Uncorked Enjoys a New Incarnation with Vinyl, Books and Chef T.J. Smith

Uncorked, 18 Market Square, Knoxville, September 2016

Uncorked, 18 Market Square, Knoxville, September 2016

Uncorked has enjoyed a long run on Market Square, seeing numerous changes both internally and on the square around it. Some of us have a hard time not referring to it as “Oodles,” which was part of its original name. Restaurants evolve and the “Oodles” portion of the name was dropped last year in favor of the simple, “Uncorked.” And, while the restaurant has traditionally featured an Italian menu to compliment its large wine selection, that has recently changed, as well.

Changes this summer include the addition of vinyl LPs and books. It may seem like an odd move for a restaurant, but the idea is pretty cool and – especially for those of us who love both vinyl and books, it’s a comfortable space to enjoy. The books are curated by Scott and Bernadette West and are available for browsing while visiting the restaurant or for purchase. The vinyl is supplied by Jay Nations of Lost and Found Records, with over 300 records available for in-store listening and many others available for purchase.

Uncorked, 18 Market Square, Knoxville, September 2016

Uncorked, 18 Market Square, Knoxville, September 2016

Uncorked, 18 Market Square, Knoxville, September 2016

Uncorked, 18 Market Square, Knoxville, September 2016

One of the features of Uncorked, which I’ve always appreciated is the range of seating areas. If the weather is good, I love the patio with colorful umbrellas and a perfect view of the square. It’s where Urban Daughter and I hung out for most of the Dylan Birthday Bash this past June while we enjoyed my favorite downtown cheeseboard. If the weather isn’t so good, patrons have a choice of the main bar or the smaller bar areas at the front of the bar and bistro. Each have a view of the square and a turntable to play the vinyl, while one side features hundreds of inviting books.

The central portion of the restaurant features an “indoor courtyard.” I’ve enjoyed many wonderful conversations at the small tables in the front of this area and good times with friends in the rear. It feels like being outside without the cold/heat or rain. The rear portion of the interior courtyard is also home to a fine collection of Cynthia Markert paintings and features a view of the hustle and bustle of the kitchen.

Uncorked, 18 Market Square, Knoxville, September 2016

Uncorked, 18 Market Square, Knoxville, September 2016

Uncorked, 18 Market Square, Knoxville, September 2016

Uncorked, 18 Market Square, Knoxville, September 2016

Uncorked, 18 Market Square, Knoxville, September 2016

Uncorked, 18 Market Square, Knoxville, September 2016

Uncorked, 18 Market Square, Knoxville, September 2016

Uncorked, 18 Market Square, Knoxville, September 2016

But there is more going on here. In addition to books, vinyl and a great wine selection, chef T.J. Smith is making changes to ensure the food is also a draw. T.J. may be the friendliest chef in the city and he’s also very talented. According to an article at Scruffington Post, much of his early experience came working under Chattanooga chef Tho Nguyen who brought his Vietnamese heritage and intimate knowledge of French cuisine to the table. “His time in Knoxville includes a stint with Bonefish Grill. And earlier this year, working in tandem with former Blackberry Farms chef Jeff Carter, Smith won a Knoxville Iron Chef competition sponsored by U.S. Foods, taking top prize over a handful of other talented chefs in the area.”

Uncorked, 18 Market Square, Knoxville, September 2016

Uncorked, 18 Market Square, Knoxville, September 2016

Uncorked, 18 Market Square, Knoxville, September 2016

Uncorked, 18 Market Square, Knoxville, September 2016

More recently, T.J.’s warmth, patience and talent has converted Market House Cafe at 36 Market Square into the increasingly popular spot it is today. Getting off to a rocky start early this year, T.J.’s steady hand and culinary guidance improved service, efficiency and food quality there. It’s become such a favorite spot for Urban Woman and I that we weren’t particularly thrilled to hear T.J. was taken from there to man the helm at Uncorked. Fortunately, the qualities he instilled at Market House (where he continues some involvement) have persisted, even as he turned his primary focus to Uncorked.

Uncorked, 18 Market Square, Knoxville, September 2016

Uncorked, 18 Market Square, Knoxville, September 2016

Uncorked, 18 Market Square, Knoxville, September 2016

Uncorked, 18 Market Square, Knoxville, September 2016

Uncorked, 18 Market Square, Knoxville, September 2016

Uncorked, 18 Market Square, Knoxville, September 2016

We had dinner at Uncorked last week and enjoyed the crab dip, which is a long-time favorite there, but which had disappeared for a while. Karen order skewered bacon-wrapped chicken and I ordered T.J.’s version of shrimp and grits. He told me he tasted the dish in a number of different restaurants and decided he wanted to do something different. He formed grit cakes with cooked grits and then fried them before pairing them with the shrimp and his sauce. The result is maybe our favorite shrimp and grits dishes anywhere. Both dishes were excellent, but that little crunch on the exterior of the grits paired with the creamy goodness inside was pretty special.

Uncorked, 18 Market Square, Knoxville, September 2016

Uncorked, 18 Market Square, Knoxville, September 2016

Uncorked will continue to be one of my favorite spots to meet friends for a drink or a meal. If it has been a while since you’ve tried it, you may want to circle back around and see what you think. I believe you’ll be pleased.

 

The Downtown Knoxville Ten Day Planner (9/25 – 10/4/2016)

Guy Marshall, Blue Plate Special, Knoxville, August 2016

Guy Marshall, Blue Plate Special, Knoxville, August 2016

If you want to be certain your event is included on this calendar, I’ll need your event two weeks in advance. The absolute best way to make sure I include your event is to make a FB event and invite me – two weeks in advance. My FB “events” are the one place I’ll go to every time – if you invite me before I write the post.

If you see an event I’ve missed and you’d like to plug, please comment below. I am no longer able to add to the list events about which I was not informed in advance – it’s just gotten too big, and that’s a good thing. Staying true to the scope of the blog, I’ll only list downtown or near-downtown events. Any number of venues outside of downtown have some great events, but I have to draw a line somewhere. If you want to add those in a comment, that’s fine. Please “Friend” me (Alan Sims) on Facebook and invite me to your events. Look over to the right of this post and not only “friend” me, but “like” Inside of Knoxville. Subscribe (also to the right) to make sure you catch all the posts.

Want to get the word out more directly and get more eyes on your event or business? Consider placing a front page ad! For $300 (or $425 for an ad twice as large) you get a full month exposure to around 40,000 different people (and growing). Contact me for details @ KnoxvilleUrbanGuy@gmail.com.

Sunday, September 25

  • Step Out Walk, UT Gardens, 7:00 AM
  • Children’s Dance Ensemble, World’s Fair Park, 9:00 AM 0 4:00 PM
  • Knoxcentric: Powered by Inside of Knoxville, Radio show on WUTK, 90.3 FM (and streamed here) , 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM (podcasts posted later in the week)
  • Jazz Brunch @ 5 Bar, 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM
  • CureSearch for Children’s Cancer Walk, Volunteer Landing, 11:00 AM
  • Premier League Football (Soccer) viewing, Hops and Hollers, 11:00 AM
  • Shifflett’s Jazz Benedict, Bistro at the Bijou, Noon – 2:00 PM
  • Rally & Revitalize – Neighborhood Mural Painting Event!, Watch or help, Food on site for puchase, door prizes, Knoxville Graphic House (2017 Ailor), Noon – 5:00 PM
  • Live Jazz, Downtown Grill and Brewery, 12:30 PM – 3:30 PM
  • The Dead Shall Rise Launch Party, Melanie Hutsell signs and reads from, The Dead Shall Rise, Union Avenue Books, 2:00 PM
  • Public Cinema Series, Knoxville Museum of Art, 2:00 PM
  • The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe,” Knoxville Children’s Theater, 3:00 PM, $12
  • Rooftop Yoga, Yogi Cheryl Maslar,The Central Collective, 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM, $10
  • An Evening with Holly Hambright and Con Hunley, Dinner/Concert/Q&A w/ Holly and Con, Holly’s Corner, 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM, $50
  • Music in the Park- Frog and Toad’s Dixie Quartet, Ijams, 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM, $5
  • Green Thumb Gala, Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum, 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM
  • Good Sport Night, The Central Collective, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM, $16
  • First Taste of Fall Sunday Supper with Caleb Hawkins, Public House, 6:00 PM – 10:00 PM, $50 (does not include wine pairings)
  • NeedtoBreathe, Civic Coliseum, 7:00 PM, $29-$50
  • The Brockefellers, Barley’s, 8:00 PM
  • Upstairs Underground Comedy Open Mic, Preservation Pub Speakeasy, 8:00 PM
  • The Workshy, Preservation Pub, 10:00 PM

Monday, September 26

  • CBID Board Meeting, 17 Market Square, 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM
  • WDVX Blue Plate Special: Tim Easton/Michael Facasso, Visitor Center, Noon, Free
  • Please Don’t Bury Me!, Americana music with Joey English/Christian Barnett/Adeem the Artist/My Politic, The Central Collective, 7:00 PM, $5/$7
  • On the Mic with Mike, Scruffy City Hall, 7:00 PM
  • Friendlytown Comedy Troupe, Pilot Light, 7:30 PM, Free
  • Amos Lee/Mutlu, Tennessee Theatre, 8:00 PM, $44/$59
  • MVT/Mamma Bear, Preservation Pub, 10:00 PM
  • WUTK’s the Mothership presents The Blueprint, Barley’s, 10:00 PM

Tuesday, September 27

Washboard Tie Guy and Friend, Market Square, Knoxville., Agust 2016

Washboard Tie Guy and Friend, Market Square, Knoxville, August 2016

Wednesday, September 28

  • Market Square Farmers’ Market, 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM
  • WDVX Blue Plate Special: Skylar Gregg/Megan Jean & KFB, Visitor Center, Noon, Free
  • Hands-on Cheesemaking Workshop: Goat Chevre, The Central Collective, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
  • Tennessee Shines presents Bombadil, Boyd’s Jig and Reel, 7:00 PM, $10
  • Oktoberfest Tapping Party, Music/Free Glasses/$3 Beer/Brats on Pretzel Buns, Balter, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
  • Evan Burnett Trio, Bistro at the Bijou, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
  • The Crucible,” UT Carousel Theatre, 7:30 PM, $15 – $22
  • Scruffy Science Theater 6000, Scruffy City Hall, 8:00 PM
  • Jon McLaughlin, Square Room, 8:00 PM, $20
  • Lake Street Dive/Rubblebucket, The Mill and Mine, 8:00 PM, $22
  • The LampLight Blues Sessions with Devan Jones, Scruffy City Hall, 9:00 PM
  • The Groove Orient, Preservation Pub, 10:00 PM

Thursday, September 29

  • WDVX Blue Plate Special: Tough Old Bird/Get Right Band, Visitor Center, Noon, Free
  • 6 O’Clock Swerve featuring Wayne Bledsoe, presents Jubal, Barley’s, $5
  • Grownup Game night, Basement Community Art Studio, 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM, $10 (BYOB)
  • The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe,” Knoxville Children’s Theater, 7:00 PM, $12
  • Cyrus Pireh, Pilot Light, 7:00 PM, $5
  • The Taking of Pelham One Two Three screening, The Central Collective, 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM, Free (BYOB)
  • The Crucible,” UT Carousel Theatre, 7:30 PM, $15 – $22
  • Megan Jean & KFB/The Weeping Willows, Scruffy City Hall, 8:00 PM
  • Denzel Curry, The Concourse at the International, 8:00 PM, $15
  • Gamenight/Groundhog/MemoryFox, Pilot Light, 9:00 PM, $5
  • The Get Right Band, Preservation Pub, 10:00 PM
  • Futurebirds, Barley’s, 10:00 PM

Friday, September 30

Saturday, October 1

Fashion on Market Square, Knoxville, August 2016

Fashion on Market Square, Knoxville, August 2016

Sunday, October 2

  • Knoxcentric: Powered by Inside of Knoxville, Radio show on WUTK, 90.3 FM (and streamed here) , 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM (podcasts posted later)
  • Jazz Brunch @ 5 Bar, 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM
  • Hola Festival, Market Square, 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Shifflett’s Jazz Benedict, Bistro at the Bijou, Noon – 2:00 PM
  • Urban Gypsy Traveling Trunk Show, Paulk and Company, Noon – 7:00 PM
  • Live Jazz, Downtown Grill and Brewery, 12:30 PM – 3:30 PM
  • Book signing and reading with the editors of Jeff Daniel Marian: Poet on the Holston, Union Avenue Books, 2:00 PM
  • Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk, World’s Fair Park, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM
  • Transcendance by GO!, Clarence Brown Theatre, 3:00 PM, $12/$15
  • The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe,” Knoxville Children’s Theater, 3:00 PM, $12
  • We Came As Romans, The Concourse at the International, 7:00 PM, $15
  • Upstairs Underground Comedy Open Mic, Preservation Pub Speakeasy, 8:00 PM
  • The Lonetones, Barley’s, 10:00 PM
  • Electrochemical/Tony Grey Cosmic Duo, Preservation Pub, 10:00 PM

Monday, October 3

  • Drop-in Figure Drawing Workshop, Knoxville Museum of Art, 10:30 AM – 12:30 PM, $10 (runs through next three Mondays)
  • Founders Day Luncheon: 225th Anniversary, Bill Landry Appearance, Money to Knoxville’s Historic Homes, Mabry Hazen House (1711 Dandridge), 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM, $50
  • WDVX Blue Plate Special: Lorin Walker Madsen/June Star, Visitor Center, Noon, Free
  • On the Mic with Mike, Scruffy City Hall, 7:00 PM
  • Friendlytown Comedy Troupe, Pilot Light, 7:30 PM, Free
  • Jordan Esker and the 100%, Preservation Pub, 10:00 PM
  • Andrew Duhon Trio, Barley’s, 10:00 PM

Tuesday, October 4

  • Handmade Books Workshop with Donna Conliffe, 10:00 AM – Noon, $70/$90 (runs two other Tuesdays)
  • WDVX Blue Plate Special: Ashleigh Chevalier/Rob Robinson, Visitor Center, Noon, Free
  • Book signing and discussion with Thierry J. Sagnier, author of The Fortunate Few: IVS Volunteers from Asia to the Andes, Union Avenue Books, 6:00 PM
  • Singer/Songwriter Open Mic, Preservation Pub Speakeasy, 7:00 PM
  • Coheed and Cambria/Saves the Day/Polyphia, The Mill and the Mine, 7:00 PM, $28
  • Old Time Jam with Sarah Pirkle, Boyd’s Jig and Reel, 7:15 PM
  • Public Cinema Screening of “Dead Slow Ahead,” Pilot Light, 7:30 PM, Free
  • Einstein Simplified, Scruffy City Hall, 8:00 PM
  • Vamos!, Pilot Light, 9:00 PM, $5
  • Great Shapes, Preservation Pub, 10:00 PM

A Week With Entrepreneurs and a Chat With Travelista Teri (Teri Johnson)

Teri Johnson, The Works: Demo Day, Scripps Networks, Knoxville, September 2016

A critical component of a healthy city in 2016, and maybe in any era would be a creative, entrepreneurial culture. This week hundreds of people discussed these qualities and how and if they apply to our mid-sized city. Are we creative and … [Continue reading]

Uncle Lem’s and South Landing CrossFit Coming Just Across the River from Downtown

Rendering of Uncle Lem's Mercantile and Outdoor and South Landing CrossFit, 1020 Sevier Avenue, Knoxville, September 2016

Two new businesses were announced yesterday, adding to the surge in development along Sevier Avenue just over the Gay Street Bridge from downtown. With the growth in popularity of the nearby Urban Wilderness and the looming opening of Suttree Landing … [Continue reading]

Faris Eid: Lifting Up a City

Design Innovation Architects, 402 Gay Street, Suite 201, Knoxville, September 2016

When it gathers for its annual gala on October 20, the East Tennessee Community Design Center will honor a person who has designed a large percentage of the best renovations and restorations in our city. He's also designing new construction which … [Continue reading]