Mother's Day weekend we went to the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge, Tn area to take the RV for a mini test vacation. The noteworthy places we ate were: Dixie Stampede, The Apple Barn, and the Bear Creek Grill.
The Dixie Stampede is a great place to take the family for a fun evening. They also have a location near Myrtle Beach, SC now. Where else can you eat with your hands in the dark while horses go thundering past? The best part of the meal in my opinion is the creamy vegetable soup they start with. The flavor is fabulous. A whole chicken, a slice of pork, a slice of roasted potatoe, and corn on the cob followed, with an oversized fresh warm apple turnover to finish. You can choose between sweet tea, Pepsi, or water to drink. Sophia's eyes got as big as saucers when the stage slowly dropped with the "princesses" singing in sparkly dresses. They now sell their soup mix in the gift shop, so we can recreate the most flavorful part of our experience at home. Yum!
The AppleBarn Cider Mill and General Store is an apple orchard on a hill by a river that has grown into two restaurants, a winery, an apple-themed gift shop, a Christmas shop, a homemade candy store, and an ice cream shop. I ordered the farmhouse trio which turned out to be three of their best-selling chicken dishes-fried chicken, chicken pot pie, and chicken and dumplings. Lunch was served with real, creamy mashed potatoes and fresh corn. The best thing on the menu in my opinion are the apple fritters with apple butter that are served as you wait for your entree. The apple butter was spiced with cinnamon and orange zest, which gave it a wonderful depth of flavor.
The Bear Creek Grill was an interesting place we pulled into for dinner on our way out of Gatlinburg. It is an old wooden building on stilts over a creek. Water runs off of the metal roof, creating a cascading waterfall in front of the windows. It used to be the Old Mill Trout Farm, and trout is still their specialty. Joel ordered the crab-stuffed trout, which was delicious. My fried catfish was classic, but not especially noteworthy. The coleslaw was extremely bland, tasting like sawdust flavored with a little onion and vinegar. The hush puppies were dense and heavy. The crunch on the outside was good with just a hint at sweetness. The best part of the meal was their starter salad: fresh mixed greens with green olives, julienned carrots, purple cabbage, cucumber, shredded cheese, a couple of slices of red onion, and cherry tomatoes. The restaurant was an interesting study in contrasts: high end mountain folks, shorts and jeans in a semi-formal setting, good quality service to noisy customer groups. The setting was definitely more memorable than the food.