This past Spring, Corner 16 - part of the well known Copper Cellar family of restaurants - opened its doors in Knoxville at the corner of Middlebrook and Bob Kirby Rd. The location is one that doesn't see too many full size restaurants but it's incredibly convenient to our house, so we were intrigued and wanted to check it out.
Perhaps the best feature of the location is the dog-friendly manicured lawn and patio area. Dining tables are set up under the pavilion with views of the televisions, while umbrellas on a green lawn offer a place for drinks and mingling while playing cornhole and a giant version of Connect 4.
The interior decor is simple and inviting with polished concrete floors and lots of natural light.
The best way I can describe the menu is comfort food central. Those looking for a light meal should avert their eyes, because from the deep-fried appetizers, through the down home Southern entrees, and ending with the adult milkshakes or house made sodas, the offerings at Corner 16 are stick-to-your-rib meals that will not leave you hungry.
Our party included 6 adults, 2 babies, and 1 toddler. We were seated at a round table in a private corner with a nice view of the outdoor area as well as a TV screen mounted on the wall. After being seated and conversing about the menu we realized that we had been there for quite some time and no one had come to greet us or take our drink order. A member of our group went to alert the hostess and moments later an apologetic waitress arrived to take our drinks. It wasn't a big deal because we had been so caught up in our own conversation, but a few minutes later the manager arrived with a complimentary appetizer - the smoked sausage and cheese plate. I thought that was a very nice gesture even though we didn't even feel like we needed any kind of compensation for the extra wait.
The appetizer, however, was underwhelming. The sausage had very little smoky flavor and the white cheddar and pepper jack cheeses were just average. No one liked the BBQ sauce and the spicy mustard sauce was pretty basic. The crunchy mini toasts were a bit too thick and hard to be a pleasing complement with the hard cheese.
I ordered the Roasted Turkey and Dressing - slow-roasted turkey served over cornbread dressing with turkey gravy, Smokehouse Potatoes, and choice of one additional side. Though the menu didn't indicate it, the dish arrived with cranberry sauce as well.
This was a generous plate of food. There were several large thick slices of turkey (you can't see much of it in the photo, but there was a ton of it) and it was tender and juicy. The dressing had a pleasant texture, not too moist and not dry, though it was lacking in flavor. It could have used a little more zip, perhaps some more onion and sage would have done the trick. For my additional side dish I chose the sauteed mushrooms and they were perfect - flavorful and cooked to just the right tenderness. The cranberry sauce and gravy were fine, not amazing but not bad, just good.
The Smokehouse Potatoes make an appearance as a standard inclusion for many of Corner 16's entrees. They are a shredded potato dish reminiscent of a hash brown casserole, though these were cooked in a heavy white gravy with chopped smoked bacon. The flavor was great, the texture a little odd, and though I enjoyed the few bites that I had, overall I found them to be too heavy of a side dish to be served alongside the gravy-laden turkey and cornbread dressing.
All in all it was a satisfying meal. I wasn't disappointed but I wasn't blown away either. Because it was a huge portion and a heavier dish, I had a ton of leftovers to take home.
We ordered off the kids menu for my 2 year-old and chose the "Kid Burger" with cheese. The burger came with a choice of any side dish, and we chose the sweet potato fries. Though this isn't the most flattering of photos, we were happy with this meal for Jasper. He seemed to really like it and we were happy that it was a large portion for a kids meal as he ended up with plenty to take home for lunch the next day.
Matt ordered the Hickory Smoked Brisket Sandwich - sliced brisket on a toasted brioche bun with smoked white cheddar cheese and horseradish sour cream sauce. The meal came with a choice of any side dish, and he also chose the sweet potato fries.
He described the brisket as tender, juicy, and full of flavor, but noted that there was more fat on the meat than he prefers. He liked the use of a brioche bun that seems so popular lately. The sweet potato fries were fine - a little too salty, thin and chewy, but that could be personal preference as we both prefer thicker fries. Matt thought the sour cream and horseradish sauce was a home run.
This is the Corner Special Pot Roast, ordered by my friend Kara. If you want to keep an eye on her blog you might catch her own review popping up and you can get some more opinions on the food at Corner 16.
These are the available side dishes. I described Corner 16 as comfort food central and this is a good example of why. While everything here sounds delicious and I would gladly eat any of these dishes, I wish there were more lighter vegetables options considering that most of the entrees are quite heavy. I've read good things about the tomato pie - a sort of miniature "pot pie" with tomatoes, crust, and cheese - and plan to try it if we visit Corner 16 again.
Keeping in line with the "do it yourself" vibe from much of the menu - there's an extensive "Build Your Own Burger" section -the salad offerings leave much to be desired. You are given a few basic choices with the option to add a protein of your choice for an additional $6.50. So if you order a Caesar salad and add some grilled chicken to it, you're looking at a whopping $12.50 - a bit steep for a basic salad, and the add-on price is the same regardless of the choice of brisket, salmon, or chicken.
The selection of house made sodas and phosphates caught my interest enough to make me want to come back to give them a try. I've been craving an Egg Cream Soda ever since being obsessed with the TV series This Is Us, and anything named "Orange Dreamsicle" has my name written all over it. Though we didn't partake in those $5 milkshakes, I was getting some serious Pulp Fiction flashbacks when I spotted them on the menu.
If you're in the market for beverages of an adult nature, Corner 16 offers a varied drink menu that includes a number of cocktails, craft beers, wines, and adult milkshakes for those who like to combine their evening libations with their dessert.
Will We Be Back? We loved the location and proximity to our house which makes this a convenient dinner option. The decor is comfortable and the food was good enough to want to give it a second try. Both of us have items on the menu that we'd like to try during a future visit. The fact that it's a large family friendly restaurant means we can bring our two young kiddos without worry, which is a huge plus.