I can’t remember how I heard about Kelly’s Kitchen, but the restaurant had already been in business for about a year and a half before I found out. Spouse Grub and I took spouse’s mother-in-law on a morning hike last weekend, and we decided to roll it over to an early lunch for three at Kelly’s, which is in the northwest corner of downtown Market Place shopping near Cedar Bluffer.
The spouse and I had taken the time to look at their menu online, so we had a pretty good idea of what we were interested in. Kelly’s Kitchen specializes in sandwiches, which include convenience touches like roasting their own turkey meat as well as brining their own corned beef and pastrami. They also work with bakeries across the United States to source breads for their varied menu.
Signature sandwiches include the New Orleans Muff-A-Lotta, Kelly’s hearty take on the classic muffuletta. Their version is a big beast of creation, made with Boar’s Head ham, salami, mortadella and capicola as well as provolone, Swiss cheese and olive salad, all on Gambino’s pressed panini bread. Bakery. It sounded like more than any of us were willing to take on, so we browsed through other options like Texas Smoked Beef Brisket, Chicago Italian Beef, and Big Al’s Meatball Sandwich. .
I had the NYC Reuben ($10.89 for a whole sandwich), made with homemade beef brisket, Boar’s Head sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and homemade Thousand Island dressing on rye bread to seeds. I decided to go the Signature Sammie & Side route, in which I was able to order half a Reuben and a side – the cheese tater soup – for $7.89. Other sides include rice and Cuban beans, side salad, coleslaw, and mater pesto soup.
My MIL used the same strategy to order the Tampa Cubano sandwich, which is $10.89 for a full-sized version. She also got a half sandwich and a pasta salad for $7.89.
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Spouse reviewed menu listings of cheesesteak sandwiches, chicken cheesesteaks and premium sub-sandwiches (which include oven-roasted turkey, roast beef, ham, Italian, American club and a luxury club). After narrowing it down to a beef or chicken cheesesteak, The Spouse decided on the regular (smaller) size of the traditional Philly cheesesteak ($7.95). The spouse also decided to have an a la carte side dish, the broccoli salad, for $2.99.
We ordered from the register, got our drinks from the fountain and demanded a table. It wasn’t long before an employee delivered our food baskets to us. I’ll start with MIL’s Cuban, which was delightfully through the book from top to bottom. Bread is a key part of any Cuban, and Kelly’s Kitchen made a great supplier choice for theirs. Slices of pork, ham, Swiss cheese, citrus mojo mustard and dill pickle were stacked in perfect proportions. The pasta salad was standard issue but enjoyable nonetheless.
Spouse’s Philly was also very good, prepared mostly textbook style with sliced beef, grilled onions and cheese. I say “mostly” textbooks because many traditional Phillys are made with roasted green peppers, but The Spouse wasn’t sad that this particular ingredient was omitted from this sandwich. The broccoli salad was okay but not particularly impressive.
Kudos to Kelly’s Kitchen for the ingredients used in the Reuben. Everything was used in proportion, but I felt this particular build used less corned beef than the typical Reuben. The stack wasn’t as big as most Reubens I’ve enjoyed in the past. But it was still good to eat, grilled rye with a gooey mixture of cheese and sauerkraut. And the potato soup was superb – thick, almost with the consistency of white sauce – but with pleasant accents of green onion and melted cheese.
We had hoped for some Kelly’s homemade banana pudding for dessert, but their daily batch wasn’t ready yet, so we split a serving of Kelly’s Chocolate Pot (their version of the French creme pot dessert) for 3 $.49 and a homemade chocolate chip cookie for $1.95. Both were delicious, especially the chocolate custard, which was super rich and almost had a frothy texture.
Overall I was happy with Kelly’s Kitchen – not just the food but also the prices and employee interaction. I hope others (like me) will soon gain first hand experience with this quality local sandwich maker.
Address: 9355 Kingston Pike, Suite 15
No alcohol service
Hours: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Tuesday to Sunday
This West Knoxville restaurant takes a high-quality approach to creating its classic American sandwiches.