DILLARD, Ga. — The desert bar caught my eye as I walked into the dining room. “I can’t wait for that,” I thought to myself.
The waitress told my companion and me we could help ourselves to some soup, cheese and crackers while we waited for the hot food to arrive. Never one to pass up an opportunity, I placed a few slices of cheese and some deviled eggs on my plate. I added some chili to the mix.
We returned to the table to see the waiter and a waitress placing the hot food on the table. At a cost of only $15.95, this Smörgåsbord has to be one of the best deals going — it’s a virtual sit-down buffet, as the restaurant’s staff will happily bring you as much as you can stand to eat.
There must have been 12 million calories on the table before us, from country ham to ribs to fried green tomatoes. All the major Southern food groups were represented here: fried, butter, salt and sugar.
Seriously, there were enough dishes for a half dozen people, but this spread was for two. Come hungry is good advice, but it hardly prepares one for the size of this meal. But, all kidding aside, this is a great introduction to Southern cooking for anyone who may be unfamiliar with it, and a great meal for anyone looking for the real thing. Just be prepared to take a nap afterwards.
The folks at The Dillard House wouldn’t have it any other way.
The Dillards’ ties to the region date to the late 18th century, when Capt. John Dillard was granted 1,000 acres – a reward for his service in the American Revolution. To make peace with the local Cherokee Indians, Dillard, the story goes, traded a number of items, including a jug of apple brandy, a coonskin cap, a muzzle-loading rifle, and $3 cash.
Starting in the early 20th century, Arthur and Carrie Dillard opened their house to boarders, marking the start of what would be a long tradition of hospitality. In the 1950s, the family expanded the restaurant and added a hotel. Over the years, a number of well-known people have stopped in for a meal, including Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Walt Disney. Today, the Dillard House is a full-fledged resort, offering the true country experience in addition to a warm place to stay and a filling meal.
The House is located along U.S. Highway 441 in the Little Tennessee River Valley in the Blue Ridge Mountains and two miles from the North Carolina border. The location is beautiful and far away enough from civilization to let you forget about the worries back home for a few minutes.
After the epic meal, the grounds are the perfect way to walk off a few calories and delay the inevitable drive back home.