Don’t let the title fool you; it’s not a dis. I love zombie movies and walking around downtown Chattanooga the other day gave me the feeling I was in one. Now there was plenty of auto traffic, and streetlights, and open businesses, but there weren’t any people about. We started out on the south side, where we had lunch and walked around the Chattanooga Choo-Choo complex that’s me on the Choo Choo above). As we wandered north into the heart of the entertainment and art districts, the foot traffic was eerily sparse.
It all started when Michelle and I went to have tea, and I mean Tea with a capital “T”, like the British do it. I had never sat down for Victorian Tea before and I must say it is a rather civilized affair. I had read that there was an authentic British Tea Room downtown and thought that would be a great new experience for lunch and Michelle agreed. We went down to The English Rose (irritatingly without a website, but you can contact them at 423-265-5900) around 2:00pm. Michelle chose to have Afternoon Tea and I decided on Victorian Tea (primarily because it included dessert).
Victorian Tea (I have no reference for authenticity here) includes: assortment of finger sandwiches; assortment of British cheeses and crackers; assortment of biscuits (what we call cookies of the shortbread type); a scone served with Devonshire cream, lemon curd, and berry preserves; a choice of dessert (a trifle, profiteroles, or a berry dessert); and a pot of tea. The tea comes with its own cozy and the cutest little hot pad you will ever see. I wondered briefly about the hot pad, but quickly realized that it was necessary as the tea (which is served fairly hot) actually gets hotter for a bit under the cozy. All in all I must recommend that everyone experience Victorian Tea. It is relaxed, pleasant, delicious, and mildly escapist in nature–a throwback to another, less hectic time.
After Tea, we wandered around the Choo-Choo, which is all of the following: hotel, collection of restaurants, gift shop and gardens. You can stay at the Chattanooga Choo-Choo Hilton and can even stay in an actual train car. They have the dining car up and running for dinner on the weekends as well. It seems a very unique way to visit Chattanooga.
It was now time to wander north toward the Tennessee Aquarium and Hunter Museum. As we walked, we noticed very little foot traffic. There were some restaurants that were open and some businesses as well, but nobody in them. Granted, it was 3:30 in the afternoon so the restaurants were at their lull, but the dress shop was also barren and the Warehouse stores seemed to be empty except for employees. The sidewalks played conveyor to fewer than half a doze folk for as fall as the eye could see. As we approached the Children’s Museum and the downtown hotels, the story was the same.
Chattanooga seems to have a decent population base: around 500,000 for the metro, but who knows where they are. Even when we ate dinner at Sticky Fingers, a small southeastern BBQ chain, there were only 3 or so other diners. (Nice BBQ, by the way, check ’em out if you’re in their area. The meat was cooked perfectly, the best I’ve had in a while. Being from Kansas City, however, I have one small gripe. Their sauces aren’t bold. They seem afraid to make a statement with any of them. Not that they’re bad, just not memorable. I’ll chalk it up to their Memphis style roots–those people will hit you with a stick if you put sauce on their Q!) The restaurant, like most others, closed at 9:00. Really, nine o’clock! Maybe the Chattanoogans aren’t zombies. Maybe they just go to bed early.