On Saturday morning, Knoxville’s favorite chef, Bruce Bogartz, posted a notice on his Facebook page that he was back in business, this time at Halftime Cajun Smokehouse – formerly Halftime Pizza –at 2509 West Emory Road (just west of Powell High School).
“Starting this evening Cajun creole smoke house served family style. That’s right: fresh veggies, homemade desserts, brisket, ribs, bologna, smoked chicken wings, seafood gumbo, shrimp creole, crawfish etouffe, poboys, fried catfish and earth shattering bluegrass for free. Open tonight at 5.”
And that’s all it took. By 7:30 p.m., Bogartz was a victim of his own popularity, slammed with 100 dinner orders that he was turning around by himself because he was alone in the kitchen. Clearly, his fans had been awaiting his return.
In the meantime, the excellent bluegrass band, Grassically Trained, helped keep the customers happy while they waited for dinner. The Stitt family band features 13-year-old dobro prodigy Duncan Stitt, who recently became the youngest winner ever of the Colorado RockyGrass Festival.
Around 8, Bogartz came out front, asked his customers to be patient and said he was cutting the price of all the dinners to $10.
Our table had tender, fragrant smoked ribs with sides of mac and cheese, turnip greens and cinnamon apples (the kind your grandmother used to make with red hots candies), Fall Apple Salad (made with sweet potatoes, smoked pecans, red onions and smoked cheddar) and a Bird and Surf – crispy, bone-in fried chicken with a generous helping of shrimp creole. The chicken was crunchy and flavorful; the shrimp creole was sweet and spicy with a touch of sneaky heat.
It was the worth the wait.
At the end of the evening, Bogartz posted another Facebook notice:
“HOLY GUMBO DOWNTOWN POWELL … Y’ALL KNOW HOW TO ROCK….YOU GUYS BURIED ME LIKE I HAVEN’T BEEN WHOOPED IN MANY AN EVENING … BUT I BELIEVE WE ARE ONTO SOMETHING … TO ALL WHO CAME THANKS FOR YOUR GRACE … TO ALL THOSE WHO WILL COME … I LOOK FORWARD TO FEEDING YOU … BRUCE.”
Knoxville’s Wandering Chef just may have found a home in Powell.