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Kern’s Food Hall already lives up to hype


I usually like to give new businesses a few weeks to find their footing, but in the case of Kern’s Food Hall, my curiosity was too strong to ignore. Last week, The Grub Spouse and I headed to the new food hall, which occupies the former Kern’s Bakery building on Chapman Highway, near the Henley Street Bridge.

Before exploring the interior of the renovated building, I didn’t realize that it would eventually house more vendors than the few handful that were already up and running. For example, restaurants serving Asian, Indian, Mexican, Cuban, barbecue and breakfast foods will set up shop there in the near future. Kern’s Food Hall is still very much a work in progress.

However, my wife and I were very happy to focus on the food vendor site that is currently up and running. I volunteered to try Zukku Sushi while husband visited AVA (Pizza/Italian). Hey Bear Cafe is also open now, specializing in boba tea, but we’ve outgrown that place for now.

At Zukku, the menu is more extensive than that found at most restaurant restaurants. They offer nine different entrees as well as a good selection of sushi burritos, sushi rolls, poke bowls and sashimi/nigiri plates. You can also start with a plate of rice (“zukku” means “cloth” or “cloth”) and create a sushi burrito or sushi bowl to your liking, choosing everything from protein and sauce to a wide range of toppings.

The Gulf burrito from Zukku Sushi at Kern's Food Hall features a mix of crab meat, tempura shrimp and avocado, plus vegetables and other ingredients.

I got the Gulf Burrito ($15.75), made with a mixture of crab meat, tempura shrimp, cucumber, avocado, cream cheese, carrots, mixed greens, pickled Serrano peppers, cilantro, wonton chips, and spicy mayo sauce. I didn’t order a drink, but it’s worth noting that Zukku also serves Japanese soft drinks, flavored tea, lemonade, alcoholic beverages like sake, sake cocktails, and Sapporo beer.

The fare at AVA is limited in comparison. You’ll find four types of red pizza and three types of white pizza (with two more white pies, plus a meatball sandwich, coming in the near future). Cannoli and cheese complete the menu. The husband ordered the white mushroom pizza ($13), made with ricotta and mozzarella plus caramelized onions, shoyu (soy sauce) and mushrooms.

I can’t help but compare Kern’s Food Hall vendors to those in Marble City Market. My general observation is that the price points seem more reasonable, and the food preparation times are much faster. My wife and I never waited more than a few minutes to receive our orders. We met at one of the many communal dining tables and started talking.

The Gulf burrito was fantastic, from the crispy shrimp and crab core to the rice and seaweed wrap. The combination of ingredients was well thought out and provided a satisfying flavor and texture experience. My sampling of The Spouse pizza was good but not entirely positive. The white pie had a large number of mushroom slices, and I had a positive opinion of the ricotta/mozzarella combination. But the onions were not caramelized as advertised on the menu, and I felt like this wood-fired pizza was too charred on the underside. I realize that some of the searing comes from the oven area of ​​the pizza, but this crust was overcooked to the point of negatively affecting the flavor of the slices.

AVA's White Mushroom Pizza at Kern's Food Hall is made with ricotta, mozzarella, caramelized onions, shoyu and mushrooms.

For dessert, we split up again, with the husband visiting the Richy Kreme Donuts/Myrtle’s Bakehouse stand, while I went to Irvey’s Ice Cream Co., where all the ice cream is made daily on site. I spotted 16 flavors on the menu that day, ranging from traditional vanilla and chocolate to the more exotic vanilla-lavender crumble espresso. You can order dessert served in cups or cones, in the form of shakes or floats.

I got a small cup ($7) that contained one scoop of chocolate and one scoop of strawberry. I very much appreciated the creaminess and flavor of both types. Meanwhile, the wife got a piece of sweet and flaky toast and a chocolate chip cookie from Richy Kreme/Myrtle’s ($12.62 total). Having been a huge fan of both companies’ products before this visit, I can say that these two products did not let us down.

For the record, Kern’s Food Hall has plenty of indoor seating as well as two bars (one serving indoor and outdoor customers) and several retailers, with more to come. Outside, you’ll find a sprawling grass seating area, an outdoor stage, and a selection of food trucks. I realize that Kern is currently cashing in on “that new food hall smell,” but from the food and service to the prices and atmosphere, they are doing a good job of differentiating themselves from the competition.

Cairn Dining Hall

Title: 2001 Cairns Rising Road

hours: 7am – 9pm Sunday to Thursday; 7am – 10pm Friday and Saturday

Alcohol service varies from vendor to vendor

Zuko Sushi

food: 4.25

service: 4

Total: 4.25

Ava

food: 3.75

service: 3.75

Total: 3.75

Ervi Ice Cream Company

food: 4

service: 4

Total: 4

Richie’s Kreme Donuts/Myrtle Bakery

food: 4.25

service: 4

Total: 4.25

The new food hall at SoKno will offer an enticing array of food vendors, retail shops and service providers, all in a fun and casual indoor/outdoor environment.

Kerns Food Hall in South Knoxville features a variety of food vendors and other businesses, and plenty of indoor and outdoor seating.



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