The Sampler at

Brown County Inn’s
Harvest Dining Room

As a professional diner, I am often asked where to take a loved-one to dinner. Having dined many times with many family members at the Brown County Inn’s Harvest Room, the restaurant is often first to come to mind.

Located three blocks south of downtown Nashville, the rustically-appointed hotel features a large dining area loaded with old antique implements, doo-dads, and thing-a-ma-jigs. My wife and I like to study and wonder what some of them might possibly have been used for.

The atmosphere is one of good old-fashioned charm. It’s the kind of place you could take your mother to, if you were so lucky. And luckily, the Harvest is offering a Mothers Day breakfast or dinner buffet that is mind-bogglingly good: carved roast beef, Hoosier Ham, vegetable lasagna, fresh Atlantic salmon, roasted garlic-peppered chicken breasts and, as we say in the country, “all the fixin’s.”

As we waited to place our order, my kitchen companion observed a nearby table, crowded with an extended-family party of at least 20 people. “That waitress is workin’ her butt off!” she offered. We began to observe the wait staff, and marveled at their skill and speed, not to mention the raw strength of hoisting huge, loaded platters up on their shoulders and carrying them out to hungry diners.

There are many elements essential to the satisfying dining experience. The food, of course, and the setting are important, but when dining out, service is certainly a key component of a good meal out.

We noticed that all the waitresses on the floor that night were seasoned veterans. The service was excellent. And I began to think about how important this vital link between the kitchen and the customer really is.

I have a theory.

Since cooks are by nature surly, aloof, stubborn and overbearing (it goes with the territory). Some restaurant genius back in the primitive dawn of public dining figured out that the best thing was to separate the cook and the patron as much as possible—in separate rooms, or, if possible, separate buildings. The problem is, diners demand their vittles “hot from the stove.” And that’s where an efficient waitress comes in.

She is the invaluable mediator between the kitchen and the customer. She (or he) is the diner’s advocate back in the deep inner workings of the kitchen. The waitress is on your side.

The full dinner menu offers everything from Walleye Pike to Fettuccini Alfredo, a simple strip steak to elegant Chicken Oscar, a platter of fried chicken and baby back ribs to smoked pork chops that are really something special.

I was about to order a steak when my waitress pointed out one of the specials of the day—a tender, succulent pork roast with mashed potatoes (or rice) and a choice of vegetables. It arrived at the table piping hot and delicious—a huge hunk of meat with everything that makes it a meal, including a house sauce of what appeared to be horseradish and apple sauce.

My dining partner loved her dinner combo of some huge, giant butterflied shrimp and tender barbecue ribs, and we each added the soup and salad bar.

She pronounced it “So good I will be back to have it again!”

Along with such traditional favorites as bacon and cheddar burgers, lasagna, and catfish, you can also get deep-fried jalapeno peppers filled with cream cheese, chicken teriyaki on long grain and wild rice, or a filet mignon served with bacon-onion sauce.

The desserts are also not to be missed, with homemade cobblers, Heath Bar crunch pie, and rich carrot cake, just to mention a few.

Our waitress was friendly, efficient, and a marvel of gustatory attendance.

As I toyed with my dessert and contemplated my coffee I refelected on the nobility of the wait profession. Perhaps these people are the very backbone of civilization, mediating, as they do, unwise encounters between kitchen staff and customer.

They are the very warp and woof of the fabric of public dining, and they deserve every nickel they earn with their attention and perseverance.

I realized, in that insightful flash which so often follows a superb dining experience, that waitresses are part of what’s right with the world.

And I was profoundly satisfied.