It may be true that the Fox Road Marina isn't as big as some other notable docking spots, and its pleasures may seem simpler in breadth and depth than those offered elsewhere on the lake. But if you grew up in the country or are lucky enough to have experienced rural living, then you may remember the joys of the little country store and grill that was like an oasis in the desert.
Of course, this marina isn't that far afield, and there are plenty of nearby conveniences. Still, the place has the safe and homey feel that usually comes of being far away from the care, worry, and speed of the urban landscape. There's lots of greenery around this spot, and the lake is narrow enough here for the grove of trees on the opposite bank to contribute to a sense that you're comfortably and safely tucked into nature.
And you are safe in the hands of harbormaster Christopher King—he's one of those guys who always seems to be everywhere. One minute he's helping you buy a soda, and the next he's attending to the needs of any number of boats that float in his waters. He's also the guy who built the bar for the store grill and watering hole that's aptly named the Bamboo Bar. There's no tiki theme at work here—the bar top itself is made from bamboo that's supported by a base of shiny metal and reclaimed dock wood.
The menu at this low-key refuge offers food that's straightforward and unfussy. The meals are mostly served in reassuring little blue baskets—they're nostalgic remembrances of a more innocent time when worries were easily banished by a good burger with crispy French fries. The good news is that that's one of the many happy things you can find at the Bamboo Bar. Daniel Musser is the man behind the grill managing the timely appearance of the bar's selection of burgers, barbecue, chicken tenders, hot dogs, and fried bologna. You can also find breakfast all day long in the familiar form of omelets, French toast, hash browns, sausage, bacon and, best of all, made-to-order egg sandwiches.
You'll want to make the acquaintance of barkeep Shelby Courteny, who can supply you with access to the one of Knoxville's best selections of beer in cans. If you're troubled by the absence of glass, you really need to get out to a marina more often. And if you're not a beer fan, you can also celebrate in responsible-boater style with the bar's selection of Parrot Bay tropical drink pouches or any number of soft drinks.
The Bamboo Bar gives Saturday night visitors a little extra fun with live music from 6-9 p.m., but the simple pleasures of sitting on the deck in the very heart of God's country with a burger, a beer, and the light breeze that comes from the confluence of trees and water is a nice enough way to pass the time, any time of day.
The Bamboo Bar at Fox Road Marina
1100 Fox Road, 966-9422, themarinas.net/fox-road
Hours: Friday: 12 p.m.–9 p.m., Saturday: 9 a.m.–9 p.m., Sunday: 9 a.m.–6 p.m.