Knox Mason Re-Opens Thursday in New Home

Knox Mason, 507 South Gay Street, Knoxville, November 2019

It’s the best of Knoxville stories. The kind of arc that can’t really happen, but does happen because, well, Knoxville. About twenty years ago in a high school typing class, freshman Alpesh Patel and junior Matt Gallaher could never have imagined that their futures would merge in such a major way. To thicken the plot, Alpesh was next-door-neighbor to David Rudder.

Fast forward to this week. Chef Matt Gallaher and financial partner David Rudder open the updated version of the Knox Mason restaurant inside Alpesh Patel’s beautiful new Embassy Suites on downtown Knoxville’s grandest street. Only in Knoxville. Alpesh now heads his family’s Kana Hotel Group with sixty-five properties, including their crown jewel Embassy Suites opening this Thursday, while Matt Gallaher has become one of the region’s most celebrated chefs in a golden era for the culinary arts.

Knox Mason, 507 South Gay Street, Knoxville, November 2019

Knox Mason, 507 South Gay Street, Knoxville, November 2019

Knox Mason, 507 South Gay Street, Knoxville, November 2019

Knox Mason, 507 South Gay Street, Knoxville, November 2019

Fans of the old Knox Mason will not be disappointed in the new restaurant. Matt describes the initial menu as a “greatest hits” from the first six years of the restaurant. This is also a great opportunity for new fans to hop on the bus. With a greatly expanded kitchen and about twice the seating capacity (about 100), there is more space and a larger menu. Knox Mason is set to expand the restaurant’s following.

The space itself is worth a visit, with beautiful views of the Embassy Suites lobby and its stunning waterfall of lights. With glass in every direction, the lights reflect throughout the restaurant. With understated decor and muted colors, the emphasis is on the food. The balcony seating, the first second-level seating on Gay Street, offers eighteen seats overlooking Knoxville’s most celebrated street.

Knox Mason, 507 South Gay Street, Knoxville, November 2019

Knox Mason, 507 South Gay Street, Knoxville, November 2019

Knox Mason, 507 South Gay Street, Knoxville, November 2019

Knox Mason, 507 South Gay Street, Knoxville, November 2019

Knox Mason, 507 South Gay Street, Knoxville, November 2019

There will be some additions to the new menu. Matt recalls, for example, discovering bamboo shoots at the Market Square Farmers’ Market and immediately changing the menu to include the surprise ingredient. A bigger restaurant brings a bit less flexibility, meaning the menu will be more set, but he’ll include specials.

Knox Mason will continue to source locally and the menu will change seasonally. Matt noted that he will be buying more than ever from local farmers, but the percentage of local produce may drop simply because of the volume of food the new restaurant will have to prepare. Initially staffing includes over thirty people for front and back of house.

Knox Mason, 507 South Gay Street, Knoxville, November 2019

Knox Mason, 507 South Gay Street, Knoxville, November 2019

Knox Mason, 507 South Gay Street, Knoxville, November 2019

Knox Mason, 507 South Gay Street, Knoxville, November 2019

Urban Woman and I were delighted to be invited to enjoy a soft opening last night to experience the new menu and setting. Given the recent narrative in our personal life, it was wonderful to be surrounded by the friends and neighbors we saw there, as well as to enjoy a great meal in a beautiful new venue.

Crayfish and Cornmeal Fritter, Knox Mason, 507 South Gay Street, Knoxville, November 2019

Crispy Sunburst Trout Filet, Knox Mason, 507 South Gay Street, Knoxville, November 2019

Low Country Shrimp and Grits, Knox Mason, 507 South Gay Street, Knoxville, November 2019

Local Chocolate Pot Au Creme, Knox Mason, 507 South Gay Street, Knoxville, November 2019

Banana Pudding, Knox Mason, 507 South Gay Street, Knoxville, November 2019

We started by sharing the Crayfish and Cornmeal Fritter from the expanded appetizer (snacks) menu. They were so good we debated the etiquette of wiping the sauce from the empty bowl with our fingers (cooler heads prevailed). Urban Woman chose the shrimp and grits and I went with the crispy trout for our main course. We were both delighted with our choices.

The shrimp and grits were among the best we’ve ever had, and the trout was so good I would not have traded it for anything else on the menu We shared generously. The trout, covered in local veggies, is like getting a side and a salad wrapped into the main course. I also enjoyed a delicious sauvignon blanc from the short but well curated wine list.

Chef Matt Gallaher, Knox Mason, 507 South Gay Street, Knoxville, November 2019

We were both full at that point so, of course, we had coffee and dessert. She had the banana pudding while I went with the chocolate pudding with pecans and whipped cream. We were delighted with our choices.

The new Knox Mason is a great addition to Knoxville’s increasingly diverse and complex culinary scene, offering an old favorite that is better than ever. The restaurant is holding a series of soft openings to train staff and plans a full opening Thursday of this week. Initial hours will be from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. seven days a week. Lunch and weekend brunch may be offered in the future. Initially, service will be first-come, first-served, but reservations will be accepted when systems allow.

Comments

  1. Did I miss some of the comments? Do the few people commenting who observed the menu and simply lamented the absence of a vegetarian entree really constitute “entitlement, pretentiousness, and whining”?? That appears to me to describe the attitudes of the die-hard carnivores who voiced their opinions in such a rude defensive manner. Actually, aside from the high prices, my main hesitation in patronizing this restaurant would be the possibility of dining anywhere near someone with the nasty bullying manners displayed in their comments whose appetites for flesh appear so voracious that I might fear losing part of a limb if their meal didn’t satisfy them. That, and although I’m not a vegetarian, there is almost nothing on the menu that I find particularly appealing. Maybe a little more thought to the diversity of the menu and a lot fewer words in the description/origin of the items on it.

  2. About Matt’s menu: It is very nice, very rich and very Blackberry-influenced. The vegans and vegetarians have expressed their wishes. My wish is for a fine restaurant in Knoxville brave enough to serve clean, unadulterated food, exquisitely prepared and presented. Think Alice Waters, not Blackberry Farms. I’d happily pay top dollar. And adding to my wish, how about a restaurant designed around quiet conversation?

  3. So many entitled people here who think the world revolves around them. . .i think Knox Mason will survive without your business. . .

  4. So good! So glad they at back. Menu is better than before! So excited

  5. Hi Alan,
    Glad you both had a great night out. No mention of what reservation platform Knox Mason is using. Can you let us know? Open table? Resy?
    Thx!

  6. Nice article about a great spot for a bite to eat. It’s really unfortunate folks don’t have anything better to do than spend their time coming here to complain about the lack of vegetarian options. There was another poster who pointed out the obvious fact the folks who run this place want to be financially solvent and must cater more to the “meat eating” crowd (95% of the population) with a few sides that are vegetarian. I’m sure these fine folks aren’t going to lose any sleep over a vocal handful upset over their menu. For every 5 vegetarians who don’t patron this place, another 30 customers will fill the void. Best of luck to these folks! Hope to try it within a few weeks after opening.

  7. This appears to be a great space. I was excited about visiting until I review the menu. With so many people moving to a plant based diet it seems restaurants are still behind in providing any menu items for a growing population.

    • I agree. Would love more plant based options. Place looks beautiful.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      I’m sorry you aren’t excited, Leonard. By my count, 25% of the appetizers are vegetarian, a range of delicious vegetarian salads are offered and one of the six entrees is vegetarian. I would love for downtown to have a vegetarian restaurant (we have a Vegan restaurant!), but it will likely be very small, as the vegetarian population in the U.S. is estimated at 3.5% and there is a good chance it is smaller in East Tennessee. I think Matt has done a wonderful job providing a way to eat vegetarian (or pescatarian, as we did), while offering additional options for the 96.5% who are not vegetarian. We are fortunate to have additional (and growing) restaurants downtown with vegetarian and vegan options.

      • Alan: For an otherwise progressive person, it is odd that you clearly don’t understand the concept of non-meat dining; having a few sides that don’t include Benton’s bacon aren’t going to do it, and it is insensitive for you to even suggest that. But, let’s be honest–Matt Gallaher obviously doesn’t care, because a vegetarian or vegan isn’t going near the place. That said, the hotel’s lobby and mezzanine is very attractive and should be a real boost to downtown’s accommodations. It’s just sad that I won’t be enjoying a dining experience there, just as vegetarians were not welcome at his old location.

        • Art: For a progressive individual like yourself it’s understandable you don’t completely grasp the whole concept that we live in capitalist society. Knox Mason is still just a business and frankly there’s more meat eaters than vegetarians ESPECIALLY in Knoxville. It’s projected that in 2018 5% of Americans in the U.S. population are vegetarians (Source Gallup) The high range if you go off of Wikipedia has it at 8%-10% of the population is vegetarian. Look I’m really trying not to offend you, but with all due respect I’m just pointing out that it only makes financial sense to have a menu with more meat based dishes. I imagine that percentage will only grow over time and more people will be eating plant based dishes in the future. I’m sorry if Knox Mason is just trying to be successful financially.

          • You mis-interpreted my comment. I was NOT suggesting that Knox-Mason be a vegetarian restaurant. I was calling out the misconception that having a few non-meat sides constitutes an option for vegetarians–it does not.
            Trend-wise, from Atlanta to New York, from LA to Boston, it has become commonplace to find a couple of non-meat entrees on many restaurant menus. That’s why it seems out of whack for a restaurant to thumb their nose at non-meat diners and offer nothing of substance.
            Of course, Knox-Mason is free to serve anything they want. And diners are free to choose whether or not to patronize them.

        • Man this whining is sad. Sorry, but the vast, VAST majority of people are not members of the vegan “craze”. Art, you come off as a whining pretentious jerk.

    • Make sure you support all of the wonderful places in Downtown Knoxville that DO have *legitimately* good options for plant-based folks including (but not limited to): Viet Bread and Tea, Good Golly Tamale, Kopita, Kaizen, Yassin’s, Tomato Head, Soccer Taco, Landing House, Anaba, Nama, and, Barley’s!

    • Agree! I was excited to read Alan’s article, but disappointed when looking at the menu that it would be difficult for me to have a meatless meal. I might stop by sometime for dessert.

    • Then go open one.

      • Exactly. Not every restaurant is going to kowtow to 3.5% of the population. This is a business. The entitlement is crazy here.

  8. Can’t wait to rediscover Knox Mason again…..and I will absolutely wipe the plate clean with my finger…unless my wife insists on using a piece of bread instead.

  9. Thank you for giving us the rest of the story Alan, I can’t wait to try it! And happy you two got a nice night out 🙂

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