During our recent vacation to the Pigeon Forge Tennessee area we dined at some of the local restaurants as well as some chains. While the chains were about what we would expect, the local restaurants were where we were looking for something different, something with a local flair. We ate at The Old Mill and Mama’s Farmhouse to see how they handled southern cuisine and had two, very different, experiences. We also ordered carry out from Capelli’s Pizza & Subs one night which was a dreadful mistake. Let’s see how these restaurants fared…
Reviews Continued Below…
The Old Mill Restaurant Review
The Old Mill Restaurant is situated in the Old Mill Square area of Pigeon Forge. This area is built around, as you might guess, an old mill. The restaurant itself sits right on the river. Parking might be a bit of a challenge during busy times but we arrived early, about 6:00 PM, and didn’t have a problem. Parking is free though, which is nice for the area. The restaurant was a busy, active, place and you might get the feeling that you’ll be run over as you’re led to your table. The dessert and main kitchens are visible and, if you’re a fan of cooking reality shows like Hell’s Kitchen like we are, you’ll probably appreciate the view inside of what appears to be a well run kitchen. The staff was friendly and attentive. The atmosphere is a bit noisy and cramped while also being rustic.
The food at Old Mill Restaurant is quite good. I ordered the fried trout, my wife ordered turkey and dressing and my son ordered fried chicken. Veggies were served family style and consisted of mashed potatoes, green beans and macaroni and cheese. The meals also came with a garden salad and cornbread. The portion sizes were huge. I’ve seen other restaurants charge about the same price for portions that were about half the size. You won’t leave here hungry. The trout was excellent and the chicken and turkey were good as well. My son loved their macaroni and cheese and the green beans I’d rate above average. The mashed potatoes, unfortunately, were rather mediocre and had a grainy texture that might indicate instant, rather than fresh, potatoes were used. The pecan pie we had for dessert was good, but not great. I’m sorry, but it just can’t compete against my Grandmother’s pies. Also, we found the sweet tea to be lacking. I expect sweet tea at at a southern style restaurant to be almost syrupy sweet. Theirs, unfortunately, was barely sweetened at all.
Our bill for the three of us, including tip, was just over $80. This isn’t a particularly cheap place to eat but it’s worth the money.
All in all, eating at the Old Mill Restaurant was a good experience and I recommend it if you’re visiting the Pigeon Forge Tennessee area.
Mama’s Farmhouse Review
Mama’s Farmhouse was our other foray into southern cooking during our stay in Pigeon Forge. Unfortunately, this family style southern cuisine restaurant failed to deliver.
The atmosphere they strive for is a southern farmhouse and they do a good job at this from the tractor and silo out front to the white interior and wood floors with family pictures on the wall and slowly turning ceiling fans above. The friendly wait staff is dressed in overalls and pushes the food around in carts, something I find a bit questionable. The meals here are served as a family style buffet, meaning that large dishes are brought to your table and you serve your individual plate from them.
The full menu is brought to the table. The meal begins with vegetable soup. I found the soup to be good although my wife and son found it to be too peppery for their taste. The main entrées were fried chicken, country fried steak and roasted pork loin. The chicken was seasoned well and cooked right, retaining a juicy interior with a crisp exterior. The pork loin was kind of dry and bland with a brown gravy that reminded me of a grocery store jar gravy. The country fried steak was awful. It was burned and tough and covered with an awful gravy that had too much fat and celery. As for the veggies, the corn tasted like it had come out of a can and then popped in the microwave. The green beans were good. The mashed potatoes and pinto beans were, surprisingly, excellent. The macaroni and cheese had a vaguely institutional taste to it. And, to top it off, their sweet tea was terrible, not sweet with a funny tang to it. We had to order soft drinks to replace it.
For dessert we selected banana pudding, thinking that it would be hard to screw that up but boy, did they manage to pull that off. My initial reaction to it was “where’s the pudding?”. There was no pudding in this mess of dry cookie crust, banana slices and marshmallow fluff. It was awful. I don’t know where they learned this recipe but they need to bury it in the backyard and try again.
Each meal was a whopping $16.99 for a total of over $70 for the three of us including drinks and tip. When we considered that we could have gotten a better southern style meal at the local Cracker Barrel chain restaurant for about half the price, we found Mama’s Farmhouse very disappointing. I strongly recommend that you avoid this restaurant should you visit Pigeon Forge.
Capelli’s Pizza & Subs Review
One evening we didn’t want to go out so we decided to order delivery from a place called Capelli’s Pizza & Subs. This was a mistake. While the pizza and chicken wings were delivered quickly enough the driver would have probably done us a favor if he had lost his way. The pizza defined the term “a hot circle of garbage” and the wings were nearly raw. Awful, just awful. Fortunately, we had some snacks in the room to eat. Avoid this pizza delivery place when you vacation in Pigeon Forge.