One of my favorite Dollywood originals, Aunt Granny’s Restaurant, has been “re-cast” this year. It’s all thanks to a delicious new menu and the involvement of another of my favorite family traditions – the iconic cast-iron from another great Tennessee company, Lodge Manufacturing Company.
I’ve been spending time at Dollywood and eating delicious food there since the park opened in 1986. That first season, Aunt Granny’s and its All-You-Care-To-Eat Buffet quickly became a favorite place to dine with its delicious assortment of Southern favorites. The other thing I’ve always loved about Aunt Granny’s is how it got its name from the nickname Dolly Parton’s nieces and nephews call her. Makes it feel like you’re eating right in Dolly’s kitchen!
Most times, when a place says they’re giving something I love a “re-do,” I start worrying. Why change a good thing, my grandma used to always say. So it was with a little trepidation that I stepped through the doors of this beloved eatery, a Dollywood original that holds so many memories for me and my friends and family.
Silly me! What I found in the “new” Aunt Granny’s has been a delight to both my appetite and to creating new happy memories. While it’s still a buffet, it feels more like a special family meal at my Grandmother’s table when I was little – everything I could possibly want on my salad; Southern-style vegetables from black-eyed peas, mashed potatoes, green beans, and macaroni and cheese; and delicious fried chicken, carved turkey and pork sliced to order by a host who made me feel like I was in a family dining room.
And then there are the desserts – fabulous is only the first word that comes to mind! Again, Southern favorites abound among the sweet treats – banana pudding, apple pie, brownies and ice cream, and my childhood (and adult!) favorite, rice krispy treats. I could almost feel the warmth of my Grandma’s house when sitting among good friends to share a meal – true comfort food in one of my favorite settings.
One of my other favorite memories from my grandmother’s house is baking cornbread and frying chicken and making other favorite foods in her cast-iron cookware. There was nothing that didn’t taste better when it was cooked in one of those iron skillets, seasoned with use and lots of love. Having Lodge cookware serving up some new favorite foods in Aunt Granny’s made everything taste better to me, bringing back warm thoughts of childhood and leaving me hoping that cooking with cast-iron will be introduced to a new generation at Aunt Granny’s. Not only are the delicious Southern favorites on the menu cooked and served up in Lodge’s cast-iron, but the cookware graces the walls of Aunt Granny’s along with décor that again reminds me of happy family occasions from years gone by.
So I’ve changed my mind about changing old favorites – at least as far as my favorite Dollywood eating spot is concerned. The menu combines tasty new treats with food favorites for my perfect theme park meal. Don’t miss making another great memory on your next Dollywood day by sampling the new deliciousness of Aunt Granny’s restaurant and the extra flavor being served up with all the great Lodge cookware. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going back for another dessert. Anyone else want a side of banana pudding with your apple pie?