The Road to Dragon Con 2021, Part 6 of 8: A Taste of Tennessee

Goat burger!

A most righteous burger alongside a side dish that looks like a sandwich that got mugged and had its bread stolen. It tasted better than it looks.

Chapters 6 and 8 are short, easy ones to scroll through by design. This one’s meant to celebrate The Second-Best Meal We Had on This Trip. Longtime MCC readers who followed our last two Dragon Con trips — or, for that matter, anyone who’s been to D*C themselves — knows full well no one tops Aviva by Kameel. Anne suggests I should call this micro-mini-gallery The Best Meal We Had on This Trip at a Place We’d Never Been to Before, but that’s just too awkward, even by my standards.

My secondary objective was to highlight the nice place we found in Tennessee. Hence the title. However, I made the mistake of fact-checking a few minutes ago and discovered it’s part of a small chain, not the local independent stalwart we’d assumed it was. And the chain isn’t even based in Tennessee. Clearly this entry was never meant to be a winner, but I maintain it is meant at least to exist. On we go, then.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

In 2019 my wife Anne and I attended our very first Dragon Con in downtown Atlanta, even went so far as to make it the centerpiece of our annual road trip. We were so blown away that we executed an encore presentation in 2021, which was a similarly amazing experience even with strongly enforced pandemic precautions in place. It likely won’t be our last time in town.

We regret we’ll be opting out of D*C 2022 for a variety of reasons despite numerous temptations, but we’re trying to content ourselves with sharing the previously untold tales of our two-day drive down to Georgia and the sights we caught along the way. It’s perfectly okay to make a prequel nobody asked for…

Barely a mile away from Stones River National Battlefield is The Goat, a cozy pub-ish eatery that’s unrelated to the more famous Billy Goat Tavern(s) in Chicago. Rather, The Goat is one of eleven locations in a chain that started in 2005 in Columbus, Ohio, which we were just serializing about not too long ago. Regardless of size and origins, it was a great meal and the place was thankfully not crowded on a Thursday afternoon.

Goat Murfreesboro!

Their rather suburban digs.

Anne and sports TV!

My recurring restaurant photo motif, the Wide Background Shot With Anne Framed at the Very Bottom Like I’m Shooting a 2010s British TV Drama.

That’s my lunch in our lead photo. At left is The Goat Burger, which is two Angus patties (no actual goat meat) topped with goat cheese (a personal favorite), red peppers and baby spinach. At right is an order of their Braised Pork Tots, which are a smattering of tater tots topped with braised pork, white cheddar cheese, fried pickles, pickled pepper relish, and chipotle aioli. Since it was a side order rather than a full-scale appetizer, it may not have contained multiple ounces of each of those ingredients. I enjoyed nevertheless.

Italian Chop salad!

According to our receipt, Anne got the Italian Chop Salad, which no longer appears on their menu as of tonight. I mean, it’s a salad. The photo is the ingredients list.

The Goat was our last stop before Atlanta. We’d stopped in Smyrna, TN, for gas at 11 a.m., and the rental Prius didn’t need gas again until three days later on the morning of our return trip. For this last leg it was just us and the roadside decor. One historical footnote that sticks out: remember that time Bonnaroo 2021 was canceled three days before showtime due to flooding, the year after the pandemic had preempted it? We’ve never been, but a sign warned us this wasn’t the year to give it a try, either.

Bonnaroo canceled!

I love how this hasty photo looks like we MS Painted a crappy graphic over someone’s Monet pastiche.

Rock City sign!

Remember that time we visited Rock City and a million signs pointed the way?

Rock City sign 2!

Yep, they’re still around. I trust the farmers are well paid for marring their own panoramas.

Ruby Falls sign!

Hey, remember that time we visited Ruby Falls and it was the same deal with the too many signs?

Ruby Falls sign!

This drive is visually the exact opposite of Our 2022 Road Trip, which will be coming soon to MCC after the conclusion of this miniseries.

Tennessee lake!

Counterpoint: pretty Tennessee roadside lake!

rush hour traffic!

Counter-counterpoint: once again the interstate through the mountains of Chattanooga is like a nonstop rush hour. Sigh.

…and evening rush hour in downtown Atlanta was no more welcoming or efficient, especially not with road construction projects all around. But at least we arrived and got to do a con, which was the important thing.

To be continued! Other chapters in this very special MCC miniseries:

Part 1: Firefight Club
Part 2: Sweets for Your Sweet
Part 3: The Ohio River Runs Through It
Part 4: Louisville Sluggish
Part 5: The Stones River Runs Through It
Part 7: The Atlanta Outtakes
Part 8: The Welcomes Back

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