Disappointed in Dillard
We recently got caught in a tourist trap, and I have come home from our trip, wanting to warn others.
We thought a stop at the Dillard House, Dillard, Georgia, would be a nice stop...family-style dinner and all. Well, the food was uniformly tasteless. The ham slices were tough and leathery, and our waitress said that that's the way they always are. We did not pass that comment on to the apparent house manager as she visited tables, but when we told her that our food was tasteless, she defended the resturant as having long-time recipes with very few complaints. Even after that conversation, the desert cobbler was cold. When we requested one that was warm, they were surprised that the first one was not. $20.00 is outragious for about the worst meal of our vacation. To my friends, the chowhounds, I warn you: AVOID the Dillard House!
Our experience was quite the opposite. The meal was good, smoked chicken, fresh fruit, etc. Way more food than 2 people could possiblly eat. Last year was our first trip and we are going back again this year for 2 days. They have a bbq cookoof there in Aug, if you had waited until then you have gotten some bbq.
I agree in general with the OP. Aside from the issue of how authentic country ham is "supposed" to be (I would change that to "typically is"), IMO the food there is all about quantity and not quality.
It's a huge place with a big parking lot, waiting benches, people milling around, etc. IIRC from a single visit (dinner), they almost literally dump about 20 different items on your table all at once and leave you to wade through it. Most of the veggies we had seemed canned, and most of the protein was dry. Herbs and spices seem to be unknown on the premises. It's a typical place that has a huge reputation among ordinary folks, think it's wonderful, and come in in droves. Offhand I know of no restaurant with that profile that turns out a worthwhile meal. And with all due respect to Becky above, I don't think it has anything to do with "Southernness," although of course everyone is entitled to his own take on what constitutes good Southern food. I have eaten much better Southern-style dishes than what I encountered there.
That said, I have heard breakfast is good there, but have not tried myself so can't say. At least a place like that has a better chance of turning out a good breakfast than other meals, so it might be worth a shot. In fact, maybe I'll try it and report, though it's really hard to go there for breakfast and thus preclude oneself from driving just a bit further to Henry's for some really good food starting at 11am.
Don't feel bad. You're not alone. We lived about 35 miles from there and we went there a couple of years ago and left feeling like we had just eaten a good majority of Green Giant's canned vegetables. For that price, there are too many other places to get better "southern" cooking IMHO. We haven't been back. No "Southern cooking" can command that price from me.
Thanks for the head's up, Ric. Sorry you had to be ginnea pig. A friend had told me that Dillard House was good, but Smith House in Dahlonega (same genre) was much better. We went to Smith House, it was ...OK. That made me scratch Dillard house based on his comparison.
As to Country Ham...it IS supposed to be a heck of a lot tougher and drier than "normal" ham. I'm southern, but I can't stand the stuff. It's the salt that gets me. I don't see how people eat it as a protein source. I HAVE learned over the years (because it gets served alot) that in tiny pieces, it makes an interesting condiment. Kind of like anchovies. A morsel of country ham on a jelly biscuit gives it a nice little salty/hammy edge. Otherwise...bleh. (please note I am not recommending anchovies on a jelly biscuit ;-)