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  1. This is the most intriguing, mysterious restaurant in America: Chef John Shields was sous chef at Charlie Trotter's then opened Alinea with Grant Achatz as his sous chef for two years before moving to Chilhowee. Chef Karen Urie worked at Tru then later moved to Charlie Trotter's as its Head Pastry Chef for five years...before moving to Chilhowee. http://www.townhouse..... Profiles.pdf At the Town House Grill they are nightly serving absolute blow out dinners among the best in America: http://townhouseblog.blogspot.com/ Several weeks ago, en route to Asheville, we stopped in Chilhowee for dinner. It is 296 miles from Reston to the Chilhowee turnoff of I 81. Within seconds of exiting the Interstate there is a huge junk yard covering several acres on the right side of the road, only a hundred yards from the town's several block long Main Street where the Town House Grill sits a few doors down. Gas stations, a convenience store or two and an aging Super Market frame the intersection along with a vacant store front. We also passed several locals chewing and spitting tobacco walking down the street near where we parked. Behind the restaurant we expected to find a garden or a stream or, at least a cornfield. There was a parking lot. With chipped cement. I should also note that Bristol, VA/TN is 29 miles down the road while Blacksburg is an hour or so north. Neither Bristol nor Johnson City seemed to us as the type of sophisticated metropolitan area that would support the kind of creativity that graduates of Trotter's and Alinea's may have fostered. We also weren't quite certain how they sourced most of their foodstuffs. Fed Ex? This was not an area similar to Washington where The Inn sourced locally. All the more reason to have dinner there. They were closed. On Monday. (No wonder no one had answered the phone when I called for a reservation-they are only open 5-9 Tuesday to Saturday.) We looked in the windows and I took pictures. A lot of photos. The interior of the restaurant seemed to match the town. Plain, brown and aging. There has got to be a story here. A REAL story. I am also absolutely obsessed with returning to Chilhowee to have dinner here. "One whose opinion I trust," Estufarian from Chowhound, has been here. He has eaten his way around Europe and the U. S. as well as Trotter's, Tru and Alinea. He insists that he and his wife thought this is one of the five best restaurants in North America right now. In Chilhowee, VA. I don't know how much longer this couple will be there but I suspect I shouldn't wait too long to find out. Six hundred miles round trip for a dinner that may be a real memory...and a story for the nursing home. True cutting edge cuisine: Chicago, Manhattan and Chilhowee. Addendum: shouldn't someone in the industry in D. C. be trying to talk this couple into moving here? To hell with Gordon Ramsay, they may be able to fill Maestro...
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