This is the Dinner Bell Restaurant. It's located in Tennessee, on the east side of I-75 at Exit 62 (TN Hwy 322) We're speculating that this long standing restaurant, (from the early 70's), was the model for Cracker Barrel. (i.e., a Gift Shop and Restaurant with southern style comfort food) The difference is that we don't like Cracker Barrel Restaurants...
We've eaten here twice now... The first time we had a late lunch. At the Dinner Bell, you can order from the menu or you can partake of the buffet. On this occasion, we went with the buffet. There are something close to 45 different items on the salad/soup bar! This is Laurie's plate full of salad bar goodies. It was all good!
Now...I just skipped the salad bar. I went for the the main course right away. Here I have some mashed potatoes with hamburger steak & gravy, a nice hunk of fried chicken plus some cheesy hash browns and a little sausage and kraut. It was all good...not gourmet by any means...but very satisfying! I made a second trip but I failed to take another photo. Price of the lunch-time buffet...how about $7.29!
As previously mentioned, we're always looking for a good breakfast! Our second trip to the Dinner Bell was focused on this critical meal. Laurie ordered the basic breakfast, two eggs, bacon, hash browns, biscuits and sawmill gravy. The eggs were done right...over easy...the bacon was very good and the hash browns were done right, with just the right amount of seasoning.
Being Yankees, we hadn't had much experience with 'sawmill' gravy. Laurie decided that she much prefers the white sausage gravy that we're used to. I agreed with her, although this gravy was OK with me. The biscuits were warm and they were very nice. Grits are available as is toast if preferred.
My breakfast was the same as Laurie's, the only difference being that I ordered sausage patties. It was all good! This basic breakfast cost $5.49 plus $1.59 for coffee. There is a breakfast buffet from 7 to 11 am. If I remember correctly, it cost $6.49. Note: Breakfast can be ordered all day long...just ask for the Breakfast menu. This is now our new East Tennessee Breakfast place...
Starting at 4 pm, there is a dinner buffet. The price is a bit higher...still insanely low at $8.79! We haven't tried dinner yet but as we understand it, the meat choices are upgraded and expanded. I'll provide an update on the Dinner Bell when we go for dinner... Note: This isn't gourmet cooking...it's down home cooking...basic 'vittles' at a really low price.
If you don't like buffets, then you can order from the menu. Examples include: Sandwiches from $2.99 to $5.79; a bowl of Pinto Beans with a vegetable and corn bread for $4.19; 3 biscuits with pork tenderloin and coleslaw or gravy for $5.99; Fried Chicken Dinner, with 2 breasts plus a potato or steamed vegetables AND the soup/salad AND dessert bar, for $8.79; 12-oz Rib-Eye Steak, with the same items as the chicken dinner...for $14.49. You can't eat at home for these prices...and the food is solid comfort food. More verification will be forthcoming...but so far, so good! The prices haven't changed since November of 2009.
The Dinner Bell is located at exit 62 on I-75. Address: 576 Oakland Road, Sweetwater, TN. Phone: 423-337-5825.