Review: Tom + Chee in Evansville, Indiana

The Good, The Bad, and The Surly...

Tom and Chee Grilled Cheese Sandwich on Gluten Free Bread

Tom + Chee Mushroom & Swiss Grilled Cheese Sandwich on Gluten Free Bread

As someone who has to eat a gluten free diet for health reasons and happens to have a daughter who has the exact same fate, I’m powerfully drawn to restaurants that “cater” to the gluten free crowd.

When I read about a chain restaurant or an locally owned restaurant that it “cool enough” to offer gluten free bread and has a great selection of gluten free options, you can count on one thing: I WILL check them out.

When  Tom + Chee opened a restaurant in Evansville, I was beyond excited to pay them a visit. Yes, this is a Kentucky blog and yes, I write primarily about Kentucky restaurants – but I also love to write about restaurants that are writing driving distance.

Last night, Michael and I were in Evansville around suppertime and thought Tom + Chee would be a deliriously fun place to enjoy a meal together.

Remember that phrase, “enjoy a meal together” for future reference.

First things first: First impressions matter. When entering a restaurant, the first person who speaks to you sort of sets the ambiance for the restaurant.  For this particular restaurant, this is not a good thing.  We talked about it later and I honestly cannot remember the last time I encountered such a rude, surly, genuinely unpleasant individual in a restaurant!

The girl at the cash register was the epitome of what you’d want your employee NOT to be. I watched as she treated each person who came in after us the same way. I thought, “Whew, it wasn’t just us she hated.”  Restaurants would really help themselves a lot if they’d tell their workers to smile and greet their “guests” as though they’re happy to see them.

Heck, tell them to fake it if they have to.

Okay. That was the bad.  Now the ugly (then we’ll wrap up with the good, to end on a good note).

Tom and Chee Tomato Soup

Absolutely Delicious Tomato Soup – DELICIOUS

We sat down with out table number. My husband was brought his grilled cheese sandwich after about 6 or 7 minutes.  The young man said mine would be out in a minute.

20 minutes later, mine had not shown up.  Yes. 20 minutes.  Remember when I said we thought we’d enjoy a meal together? Naturally, I told my husband to go ahead and eat because cold soup and a cold sandwich are disgusting.

After the 20 minute mark, Michael went up to the counter and asked if I could expect my meal any time soon. A woman came out, apologized and said, “He burned your’s and is having to make another one!”  I’m not sure where in the 20 minute process the burning took place, but it’d have been pretty cool to have been told about it.

Anyway, her initial proposal was to just refund that part of the order and send me on my way but I told her I was hungry and would prefer to actually eat.  A few minutes later, she came out with my sandwich and, after I told her that I’d also ordered soup, she brought that out as well.

Have you ever tried to eat a meal leisurely when your dinner companion has already enjoyed their meal? Yeah… not a lot of fun.

What’s frustrating is that I wouldn’t have batted an eye if they’d walked out to our table and told us my sandwich had been burned. Big deal! Accidents happen. Honestly, I would have just laughed and thanked them for telling me and waited for a fresh one – hopefully served at the same time as my husband received his meal.

But to allow us to sit there for 20 minutes wasn’t cool. Not for a sandwich – especially for one that didn’t even involve meat.

And they weren’t even busy!

Seriously, when we walked in, there were three other tables with guests. Another table had a man and a few other workers folding what looked like Tom + Chee t-shirts. I kept thinking, “Leave those t-shirts and go help make my sandwich. Someone can’t figure this part of the process out!”

Tom and Chee Bacon Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Tom + Chee Sandwich and “Dipper”

Okay. Let’s get to the good.  First of all, the woman who apologized and finally brought my food out was very friendly. I appreciate that she apologized. The decor was bright and friendly (no comment) and as clean as a whistle.

As for the food, the gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches are a little pricey, but they are really, really good. There are lots of choices available and I absolutely LOVE that they offer gluten free bread.

The menu is fun, the restaurant’s decor is fun, and even the Tom + Chee website is fun.  In fact, from what I’ve seen, the entire Tom + Chee culture is fun, upbeat, and very colorful.  As of now (I’ll preface it that way, because things can change), the Evansville location does not mesh up with the expectations.  I hope that they’ll iron out the kinks and learn from their mistakes.

I’ll give them this – the soup was out of this world good. It was the best dang tomato soup I’ve ever had. EVER. Having a grilled cheese sandwich and piping hot tomato soup is a killer concept and they were delicious.

But here’s the thing: When you dine out (and pay for the honor of doing so), you’re paying for the experience as much as anything. A meal out should be relaxing, fun, delicious, and enjoyable.  Choosing a restaurant is the best compliment you can give to the restaurant… it’s like, “Of all the choices, we choose you!”  When rudeness with a side of disappointment happens, the restaurant puts itself in the hole.

They take the “experience” completely out of the equation and leave their guests with one thing and one thing only: Overpaying for food.

That’s not something any of us want to do.  Not twice anyway.

 

Beautiful Fountain in Bowling Green’s Fountain Square Park

Overcast Days Can't Hide This Park's Beauty

Bowling Green Fountain Square Park Fountain

What’s Not to Love About Downtown Bowling Green, Kentucky?

If you read Genuine Kentucky regularly and/or follow any of my Twitter or Instagram accounts, you know I’m never happier than when I’m taking pictures. Whether it’s cats, food, trees, coffee, birds, or any other personal passions – when I’m looking at the world through my camera, there’s always a big happy smile on my face.

Photography has become one of my favorite pastimes over the past few years. Fortunately, I live in a state as beautiful as Kentucky, so there’s always something extra special to photograph.

I’ve always kind of felt disappointed when the weather doesn’t cooperate with me. I prefer the sun to be looking down at whatever it is I’m looking at – to provide just the right lighting… God’s lighting!

However, I’ve also found that you can actually get some pretty amazing photos when the skies are overcast or even when there’s a storm abrewing, as my grandmother would say.

These pictures have reminded me of this fact. Michael and I recently spent a Saturday in Bowling Green. We walked around the beautiful downtown – enjoying and, of course, photographing absolutely everything.  I’ll add the rest of the pictures either today or next Monday, but I wanted to put these up first.

The darker skies provided a dramatic backdrop for the pictures and all the fretting about “not having enough lighting” proved to be a waste of time. In fact, I’m pretty crazy about the way the droplets of water show up against the dark clouds and the overall “effect” of the pictures makes me smile.

Bowling Green Fountain Square Park Fountain

Beautiful Fountain Square Park

Fountain Square Park, in downtown Bowling Green, is a real beauty.  As a tree lover, I just kind of walk around in a daze looking at the gorgeous trees. I’m also a huge fan of the beautiful statues in the park. You can read more about Fountain Square Park on Visit BGKy.com.

If you’ve never seen Fountain Square Park, or if it’s been awhile, I hope you’ll go spend some time in the park soon.  Spend time admiring the statues, reading the signs, and… by all means!… appreciating the huge trees.

Click the thumbnails to see the full version of the pictures below.

Bowling Green Fountain Square Park Fountain

 

Fraley Mountain Music Gatherin’ at Carter Caves State Resort Park

September 9 - 12, 2015

Carter Caves State Park Ampitheater

Carter Caves State Park Ampitheater: Beautiful Setting!

Carter Caves State Resort Park will host the annual Fraley Mountain Music Gatherin’ for the 46th year from Sept. 9-12.  Any reason to visit this beautiful park is a good one, but a music festival is pretty darn hard to beat.

The festival that began as a family reunion honors old-time music and eastern Kentucky traditions as well as the late master fiddler J.P. Fraley. Musicians will be jamming in parking lots and sharing music around the campfires of Carter Caves State Resort Park. Musical instruments such as dulcimer, fiddle and guitar are used to tell stories about life long ago in the eastern Kentucky foothills.

On Wednesday, Sept. 9, there will be a free “Jamming in the Round” get-together in the campground starting at 8 p.m. On Thursday, Sept. 10, starting at 7 p.m., enjoy an open stage concert in the park’s amphitheater.

At 1 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 11, the amphitheater will come to life with an open stage, a banjo gathering and a dulcimer gathering.  Friday’s activities will be capped with a 7 p.m. concert in the amphitheater.

Starting Saturday morning, Sept. 12, there will be a kid’s jam session in front of the lodge.  Late morning into the afternoon the amphitheater will resound with sessions devoted to ballads, storytelling, and Carter Family songs, and conclude with a fiddle gathering and guitar gathering. Saturday night’s concert in the amphitheater begins at 7 p.m.

[Continued beneath the picture…]

Carter Caves State Park Ampitheater

Carter Caves State Park Ampitheater 

Paid admission is required for concerts and jam sessions Friday afternoon through Saturday night. Fees range from $4 to $10. A festival pass for all programs costs $25 per person. The Friends of Carter Caves will be providing refreshments during the event.

For more information, including a list of invited musicians, contact Coy Ainsley at 606-286-4411 x2543 or festival organizer Barb Kuhns at  bkuhnsfiddle@yahoo.com. Visit the festival website at www.fraleyfestival.com.

Carter Caves State Resort Park features a lodge, vacation cottages, RV campsites and primitive campsites. The lodge restaurant offers a variety of food for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. There’s also hiking, golf, mini-golf, fishing, horseback riding and swimming. The park is located in northeastern Kentucky, 4 miles off Interstate 64 between Grayson and Olive Hill (exit 161).

See more pictures of Carter Caves State Resort Park on Genuine Kentucky.

Join the Kentucky Mavericks for their 2015-2016 Draft Pick Party

At Show-Me's on August 26 (Team Autographs Available!)

I know this news is last minute on my part, but I hope you’ll join the Kentucky Mavericks for the 2015-2016 Draft Pick Party tomorrow night. It’ll be held at the Show-Me’s in Owensboro (in the mall on Frederica).

A big thank you to Show-Me’s for holding this exciting event. I know there’ll be a great turn out and hope everyone has a great time meeting our team!

The Mavs actually have the #1 Draft Pick, so it’ll be exciting to see who they pick. What’s more, players will be available from 6-10 pm for autographs, which is very cool.

For more information please call 1-866-218-5346.

If you’re able to attend the event and have any pictures you’d like to share on Genuine Kentucky, contact me!

Kentucky Mavericks Draft Party Owensboro

Kentucky Mavericks Draft Party!

Kentucky Mavericks Bring Professional Basketball to Owensboro

Just What this Basketball Crazed Area Needed!

Kentucky Mavericks Bring Professional Basketball to Owensboro, Ky

The Kentucky Mavericks: Ready to #MavUp in Owensboro!

We Kentuckians are known for quite a few things (fried chicken, hospitality, accents…) but nothing is any more strongly associated with us than our love for basketball. Our passion for our UK Wildcats rivals any professional team’s fan base and, over the years, our other college basketball teams have gained nation-wide respect and admiration and we couldn’t be prouder.

In addition to our college basketball obsession, we’re also crazy about high school basketball and professional basketball. Now, thanks to the Kentucky Mavericks coming to Owensboro, we have a professional team to get behind and support.

While I LOVE the excitement I’m seeing in and around Owensboro since the announcement, I can’t say I’m surprised.

We’ve waited a long time for this!

Below is the Press Release from the Kentucky Mavericks:

The former ABA 4-time National Champions, The Shreveport-Bossier Mavericks have officially announced that the organization is relocating to Owensboro, Kentucky.   In 2015, the Mavericks made a decision to become a part of the Premier Basketball League (PBL).  Upon that decision, owner Jerry Nelson ordered a relocation.

The franchise will be named the Kentucky Mavericks and will host its home games at The Owensboro Sportscenter.  The franchise colors are now red, white, and blue.
On Thursday, August 20, 2015 The Kentucky Mavericks hosted their official Press Conference to announce their arrival at the Owensboro Sportscenter.  Many of the community officials and natives were in attendance to welcome the team.  Guest speakers were:  Mayor Ron Payne, Mayor of Owensboro, Candance Brake, CEO/President of Greater Owensboro, Amanda Rogers, Director of Owensboro Parks and Recreation, Debra Green, General Manager of the Kentucky Mavericks, Coach Steve Tucker, Head Coach of the Kentucky Mavericks.

“People around the country are looking at this as a place to come visit,” said Owensboro Mayor, Ron Payne.  “We are becoming a destination city.  We just added with the Mavericks moving here.  (That’s) just one more reason (for) people to come to the city of Owensboro.”

The Mavericks are currently on a 92 game winning streak.  We hope to extend that and bring a championship to Owensboro.

“We play fast-paced, fast-break basketball, but the thing that’s special about our team is that we’ve been able to adapt and play different styles,” he said.  “If we need to run, we’ll run.  If we need to defend, we’ll defend.  We’ve been in slow, grind-it-out games, and we’ve been in fast-paced games,” Head Coach Steve Tucker says.

The Kentucky Mavericks are not only winners on the court, but off the court as well.  Our goal is to be at any community event that is going on.  We want to embrace the community and the community embrace us.  We Are One.

Tip-Off to the new season will take place in January as the Kentucky Mavericks host the Rochester Razersharks.

Fast-paced, fast-break basketball…” Yes, please!

Watch Genuine Kentucky for full coverage of the Kentucky Mavericks. This sports fanatic will stay on top of news, announcements, and (when the season finally gets here!) game coverage.

No doubt you’ll also see me and my family at a lot of games. We’ve already made plans to #MavUp every chance we get!

Whether you live in, around, or even nowhere near Owensboro –  I hope you’ll get behind, support, and enjoy our state’s very own professional basketball team. The Kentucky Mavericks are something every Kentuckian can be very proud of.

For more information on the Kentucky Mavericks:
Website:  www.mavup.com

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/KentuckyMavericks.

Instagram: @Kentucky_Mavericks

 

Restaurant Review: Shady Cliff on Lake Malone

There's Nothing I Don't Love About this Lewisburg Restaurant

Shady Cliff Restaurant in Lewisburg, Kentucky

Baked Potatoes, Green Beans, and the Most Flavorful Grilled Shrimp Imaginable

As I’ve written in my other Shady Cliff Restaurant Reviews, this is one exceptional, off-the-beaten-path, MUST SEE FOR YOURSELF Kentucky restaurant. Located in Lewisburg, on beautiful Lake Malone, this is one of the most consistently mind-bogglingly delicious restaurants in or out of the state.

Shady Cliff Restaurant Salad with Delicious French Dressing

One of My Favorite Restaurant Salads – The French Dressing is Amazing

From their delicious French Dressing (made in house, of course) to their ridiculously flavorful grilled shrimp, everything you put in your mouth is worth an eye roll toward Heaven.

Each time we go to Shady Cliff, I want to branch out and try something different, but I cannot make that CANNOT get past their amazing grilled shrimp and grilled catfish! I do go back and forth between their white beans and green beans, however. Each is delicious.

Their baked potatoes are also perfect in every way.

Normally I can never make up my mind which is more delicious, their tossed salad with French Dressing (absolutely delicious, by the way). On our most recent trip, however, the salad won the battle.

It’s not a knock on the coleslaw, it’s just the fact that this French Dressing is better than any dressing has a right to be.

It’s indecent for it to be so delicious.  Sorry, coleslaw, it’s the way it is.

 

Shady Cliff Restaurant Coleslaw and Salad

 

Shady Cliff Restaurant Coleslaw and Salad

To read more about this wonderful (consistently perfect) restaurant, see my Shady Cliff Restaurant Reviews.

Directions:

 
Address: 537 Lake Malone, Lewisburg, KY 42256
Phone: (270) 657-8184

Special Note: If you’re familiar with family-owned businesses and/or small town restaurants, you already know to call first before making a special trip. It’s a beautiful drive – and one in which you’ll want to drive slow to take it all in – but it is the only restaurant for quite a few miles. In other words, make sure they’re open before you find yourself in Lewsisburg among horses, cows, mules, and goats with nothing to eat… because they do NOT share.

Goats in Lewisburg, Kentucky

Kentucky Pictures of the Day: Beautiful Barren River Lake State Resort Park

One of the Most Peaceful and Relaxing Places in Kentucky

Barren River Lake State Resort Park

Barren River Lake: A favorite spot at Barren River Lake State Resort Park

Beautiful Barren River Lake State Resort Park may not be one of the most famous Kentucky State Parks, but it is – without a doubt – one of the most relaxing.

On a recent evening, we kind of lost ourselves in the relaxing beauty of Barren River Lake and the park, itself. You really have to make a special trip to this beautiful Kentucky State Park.

It’ll be love at first sight. And second… and third… and fourth…

Kentucky State Parks: Monarch Butterfly Waystations

Plus Powerful Images from John James Audubon State Park

 Human Impact Marker at John James Audubon State Park

 Human Impact Marker at John James Audubon State Park (The tree is pictured below)

I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve been called a “tree hugger” or “modern day Snow White.”  You know what I’d do with the millions? You got it – do all I could to save all the trees, animals, bird, and butterflies in the world!

That’s how we Snow Whites roll.

I’ve always had a huge soft spot for the beautiful things around us that completely depend upon our human kindness and decency. Trees, birds, butterflies, dragonflies, animals, oceans, lakes… they can’t defend themselves or put up any sort of lasting protection against human greed, laziness, and/or ignorance.

Fortunately, there are LOTS of people who are willing to get on the front lines and offer the protection and compassion that these beautiful things need. Protection that’ll keep them around for generations after us to enjoy… not just read about!

Below is a recent press release from the Kentucky State Parks that detail such an effort.

More than a dozen Kentucky State Parks are working on projects to help Monarch butterflies by preserving habitat and planting milkweed plants the butterflies need for survival.

The butterflies – easily identified because of their orange and black colors – are known for their annual journeys to Mexico each year for winter hibernation. Some scientists are concerned that loss of habitat is causing a decline in the Monarch population in some areas.

Five state parks – Cumberland Falls State Resort Park, Lake Barkley State Resort Park, Waveland State Historic Site, Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site and John James Audubon State Park – are certified Monarch “waystations” through Monarch Watch, a group working to protect the butterflies. The park system also uses a children’s menu that illustrated the life cycle of Monarch butterflies, designed by the Garden Club of Kentucky.

“We’re very proud at Kentucky State Parks to be part of this initiative to educate people about these special insects.  This shows that we all can make a difference and do something to preserve a part of our natural world.” – Parks Commissioner Elaine Walker

Ten other parks are in the process of getting certified or have planted milkweed plants. The waystations are places where milkweeds are planted to provide food and a place for Monarchs to lay their eggs.

Lincoln Homestead State Park near Springfield reduced mowing and the use of chemicals to allow a 10,000-square-foot section area to grow milkweed over the last two years. Monarchs have been seen on the area.

The park system began working on the Monarch project in 2013 with the Garden Club of Kentucky.

“We began working with state parks in 2013 and many of them expressed interest in the waystation project. The parks have been a great way to spread the word about this program and help us explain why it’s important.” – Joanna Kirby (Served as president of the Garden Club of Kentucky from 2013-2015)

Governor Steve Beshear has proclaimed September as “Monarch Butterfly Awareness Month” for Kentucky. Three parks have special events planned in September related to Monarch butterflies.

Jenny Wiley State Resort Park in Prestonsburg is hosting a “Butterfly and Native Plant Weekend” Sept. 25-27 that will feature seminars, workshops, field trips and Monarch tagging. A two-night lodging package that includes meals and program registration is available for $250 a person. Registration for the program is $30 a person. Call 1-800-325-0142 for reservations and information.

John James Audubon State Park in Henderson will present its “Monarch Butterfly Migration Mysteries” program on Sept. 12 and 19. Guests will learn about Monarch migration and then go out and tag Monarchs to study where they travel. The cost is $5 a person or $15 for a family. Programs start at 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. each day. Call 270-826-2247.

Natural Bridge State Resort Park is hosting its Caterpillar Weekend Sept. 11-12. There will be walks and presentations both days, plenty of photographic opportunities, and programs for kids. The fee is $10 for adults and $5 for youths 17 and under. Call the park at 1-606-663-2214 for more information.

For more information about the Monarch waystations, visit www.monarchwatch.org

John James Audubon State Park (Human Impact Tree)

 “We each choose to be a help or a hindrance.”

Louisville Riverthon: October 3, 2015

Are You Up for the Ohio River Challenge?!

Louisville Riverthon 2015

Riverthon 2015: Experience the Ohio River Like Never Before

Riverthon 2015 will be held in Louisville Kentucky on October 3, 2015. The four Paddlesport race series features four downriver races on the Ohio River:

  1. The Louisville 50 (Riverthon’s signature event), a 50 mile adventure race from Westport, KY to West Point, KY
  2. The Mayor’s Cup, a 22 mile race from Westport, KY to Louisville’s Waterfront Park –  be the first to cross the finish line and have your name engraved on the Louisville Mayor’s Cup trophy!
  3. The SUP-7, A 7 mile Stand up Paddleboard race from Harrods Creek, KY to Waterfront Park
  4. The Voyageur Canoe Race, an ultimate canoe challenge, is a 7 mile race from Harrods Creek, KY to Waterfront Park. Teams of 11 paddlers race 30’ Voyageur Canoes, furnished by the City of Louisville.

The Riverthon racing series started in 2011 with running of the first Mayor’s Cup Race. In 2013 the Louisville 50 race was added and in 2015 it has grown to four events. Riverthon is produced and conducted by River City Paddlesports, Inc. a 501c3 all-volunteer nonprofit corporation. A portion of donations for Riverthon are designated for charity.

Event information and registration fees can be found at Riverthon.org.

You can also find more information on their Facebook Page: Facebook.com/Riverthon.

Louisville Riverthon 2015

Photo Credit: Photos provided by Riverthon

Video: Kentucky Lake Magic at Lighthouse Landing

Moments Like This are Everywhere in Grand Rivers, Kentucky

While this video is shorter than a cat’s nose, it gives you an idea of just how peaceful and perfect a day at Kentucky Lake can be.  Michael and I were hanging out on the deck overlooking Kentucky Lake, at Lighthouse Landing.  It was a gorgeous summer day with a wonderful breeze (that’s what you hear in the video).

The moment begged for a little video, so I obliged.

Grand Rivers is an uncommonly special place. It’s a beautiful “village” between Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake. Minutes from Land Between the Lakes and Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park, you’re literally surrounded by things to do, see, and photograph.

When most people think of Grand Rivers, they think of Grand Rivers Variety (at Badgett Playhouse), Lighthouse Landing, Green Turtle Bay, the Fudge Factory (YUM!) and Patti’s Settlement (legendary Kentucky restaurant).

While I have nothing but mammoth love for each of these places, when I think of Grand Rivers, I think of moments. Moments like the one captured in the video.