THE FARMHOUSE INN

April 16, 2019


Have you ever just happened upon and experienced a serendipity moment?  A period in time or circumstance that made you say, “why have we not done this before?”  Where have we been.  Well, that happened to my wife and I this past weekend.  We visited Madison, Georgia and stayed at the Farmhouse Inn.  The pictures you will see were taken by me as we walked the grounds.  Let’s first see just where Madison, Georgia is.

MADISON, GEORGIA

Madison is located about an hour and one-half from Atlanta as you go east on Interstate 20.  According to the 2000 census, it is a town of approximately four thousand permanent residents and is the county seat for Morgan County.

The first town lots in Madison were sold in 1809 so this is an old town.  As the cotton economy of the county expanded, so did the population of Madison. Many of the wealthy plantation owners who lived in the county began building town houses.  Many of these Antebellum homes have survived and can be seen on the walking/driving tour of the historic district. In 1844 the first of three great fires struck the community. The county courthouse, begun in 1809 and finally completed 15 years later, burned to the ground. However, most of the county records were saved. In 1869 the entire business district burned after fire broke out in Albert Shaw’s furniture store on South Main Street. Twenty-six (26) businesses were destroyed. The heat was so intense that many of the salvaged goods placed in the middle of the street burned also. In this fire, the city hall and all the town records were destroyed. The community began rebuilding immediately; however, it took ten years before all the lots burned in the fire had buildings on them.  Madison’s Antebellum homes and Victorian homes, as well as its tastefully restored downtown, offer a wide range of shops, tastes, sights and services that delight visitors from this country and abroad, as they travel along Georgia’s Antebellum Trail, the Georgia Antiques Trail and the Historic Heartland travel region.

FARMHOUSE INN:

The description above gives you a very brief understanding of the town itself. Now let’s take a look at where my wife and I stayed.

As you approach the facility you can certainly see the one hundred (100) acres that constitute a working farm.  Cows, chickens, goats, turkeys, a peacock, and most of the animals you would expect on a farm.

This is the driveway as viewed from the guest house.

I know the picture below looks very rustic but the interior was clean, comfortable and “up-to-date”.  The owners of the facility completely renovated an actual farmhouse barn and constructed a dining area, kitchen, common space and rooms.  I have no idea as to how much money they spent on the reconstruction and refurbishment of the overall complex.  I would say close to one million dollars.

There were two rooms in the barn and twelve rooms in the “Common House” adjacent to the barn.  The two JPEGs below will show the main guest house and the walkway to the guest rooms.   These digitals will give you some idea as to the layout of the overall complex.

No farm would be complete without a garden, or gardens.

No garden is complete without a scarecrow.

On the grounds of the Farmhouse Inn is a Baptist Church established in the early 1800s.  It is still a “working” church with services every Sunday morning and Sunday evening.  The view below is looking at the church from the garden.

The interior is just as you might expect, Spartan, but with air conditioning.

The exterior of the church.

One HUGE surprise, was dinner that night at the 220 Restaurant in downtown Madison.  We were tired but hungry.  As you can see, the dining area is absolutely exquisite with every detail being considered.  The food was gourmet—absolutely gourmet.  This was really a surprise coming from such a small town.  I expected BBQ, fast food and meat-and-three diners.  Not Madison, Georgia.  Great dining and we did not break the bank.  They also had a marvelous wine selection.

CONCLUSIONS:

You never know what you might find when you take a long weekend but this time, my wife and I were certainly surprised.  We will definitely go back.  I would love to have your comments.

 

 

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WESTIN—CHATTANOOGA

November 18, 2018


Just about every Friday evening my wife and I celebrate the weekend by going to dinner.  We like to go early, i.e. 4:30 or 5:00 P.M. In other words—happy hour.  The crowds are smaller and the prices are much more in line with a reasonable budget.  This past Friday, we tried the Westin—Chattanooga located at 801 Pine Street. Pine Street is just west of the “main drag” and close to I-27.  Great location for a restaurant.  We heard the Alchemy Bar and Restaurant on the tenth (10th) floor of the hotel was great.  We were not disappointed in the least.

The Westin was at one time Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Chattanooga.  A digital picture of that building is shown below.

This building was called the “Gold Building” for obvious reasons.  The gold windows reflected sunlight, thus keeping the interior office areas much cooler and saving considerable utility expense.  Blue Cross basically outgrew these facilities and relocated some miles away.  Westin purchased the building some time afterwards and spent millions and over one year of time in refurbishing it and turning it into a marvelous hotel and commercial facilities.

As mentioned, the Alchemy is located on the tenth floor.  We will take a pictorial tour of the facility.

You are greeted with a plaque indicating the location and name.

One of the great features of the Alchemy is the lighting.  Lights everywhere and beautifully done.

I hope you can tell the restaurant is “kid-friendly”. When we were there, there were children ranging from infant to young teen. All very respectful of the furnishing and QUIET.

The dining area is very spacious with plenty of room to move around.  I did not include it in the pictures but here are high tables along the picture windows to the left of this JPEG and to entry of the facility.

You get a great view of the famous Lookout Mountain.  Lookout Mountain is noted for the “Battle Above the Clouds”—a famous battle between the North and the South during the Civil War.  This profile is on the City seal just as you see it here.

The picture below shows a small portion of the Chattanooga skyline.

LOBBY:

The lobby is really inviting with an exceptional amount of space.  The pictures below will definitely give you that reality.

I want to note the “picture wall” below.  The Westin has hung pictures of Chattanooga new and old to show a very brief “evolution” of the city center.

CONCLUSIONS:

You really need to make Chattanooga one place on your agenda while driving South.  We have become a destination for visitors due to the following: 1.) Great dining, 2.) The Tennessee River and all the “stuff” you can do on that river, 3.) Great accommodations, 4.) Wonderful tourist attractions in the downtown area and the surrounding tri-state areas. It’s a great destination summer, winter, spring and especially the fall.  Come on down.


There’s a little something for everyone at Magnolia Market at the Silos. Shopping, games, the garden and even a bite to eat. The Market itself is staged and set up with one goal in mind: to inspire you to own the space you’re in. We hope that you’ll come to visit and leave excited about your home. It’s with a grateful heart that I welcome you to magnolia.com. Chip and I run a few businesses here in Waco, Texas, but Magnolia Market holds a special place in my heart. This entire business idea was born completely out of a dream I didn’t know could ever come to life. It’s truly only because a fiercely faithful, brave and bold husband pushed me to pursue my dream that it ever came to be.

In 2003, we bought our “Little Shop on Bosque” and opened the first Magnolia Market. In that store, I developed and sharpened my design style and skills, grew as a business owner, and gained much needed confidence in Magnolia Market and myself.”

Those words were uttered Joanna Gains of Waco, Texas. Magnolia Market at the Silos is a thriving business with very upscale merchandise for the home.  Chip and Joanna are shown in the digital below.

While visiting our son, daughter-in-law and grandson in Dallas this past week, my wife, our third granddaughter (shown below) and I traveled to Waco to take a look at the “Silos”.  The trip from Dallas is a little over an hour and thirty minutes.  Not bad with great interstate roads.

You know you are here by the sign on the gift shop.

I think Chip and Joanna selected a perfect location for their facility.  The vacant silos give a very distinct appearance to the location and can be seen from several blocks away.

A very nice and usable map of the Silo District locates everything within the grounds.  Everything is within walking distance and no motorized vehicles are permitted on the grounds.  They would be absolutely unnecessary anyway.

The entrance way runs just to the left of the silos.  Their size and height relative to people visiting the facility shows how massive they actually are.

When taking a left turn after the silos, you see an open “game” area.  There are bins located to the left of the game area where balls, Frisbees, and other toys are located for the benefit of anyone wishing to spend time while the family is shopping.

If you visit Magnolia at the Silos you are interested in shopping, eating and visiting the newly opened bakery.

There is food and a great variety, BUT it all comes from food trucks located just behind the game area. There is a Magnolia Restaurant but that facility is off-site.  We did not visit the restaurant.

The next three digital photographs show the shopping area.  It is a huge area and the pictures really do not do the size justice.   The merchandise is top quality and not cheap.   No Walmart here.  You get what you pay for and people were lined up at the cash registers.  People were definitely buying.

I thought it was interesting that Chip had his own small space and I do mean small.  You get the picture from below.  The overwhelming number of items available for sale relate to decorating home interiors.

“We can’t wait to welcome you to Silos Baking Co., our on-site bakery filled with Joanna’s personal recipes and hand-picked favorites—like “The Silos Cookie”, “The Prize Pig” bacon and cheddar biscuit, and the “Nuts & Bolts” cupcake. We don’t want you to miss this little corner of the Silos—it’s definitely the sweetest!”

Once again, the words of Chip and Joanna.  The bakery is truly a must-see.  Be prepared to wait in line about twenty to thirty minutes.  The bakery goods are top quality, fresh, made that day and very well displayed.

My wife and our granddaughter indicate shopping was good.  Hopefully you can see the menu from the picture below.

CONCLUSIONS:

I think Magnolia at the Silos is a marvelous success story and a wonderful place to visit.  It’s truly a fun place.  You can spend all day or as much time as you wish.  Parking in their lot is ten dollars with the lot definitely in walking distance of the facility.

 

CENTRAL MARKET—DALLAS

July 14, 2018


When we visit our family in Dallas, Texas we ALWAYS make at least one stop at the Central Market on 5750 East Lovers Lane.  The digital below gives you some idea as to the size of the facility—its is HUGE.  Everything from soup to nuts, all fresh daily, with an amazing verity of choices for every want and need including ethnic.   In this case, a picture or pictures, are better than a thousand words so this post will be pictorial in nature.  I do not think you will regret the digital visit.  Here we go.

The outside is not very dramatic. Pretty much “plain Jane” as it were but wait until you see the inside.

No way we start shopping without taking our grandson.  As you can see, he is driving the bus.

VEGGIES:

If variety is the spice of life you are in “tall cotton” when you first visit the vegetable section. This is the very first area you come to when you enter.  The picture below does not do the area justice.  There are three additional long tables and one shorter table loaded with anything you might want or need including vegetables I have never heard of much less eaten.  The citizens of Dallas represent a very diverse culture so Central Market caters to those cultures.

FRUITS:

Same way with fruits. You name it—they have it.  Again, four tables of fruits neatly arranged and labeled to provide any customer with a superb selection.

FISH DEPARTMENT:

All fresh although there is a frozen fish section in coolers located within the department.


 

$26.99 per pound for lobster tails.  You might also notice the size of the bay scallops.  They are absolutely huge.

MEAT DEPARTMENT:

Two sixty (60) foot counters of meat for consideration.  If they don’t have it, you done need it.  There are even “exotic” meats such as ostrich, buffalo, snake, etc etc.

GRAINS:

This is one of the most intriguing displays in the store.  Each container carries a different consumable.  As you can see, there are well over fifty (50) to consider.  Again, Dallas is a diverse city and many shop here because they know they can find foods and ingredients common to their upbringing.

COFFEE:

The various coffees displayed cover the field and come from many many different countries.  You can buy the bean or grind in the store.

BREAD SELECTION:

To me, the most impressive section of the Central Market is the great variety of bread they offer.  ALL bread, including muffins and pastries are baked at the store on a daily basis.

CHEESES:

The second most-impressive displays are in the Cheese Department.  Again, if they don’t have it you don’t need it.

WINE:

With bread and cheese, you have to have wine and of course they do.  Take a look.

PASTERIES:

We may as well finish with dessert.  Take a look at the selection below.

CONCLUSIONS:

I obviously do not know if you ever travel to Dallas but if you do, here are several places you need to visit:

  • The Central Market
  • AT&T Stadium (Home of the Cowboys)
  • The George W. Bush Presidential Library
  • The Perot Museum of Natural History
  • The Dallas Arboretum
  • Pecan Lodge (Best brisket in Dallas)

Just a thought.


I have been mentioning that Chattanooga has a great number of privately-owned restaurants.  These range from tapas bars, wine bars to truly gourmet offerings.  One of the most unique is CLYDE’S.  Clyde’s reminds me of the bar in Cheers except the seating capacity is considerably greater.  The name comes from an establishment called Clyde’s Auto-glass.  This company existed in Chattanooga for decades after which the owner retired and sold the building.   Located on Main Street, it is THE watering hole for hundreds of individuals on a daily basis.  Not only do you get atmosphere, you get wonderful food.

The facility opened in the fall of 2014.  Hi-Fi Clyde’s is a bar-focused concept with a menu that features a variety of sandwiches and entrees including a handcrafted barbecue. Hi-Fi Clyde’s features activities such as ping pong, shuffleboard, and occasionally features live music.

Peter Melloy is an operating partner and is quite possibly the biggest football fan among the Monen Family Restaurant Group staff. His favorite word is “VOLS!” and he hopes to one day visit every NFL Stadium. Born in Dubuque, Iowa, Peter claims making the decision to move to Chattanooga was the most impactful decision he has ever made. Since moving to Chattanooga, he has become the operating partner of Hi-Fi Clyde’s Chattanooga, and can still maintain his ability to shotgun a beer.

Beverley Urso is the General Manager and always has a smile on her face. She is known for hating all types of beans, reading the user manual to everything she owns, and being able to sew just about anything. Every Halloween she makes her nephew’s costume and loves every minute of it. Bev has always had a love for animals, stemming from her dreams as a little girl to become a marine biologist or a dolphin trainer. This explains her ‘collection’ of dogs – Chloe, Ruby, Ava, Skin, and Judge. Even her first date with her fiancé was at the zoo!

When you walk through the door, you immediately see the bar.  You cannot miss the bar.  It’s huge with an accompanying marquee—also huge.

As you can see from the JPEG below, seating is really no problem.  There is also an outdoor seating area. (Not shown.)  I suspect the entire facility could accommodate close to three hundred (300) people.

Additional seating is to the left of the bar.

If you read my posts you know I generally give reviews issued by other individuals.  That gives a balance.  Here we go:.

As you might expect—I can definitely recommend Clyde’s.  Great food-Great atmosphere.  Bring your ear plugs.

HONEST PINT

June 2, 2018


Chattanooga is very fortunate to have a great number of locally-owned truly wonderful restaurants.  One of the most unique is the HONEST PINT.   It is located at 35 Patten Pkwy in downtown Chattanooga.  You walk through the front door and you are in the heart of Dublin.

 

My family and I spent a week and one-half in Ireland several years ago and visited many pubs in Dublin and several other cities in the country.  The Honest Pint is definitely in line with the atmosphere we became accustomed to with most pubs in Ireland. Starting with the front door as given below, the interior design is absolutely striking.

Attention to detail is amazing and the woodwork was obviously produced and provided by craftsmen.

The first thing you see as you enter is the bar, shown below.

Then you notice the dining areas,

The picture above does not do the dining area justice.  You really need a wide-angle lens to capture the mahogany, oak and maple architectural designs of the woodwork and the overall layout.  The next two digital pictures will give you some idea as to the interior.

 

Well, you go there for the food and not so much the environment—we all know that.  On this one occasion, my wife had the pimento cheese sandwich and I had the shepherd’s pie. Both are shown below and again; the pictures do not really do justice to the appearance itself.  The food-delicious.  Over several visits I have had, bangers and mash, fish and chips, the Ruben, chicken tenders and their hamburger.  All were excellent.

Everyone has an opinion. You just heard mine so I thought I would give you several others, as follows:

 

For my wife and I this has always been a very good choice resulting is an excellent experience.  I would invite you to look at other reviews and form your own opinion.

MOT HAI BA

April 19, 2018


một hai baNorth Vietnamese Cuisine

Mot Hai Ba is located in the Lakewood Neighborhood of Dallas at 6047 Lewis Street and is one of the many gourmet restaurants in the city of Dallas.  When I think of Dallas I think of brisket, BBQ, ribs, flank steak, etc. I do NOT think of North Vietnamese cuisine—at all. Not at all. Quite frankly, I’m not too sure I have ever eaten Vietnamese food and I do not think we have Vietnamese in our “neck of the woods”.  When I saw the “North Vietnamese Cuisine” sign on the door I was a little concerned about finding a plate I could eat without calling the fire department.

Our daughter-in-law took my wife and me to Mot Hai Ba last night for dinner.  It was a marvelous surprise.   As you walk down Lewis Street to the restaurant, you first see a fairly small terrace that can accommodate four tables and about twelve or fifteen people.  Fortunately, the weather last night was sixty-one degrees with a cloudless blue sky.  We sat outside.

I went inside to take a look and discovered the area you see in the following photograph.  Once again, not too large but certainly a very cozy atmosphere.

I was very interested in the table settings.  As you can see, at each place was properly positioned chop sticks, small plate, napkin and one water glass.  No chairs, just padded stools.

Very small bar area with minimal seating for customers.  This is a place you eat and not hang out and drink. That fact became very obvious at first glance.

Now for the food.  I have copied the menu below from their web site due to my inability to capture the entire menu and provide readability.  Please forgive the segmented portrayal.

I had braised scallops on an eggplant sauce that was out of sight.  I love scallops but not a real fan of eggplant but this was absolutely marvelous.  Truly a great meal.  I don’t know if you travel to Dallas but if you do, please check out một hai ba. You will not regret this one.

 

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