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Tennessee

On a cold stormy night, waiting for the "Southern Snowstorm of 2009" to roll in, we decided that the nippy air merited a trip down to Chuckey to The Farmer's Daughter family style restaurant for some home cooking! Just because we travel from sea to shining sea with LivingHistorySites.com, does not mean we can't tell you about the wonders in our own backyard! So, we printed out a map and took off on the adventure of the weekend, hoping to get there before the storm really hit.

We had never been to The Farmer's Daughter, but we had heard from many different people how good it was. Our Sunday school class had taken a trip down there (yes, adult field trips and like all good Baptists - it was out to eat!). The class RAVED about how good it was, all you can eat, family style, and a myriad of words describing a phenomenal place.

So what IS a family style restaurant? A restaurant that serves you platters and plates of food, just like you do at Thanksgiving dinner at home. They will bring out the initial bowl of mashed potatoes and gravy, and if you want another, they happily bring out as many bowls as you want to eat. Ditto the meats, and all of the other items...so bring an appetite!

We had called ahead to see if we could get a reservation. They do not do reservations, unless for parties of 15 or more, but told us no one was there. By the time we got there, a mere half an hour later, it was PACKED!

I popped inside to put my name on a list and was amazed at the place. Warmly decorated with quilts, antiques, the country look, and mobs of people, I went up to the counter to officially get on the list to be seated. I was greeted by the warmest and most gracious smile, from a very busy lady. In a place that packed full of people, both inside and out, it was impressive!

We sat down to wait, on the long front porch, figuring it would be at least half an hour. It was like sitting at your neighbors house, welcoming with rockers, comfortable benches and warming lamps and stoves, and shielded for winter by see through plastic tarps. It was actually pretty comfortable for this Californian, even as the winds picked up for the storm ahead. In warmer months, the plastic is down, and the porch is filled with people and happy pots bursting with flowers.

A few minutes later, we were called inside! Woo hoo! Impressive!

Sarah, our smiling waitress came over and gave us basket full of freshly cooked sourdough rolls, a round of cornbread and a hunk of real butter. She explained that we could choose two meat items for our table of three. She would bring out all the side dishes we wanted, and as much as we wanted of the meat and drinks. The food is all you can eat and included in the price. At the end there would be dessert and coffee if we wanted.

We ended up with over 14 different bowls and plates!

We chose the Fried Chicken and the Country Ham as our two meats. Other choices on the menu were fish, BBQ ribs, steak n gravy, fried shrimp, and chicken livers. The Farmer's Daughter rotates about about 16 meat items. They prepare so many for the weekend and when they are out, they are out! The Fried Chicken was the most tender, succulent, delicious fried chicken ever. It was fried to a golden brown, hot, juicy and utterly scrumptious, we definitely got seconds on it! Utterly fantastic! The country ham was really good, sliced, salted and plain country yummy!

A great part of the fun at The Farmer's Daughter was the platter full of sides our waiter brought. We guessed at half of them, and kept asking what is this again, what is that? We had mashed potatoes and gravy, broccoli-n-cheese (Emily's favs), fried okra, cabbage, cole slaw (what KFC wishes it could be!), apple salad, simple creamed corn and soup beans that were mellow with tons of chunks of country ham. Cucumber salad which was slightly sweet like pickles

We were fascinated with the Cornbread Salad. It just seemed such a wise woman's dish. Have leftover cornbread? Turn it into a satisfying summer garden dish by adding tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, and I think mayonnaise. Doesn't sound that good, but it was great!

My favorite was the Carrot Souffle which was out of this world delectable, tender, sweet, creamy yumminess. I would never in a million years have thought it was good, and I ended up eating multiple servings.

We were too full for dessert, but tasted the berry cobbler a la mode, and the German chocolate pie anyway.

When was the last time you went to a restaurant where EVERYTHING on the menu was prepared fresh DAILY? No nasty MSG, canned food,or preservatives? When you ate just pure, delicious, country cooking? We tend to dread "country cooking" as we travel, because it all tastes like it is out of the same box, or the same can, no creativity, no love, just that homogenized, sameness that pervades so many restaurants today. What a delight to see a restaurant that works hard all week to serve homemade, fresh food on the weekends.

Every single person working at The Farmer's Daughter was helpful, genuinely smiled and went out of their way to serve others. It is a truly impressive crew!

I had a delightful talk with Dan, the owner, who took time out of his packed restaurant to chat with me excitedly for a few minutes. Dan is a wonder house of information. Dan is passionate about bringing the best food to his guests, and talked of peeling 500 pounds of carrots and potatoes, baking scores of pies and hundreds (thousands?) of rolls. In the winter, he scours the Asheville farmer's market for fresh produce, in the summer, he buys from the local farmers in the lush Nolichuckey River region. What a treat to go to a restaurant buying and serving locally grown food, supporting farming friends and neighbors.  His love for the restaurant business, good country cooking, mingled with the delights of childhood memories of great food growing up in North Carolina, all shine through in his restaurant now. Everything at The Farmer's Daughter is a labor of love!

What a wonderful treat The Farmer's Daughter is, a great experience for a foodie, at least once in their lives. It is no wonder that people drive up to Chuckey from all over, with many coming from VA, Asheville NC, and all over the Tri-Cities and Knoxville area for their delicious food! All I could think of is when are my parents, my brothers or someone from back home in California, going to come visit because we will definitely take them for a family style meal!

Serving home style dining meals

  • Fridays 11:30 a.m. - 8:30 p.m.
  • Saturday 11:30 a.m. - 8:30 p.m.
  • Sunday 11:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

The Farmer's Daughter Restaurant

7700 Erwin Highway

Chuckey, TN 37641

423-257-4650

Wouldn't you know it, we did not even get a DROP of snow that stuck. Atlanta got inches of snow, parts of Alabama got 8 inches and the oldest town in Tennessee awoke to wintery green fields without any snow. A few miles up the road, snow aplenty. Go figure!

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