Tremont Tavern-February 25, 2012

Quite some time ago, one of my friends told me that one of his favorite burgers in Chattanooga was at Tremont Tavern. I checked out their menu and discovered that there were quite a few burgers to be had at this tiny haunt in the Riverview section of North Chattanooga. When a Living Social deal to Tremont Tavern popped up in my email…..I jumped on it. It’s a great way to try new places and save a ton of money! $10 for $20 worth of food…couldn’t pass it up.

From the outside, you can tell that Tremont Tavern is a small joint, and my brother had told me that inside it’s even smaller than it looks, so I knew that we needed to pick a time that it wouldn’t be too busy, since we don’t really like to wait (for this reason, we rarely go out to dinner on Friday or Saturday nights!). We went for lunch today, and we were astounded at how popular this tiny place is! There were a ton of people there, and we managed to snag the last available table (it’s a seat-yourself sort of place). There were several seats at the bar. We were amazed at how many families were at this tavern…but I’d be happy to take a child there for one of their fantastic burgers, which I’ll describe for you in a moment. There were specials listed on the board when we walked in-a surf & turf burger, a shrimp po’ boy, a couple of beers, and an extensive list of draught beers available. They also have a couple of shelves of beer mugs engraved with numbers, with a person’s name engraved on a little gold plate on the shelf under each mug. Apparently, once you’ve tried all of the beers on their list, you get your own mug. I thought that was pretty interesting!

It took a few minutes for the one server that was working (another quickly joined her) when we first got there (30 minutes after they opened-and they were already full!) to get to us, so when she got to us we had decided on our order. We decided to order the hummus du jour, which was lemon-garlic and served with toasted pita wedges. It was nicely salted (undersalted hummus = very bad), and I really liked the lemon. I loved the crunch on the toasted pita wedges. Now, here’s the problem with being someone who cooks lots of different things at home…sometimes you find that when you order your standards in restaurants, they don’t quite measure up to your own. That’s not to say this hummus wasn’t good….we ate all of those pita wedges and over half of the hummus. It didn’t have quite as much garlic as I use, and was a little drier than mine (I add yogurt-I’ll post my recipe sometime!)…so anyway. It’s what you’re used to, I guess. , and I loved the idea of a “hummus du jour”. I’d love to go back and try some more hummus varieties!

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That’s a cucumber slice in the middle of that hummus, by the way….

It shouldn’t surprise you to know that I ordered the pimento burger (after briefly considering the Chuck “It-Puts-the-Guacamole-on-It” Fisher burger because the name made me laugh). It has homemade pimento cheese (one of my favorite things) and bread and butter pickles on a Niedlov’s bun. I also ordered the homestyle chips (the other sides available were steak fries and Tavern tater tots). The chips, as expected, were pretty much the same as I found at Market Street Tavern, so I loved those. The burger….well, let me begin by saying that the bun bottom was dripping. That’s not a bad thing. This was a super-juicy burger. I was slightly concerned about the bread and butter pickles, because I haven’t really liked sweet pickles in the past. They really, really work here. The sweetness combined with the wonderfully browned meat and the melty pimento cheese was just amazing. There were tiny flecks of fresh jalapeno in the pimento cheese, making it just slightly spicy. I was sold. In fact, they had me at the soggy bun bottom. Wowsers.

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Philip decided on the jalapeno jack burger, with fresh jalapeno, bacon, ancho cilantro dressing, pepperjack cheese, green leaf lettuce, sliced tomato, and red onion. He decided on the tots as his side. I really should start tasting his food every time, because when I ask, I rarely get much description….but he loved his burger. His favorite thing was the fresh jalapenos, which really make a burger “pop” more than pickled jalapenos. He said that the main spice to the burger was the jalapeno…the dressing wasn’t extremely spicy. His burger was super-drippy too. He wasn’t crazy about the tots, which he said tasted like they weren’t salted….but, once you’ve had tots fried in duck fat, I’m not sure any tots can satisfy. I tasted one….it tasted…like a tot! That was the only thing bordering on a “problem” that we had with our meal.

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This is a great local establishment. I was absolutely blown away by the popularity…by the time we left, all of the tables as well as the bar were completely packed out. Tasting the food, though, I see why. In addition to the burgers, there are also salads, sandwiches, and soups on the menu…but I’m not sure I’ll ever find out how good those are, since I’ll probably be ordering burgers as a rule here (my next try is going to be the Coltrane (One-eye) burger with a fried egg on top). It’s a great atmosphere with a focus on buying as many local ingredients as possible. You should try it-but be prepared to sit elbow-to-elbow with a stranger (it’s worth it)!

Tremont Tavern is located at 1203 Hixson Pike, Chattanooga, TN 37405. You can contact them at 423-266-1996. You can find their menu and beer list on their website, http://tremonttavern.com.  You can “like” them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.  They open at 4 p.m. on Mondays, 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday-Friday, and at noon on Saturday.  I am not sure about when they close….their hours are not listed on the website!  It is a bar, though….so late.

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