The Stock and Barrel: A Review

The Stock and Barrel, 35 Market Square, Knoxville, August 2013

(Written by AppalachianGastroventures for Inside of Knoxville. This is the first in a planned, monthly, series of restaurant reviews, allowing for further exploration of local restaurants after their opening. I hope you enjoy this new addition.)

We have only a few culinary dealbreakers, which we should probably get out of the way first.

Joy, the better half of our partnership, won’t go anywhere near a raisin and always says no to mayo. Trying to feed Todd canned tuna fish or an olive is a mortal sin, though Joy got me to retry an olive when we began to date; they still taste like briny motor oil to me, but she nevertheless got another date, and the rest is, as they say, history.

I explain this as a bit of an introduction.

You can debate whether or not we’re a foodie couple, but there’s no doubt that we’re a couple that loves almost all food—especially food from this Appalachian region we currently call home. That fact is something we’ve been ravenously embracing since we met and we’ll continue to do so as we explore Knoxville through our appetites, both on our personal blog, www.appalachiangastroventures.com, and here on www.insideofknoxville.com. For the most part, we’ll try (almost) anything.

 

Which leads us to our recent trip to The Stock and Barrel, an upscale bourbon and burger joint located at 35 Market Square. Joy skews away from red meat, but it’s not a dealbreaker. So long as there are no raisins or mayonnaise on it, she’ll splurge on a steak or a burger every few months. But it takes the right kind of grub to raise her from her red meat hibernation.

To understate things, The Stock and Barrel is the right kind of red meat.

Rustic and upscale inside, with exposed brick and a cozy atmosphere, it’s been around since 2013 (they recently opened a Nashville location). And there’s a reason there is still a long wait list snaking out the door on busy nights. The restaurant has a long list of bourbons and a variety of bourbon-inspired cocktails, and they serve locally sourced beef from Mitchell Family Farms in Blaine, Tenn., with flour-dusted buns from Knoxville’s own Flour Head Bakery. When bacon is called for, it’s Benton’s all the way.

But while the ingredients are top notch, there is an artistry to Stock and Barrel’s burgers that sets them apart.

The “Bernie” burger features the perfect combination of bleu cheese crumbles and blueberry preserves paired with Benton’s bacon and fried jalapenos. The deftly assembled burger hits nearly every tastebud in your mouth, dancing from sweet and tart to salty and spicy. The result is a concoction even a curmudgeonly senator from Vermont could love.

The “Elvis” is similarly creative, drawing from The King’s dubious culinary history. While Skinny Elvis and Fat Elvis alike we’re known to slather white bread with peanut butter and mashed bananas, Stock and Barrel ups the ante with a burger that probably would’ve shaved a few more years off of Elvis’s life. Frying bananas and pairing them with organic peanut butter—with some Benton’s bacon thrown in for good measure—resulted in a burger worthy of a spot in rock and roll history.

For those who still plan to abstain from red meat, there’s also the Chicken and Waffle, which gives its beefy brethren a run for their money. Tennessee honey, maple bourbon mustard, greens, tomato, and bacon dress up a fried chicken filet on a freshly crisped waffle, conjuring the best parts of breakfast and dinner.

We had to stop there, but there’s plenty more: a Greek-style lamburger, a salmon burger with avocado, greens, onions, and garlic aioli, as well as burgers made of turkey, mushrooms, black beans/quinoa, and your good ‘ole classic ‘Merican.

Burgers are reasonably priced, from the $10 Free Bird (turkey burger) to the $18 Big Nasty (a double meat, double cheese, double bacon monster that we didn’t get a chance to try), and each comes with hand-cut French fries or beer-battered onion rings.

For starters, try the white cheddar pimiento cheese dip. With barrel-aged cheddar, pimiento, tomato jam, and goat cheese, the appetizer is a strong take on a Southern staple, and is pleasantly soupier than many other pimiento cheese dips that act as more of a spread.

If there’s room for dessert, Stock and Barrel serves several varieties of hand-crafted shakes (S’mores, Nutella and PB&J), as well as Bourbon Peanut Butter Pie. For us, the burgers and dip had filled us up, but there will definitely be a second visit.

AppalachianGastroventures is written by a foodie couple living in West Knoxville that likes to call downtown their second home. Check out their blog at www.appalachiangastroventures.com, Instagram, and Facebook pages.

Comments

  1. Ron Wilson says

    Benton’s bacon is only a Smithfield meat processed locally. They should be using locally pastured and processed meats. Other offerings do not appear to be anything special.

  2. Chris Eaker says

    “And there’s a reason there is still a long wait list snaking out the door on busy nights.” That’s because there isn’t much seating and they don’t take reservations.

    The burgers are good, but you can get better in Knoxville and not have to wait an hour for a seat.

    • That seems a bit disingenuous. From experience, there’s rarely an hour wait even on the busiest of nights. They tell you there’s an hour wait, but it’s usually closer to 15 minutes. And as for space, who cares? They’re using a building in market square and they’re incredibly successful. They really can’t do much about the space they have other than moving to a new location and leaving a hole in market square.

      I’ll agree to disagree on the better burgers, as that’s a personal taste thing. There are good burgers all over the place, but I say that for the price, Stock and Barrel gives you one of the best.

      • I have to agree on the frustration that they almost always broadcast a 1-2 hour wait. As to whether or not it ends up being 15 minutes, it’s hard to say because it’s not always possible to accept the possibility of a 2 hr wait. Perhaps they could be more accurate with their estimates to not turn people away. I don’t think the original post was saying their small size was their fault – that’s what makes it a nice place to eat. Yes, their burgers and food are great, unfortunately we haven’t eaten there in years because (again) the wait times and lack of reservations.

  3. I would have to agree that it is the best burger that I have eaten in Knoxville. Their duck fat fries are also good. Usually if there is not a table available there is seating at the bar that is first come first serve.

  4. Dan Howett says

    Stock and Barrel is one of our favorites on Market Square.
    As for the wait, we put our name on their list, head to Scruffy City Hall or some other place for a beer, and wait for them to call us in less wait time than they promised.
    We’re glad to have them in the city!

  5. You can use Yelp to view the current wait time and join the waitlist.

  6. Sabrina Straub says

    I like the restaurant series addition! thanks for keeping us informed, I don’t know what I would do for downtown news without your blog!

  7. Stock & Barrel’s burgers are only outdone by their outrageously good onion rings! They are the real deal. Also, they have incredible milkshakes, but I view those as a stand-alone for a separate visit. No way you could have a shake on top of the burgers and rings.

  8. Stewart Smith says

    My partner and I have started a burger tour to sample all the burgers in the Downtown and Downtown adjacent sources. We may have been spoiled by the fresh ground brisket burger that we had from the food truck From Scratch the night before but neither of us was impressed with the burger from Stock and Barrel. They seemed small and not particularly flavorful and the fries were definitely not to out taste. The service was friendly and prompt. Don’t mistake me the burgers were fine but nothing to rave about. Our next stop will be Tupelo Honey. We spied someone eating a burger there thru the window. It looked impressive.

    • Sorry you didn’t love the burgers. I’ve actually never had a good burger from a food truck but I’ve never had anything from From Scratch either. We actually had one from Abridged Brewing last night and it was excellent, but not quite as good as what we had at Stock and Barrel.

      We appreciate everyone reading the reviews.

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