with blueberry topping. Again, looks were not deceiving. Both slices were well textured — not too thick, not too whipped — embodiments of classic cheesecake consistency.
The coconut flavor of the Almond Joy was complemented by chocolate and almond flavors, while my plain cheesecake stood strongly on its own, even without the blueberry topping.
Honestly, I think the food and the desserts at this restaurant are pretty equally matched, so whichever your poison — sweet or savory — I think you'll find this roadside Sevier County stop to be an attraction in its own right.
© 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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