Housed in the historic Knitting Mill on Chattanooga’s North Shore
By Julianne Hale
Photos by Med Dement
Food Works opened in the spring of 2006 to rave reviews. The North Shore establishment’s mix of progressive southern cuisine in a revitalized historic setting was an instant hit with Scenic City residents, and from then on, its following only grew.
Revisiting the restaurant again for lunch more than eight years later, it’s not hard to see why its fan base is still going strong. Food Works’ exposed brick walls and open floor plan maintain the stark spaciousness of a mill, giving diners the experience of enjoying a meal in a vestige of Chattanooga’s manufacturing history. Combine this with its soft lighting, comfortable seating, and creative menu, and you’re once again reminded of the restaurant’s timeless appeal.
We started our meal off with three selections from the starters portion of the lunch menu: Blackened Fried Green Tomatoes, Candied Shrimp, and Bruschetta. Our server, Madison, helped us make our selection from nine tempting choices, noting that all three items were on both the lunch and dinner menus and among the most popular in the restaurant. We didn’t need more convincing.
I went for the Candied Shrimp first, and popped a crunchy morsel in my mouth. It was a palatable combination of sweet and hot, and the crunch of the coating mixed with the juicy tenderness of the shrimp made me immediately reach for morsels number two, three, and four. Our next appetizer was the Blackened Fried Green Tomatoes, a southern classic with a modern twist—the dish was served with a salad tossed in lemon vinaigrette and topped with prosciutto, tomato, and goat cheese. Next on our list: the Bruschetta (shown top right). The veggies and herbs piled generously on top of the toasted ciabatta bread tasted fresh from the garden, and the savory Boursin and mozzarella cheeses rounded out the flavor perfectly.
Our starters complete, we moved onto the salad menu. Madison recommended the Riverside Cobb (shown top left), noting that it was a bestseller. When that huge bowl of green goodness arrived at our table, it was easy to see why. Packed with deli-shaved turkey, blue cheese crumbles, asparagus spears, tomatoes, avocado, bacon bits, hard-boiled egg, and crisp greens, the salad was a meal within itself. The dressing—a house-made bleu cheese vinaigrette—was a favorite at our table.
We started with a sandwich selection: the Smoked Brisket. The entrée’s melt-in-your-mouth beef brisket (which I learned later was cooked slowly on the in-house smoker), is topped with barbecue sauce on Texas toast and served with hand-cut seasoned fries. At only $10, this sandwich would satisfy even the most voracious carnivore.
Next came one of Food Work’s most popular entrees: the Horseradish Crusted Salmon. Available for both lunch and dinner, the farm-raised salmon is cooked to order and finished with a specialty horseradish crust (shown bottom left). We chose medium, which was recommended by Madison. The flaky, rich texture of the salmon was ideal and the horseradish was subtle enough to complement the full flavor of the fish. Served with Yukon Gold potatoes and braised red cabbage, this dish is the one I will definitely order next time I go to Food Works. Yum!
We let out our belts a bit and ordered two selections from the dessert menu. The Key Lime Cheesecake was a New York-style slice of heaven with a graham cracker crust and a subtle hint of key lime flavor. But the Coffee and Toffee Bread Pudding (shown bottom right) was the showstopper. Another Southern classic with a twist, this dense square of Heath crunch bread pudding was topped with a decadent coffee crème anglaise sauce. We couldn’t have asked for a more satisfying end to a delectable lunch.