On The Road: Two Palate Dining: Dollywood’s Miss Lillian’s Chicken House
She Said: Miss Lillian’s Chicken House
I have a really hard time eating at theme parks. Since picnics aren’t easy to do in your one- hundred degree sun- warmed car sometimes they are your best option. We usually go to Dollywood several times a year and this year we’ve decided to try more in the park food to see if there are any good places to eat. So far this experiment is not going very well. We’ve found pretty mediocre food at a fairly expensive price.
On our most recent trip we decided to eat Miss Lillian’s Chicken House (I have eaten there twice ever, the last time was when I was 11). I really wanted to like it because it reminded me of the first time my parents ever took me to Dollywood when I was 9. I also adore Miss Lillian who opens the show for Country Crossroads (which is next door). She’s also a roving character in the restaurant who’s an absolutely talented and adorable lady to boot. She makes up songs on the fly about guests and always has fun chicken props. She’s awesome and I always make time to see her on every trip.
Miss Lillian’s is cute enough from the outside and it always makes me feel like a little girl. I love the outside. It’s decorated on the inside in typical cute country fashion, too. The tables were okay clean although the vinyl tablecloths are really stained with bright pink (from strawberry goo in the shortcakes) and it made me uncomfortable. It used to be a cafeteria-style eatery but now it’s a buffet. That sounds like it wouldn’t be weird but is. There are people (I know one) who went back for seconds and ended up having to stand in line with the people waiting to pay. I say just make it cafeteria again it’s what the space needs. Tell everyone they can get what they put on their tray one time through if you don’t want to price out individually.
The food, ugh, it’s pretty bad. I really wanted some vegetables. Whenever we visit East TN I’m always in the desperate pursuit of raw vegetables, it’s so hard to find healthy options in most places there. The salad mix was limp and pretty warm. The carrot sticks were fuzzy and dry. And the cucumbers tasted like onions because they were lying on a plate together. You can’t do that. Cucumbers are delicate. They will absorb the strong onion flavor and then they are ruined! The chicken was pretty good. Both the rotisserie and the fried chicken were juicy and tasted like real meat. The mashed potatoes were lumpy and strangely ambiguously spicy. The biscuits were tough and bland. I hated the baked apples because they were too hard and didn’t have enough cinnamon.
I can’t imagine ever being forced to eat here again. I hate having to eat stuff that isn’t actually good. I think a lot of times we go through life thinking that we should just eat whatever isn’t crawling with maggots. That’s really silly. Of course sometimes we have to eat what we have on hand or what someone gives us. I’m going to try and stay committed to eating only what tastes delicious. I want to try and eat lots of different places but that may mean sometimes I walk away from the table hungry. I wish I had done a better job at Miss Lillian’s’ (why did I eat the biscuit with butter- it wasn’t good so I shouldn’t have ate it). Pushing back from meal that’s bad will save me some effort on losing weight and keep my body free from extra preservatives (save on those were you can). Maybe in encouraging others to not put up with bad food we can all work together to improve the quality of food we are served! Let’s all remember to speak up politely and suggest ways to improve things. If we all just keep eating the crap they foist on us it will never get better. But, food quality might get better if we speak up!
Rating- 2 ( The chicken itself was fine and I love Miss Lillian)
He Said: Miss Lillian’s
I really don’t like amusement park food. Bad burgers, and frozen pizza, and even worse buffets. Miss Lillian’s in Dollywood is a touch above all that. It’s not five star dining, but it definitely is a palatable lunch in the middle of a theme park.
The entrees were all very tasty. The fried chicken was crunchy on the outside and the meat was moist and tender on the inside, just as it should be. The roasted chicken is similarly better than you would expect. The Salisbury steaks taste good, but the pieces are a little small. Hold on a second, that’s actually chicken livers. I’ve never had chicken livers before! The fried variety served here were chewy, but in a way where I could see myself eating these on the couch like they were popcorn shrimp. I thought I’d hat them, but they were probably the high point of the meal. The real Salisbury steak is good too, but not very memorable.
The sides were good, but not as good as the main courses. The corn was very buttery. The green beans had a decent flavor from the ham chunks cooked in them, and the mashed potatoes were light and fluffy. The macaroni salad was above par, but the vegetable salad clearly came out of the bottom of a bag of mix, and didn’t look good. It would have been nice if they’d had more salad dressing. The day we ate there one employee joked that the dressing choices were ranch and ranch. That was really disappointing. The biscuits were buttery and satisfying, but now that I’ve had Kari’s biscuits again there is clearly no comparison. Hers are sooo much better.
The desserts were sweet and hit the spot, but for the life of me I can’t remember what I actually ate for dessert.
My least favorite thing about Miss Lillian’s is how they handle how you get your food. The first go around is fine. You go through the buffet line and grab whatever you want. You get to the register, pay for your meal, and they mark the receipt so that you can show it to the cashier if you come back for seconds. Here’s the problem, the entrance to the buffet itself is outside, so if you want seconds you have to go all the way out side and wait in the line with everyone who’s on their first time. It took me forever to get seconds.
This place works well in the theme park setting, but I don’t know if I’d go back if it was on it’s own.