While visiting Monticello we were looking for a place to take a heat break. Almost bypassed this restaurant after reading some of the negative reviews. We were glad we did not. We thought the food was great, the service friendly and efficient, and the overall experience worth recommending. We were able to time our dining after the main lunch crowd departed so our wait was minimized. Yes, this place is a bit touristy (in a fun way) not of itself but because of its' convenient proximity to Monticello. You pretty much have to pass by it on the way. The establishment does not hide the fact that this is a southern cafeteria style buffet which has probably evolved to facilitate service to the masses within a limited space. Therefore, it is a mystery why some of the reviewers complain this is a cafeteria or buffet style of dining. Comparably, we also ate in Williamsburg with full service at nearly double the cost with similar ambiance but did not find the food quality necessarily any better. Our fried chicken was tender, tasty, and not over-seasoned. Perhaps a little pricey, we think it still offers pretty fair value given the location, offerings, and old tavern ambiance.
As for Southern cooking, well I grew up on the stuff and am still alive and kicking. Either you like it or you don't. And yes, though they use sugar and salt and fat, so do the European chefs last time I checked. I think it is more about volume, exercise, and exercising restraint. Everything in moderation... two trips thru the buffet line does not make it half priced or add value unless you are packing a saddlebag. And the stewed tomatoes (delicious) with cornbread are probably far more healthy than the very trendy bacon wrapped double cheeseburgers with supersized fries and diet(?) sodas so many people are willing to fill their families up with these days.
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