Welcome back to Down Home Food! I’m sitting here enjoying a little sunshine, and I will say that’s wonderful instead of the rain. We need lots of sunshiny days to dry up all this standing water.

On Sunday the 24th, I went to Mel’s Riverside Bar & Grill. Although I pass by there several times a week, I had never been there to eat. After seeing the article about the “Big Chief” burger, I had put it on my list to check out. They’re always so busy, I tried to pick a less busy time, but I went in to a fairly big crowd enjoying “March Madness” on television. On top of that, the Tennessee Vols were playing, so you can imagine the crowd was quite excited!!

After being quickly seated by my waitress, I was able to meet the fairly new owner, Melissa Kojundic. She then introduced me to her general manager, Jimmy Egbert. Both were very cordial in introducing me to their business.

I began my meal by doing something that I rarely do, ordering an appetizer. I ordered the jalapeno poppers. They were a spicy delight that were served with ranch dressing to cool down the heat. I really enjoyed them, but had to keep myself from eating all of them which I knew would spoil my appetite.

I ordered the Black Angus rib eye dinner which came with two sides. I ordered the baked potato and fried okra. They had a variety of other sides including home-style chips, fiesta rice, coleslaw, steamed broccoli, broccoli salad and mac n’ cheese. They also offered a variety of premium sides at an additional cost.

While enjoying my appetizer, my steak arrived. It was perfectly grilled to perfection just the way I like it. The potato had been baked in salt and that saltiness had permeated the inside of the potato. The meal also had a slice of garlic bread. Everything was very delicious. I had to get a to-go-box. My little dog was delighted to discover that I had saved her some steak, and she sure enjoyed her share of my meal.

Mel’s offers a variety of other items on the menu including seafood, chicken, pasta and a variety of sandwiches and burgers. In case you missed the Review article, they offer a burger called the “Big Chief” that came from a recipe from the Cherokee High School Culinary Arts Class. This burger boasts a double Black Angus burger, double white American cheese, fried pickles, onion ring, barbecue sauce and topped with tomato & lettuce. Doesn’t that sound delicious? You can also get a smaller version with only a single meat patty.

I was surprised to see that on the kids’ menu, a senior of 65 or over, can also order. I had never seen that before and thought it was a wonderful idea since we “older folks” don’t always have the appetite for a large meal and also quite often are on limited incomes. Thank you Melissa for thinking of the seniors.

For dessert they offer a lava brownie or Key Lime pie. They also offer dessert specials. Wish I had tried the Key Lime Pie!!

In addition to the jalapeno poppers that I tried, other appetizers included loaded tots, fried pickle chips, fried mushrooms, onion rings and mozzarella sticks.

They also offer chicken wings , both boneless and bone-in with a variety of sauces. I personally am not a big wings fan, but I know a lot of people who are.

They offer a variety of domestic bottled beer, premium bottled beer and also draft beer.

On weekends you will find they have a live band. Upcoming entertainers include Jeremy & Rusty, Night Moves, Area 32 and Quarter Bounce. Check to see what nights they will be appearing.

I would rate my service experience as excellent. Pricing begins at $5 for items on the children’s menu and the highest price item was $18.

Mel’s is located just on the “other” side of the Hugh B. Day Bridge at 3415 Highway 66 South. Their phone number is 423-293-3800. They are open on Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. — 9 p.m. On Saturday, they are open from noon — 9:30 p.m. On Sunday, they are open from noon — 5 p.m.. Beginning in April, their hours will be extended an hour each day. They are closed on Mondays.

I loved the saying that I saw on my receipt, and I’ll leave you with that ... Life is Swell at Mel’s.