To enjoy a holiday meal at the Dillard House is to stir up memories of eating at grandmother’s house. Tradition dictates any meal here, served in the country-style dining room, lined with windows overlooking the landscaped grounds. A family-style meal at Dillard House — Photo courtesy of Courtesy Dillard House
For Thanksgiving, dinner rolls out a long list of delectable proteins, ranging from roast turkey with dressing to roast loin of pork with black cherry sauce. And, as at most Dillard House dinners, the Thanksgiving feast includes the inn’s famous country ham, a salt-cured specialty flavored with coffee and brown sugar. The country ham at Dillard House is so good that Food Network star Alton Brown celebrated it on an episode of The Best Thing I Ever Ate.
Served family style, sides are prepared according to time-honored recipes, many of them handed down over the years by members of the Dillard family. Dishes and platters crowd the table with creamy cabbage casserole, butternut squash soufflé, pole beans, English peas, Harvard beets, creamed Silver Queen corn and more. Dessert rolls out the classics, pumpkin pie and pecan pie, as well as carrot cake. On Thanksgiving Day, the restaurant feeds some 3,000 people.
At Christmastime, fires crackle and pop in the fireplaces and eight 14-foot Frasier firs, each decorated according to a different theme, create a festive ambience. There are sleigh rides, caroling, and a special Christmas Eve menu featuring prime rib as the headliner. As the Dillard House sits in the middle of Rabun County, in which 60% of the land is national forest, there are myriad outdoor adventures nearby. Even if you don’t care to leave the inn, you’ll find two fully stocked trout ponds, a horse stable, and a petting zoo on the grounds.
Dillard House was founded as a small boarding house in 1917 by Carrie and Arthur Dillard. It has remained a family-owned operation ever since. Today the inn has grown from 10 rooms to 96 rooms and 25 cabins, which welcome guests with antique charm and modern amenities. To experience a true taste of the property’s history, request one of the rooms in the Rock House, the original boarding house (now renovated).
No visit to Dillard House is complete without a visit to the inn’s shop, where you’ll find a host of homemade food items that make great gifts for friends and family. Take home some of Dillard House’s signature country ham, or fashion a gift basket from a selection of the inn’s other private-label products: green tomato relish, strawberry jam, apple butter and hickory-smoked slab bacon, to name a few. There’s also a wild variety of licorice, a favorite being the “Georgia” peach. An edible souvenir will prolong the memory of your dinner here, where every meal comes with a heaping helping of Southern hospitality.