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Yay for scrumptious meatloaf at Aubrey’s

Mystery Diner • Sep 12, 2018 at 10:54 AM

I must say that a smile crossed my face when I learned that Johnson City had finally rated our getting an Aubrey’s restaurant. The West Knoxville chain has a Midas Touch or whatever it is called in the restaurant trade when everything you put your hand to is successful. Owner Larry Burleson is no stranger to the area, having recently opened the front doors of an Aubrey’s to the hungry shoppers of Bristol’s Pinnacle mega-plex.

As it happened, our friend the Retiree decided to take my dining partner and I to check out the latest and local version of the Aubrey’s in Johnson City, and also have something to eat while we were there. Our server Tiffany greeted us at Aubrey’s door, conducted us to one of their very comfortable booths, and took our drink orders. The Retiree is a frequent diner at Aubrey’s, and was kind enough to provide pilotage through the Aubrey’s menu for a couple of novices.

Buttermilk fried chicken: Aubrey’s prides itself on stocking its larder and walk-in with locally- sourced and sustainably-produced foodstuffs, right down to the meat in the entrees. The Retiree knew this, and related it to my dining partner, lost in the study of entrees and side orders. At length, my dining partner decided on Aubrey’s buttermilk fried chicken ($15) with a side order of their macaroni & cheese. Since all Aubrey’s meals are prepared “to order,” it took about fifteen minutes for my partner’s order to be placed in front of her. In Aubrey’s buttermilk fried chicken, a high-quality chicken breast is dipped in buttermilk before being dredged in seasoned flour and then pan-fried until golden brown. The buttermilk gravy is then created from the pan drippings, flour and Aubrey’s proprietary seasonings, and then covers, (or in my partner’s case, is served alongside) the chicken breast and any side orders, hers being Aubrey’s uniquely cheese-y mac & cheese. Though all were delicious in their own right, together the buttermilk fried chicken and macaroni & cheese made one very happy dinner guest out of the dining partner.

Clam Chowder, followed by Meatloaf: I also was in the mood for American-style comfort food, finding it written on the Daily Specials board near Aubrey’s front entrance. I started with a favorite of mine, a cup of Aubrey’s thick (and excellent) clam chowder ($4.95), in which I dipped some torn pieces of their fresh-baked complimentary bread. Appetite whetted, I chose Aubrey’s meatloaf plate ($12.95) as my entrée, sided with some (s)mashed potatoes and their parmesan spinach casserole. The meatloaf was made from a good-sized portion of Aubrey’s lean ground chuck beef mixed with some flavorful ground pork, a good fistful of spices and some long, slow baking in a moderately heated oven. Just before it is plated, my meatloaf received a decorative chapeau of rich, red ketchup, and was then brought to the table. Positively scrumptious.

Cranberry chicken salad: The Retiree spotted Aubrey’s cranberry chicken salad ($12) on the menu and ordered that. It arrived as a fresh-picked mixture of field greens tossed with dried cranberries, crumbles of fresh feta cheese, some candied pecans and topped with crisp, julienned Red Delicious apple. The chicken was there as well, nestled snug under its leafy, good-for-you blanket of veggie delights. The supplied dressing of raspberry vinaigrette, though good, seemed a case of gilding the lily with a salad that needed no extra anything at all.

Heading out the Door: Aubrey’s brings some real (and needed) competition to the American Comfort Food genre in Johnson City. “Our” Aubrey’s may not be the eight hundred pound gorilla in the local restaurant scene’s “parlor,” but with Larry Burleson capably producing a menu of this variety, and offering food of this quality, I estimate the gorilla weighs four hundred pounds right now, and is still growing.

Aubrey’s Restaurant

3029 Hamilton Place

Johnson City

328-0692

Daily 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Available on Facebook, social media & at Aubreysrestaurants.com/johnsoncity/

Credit cards accepted

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