Saturday, September 27, 2008

Dear Mr. Sauceman:

Most of the eateries that we have visited in the past seven weeks have been described in either volume 1 or 2 of The Place Setting by Fred Sauceman. We found a spot that wasn't in either volume, and as I was writing Mr. Sauceman about our experience there, I thought it fit into today's entry. So this is basically an open letter to him (with some background information about us and our travel plans omitted here).

Dear Mr. Sauceman:

My wife (Kate) and I want to thank you for providing us with leads to many of the finest eating places in northeastern Tennessee, southwestern Virginia, and western North Carolina.

During our seven weeks in Kingsport and Sevierville, we have sampled foods from 18 of the restaurants, cafes, and shops that you have presented in Volumes I and II.

We would also like to suggest another eatery for your third volume. We chanced upon The Filling Station in Bryson City, NC, today. The sign on the sidewalk in front of the shop asked, “Have you had your Cuban Sandwich today?” A Cuban sandwich in Bryson City—well, that certainly caught our attention.

We walked into the small take-out shop to read the large menu on the wall. With about 8 people standing inside, the shop was packed.

Barry Tetrault (right) conversed with everyone who entered, easily bringing “first-timers” up to the status of regulars with suggestions, encouragement, or offers to answer questions. What a wonderful welcome.

Kate ordered the High Octane (top, in photo below), which Barry translated to “one Rueben” when he passed the order on to the person in charge of preparing the sandwich. I ordered the High Test (the Cuban), and we both ordered a side of Baked Potato Salad and unsweetened ice tea (the real giveaway that we are “not from these parts”—actually, Philadelphia). When the order was filled, we took our sandwiches outside, sat in two of the comfortable rocking chairs, and began one of the best meals we have had in many years.

Eating while rocking on the sidewalk seemed the most appropriate setting for our meal. Kate said her Rueben was the best she had ever had, and my Cuban sandwich would be firmly stationed at the top of my list for sandwiches other than a Philadelphia cheesesteak. The baked potato salad is a take-off on a loaded baked potato. Slices of baked potato are mixed with sour cream, bacon pieces, and ranch seasoning, and this salad is the second best potato salad in the world (next to Kate’s).

After finishing the sandwiches, we returned to give our compliments to Barry and his team (family?). He said that he has only been at the present location for a couple of years, but talked about the special touches he adds to the presentation of his foods that he prepares through his catering business. He certainly cares about his product and about the people who will be enjoying the foods he has prepared. We felt very fortunate to have made the turn down Everett Street and the one block walk from our parking spot to 145.

By the way, an added bonus is The Filling Station’s location—right next door to Soda Pop’s Ice Cream Parlor (on the left in the first photo), serving the creamiest ice cream imaginable (Mayfield, as you probably guessed). Paul Crawley is operating the Swirl Freeze in the photo (left) to create a Coffee Toffee – vanilla ice cream mixed with coffee powder and toffee bits. The Swirl Freeze blends the ingredients and extrudes a semi-soft concoction that is pure heaven in a bowl.

We left Bryson City thinking the owners should tear down the wall that divides their shops.


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