Monday, July 27, 2009

Highlight #196: Small town charm - Restaurant: Smith House (Dehlonega)

Spending this past weekend without the darling husband really made me miss our fun day trips. It's simply impossible not to have a good time with the man when he is the kind to suggest a large bowl of ice cream right before dinner. With folk music in the background, lazy late afternoon sunlight on our faces, it was easy to imagine living a quiet small town life during our recent trip to Dehlonega.

After ice cream, we were hungry for salty stuff and headed to the subterranean Smith House inside a large residence that also is the site of a deep gold mine, which can still be viewed through protective glass in a room next to the dining hall.

Food is served family style here. Arriving at 7pm, we were considered late diners (the place closes at 8pm) and got to start a brand new table. As soon as we sat down, we were asked by the super nice server to order our drinks. No sodas or alcohol here, just variations of ice tea and lemonade. While we waited for our sweet tea, a basket came hot with dinner rolls and cornbread. The cornbread was crusty and salty in the proper southern way.

Then some company arrived at our table. A jolly party of four retirees enjoying life away from the city. They were funny folks and got us laughing quickly. I still remember one joke that came up after a short discussion of whisky between one of the older gentlemen and my husband. "My uncle drank so much in life, when he was cremated, the fire burned for three days before it could be put out." Doesn't sound so funny now, but it was seriously laugh worthy at the time.

Then our food came on a big cart and everyone got down to serious business. There were large platters of fried chicken, fried okra, green beans, sweet potato, mashed potato, Brunswick stew, collard greens, country ham, and a bunch of other stuff I can't recall now. The photo shows but a very modest first plate that I gathered in an attempt to pace myself. There was so much food, modesty soon went out of the window. My definitely not food focused husband was the first to comment on how good everything tasted without excess use of butter or other grease. In fact, nothing was overly salted either. It just all felt fresh and wholesome, like eating at my mom's house, even though my mom cooks nothing but Chinese, the philosophy of clean cooking is most certainly the same.

Even though we've already had dessert, who can say no to warm yellow cake topped with fresh strawberry sauce and homemade soft serve? Unlike most strawberry sauces, the berries in this one were not cooked to obliteration and still retained texture. The slight tartness was super with the soft serve. The yellow cake was decidedly simple but quite eggy, the way I like it.

The sun was still out when we finished, perfect for enjoy a bit of quiet time on the porch rocking away.

The Smith House
84 South Chestatee Street
Dahlonega, GA 30533

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