The Opinionated Foodie: The Love (or Not) of Food and Everything That Goes with It

A Near Death Experience: The Big River Grille, Chattanooga

A friend recommended the Big River Grille to us when she heard we were going to Chattanooga.  She had been to this restaurant before, and I trusted her judgment.  She loves food too, and she and I have talked many times about the places we loved to travel to and the restaurants where we love to eat.  We have swapped recipes many times.  She has been to my house for dinner parties and such.

After eating at the Big River Grille, I may have to question our friendship.

It was that bad

We had no idea.  The atmosphere of the restaurant made it look promising.  A place so nice and big had to be good, right? Our server was a lovely girl. She was super nice to us, and we had a lovely table in the middle of the restaurant.  The menus were full of promising meals. 

We started out with the jalapeño and spinach cheese dip.  Now, let’s play a game of Where’s Waldo.  Look for the jalapeño or the spinach:


Find them?  Me either.  There was no spinach to speak of-no green gooeyness usually found in a good spinach dip.  I didn’t even get any spinach stuck between my teeth like I usually do.  Nor was there any kick from any sign of a jalapeño.  I didn’t even have to have a drink of water while drinking it.  Ugh. 

Then, our meals came.  Good Lawd.

I ordered the German burger from the special Oktoberfest menu.  The burger I ordered was to have German sauerkraut with German ketchup.  It was also to have cheese.  I ordered this German delicacy medium. 

It arrived opened-faced with lettuce, ketchup, and tomato on one side.  The other side was meat, cheese, and sauerkraut.  It was like looking at an American bun versus a German bun in a head-to-head burger battle.  It didn’t look right.  I asked why I had lettuce and sauerkraut.  Our server reassured me that it was supposed to be like that.  Then, I took a bite.

Does this look like medium to you?  It looked like raw meat.  It felt like raw meat.  It smelled like raw meat.  It was raw meat.  Unless my order got mixed up with some hungry lion that I managed to miss in the restaurant who also ordered the German burger, there was a gross mistake on the part of the cook.  I don’t think anyone could have eaten this burger. 


I managed to eat a little off the edges, but it is a wonder I didn’t get food poisoning right then and there.  I could have died in the middle of this awful restaurant while cursing my friend the whole time.  At least, though, I wouldn’t have had spinach from the dip in my teeth, thank goodness. 

Believe it or not, this was the first time I ever admitted to a server that the food wasn’t good.  I have had some horrible stuff before (See Crab Trap, Destin), but I always have kept my opinion to myself expressing what I thought only here on this blog.

She really didn’t even have to ask.   

Our poor, sweet server tried to help.  She was by far the best part of our experience.  She offered me a free dessert or another entrée.  I passed.  Better to quit while I was ahead, i. e. alive.   

I haven’t seen our Big River recommending “friend” since this near-death experience. I’ll forgive her for almost getting me knocked off via bad burger food poisoning. 

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2 Comments so far
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that dip looks like cheese queso. .I don’t see the spinach or the peppers! Such a let down when you are looking forward to a great meal and it disappoints! But girl you could go home and make your own German burger then share the recipe with us!

Comment by Michele Busch

I just left this restaurant yesterday and I ordered a burger medium well. I shared it with my son. That is the only thing we ate in Chattanooga other than the fries that came with it and we both have food poisoning symptoms!! wow I googled to see if anyone else had similar experience and came across your blog and a few others. Crazy!

Comment by Meika M.

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