The menu at Chattanooga Billiard Club's downtown location has always been surprisingly delicious, but the recent addition of a new kitchen manager/chef is expected to add new exotic flavors to the menu.
Katerina Demestiha is a former restaurant owner and head chef from southern Greece. After a 10-year stint as a paratrooper for the U.S. Army, she returned to Greece to follow her passion and opened her own restaurant in Gytheio, a southern port town in the Peloponnese region. The menu at the seaside restaurant offered 180 items and served more than a thousand people each day.
"It was a seasonal restaurant, starting in March and finishing in October," she said. "We were right there; the water was right at the door. We would put tables on the beach and people would dine there."
Her method of cooking was to feed as many people as she could with the freshest possible ingredients.
"I've been cooking for the past 25 years," she said. "I don't use cups and tablespoons."
After moving back to the U.S. in 2015, Demestiha has been working at CBC for about two months. As any change can be, the transition was difficult. But she's finally ready to begin offering traditional, authentic Mediterranean flavors on the menu.
As a showcase of Demestiha's talents, CBC will host a gourmet Valentine's Day dinner this Saturday evening. The $65 price includes a meal for two and a bottle of house wine. Because of the size of the dining area, a limited number of seats are available. Reservations can be made at 423-702-1196.
The menu will feature savory crêpes with ham and cheese filling and two entrée choices—either a pork loin with roasted baby potatoes and carrots or sautéed salmon with herbs and jasmine rice. Dessert will be heart-shaped cream puffs with chocolate sauce and fresh strawberries.
In the future, Demestiha plans to begin offering themed international nights to show off her cooking skills. Guests will also start noticing new dishes and flavors on the menu.
"What I want to do is to have a Greek night once a week on a Wednesday and then on, say, Friday have an international night—items like Greek salad, souvlaki, stuffed tomatoes, pure Greek food, not Americanized Greek food," she said.
She has already changed several of the menu recipes, but she stressed that the changes will be gradual. And she's certainly not getting rid of the popular bar food items: wings, burgers, sandwiches and fried sampler platters.
"I want to change a lot of things, but I'm not the type of person to go in there and take over," she said. "People get upset. They've been doing this for all these years and they don't want to change. The way I see it, if we change the food and make it different, it'll be good for the company … more people coming in."
Chattanooga Billiard Club was established in 1982. It is located at 725 Cherry St. and is open from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 p.m. to 3 a.m. Sunday. Click here for more information.