IF YOU GO
Where: 1885 Southern Coastal Grill, 3914 St. Elmo Ave.
Hours: 4-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 4 p.m.-midnight Friday, 11 a.m.-midnight Saturday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday
Price range: $5 (house salad or children's meal)-$23 (steaks)
Alcohol: Full bar service available
In a city full of special neighborhoods, St. Elmo stands out. In many ways, the small community serves as a gateway to tourist destinations on Lookout Mountain.
Recently 1885 Grill became the community's newest dining establishment. The restaurant gives visitors and residents a quality dining option.
The 1885 Grill bills itself as a Southern coastal restaurant, so seafood is prominent on the menu.
Shrimp, oysters, crab cakes, flounder and salmon are all featured, along with more terrestrial fare such as chicken, steaks and pork.
The menu is definitely Southern, however, with entrees such as shrimp and grits ($14) and side items such as roast corn, collard greens and cornbread to complement each dish.
In addition to the main plates, 1885 Grill offers a variety of sandwiches ($7-$10) for lunch or a lighter meal. Selections include a burger and a chicken sandwich as well as crab cake and Cuban sandwiches.
There's a children's menu to keep the little ones fed and happy.
On a surprisingly busy Monday evening, I had a 25-minute wait for a table. A reservation may be in order as 1885 is proving to be a popular spot.
I was able to wait comfortably in the bar area until my table was ready. I began my meal with an order of cheese empanadas ($5) from the appetizer menu. The empanadas were light but tasty, featuring house-made pastry dough filled with cheese served over a bed of dirty rice.
For the main course, I chose the pork chop ($16) and was not disappointed. The bone-in chop was perfectly grilled and served with glazed apples that balanced the sweet and savory flavors. Roasted corn on the cob, collard greens and cornbread rounded out a perfect midsummer Southern meal.
The service at 1885 is some of the best in town. There are ample staff members available to ensure diners are having a good experience, and all are able to provide helpful advice and quick service.
My waiter, Casey, kept water glasses filled, made sure the food arrived promptly and had good suggestions about the menu.
Managers and other members of the staff would often stop by to see if anything was missing or needed to complete the meal.
1885 Grill is in the former site of Blacksmith's Bistro & Bar, which moved to downtown Chattanooga earlier this year.
Owners Miguel Morales and Dustin Choate completely remodeled the space, adding a roll-up, garage-style door to connect interior seating with the patio area.
The restaurant is tastefully decorated and features new and historical photos of St. Elmo and its most notable landmark, the Incline Railway.
For residents of St. Elmo and Lookout Mountain, 1885 Grill is a welcome addition to the neighborhood. And if you don't live in that part of town, it's worth the short trip to check out this new restaurant.
The renovated space can be a bit crowded, but that speaks more to the popularity of the food than anything else.
St. Elmo has begun to "grow up" in recent years, with several dining options now in the quaint downtown. 1885 Grill complements what was already there and adds a new option for a night out at the foot of the mountain.
Contact staff writer Jim Tanner at jtanner@times freepress.com or 423-757-6478.
Jim Tanner has worked as assistant sports editor at the Times Free Press since late 2006. He started at the Times Free Press in 2001 and worked as a news copy/design editor from 2001 through 2006. In addition to working as a night and weekend editor producing local and national sports coverage for print and online readers, Jim occasionally writes local sports and outdoors stories. Jim grew up in Ringgold, Ga., and is a graduate ...