Monday, June 17, 2013

Dining in an English/American Historic Village

We moved down to East Tennessee almost 4 years ago and most of our local exploration has been limited to back road adventures south and west of Knoxville.  We’ve only visited the north valley or the Cumberland Plateau a handful of times.

One of the places we repeatedly discussed that we’d like to explore is the historic old English-American settlement of Rugby Tennessee.  It’s on the plateau north and a bit west of Oak Ridge…right at the south edge of the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. (More on historic Rugby itself in an upcoming blog)
The simple fact is that when we arrived in Rugby it was time for lunch!  

Rugby is fairly isolated and the Harrow Road Café is the only restaurant in town.  It was built in 1985 in the fashion of the historic structures that comprise the historic homes and buildings in the town. 
Trip Advisor has posted 18 reviews of the restaurant to date…with 17 ‘Excellent’ or ‘Very Good’ comments and only 1 comment that was rated ‘Terrible’. I generally like these kinds of odds when I’m looking for a restaurant in Trip Advisor. 

Laurie took 3 or 4 photos of the inside of Harrow Road Café.  It has a clean, bright and airy dining area with the beams and wood giving it a faux English feel… The restaurant seats 80 diners.

My luncheon entrée came with a dinner salad.  It was perfectly adequate while the blue cheese salad dressing was truly excellent! 
One disappointment was the rolls… The dinner rolls that our waitress gave us were warm and they were pretty good…but the menu made a big deal about the ‘spoon rolls’ that are served with the meals.  These were definitely not ‘spoon rolls’.  Maybe you had to ask for them…or maybe they’re only served with dinner?  More likely, they hadn’t made any on the day of our visit.  You can find a recipe for these spoon rolls at

We both decided to go with the English themed items on the menu.  I ordered the ‘Bangers and Mash’.  I was very happy and pleasantly surprised with the ‘mash’ portion of my luncheon.  Basically, it was a fried potato patty that contained cabbage and then it was covered with dark brown gravy.  It doesn’t look too great but it worked just fine…very tasty indeed!
I’ve had English ‘bangers’ before and this sausage wasn’t anything like a ‘banger’.  It was a small link of Polish Kielbasa, sliced in half and fried.  It was OK but it wasn’t English and it also was what I would call a small portion.  My doctor would have approved of its size…    

Laurie ordered the ‘Fish and Chips’ with cole slaw.  The slaw and the ‘chips’ were OK but the fried fish just didn’t hit the spot.  It was edible but it tasted a little fishy.  We’ve had far better in many other restaurants.
Other English items on the menu include Welsh Rarebit…something I ate a lot of with my Scottish stepfather when I was a teenager…and Shepherd’s Pie, another of his standard favorites.  Beyond the English fare, there are quite a few of the usual sandwiches and entrees to choose from.

Laurie and I were tempted by the dessert menu and we settled on spitting a slice of buttermilk coconut pie.  It just didn’t make it for us.  It was cold…even at room temperature it would have been better.  Perhaps this pie is supposed to be served cold, in which case we’ll skip it in the future. 
Our waitress was nice…pleasant and efficient.  The food was OK if not great.  The price was OK too…$21.55 before our tip.  We would give it 3 stars or ‘dots’ in our review.  The Harrow Road Café currently has 4 stars in Trip Advisor.  It is the only choice in town and it’s a pretty significant drive to an alternative dining location.  You can check out the reviews in Trip Advisor at:
The Harrow Road Café is located on Tennessee Highway 52/Central Avenue in Rugby.  The actual address is 5545 TN 52.  Phone: 423-628-2350.  I couldn’t find a website for the restaurant.  The restaurant is operated by the Historic Rugby non-profit organization…
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. I love the fish and chips that ate Laurie :))
    always love that she ate! ha! but all look amazing!
    Hope you had a lovely fathers day!!

  2. Dear Dave, It sounds like a disappointment at best.
    I don't like when places think that people don't know good food or what it should taste like.
    Blessings, Catherine

  3. never heard of a banger before...sounds kind of fun!

  4. Dave,Nice review.

    Thanks a lot for your comment on my blog about the post Kodanad, the land of elephants, I feel honored.

    Please visit often my blogs and feel free to write comments.

    Nice to hear that there is a Rescue center for elephants in the USA. Hope you will blog about it asap.

    Since the ban on elephant capture in 1970 by the Government of India, Kodanad became a training center for rescued elephants. The place is included in the ecotourism centers by the Government.


  5. I don't know why all these old post are here but the Harrow Road Cafe is not worth the price or the wait for less than average food. Bad service and limited menu. Bland food and very slow to serve. Not worth the time it takes to get food to the table or the high prices.