Sunday, August 12, 2007

Bell Buckle Cafe


As I prepared for my road trip, the night before my journey, I gathered up my camera, tennis shoes, cooler and began to check off things on my list so I wouldn’t be forgetful in the morning. One of my son’s friends “A” asked me where I was off to. “Bell Buckle, Tennessee”, I announced. “What is in Bell Buckle?” he questioned. “For one, the Bell Buckle Café”. “You mean to tell me, you are driving all the way to Tennessee to eat?” he exclaimed. “A,” I answered, “you couldn’t begin to understand, until you have been there”.
It is true. Another group of family members happened upon this place by taking a wrong turn several years ago. They were so impressed that they took me on their trip back. All of us have been going since. Bell Buckle is about a 3-hour trip from Birmingham (with many neat stops along the way). Bell Buckle is a small little town of several quaint shops, featuring antiques, arts, novelties, and quilts among other interesting items.
The Café is a “hole in the wall” restaurant. Bell Buckle Café has a menu that will satisfy anyone’s taste buds, even picky eaters. There is literally something for everyone, although in my opinion, if you go to Bell Buckle you cannot fully appreciate the experience unless you have a vegetable plate. It is hard to narrow down the choices to four (which is what comes on the veggie plate). Any true southern person can testify that this food can only be rivaled to that of one’s momma, who was brought up to cook in this manner.
For my vegetable plate selection, I chose the cucumbers and tomatoes, fried corn, fried potatoes and broccoli salad. I had a hard time limiting the choices to four, so I added an additional side of the blueberry salad. My meal came with a “hoe cake” or what some would describe as “fried cornbread”. I prepared to wash it all down with a glass of Bell Buckle’s specialty lemonade. I have to tell you, this experience to Bell Buckle Café was no different than any other. I was almost moved to tears by my meal. It was just that GOOD!!! I am talking, "hurt your feelings" kind of good. It is something that must be experienced to be believed.
Of all the sides I ordered, the blueberry salad was the most interesting. It was a jello consistency filled with blueberries, with a cream cheese layer topped off by pecans. Delicious! It could have easily served as a dessert. The cucumbers and tomatoes were fresh, in a vinaigrette base. The broccoli salad had broccoli, cauliflower, raisins and sunflower seeds in a mayo/vinegar dressing.
The others in my group echoed my feelings. They collectively tried the turnip greens, pickled beets; rosemary baked chicken, pot roast and chicken tenders. Everyone commented on the wonderful flavor of the fried potatoes. The fried potatoes are new potatoes, cooked in a skillet with onion. It is a true southern delicacy. I was so full by the end of my meal, that I had not saved any room for dessert (sinful). I should have known better, for the oatmeal cake with caramel topping is exceptional. It is not to rich and has the most wonderful flavor. I ordered a piece to take with me. When I got home, I shared it with my eldest son, whose eyes got as big as saucers after his first bite. He agreed it is to die for.
Many of the recipes used at the Cafe can be found in the Bell Buckle Café cookbook that is sold in the restaurant, or can be ordered by calling the restaurant. Also sold there, are things like t-shirts, marinades, secret spices and a dry mix of their wonderful lemonade.

The Bell Buckle Café is tiny, but somehow it manages to house a live radio show on Saturdays from 1-3PM. The radio show is featured on WLIJ-AM 1580, in the back of the restaurant. While eating, diners are treated to a fine selection of live musical guest and broadcast. There is Live Music on Thursday-Saturday. Songwriters’ nights are on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 6-8PM. Be certain to check the web site for featured singers, as well as special events.

Bell Buckle is located at 16 Railroad Square Bell Buckle, TN 37020
(931) 389-9693

Map your trip to Bell Buckle by using
Be sure to tell the staff at the Café that you read about Bell Buckle on my blog!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Leigh,

Wow! What a compliment! I didn't think anybody could cook like momma!!! I appreciate the nice things that you said on your blog, but mostly am honored that you took time to come visit our cafe!

Hope to see you again,

The Bell Buckle Cafe