Willie Mae: Escaping The Hooligans And Relishing In Romano’s Macaroni Grill

Friday, July 19, 2013 - by Willie Mae

Lois and I got together searching for a family-owned place we had been told about on Hixson Pike. We had the address but none of the buildings seemed to have numbers on them. I think it should be a rule that all places put numbers on their building that would be visible from the road …but that’s just my opinion.

We circled the block twice knowing we were close and finally found it. When we went inside, it was as dark as a cave and smelled like smoke! We could barely see and the place looked empty (except for some hooligans with leather vests playing cards at a table). We weren’t sure if they were the ‘family owners' taking a break or customers, but no one spoke to us. Lois immediately said, “Do you want to go somewhere else?” And we did.

As we searched for a place nearby, I noticed there were plenty of pubs and lounges. We didn’t want a repeat of more smoky dives so we left the area and came back towards Lois’ neighborhood. She had been to Macaroni Grill on Gunbarrel Road before but I had never eaten there.

This place was nice and bright and we could see. Well, Lois couldn’t – she didn’t bring her glasses. She doesn’t like to carry a purse when we go out, but expects me to tote her stuff in mine. She always hands me Kleenexes and her credit card to put in my purse but she forgot her glasses this time, so I loaned her mine.

I was busy paying attention to our server, Denielle. I know how she spells her name because she wrote it on our table with a crayon. She is pretty talented too - she did it upside down where we could read it. I complimented her on her ability and I think she got a little cocky, because she then tried to draw a wine glass. While Lois had my eyeglasses, I asked Denielle what she recommended. When she talked with her sweet, high-pitched voice, she sounded like she was on fast forward. She was beautiful and could win a beauty pageant if she slowed down when she talked.

After I asked her to slow down, I understood a few of her favorites that she shared and I decided on the Chicken Scaloppine with artichokes, mushrooms, prosciutto, lemon butter with capellini for $14. Lois started to get what I ordered, but she and I have different tastes, so I suggested she get something she knows she likes. She chose Chicken Parmesan for $13. I kept eying the stuffed mushrooms for an appetizer, but I seem to always get mushrooms and thought that would bore y’all. I ended up choosing the Goat Cheese Peppadew Peppers for $5.

Our server brought us a loaf of Ciabatta bread with a dish of olive oil and spices, while a boy stood up on a chair nearby and sang his little heart out! He was good too, but I couldn’t understand him either (he wasn’t singing fast he just sang in another language).

I grabbed a knife on the table to slice the bread and Lois asked sweetly, “Don’t you have any silverware?” I didn’t realize I had grabbed hers that she had out. We weren’t given a good knife for the bread and it took some sawing. I think bread should come out already sliced …but that’s just my opinion.

When the peppers were brought out, I had forgotten I ordered them and I still expected mushrooms. It made the round mushroom-shaped peppers look odd and I thought we were brought the wrong thing. I asked, “Are these the mushrooms?” When Denielle explained that they were the Peppadew Peppers, then I remembered ordering them. They looked appetizing with brown sauce drizzled across them.

As soon as it touched my tongue, I thought it was out of this world! The combination of the sauce and the sweetness of the pepper were so delicious. Lois tried one and as I went on about how good it was, she agreed with me. There were six little peppers the size of a cherry tomato and Lois stopped after just one. I told her to get her other two and she got one more but then said I could have them. I could tell they were not her cup of tea. Lois likes to pretend that her tongue is as outgoing as mine, but she really likes to stick to the basics.

Our meals arrived and I have to say that Lois’ basic Chicken Parmesan didn’t look too basic! It was beautiful, with roasted tomatoes and fresh basil leaves. Lois sure did enjoy it. I enjoyed my meal too.  The flavors of the artichoke and capers with the lemon butter blended so well together. I wanted Lois to at least try it so I got my second fork and gathered a bite of chicken, prosciutto, caper and artichoke and wrapped the angel hair pasta.

At first, the pasta wrapped too big and Lois knew that bite was for her and she shook her head and said, “Uh-uhhh!” I let some of the pasta wiggle off my fork and then handed it to her. She liked what I had too, but was glad that she got what she ordered. She asked me, “Did your dinner come with leaves?” I said, “No.” She asked, “Do you want some?” Lois makes me giggle.

We were going to share a dessert, so I asked our server for a desert menu and Lois sweetly said that she couldn’t see the menu. I pretended not to hear her because I wanted chocolate! I kept my glasses and decided on the ‘Homemade Chocolate Cake’ with warm ganache, toffee and whipped cream for $5.

It looked wonderful! When I poured the ganache onto the cake, Lois told me to make sure and scrape it all. We both dug in with our spoons and I playfully clinked my spoon with Lois’ spoon as if to do  ‘cheers’ with her …and I made her bite fall off. Lois swatted at me with her spoon. The scrumptious desert topped off our wonderful meals – it was perfecto!

Lois asked, “I wonder if there will be dessert in Heaven?”

Hours:

Sun - Thu: 11:00AM to 10:00PM

Fri - Sat: 11:00AM to 11:00PM 


Puckett's Announces Chattanooga General Manager Max Stephenson

Puckett’s Gro. & Restaurant is bringing the brand’s long-time general manager Max Stephenson to lead the new Chattanooga location, a move that owner Andy Marshall says is indicative of  his company's  excitement to expand into the Scenic City. Mr. Stephenson oversaw six successful years of double-digit growth at Puckett’s in downtown Franklin, Tn., the longest-running ... (click for more)

Willie Mae: Southern Star – Side Splittin’ Good!

Lawsy Mercy! I never expected so many people to miss little ol’ me when I quit spying on restaurants and writing stories about my visits, but according to the folks at Chattanoogan.com quite a few people wondered where I was (and some even thought I had expired). “Whe-e-ere’s Willie Mae?” they asked. Believe it or not, that ol’ rascal Lou and I got hitched! We moved quite ... (click for more)

Person Shot On Sylvan Drive And Later Dies; Involved In Crash On North Market Street

Chattanooga Police said one person was shot on Sylvan Drive on Monday night and later was involved in a two-vehicle crash in the 700 block of N. Market Street. That person was dead at North Market. One other person involved in the crash was taken by ambulance to a local hospital. A third person was also injured. That person was in stable condition and did not need ... (click for more)

Tennessee Temple University To Close After Almost 70 Years

Tennessee Temple University, after almost 70 years in operation in Highland Park, is set to close after this semester. Trustees are set to vote on Tuesday morning to merge Temple with Piedmont International University of Winston-Salem, N.C. Students who are not graduating this semester would have the option to continue their education there. Bryan College in Dayton, Tn., and ... (click for more)

Tennessee Deserves Better Health Reform

Tennessee needs health care reform. Expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare," was not the best solution for Tennesseans. That is why the vast majority of Tennessee legislators never publicly supported the plan defeated in a special legislative session in February.   It is important to distinguish health care from health insurance. As one physician ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Cameras Or Subterfuge?

State Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden) is an easy-to-like member of the Tennessee Legislature and the fact he is teaming with state senator Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga) to rid the state of its loathsome traffic cameras is indeed a wonderful thing. The legislative action is long overdue, with the biggest winners being the out-of-state camera companies. That alone is just about all you ... (click for more)