THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED IN BON APPALACHIA MAGAZINE OCTOBER 2015
Appalachian Cuisine Redefined in East Tennessee
At the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Townsend, Tennessee sits the Dancing Bear Lodge and Appalachian Bistro. In 2013, a devastating fire left the lodge in ruin. Current owners Mark & Sharon Oldham saw the potential in the property which also houses rental villas, cottages and cabins with a unique flair. In late summer 2015, Dancing Bear Appalachian Bistro opened to much anticipation just in time for the fall leaf-lookers and has been a hit since day one.
In a laid back but refined atmosphere, the Appalachian Bistro offers high-end cuisine inspired by the rustic food of the region in. Chef Shelly Cooper from sister property Terra Mae Appalachian Bistro in Chattanooga was anxious to accept the challenge of creating something distinctively refined in Townsend, the gateway for tourists into the Smoky Mountains. Cooper infuses traditional ingredients, most sourced from local farmers and artisans, with her refined palette and plates each dish with great care. Visiting local farms and farmers markets weekly dictates that the menu changes frequently, sometimes three times a week. It also requires that, during the summer growing season, Cooper and her team must prepare for the cold winter season by preserving fruits and vegetables at the height of their flavor. Look for generous portions of richly flavored food that would be at home in the finest restaurants, but very approachable to dining guests of any background. Each course delivered to your dining table by some of the friendliest staff these writers have ever encountered. The Bistro maintains a well appointed bar menu with interesting wines of varied prices, classic cocktails, and local beers on draft.
In addition to the main restaurant with spacious, open atmosphere and cozy lounge chairs beside the fireplace, Dancing Bear offers an event center, beautiful grounds with a large fire pit which is lit nightly and offers guests s’mores to enjoy while knocking off the chill in the air. Dining guests are encouraged to make reservations for dinner. The Bistro is open Tuesday through Sunday for dinner service. The adjacent Apple Valley complex complete with a cafe and shopping is also part of the Oldham’s family of hospitality offering breakfast and lunch for visitors and local residents alike.
Dancing Bear Lodge and Appalachian Bistro
About Knox Foodie
KnoxFoodie was born from two newlyweds that happen to be avid home cooks. Together, Mandee & Eric McNew have been living the foodie life exploring and sharing on social media and knoxfoodie.com local, national, and international food destinations, sharing recipes, and experimenting with fermentation, home curing, and even gardening all the while advocating for local food producers. In addition to their own foodie adventures, the pair helps locally-owned food and beverage-related companies with their marketing efforts.
OUR ORIGINAL REFERENCE TO THE ARTICLE FOLLOWS
We’re delighted to report that our visit to Dancing Bear Lodge Appalachian Bistro has been published in the new BonAppalachia Magazine! We had a wonderful visit to this recently opened restaurant from Terra Mae owners Mark and Sharon Oldham. On top of outstanding Appalachian-inspired cuisine, the staff of Dancing Bear was probably the most friendly and excited we have ever encountered. Chef Shelly Cooper, also of Terra Mae, uses ingredients, and sourced within just miles of Dancing Bear, native to the Appalachian region and is inspired by dishes that, in the back of your mind might be trigger familiar flavors, but presented in an elevated plating and combination that is perfectly fitting. Servings are…robust! Here’s a sampling of our visit, but please visit BonAppalachia for the full article. And we can’t leave you without mentioning the outstanding service we received from our server Nick, Manager Dustin, Jayden and Danielle, Colleen who was a delight and fellow dog-lover, and of course Mark and Sharon. It was a wonderful evening and you should definitely make the trip to Townsend to visit Dancing Bear. Do call ahead for seating as it is quite popular and was fully booked the evening we visited.