Best restaurant dinner in Knoxville — for one night!

Proprietor Holly Hambright and my husband, Alan Carmichael. This was at the end of the night and I’m thinking that’s not coffee in that coffee cup!

I know you only think of Holly’s Gourmets Market in Bearden as a breakfast and lunch place. Because that’s what it usually is. But last  Thursday night, proprietor Holly Hambright pulled out all the stops when she invited a room full of friends and event planners to dinner to sample her new catering menu items.

All I can say is, “Wow!”

I told Alan that all our restaurant friends would be offended if I said Holly had the best restaurant dinner. But he said, “Well, I think they’ll understand — it WAS for one night only!” So, look at this dinner and see if you don’t agree.

Lisa Lawson, catering director, told everyone that the evening also was intended to show how handy Holly’s Gourmets Market is as an event space. It can hold around 200 folks for a sit-down or reception-type event. So, event planners, keep that in mind.

Lucky to be among them!

First things first! Always good to see Kim Donahue behind a bar! Especially when he has a bottle of my favorite pinot grigio in his hand!

Tables were all set up. Love hydrangeas.

Holly has a catering menu staple called the “Hambright Family Relish Platter.” It was offered on the bar for snacking prior to dinner. She had me at okra. I love okra in all its forms!

Along with an assortment of cheeses. Holly always puts together an awesome cheese plate.

Sarah Shultz, left, and Lisa Lawson were on hand to be sure things ran smoothly. Lisa is catering director at Holly’s.

WUOT-FM’s Regina Dean and Jeff Taylor during the cocktail segment.

It was fun seeing friends from The Trust Company of Tennessee: Jeanne Kidd, left, and Angela Cooper.

Soon, it was time to be seated for the first course, a true Holly original. You’ve heard of salad Nicoise, I’m sure. A French salad, it traditionally is made of tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, Niçoise olives and anchovies or tuna, dressed with olive oil.

Holly served what she called a “Hillbilly Nicoise!” It contained smoked trout with radishes, capers, hard cooked egg, tomato chow-chow, cornbread croutons and Cruze Farm buttermilk ranch. It was incredible. Did I mention the CORNBREAD croutons??

Loved sitting across from Terry Sise and Linn Slocum. She’s president of the Blue Slip Winery.

Dorothy Smith, left, and Sue Renfro were at our table, too.

As much as I loved the Hillbilly Nicoise, I thought the shrimp and grits were even better! I think they were my “best bite” of the night. The Carolina shrimp were served over cheesy Shelton Farms grits and “gumbo gravy.”

From left, Rachel Samulski of RiverView Family Farm; Karen Massey and Elizabeth Thomas, both of Kreative Events; and Chris Samulski of RiverView Family Farm.

The yummy main course was pork loin stuffed with collards and celery root and served with Dijon cream sauce, cauliflower gratin and broccolini with lemon and dill.

From left, Cindy Hale and Kelsey Maynard of All Occasions Party Rentals with Lindsey Boling and Morgan Burton of The Quarry Venue.

Holy cow, this dessert! It was a marjolaine consisting of almond meringue with butter chocolate, mocha-hazelnut butter cream, and raspberries and chocolate ganache. That should be illegal!

Here’s the room.

Holly answering questions.

The only disappointment of the evening is on me. I had set my phone on the wrong setting, and several photos that I really wanted for this blog post did not turn out well. They were of my friends and tablemates, Kim and Kent Lauth; and my fellow bloggers, Alan Sims and his wife, Karen, and Mandee and Eric McNew. Alan’s already written about this lovely evening (click here). And I’m sure the McNews will write about it shortly (click here). Fortunately, they were using REAL cameras — not just a cell phone like me — so their photos will surely be better!

Anyway, don’t you agree that this dinner looks like one of the best ever?

 

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