It is not often that the Mystery Diner finds a dining venue that is destined to be “a hit” right from the start. Hold onto your taste buds dear readers, for I bring you a top contender for the Tri-Cities’ “Best New Restaurant.”
Open since August, the place is called Our House, and owners Andy and Angie Tolley could not have chosen a more appropriate name. The Tolleys are using the old Boone’s Creek Pottery building on Highway 36 as his restaurant’s location. Being close to and also below the nearby highway grade cuts the road’s traffic noise level while providing easy accessibility, and there’s parking both in front and in the rear of the building.
As we arrived, the restaurant’s smokehouse was a busy place. A steady stream of staff members was carrying in prep pans loaded with smoked goodness under the watchful eye of the pit master.
Our House is multi-floored and connected by a couple of solidly-constructed staircases, so if you have a problem negotiating stairs, best to let the Our House staff know this beforehand. While not required, a reservation is recommended as the dine-around bunch found out when we decided to drop by for supper last week.
We were greeted by a smiling youngster named Stacey toting an armload of menus. “Good evening folks,” she said, “welcome to Our House.” After a confirming our reservation, Stacey gladly set us up with our server Rebecca and off we went to the second floor.
Menus in hand, we all munched on a basket of Our House Kickin’ Crackers, saltine-sized with a fontina cheese and red-pepper flake topping baked onto them, and very tasty indeed.
Though tempted by their smoked steak offerings, I wanted something lighter and ordered the Smoked Salmon entrée ($18) with a side order of the Cheesy Grits casserole and a Caesar Salad ($3). My dining partner wanted smoked meat too, and chose the Pork Chop Dinner ($18) with sautéed broccoli and an Our House Salad ($3). The Dieter picked the Winner Winner Chicken Dinner ($11) with a side of roasted sweet potatoes ($5), while the Carnivore, being only somewhat ravenous, ordered a Meatloaf Sandwich ($8) all by itself.
In due course, our orders arrived and revelations ensued. The Dieter’s entree was two six-ounce moist and tender chicken breasts that were smoked first and then grilled until fork-tender throughout. The sweet potatoes were good, if a trifle too sweet. A sweet potato worth the name can contribute its own sweetness without any add-ons being used that remove all doubt.
The Carnivore’s meatloaf sandwich featured two hefty slices of Not Your Momma’s Meatloaf grilled up on sourdough bread. This layered creation featured lean ground sirloin stuffed with aged smoked cheddar and topped with a churro and tomato sauce blend that was just spicy enough without being overwhelming. The Carnivore used two hands throughout and was very pleased with his choice.
My dining partner’s pork chop was French-cut (as in “gristle-tail removed to the bone”) and smoked to perfection. After using knife and fork on the meat of the chop, my partner picked up the remainder by the bare bone handle and began gnawing the remains, wanting to get every last yummy morsel.
Though everyone else’s meals were excellent and tasty, my smoked salmon entree was the winner. Fresh salmon is a difficult meat to smoke properly; most are smoked too little, which is safe as you can usually finish it on the grill but lose the smoke flavor your diners were looking for.
If smoked too heavily your expensive salmon filet has the consistency, color and flavor of firebrick, and is fit only for the scrap bin. Thankfully, the pit master knows his craft. My smoked salmon was smoked just enough to permeate the whole filet and yet leave it moist and flaky.
The cheese grits casserole was a good side order, though the addition of chopped poblano peppers was a bit much given the cheese used in the dish was pepper jack. The pleasant and personable Rebecca arrived back at tableside just as we were finishing up, offering to advise us on the evening’s dessert offerings.
I spotted the Bourbon Pecan Pie at seven bucks a slice. Still on my quest to find the best pecan pie around, I said yes. My slice was good and tasty, and my quest is still ongoing.
Our House is open for lunch on weekends, does some remarkable catering, and takes good care of your offspring, too. The Tolleys have a winner here. The creation gets high marks for a menu both creative and luscious, using fresh ingredients and prepared with careful attention to detail and restrained use of the spice rack. Because of this, if you and your friends are looking for a great meal, come on over to Our House.
Our House, 4903 N. Roan St.
Mon-Thu 4 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Fri-Sat 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Sun 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Credit cards accepted