In the late 1950s and early 1960s Aamerica’s obsession with anything and everything Hawaiian gave birth to the classic tiki bar. Decorated with carved wooden masks, hula-girl lamps and thatch-covered walls, the tiki bar became synonymous with good food and good drink, usually enjoyed outdoors and overlooking the water. Top of the Dock brings this great tradition to Chattanooga and gives it a fresh twist with the addition of a trained chef and a renewed focus on food that goes way beyond cheeseburgers in paradise and Polynesian chicken wings.
When you walk into Top of the Dock, you immediately notice the breathtaking view. Expansive windows give you a panoramic view of the Tennessee River from any seat inside or you can step outside and soak up the beauty while you enjoy your meal or a drink on one of their large and well-furnished decks. During the warmer months these decks are transformed into a Polynesian paradise complete with hibachi grilled treats and your favorite frozen cocktails.
In September, owner David Jones brought in chef Chris Adamsky to take over the Top of the Dock kitchen, revamp the menu and elevate the food to match their spectacular location. Adamsky is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts and has brought all of his skill and creativity to the task, utilizing every square inch of the restaurant’s tiny kitchen to produce a stunning variety of incredibly tasty dishes. “We’re doing something different from your standard bar food,” Adamsky says. “We do sexy food.”
Before I could ask what he meant by “sexy food,” my own food began to arrive and the answer was clear without a word being spoken.
The chef recommended that we start off with Tempura Shrimp, Asian Slaw and Spicy Mayo and as always, chef recommendations are best. The portions were generous to say the least. Two huge piles of large, golden-brown shrimp flanked a heaping helping of freshly made Asian slaw that made us all gasp with delight as it was delivered to the center of the table. The peanut and ginger flavors of the slaw paired wonderfully with the crispy shrimp and slight bite from the srirachi-based spicy mayo. Despite the large portion, every shrimp vanished with such speed I half expected someone at the table to yell “Ta-da!” and take a bow.
Like a well-choreographed dance, our table’s entrees began to arrive just as we finished our first course. To my right, a well-seasoned piece of grilled salmon had been paired with risotto alla parmigiana. The risotto was just the right consistency and had a hint of smoky bacon that is always a welcomed surprise. To my left, a massive bowl of mussels in white wine and cream over linguini produced an intoxicating aroma with just a hint of thyme that called out to me like the siren’s song. I was fortunate enough to have a generous friend who shared a few of these meaty bivalves with me and they were absolutely delicious. I will be ordering these when I come back the next time.
I ordered the Filet Medallions and they were a flavor bonanza. Two four-ounce filets sat atop a bed of steamed spinach and made-from-scratch Hollandaise sauce, each topped with a perfectly poached egg. What more could you ask for? (I asked for a side of garlic chive mashed potatoes, but that’s just how I roll). The filets were cooked to a precise medium-rare, just as I had ordered, and the poached eggs perched on top were soft-medium so the yolk ran down and created the sauce of the gods, especially when mixed with the Hollandaise. This dish could not have tasted any better and as I savored every bite I thought to myself, this food really is sexy.
Chef Adamsky came by as we took our last bites to remind us that Top of the Dock is now doing themed specials on weekdays such as Twisted Tacos on Tuesdays, handmade Calzones on Mondays and even a Sunday brunch complete with an omelet station, fresh pasta and Bloody Mary’s that runs all day Sunday rather than the standard, limited brunch hours.
As we left Top of the Dock’s thatched walls and wooden Polynesian masks behind, I remembered something the tiki bar prophet Jimmy Buffet once wrote: “Thank God the tiki bar is open, thank God the tiki torch still shines.” I said to myself, “Yes Jimmy, thank God this tiki bar is open and its tiki torch shines bright.”
Top of the Dock
5600 Lake Resort Terrace
(423) 876-3356 topofthedock.net
Monday-Wednesday: 3 p.m. to midnight
Thursday and Friday: 3 p.m. to 3 a.m.
Saturday and Sunday: 3 p.m. to midnight