A winter’s feast by Chef Danny Wilhoit at the Avalon Country Club
The Avalon Country Club has relaunched T-Prime Steak & Seafood, the formal dining room in the clubhouse, which is nestled in the Avalon subdivision off Hickory Creek Road, just west of the Watt Road exit. T-Prime is open for dinner on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, along with Sunday brunch. A patio area outside the dining room looks out over the golf course. The 13-table dining room—with dark wood booths, banquettes along the walls, and a tray ceiling—has the classic, comfortable feel of your favorite steakhouse.
“The members of the club are ecstatic,” says Danny Wilhoit, who was recently hired as executive chef and food and beverage director after seven years at Bistro by the Tracks. His menu includes a Filet Mignon with red wine demi-glace and preserved lemon gremolata, a New York Strip Steak with thyme demi-glace and balsamic grilled onions, and a thick Bone-In Pork Chop. “It’s brined in rosemary, oregano, thyme, and apple cider vinegar,” says Wilhoit, “then grilled and served with a sweet pepper, jalapeno, red onion, and crawfish cream reduction. I like to show how something so simple can be elegant, delicious, and rich.”
The Airline Chicken Breast (Danny, may we suggest a name change here?) belies its name with aromatic thyme, garlic, and oven-roasted shallots. I love lamb, and the braised Leg of Lamb Risotto is a poem of arugula, pecorino Romano cheese, and a rich and smooth creamy sauce.
The Croque Monsieur’s Swiss cheese and ham is served with a luxurious bechamel sauce seasoned with toasted hazelnuts, parsley, and rosemary. Chef Danny’s secret? “With just a little sugar, it’s not overpowering,” he confided.
My wife and I often like to make a meal of starters or small plates and had plenty of options. The Italian sausage meatballs bathed in French onion broth, crème fraiche, basil, and toasted bread feature local Cruze Farm buttermilk. A real treat is the enormous Blackened Tiger Southeast Asian Shrimp with shallots, garlic, parmesan cream, and crostini. For the kale-curious, I recommend the kale salad, fresh from Zavels Family Farm in Corryton, brightened by carrots, purple cabbage, toasted almonds, craisins, cilantro, and a honey ginger vinaigrette.
Bistro by the Tracks patrons will remember Wilhoit’s carrot-hued hair and beard, evoking Wildlings leader Tormund Giantsbane from Game of Thrones. Wilhoit’s mother remembers him pulling up a chair in her Campbell County kitchen to watch her make dinner. As part of the culinary program at Campbell County Comprehensive High School, he took part in state and regional competitions. Three days after graduating from Johnson and Wales University in Charlotte, North Carolina, Wilhoit started at Bistro as a line cook, rose to line chef and then executive chef.
Working with Bistro’s elegant wine selection, he became a Level II Sommelier and a lover of fine Scotch and Whiskey. “I love the science of why things taste the way they do,” Wilhoit says. “It’s so much about the investment in the time that it takes to create a truly great product.”
In that spirit, bartender Cadye Long—a 23-year-old Jackson, Tennessee, native—has responded to patrons’ 19th Hole enthusiasm for artisanal creations with a “Champion’s Cocktails” list that includes a Peanut Butter White Russian (Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey, Kahlua, vodka, cream of coconut, and heavy cream), a Black Mojito (Black Patch Rum, agave syrup, lime, mint, and soda), and an Avalon Paloma (Los Vecinos del Campo Mezcal, grapefruit, lime, agave, and Sprite).
Even if you are not swinging an elegant shoe across the links at Avalon, do make time to stop by this season and treat yourself to a banquet worthy of the best at Winterfell.