Having business with a client down Rayford Road, it never ceases to amaze us how much the area surrounding Imperial Oaks continues to grow. For those that miss the Kroger that was once on Sawdust - if you didn't know it, they moved down Rayford to anchor the Imperial Oaks shopping center. That same center is also home to several other restaurants, including Pallotta's Mexican Grill (not actually related to Pallotta's Italian Grill in Oak Ridge North). Just a little further eastwards on Rayford will bring you to even more growth, with a smattering of other restaurants along the way, including Tewbeleux's Sports Bar. Tewbeleaux's, previously known as Tailgator's, changed their name when their ownership structure changed this past summer. Chip Jackson, founder of Tewbeleaux's explains the name: "as a kid growing up in the suburbs in and around Spring, Texas we played football in the streets...
We could not tackle on the street, although several a spirited contests ended up that way. So how did we tackle you ask? By slapping both hands on our opponent's body anywhere below the waistline. Doing so constituted a "Tackle". We affectionately referred to this as "Two Below" Football." He also states that he takes an alternative meaning of the "two-hand touch" when it comes to the food and service available at Tewbeleaux's Cajun Theme Bar & Grill.
With the change in ownership and the change in name has also come a slow but steady change in the menu offerings and recipes. The evening that we stopped by, we opted to try a couple of items our server told us were some of those changed, and ordered a grilled chicken sandwich and the widely known 'fish & chips'. While we waited for our food, we were informed that we'd actually arrived right at the shift change, so we'd have a different server over the course of our meal. This was also the time of day in which the evening commuters were trickling in to grab a bite to eat or knock back a cold one during happy hour before ending the long day. Something that is nice to know when you sit down at any establishment.
The food arrived in due time; about twenty minutes, actually which was surprising considering how empty the restaurant was when we arrived; doubly surprising since we noted other tables having been seated long after our arrival were served before we were. Fortunately, the food was worth the wait. The fish & chips ($9.99) was made with Atlantic Cod that had been beer-battered and fried, as well as seasoned waffle-cut fries. There were three, large cuts of fish, enough to fill you up easily. And the large chunks of fish tasted fresh, not fishy and without any odd textures. The beer battering had a good flavor to it; well seasoned without being salty or spicy. It wasn't what we would consider beer batter, however, it was more of a breading. Comparable to that of KFC's original recipe chicken. The food arrived hot, and the "homemade" tartar sauce was quite tasty.
The grilled chicken sandwich ($6.99) is actually available grilled, charbroiled or blackened, and not seeing any obvious signs of grilling, we weren't sure what made this different than charbroiled. But the chicken was a nicely filleted breast, tender and juicy. We opted for Applewood smoked bacon and the Pepper-Jack cheese. The lettuce, tomato and onions were all crisp and fresh, not wilted. And the bun was soft and fresh as well, but sturdy enough to hold together even with the juices from the chicken breast soaking into it.
The Bottom Line
With the explosive growth in the area, there are now a multitude of options for dining when you cross the tracks. So if you're in the neighborhood, don't settle for Burger King or Taco Bell if you don't have to; when you have good, quality food available at Tewbeleaux's and other sit-down options in the area. According to their menu as well as their Facebook page, there are some great beer and drink specials available nightly, such as $1 domestics on Wednesdays. And provided you don't arrive at shift change, the service is friendly and attentive.* For the after-work and weekend sports crowd, there's plenty of seating both inside and out, as well as more than 30 televisions to catch your favorite sport or team on.
Think we got it wrong? Or did we hit the nail on the head? Let us know in the comments below. And remember, you don't have to take our word for it - give them a try for yourself and decide!
* Between serving our meal and bringing our check, our server disappeared for nearly thirty minutes, never checking on us or refilling our glasses. After picking up our card, she carried it around for another 5-7 minutes before processing our payment and eventually returning some 12 minutes later.