Monday, March 10, 2014

Lunch in Pigeon Forge Tennessee

During the tourist season…which is becoming longer and longer as families discover all of the relatively reasonably priced attractions…we generally avoid the Sevierville-Pigeon Forge-Gatlinburg microplex.  Traffic can be horrendous and the wait for a table in the better restaurants can be challenging.

However on this mid-winter day we headed on over to Pigeon Forge to buy Laurie some boots and jeans for her new and ongoing horse related adventures… But, before shopping we stopped in at a well-known local restaurant for lunch.

This is the Old Mill Restaurant in Pigeon Forge.  I chose it for lunch because of the menu and because of its ratings/reviews on Trip Advisor.  This restaurant was rated #5 out of 136 restaurants in Pigeon Forge…with about 4.5 ‘stars’ out of 5 possible and an astounding 2,377 reviews!  It easily fit my goal of a 10:1 ratio of good vs. bad reviews with 2,064 Excellent or Very Good vs. 112 Poor or Terrible.

This was not an easy restaurant for taking interior photographs.  It’s spread out over several decks or levels…probably to maximize seating.
The restaurant is located right on the Little Pigeon River.  

This dark photo shows another example of the different levels throughout. There are 2 levels below ours and the folks seated way down below are right on the river…

This is a view of the river and part of Pigeon Forge from the deck just outside the restaurant…

The lunch menu is simple and easy to follow.  All 18 Southern Style lunch specialties are priced the same, ($10.49), and, as shown above these specialties include a cup of their Signature Corn Chowder, as well as corn fritters, homemade mashed potatoes and green beans.  We both thought that the chowder was good if not great…

Other soups and a handful of salads are available on the luncheon menu.  There are also 4 vegetarian offerings.  If you aren’t in the mood for a big lunch like the ones we ordered, there are 9 sandwiches on the menu.  They range from an American Burger at $8.49 to a Hot Roast Beef, Grilled Chicken, a Hot Turkey or a Country Ham Sandwich…all at $9.99.  With the sides that accompany these sandwiches, these choices probably end up being even larger than the lunch specialties… Sandwiches all come with the chowder, fritters and potatoes!

Our photo of the corn fritters just didn’t come out…way too blurry to publish!  However, they were excellent and I could have made a meal of them by themselves.  For some reason, our waitress also brought us these terrific biscuits as well.  We devoured them in short order!

Laurie went with the Southern-Style Pot Roast and Gravy.  It was good but not particularly distinctive.  There was certainly plenty of meat though…

Unlike the lunch menu, the dinner menu isn’t all one price for any of the categories offered.  The Southern Fried and Southern Style Specialties, the items From the Water or from the Grill range in price from $15.99 for the Southern Fried Beef Liver up to $24.99 for the Fried Shrimp or Catfish Combo.  Most dinners are in the $17.99 to $19.99 range and in addition to the sides included at lunch; they include a house side salad and a choice of the Old Mill’s Bakery Fresh Desserts.

I’m always looking for the best Southern (or northern or any) Fried Chicken.  The Old Mill’s version was pretty good…but it was a little bland and it was certainly not close to the best I’ve had.

The Old Mill Restaurant also serves Breakfast.  We love breakfast so we’ll have to give this a try at some point.  The Old Mill Country Breakfast ($7.99) comes with 2 eggs, small pancakes, their own stone ground corn grits, homemade biscuits, Old Mill Preserves, home fried potatoes and all the country sausage gravy you can eat!  Add $1.00 for sausage or bacon, $2.00 for pork loin or country ham…and $3.00 for the meat trio…sausage, bacon and country ham.

This building is located right next to the Old Mill Restaurant on the River.  This is actually the Old Mill for which this and the adjoining shops and restaurants are named.  As you can see on the front of the building, it dates back 184 years!

Isaac Love, (1783−1854), first established the iron forge for which the city was eventually named.  The complex included a furnace and water-powered trip hammer to smelt mold ore into iron bars.  Then Love erected the Pigeon Forge Mill as shown above in 1830.  On May 29, 1841, Love's son William established a post office, which he named "Pigeon Forge", after the mill and the small community that had developed in its vicinity.

This is a photo through a window inside the Old Mill showing part of the antiquated system that still gets the job done at the mill.  In the early days of Pigeon Forge, the mill was a key focal point of the community, producing the meals and flours that were critical to the town and the local settlers. 

The current flint granite mill stones, called French Buhrs, are only the 2nd set of stones used in the mill’s history.  When in use, they convert 1,000 pound of product each day! 

Part of the Old Mill has been converted into a store for tourists, which sells an assortment of knick knacks, souvenirs and food products, including meal and flour produced by the mill.  I liked this photo because it shows the character of the old plank floors.  The Pigeon Forge Mill, usually called the "Old Mill", has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Laurie took this photo of the Old Mill and the adjoining Old Mill Restaurant from the other side of the Little Pigeon River.  The giant water wheel of the mill is pretty distinctive.  It harnesses enough power to drive the mill’s 4,600 lb. millstones.  Another interesting fact is that the mill actually supplied electricity to the town of Pigeon Forge until 1935…

OK…back to the Old Mill Restaurant.  We’d give it a solid 3 ‘stars’.  The prices were reasonable, the service was decent and the food was plentiful and filling if not outstanding. The Old Mill Restaurant is located at 175 Old Mill Avenue…at traffic light #7 in Pigeon Forge on US Highway 441.  Phone: 865-428-0771.  Website:

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. Nice array of Southern food. Reminded me somewhat of Cracker Barrel, but with some real history to go with it. Thanks for taking us along. I enjoyed the history and the water mill.

  2. The Old Mill complex is interesting and a big tourist draw. After two trips I decided the Old Mill Restaurant was tourist food - okay but a little pricey for what you get. We liked the Pottery House better.

  3. Oh, I would eat a BIG lunch, that food looks so tempting, but I've just had dinner:) The pictures of the Old Mill are so interesting. I would love to try real Southern food.

  4. Man oh man what a lunch! :D I love good old southern comfort food. That looks like an awesome little place to visit!

    I cannot get over that last picture of the Pigeon River...that is just so cool. Thank you for bringing us along on your adventures Dave! It's always great fun :D

    Hugs to you and Laurie!


  5. Sounds like a good feast to me! And corn fritters, haven't had them in ages, now I'm hungry! Interesting with the mill and I was just telling Bill the other day, we should go to Pigeon Forge later this year!

  6. Sounds delicious David!! I love corn fritters look amazing!! I have to make some day!! xx

  7. Dear Dave, I love the character of the restaurant and the history. I bet I could have made a meal of the fritters too.
    Both meals look like a nice lunch. Blessings, Catherine