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Trip report - dining reviews, lodging

Saint Paul...
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Trip report – dining reviews, lodging

My wife and I recently returned (late October) from a wonderful trip to Nashville and the Smoky Mountains.

This is our Smoky Mountains Trip Report including comments on dining, and lodging. I have posted the Nashville report in that forum.

This was our first visit to the Smokies and we loved it!

This report includes reviews of the restaurants where we dined and a review of our accommodations.


We stayed at a wonderful, one bedroom cabin located in Wears Valley on Cove Mountain. The cabin was very modern with all of the conveniences you would hope for – plus more. The cabin had gorgeous views of the valley, had a fireplace, pool table and an outdoor hot tub.

The cabin was clean and the owner was always helpful and promptly replied during the entire rental process.

You definitely need a car to get here, but don’t let the steep hill or sharp turn up the mountain dissuade you. If you want a view – you’ve got to get above the clouds!

My only complaint was that the charcoal grill could have been nicer. It was one of those that you might find in a park picnic area rather than a Weber or gas grill.

We like grilling out and that grill was not very good at cooking food and was difficult to load with charcoal.

We would certainly return to this wonderful cabin.

Below are two links to the cabin:

http://www.vrbo.com/147247 and https://www.facebook.com/EaglesViewCabin

In an reply to someone’s earlier post, I commented about the grocery shopping. I thought I would list those comments here as well…

The cabin’s location was almost exactly between Townsend and Pigeon Forge. So, as far as distance, IGA or Kroger is about the same. However, the drive to Kroger is quicker because the road has many less turns.

The Kroger is at the edge of PF so you never have to get into the heavy traffic.

We thought Kroger was very nice, but we only went there for a couple of things.

We actually used the Smoky Mountain Grocery delivery service and for $30, that was GREAT. We could tell them exactly what we wanted and they delivered up to the cabin and all was waiting when we arrived.

We ordered everything from them – milk, steak, charcoal, bread, extra TP, etc.

They deliver it in a refrigerated truck. So, nothing begins to thaw as you drive back from town and it saved about an hour of shopping time on our first day. Money well spent. They were very friendly and responded quickly to emails when we were planning the trip.

Restaurant/dining comments - these are also posted on Trip Advisor in the restaurant section.

Since we rented a cabin, we ate most meals at the cabin, but ventured out to two great restaurants.

We ate one night at the Dancing Bear. It is a restaurant in the Dancing Bear lodge. We did not have reservations here and when we arrived they seemed to indicate that we would have to wait because they were full. There were a few tables open that we could see, but they said those were reserved for guests of the lodge. They did find a table for us in about 10 minutes – while most of those other tables remained empty during our entire dinner.

After a slow and inhospitable start, I was not too excited about the meal, but I am glad to say I was wrong. They have a seasonal menu that has some Southern style dishes as well as some great game choices. I ate the catfish, which was melt in your mouth delicious, and my wife had the duck breast. She only chose the duck because the menu selection was very small and she did not care for any of the other items. Well, she is not a huge duck fan, but said this may have been the best duck she ever had.

They may have one of the larger wine menus in the area and we found a nice, reasonably priced wine. While the wine was good, the wine service was horrible. This literally must have been this young woman’s first or second time at serving wine!

The table service by the same woman was also slow and inattentive - again, I think she was very new.

The décor here is very warming and can be very romantic – especially if you get a seat by the fire.

Not a cheap meal ($150 with two entrees, two appetizers, one dessert and one bottle of wine), but definitely worth it.

All in all, an excellent meal.

On another night, we had dinner at Miss Lily’s Café. What a lovely, quaint restaurant. All of the staff here were warm and welcoming. It almost did feel like someone named Miss Lily was inviting you to her home for dinner.

The menu had a number of selections, but not many of the “typical” Southern dishes such as fried chicken or catfish.

None the less, we had an excellent meal. My wife had a half rack of ribs ($14) that were very good – fall off the bone in a nice sweet – not too tangy – sauce.

I had the Smoky Mountain Trout cakes ($18) which were rainbow trout and lump crab mixed together – a unique combination.

My sides of baked beans and chowder were very good. They have a small, but reasonably priced wine list.

An excellent meal and great value.

Townsend, Tennessee
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for Townsend, Great Smoky Mountains National Park
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1. Re: Trip report – dining reviews, lodging

Glad to hear about your enjoyable vacation. You may have had one of the last meals at the Dancing Bear before it was completely destroyed by fire on 14 November. There are plans to re-build, so maybe by the time you return you can enjoy the newly rebuilt location. Next trip, also try Elvira's Cafe on the left as you are leaving Wears Valley heading into Townsend. If you enjoyed Miss Lily's, you will love Elvira's for their breakfasts. Cathead biscuits, sausage gravy, country ham, apple smoked bacon, oh my.

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for Sevierville, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge
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2. Re: Trip report – dining reviews, lodging

I am also glad to see you had a good time. Loved reading your report.

I love that cabin!!!

I talked to the owner this afternoon about renting it. Super nice lady and answered all my questions. Thank you so much for posting the link to the cabin. It sure did help. We were looking for a cabin with an outdoor fireplace,but the views from that cabin more then make up for it.

Phoenix, Arizona
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3. Re: Trip report – dining reviews, lodging

Wow, that is horrible news. I had not heard anything about the fire.

I had just suggested that a family member come down from Louisville, and stay at Dancing Bear, to meet up with us at Blackberry Farm. Gotta' get a quick e-mail off to them, and let them know to look elsewhere.

Thank you for the H/U.

Phoenix, Arizona
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4. Re: Trip report – dining reviews, lodging


Sounds like a nice vacation.

As to the dining at Dancing Bear, the dinners are first for the guests, just like the sister-property, Blackberry Farm. Though, Dancing Bear often has more possible openings, than BBF.

What often happens is that a guest will book a time, then arrive later, than was scheduled. We see that happen often at BBF. As the lodge must accommodate their guests first, it CAN be tough on those only dining on the property. Most nights are fully booked at BBF, but then I believe that they give any openings first to guests at Dancing Bear.

This is also how it works at some other, similar properties, such as The Inn at Little Washington, Meadowood, Gravetye, Le Abbaye du Bussiere and The Bath Priory. Dinner times are only available, after the guests have booked their time.

As we have always been guests at those properties, we've never faced trying to make walk-in arrangements.

Townsend, Tennessee
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for Townsend, Great Smoky Mountains National Park
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5. Re: Trip report – dining reviews, lodging

Bill, if you are looking for an alternative to the Dancing Bear, Grace Hill is located between Townsend and Wears Valley: http://www.gracehillbandb.com/ Smaller for sure and a B&B, but a beautiful property and similar level of service.

Phoenix, Arizona
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6. Re: Trip report – dining reviews, lodging

Thank you for that rec.. As it turns out, the family members will not be heading down to Walland/Townsend this trip.

We will try to coordinate with them for our Oct/Nov BBF trip, and as we will not have a wine/food event, taking most of our time, we could actually see them.

Still bummed about Dancing Bear, but will talk to Sam Beall and his crew, about their plans for the property. Thanks for that H/U too.

Packing, and getting into a BBF "state of mind."

7. Re: Trip report – dining reviews, lodging

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