Q&A: Tenn. steakhouse leans on trout
The Park Grill Steakhouse and Peddler, which is also a steakhouse, are longstanding restaurants in Gatlinburg, Tenn. Contributing Editor Christine Blank recently dined at The Park Grill, sampling seafood fare that included local farmed trout, the Shrimp and Crab Bisque, and the Smoked Trout Appetizer Cheese Spread. Blank talked to Dale Bright, director of operations for The Park Grill and Peddler, about the restaurants’ seafood purchasing and preparation philosophies.
Blank: What type of food and dining experience are your customers (a mix of locals and tourists) looking for?
Bright: Being a steakhouse, our steaks do come first. Next would be our fresh trout. We add items on the menu that complement each other and that you would expect to find at a steakhouse. We are considered fine dining, so we want to provide an experience that seems slightly expensive, yet worth it to our guests.
Where do you source the trout used in both restaurants?
We get our trout from a local company called English Mountain Trout Farm. He supplies his fish ponds from a company in western North Carolina — Holders Trout Farm. We also source seafood from Performance Food Group and Sysco.
What is the most popular seafood item on the menu?
By far, the trout served in all three versions: grilled over real hickory charcoal, hand breaded and fried, and smoked in our smoked trout appetizer cheese spread. Our philosophy has been to “keep it simple” and add just enough flavoring to allow the seafood’s natural taste to shine through. We added the Shrimp and Crab Bisque back in 2002. Guests love the smoky flavor, which comes from the smoked gouda cheese, enhanced with sherry and jumbo lump crab meat.
How do you work with your seafood distributors and vendors to ensure fresh and high-quality deliveries?
Our orders are placed on Monday, based on our projected guest count for the coming week. The trout is processed on Tuesday and delivered to us on Wednesday, by the owner of the company. The product must meet our specifications on proper cut, size and actual weight. Our salmon orders are place on Wednesday for a Friday and Monday delivery.
Which other seafood items do you like to feature at the restaurants?
In the past, we have found it difficult to go with seasonal items. Our approach is to focus more on the items we have success with and make them memorable to our guests, so they can come back and say that the quality is “just like they remembered.”