Fill 'er Up
Article and photos by Kathleen Walls
When you have a really
big hunger, nothing satisfies like an "all you can eat" buffet. Here are
some of the best I have found.
The front of Blue Willow
Blue Willow is a trip back to the days of Rhett and Scarlett. The
owner, Miss Billie a true southern belle herself, will personally
welcome guests to the stately Greek revival style mansion housing the
Built in 1917 by John Upshaw, the house frequently played host to
Margaret Mitchell who married Red Upshaw. For those of your GWTW
fans, you know that marriage did not last long.
Red is said to be the inspiration for Rhett Butler in the famed
a lot like The Blue Willow.
Blue Willow has been
named in the "Top Ten" by so many magazines and shows including, Southern Living, The Food Network,
CNN, and countless others.
If you haven’t eaten any of their ‘To Die For Southern Fried Chicken” or
fried green tomatoes, washed down with “Champagne of the South," their
special iced tea, run don’t walk to
Social Circle, Georgia
to remedy that unfortunate situation.
|This table is only a part of the meal at Dillard House. They
bring many different dishes to your table.
began in 1917 when Grandma Carrie and Arthur Dillard opened
their modest six room home in the tiny hamlet of
Dillard in Rabun County, Georgia to guests and began serving them
delicious home cooked meals. Their descendants still carry on the
tradition. The food is served family style and is sooo plentiful you
will be groaning when you leave. Their County Ham was chosen by Chef
Alton Brown on the Food Channel’s The Best Thing I Ever Ate.
Aside from the groaning
buffet tables, the servers fill your table with so many special dishes
there is hardly any room for your plate. You will always eat too much at
the Dillard House and enjoy every bite.
Adding to the pleasure
of the wonderful food the view is fantastic. Almost anywhere in the
restaurant, you have a wonderful view of the scenic Appalachian
The exterior of the Smith House
in Dahlonega, Georgia,
offers an endless supply of home-style food and has been snce 1922
when Henry and Bessie Smith purchased the home and began offering rooms
for rent and great home-cooked food in the former basement storage area.
While the food is tasty as you will find anywhere, the restaurant offers
a little tidbit of ancient gossip about a lost gold mine. You can even
look into the shaft of the old mine.
The gold mine legend
began with Captain Frank Hall, a Dahlonega businessman and entrepreneur,
who built Smith House. Stories that the old timers told said that Hall
struck gold while excavating the cellar and discovered a rich gold
bearing vein that was several feet wide and unknown depth.
However, city fathers
didn't relish a gold mine right in the middle of town so they refused
Hall the necessary permit to mine his find. Disgusted, Hall closed down
the mine, covered over the shaft with a slab of concrete and moved to
Atlanta. He never lived in the barely finished mansion or Dahlonega
From 1922 to 1946 people
came to the mansion for food and lodging and only the old timers
discussed the lost gold while they played checkers in front of the
general store. Then Smith's sold the home to Bill Fry, a local
businessman and mining enthusiast. Fry hired Fred Welch to manage the
restaurant. While his dad worked over the ledgers and took care of
business, Welch’s young son Freddy began to get interested in the old
legend. In 1970 Welch purchased the property from Fry and Freddy
eventually became and still is the owner of the business.
In 2006 Freddy Welch
began renovating the dining area. In the process, one of his workers
accidentally punched a hole in a patch of cement and discovered a shaft
under the cellar floor. Welch immediately suspected what he had found,
Investigation turned up a vertical fall of twenty feet the shaft ended
at a spot where two horizontal mine shafts came off - one in the
direction of the Gold Museum.
Today, you can view this
shaft near the dining room of the Smith House. Do this before you eat
because you will be too full afterwards.
The well filled table at Walnut Hills
Walnut Hills was the original
name of Vicksburg, Mississippi
before 1819. Walnut Hills the
restaurant has only been around since 1995. What it lacks in history, it
makes up historic recipes from the heart of Dixie. You will find fried
chicken and fried catfish, naturally. However they step out past the
traditional with items like an exquisite pork loin with molasses, apple
cider and sage.
You can sit at private tables
or choose the "round Table” and join fellow travelers in your feast.
Either way, the food can’t be beat.
Since I visited on
a press trip we sat at the round table and all pigged out. I could not
zip up my favorite jeans after that meal.
I blame that on the fried
chicken, roasted carrots, mashed potatoes, black eyed peas, cabbage,
sausage and a lot of other things I ate that day. Not only was food
plentiful, the quality was great as well. By the
time dessert arrived, I made a supreme effort and tried several
delicious items, banana pudding, caramel cake, pecan pie and coconut
cake to mention a few. That dessert menu rivaled a free trip to Heaven.
To make the "grab it before its gone" experience more
convenient, the large round tables are made with a special turntable in
the center. That way everything is in easy reach and no one has to stop
eating to pass the food.
Our smiling waitress kept the
turntable filled with goodies. Our glasses, although not sweet tea, were
kept filled. A bit of sweetener remedied that problem. Owner, Joyce
Clingam, has maintained the integrity of the 1880 home, originally built
by George Rodgers for his family home, while turning it into a crowd
pleasing dining spot. When you visit Vicksburg be sure to hike all
around the battlefield and work up an appetite. You will have it well
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