It's something those who spend any considerable time in Cleveland, Tenn., hear: "You have to try Farmhouse's chicken casserole."
One of Cleveland's most famous dishes lives up to the hype.
In the words of my wife after her first bite, "This is the greatest place ever, and the chicken casserole is to die for. Quote me on that."
My wife says that regarding just about everything she likes, so take from it what you will. But in this case, there may be a hint of truth in her boast.
Farmhouse Restaurant is clean and open. It avoids the modern industrial look for a classic, comfortable feel in neutral tones. The restaurant is welcoming, and the service makes it all-the-more worthwhile.
› Where: Farmhouse Restaurant, 2260 Harrison Pike, Cleveland, Tenn.
› Hours: 11 a.m.- 7:30 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday-Friday, 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Sunday. Closed Saturdays.
› Alcohol: No.
› Price range: $4.49-$12
› Phone: 423-339-9998
The space has roughly 10 tables and eight booths. A back room has several tables that can be used for bigger groups.
The cash register is by the door, so customers pay when leaving after the waiter or waitress drops the check off at the table. For those who are full but still want something sweet for later, I suggest getting a dessert on the way out the door.
The daily specials when we went were chicken casserole, cube steak and gravy or grilled ham. I stuck with the chicken casserole and had three sides — macaroni and cheese, coleslaw and peaches. The mac and cheese was the clear winner of the sides, but I would gladly get each again. The chicken casserole was as good as ever and is my recommendation to anyone. It's hard to overstate how exceptional it is.
The meal also came with a roll, which was much better than I expected from a restaurant. A dinner roll isn't going to make or break a meal, but it was every bit as good as the mac and cheese.
As is the case with any family restaurant in this part of the country, Farmhouse offers sweet tea. Per usual, I ordered some with my meal and was not disappointed.
For two specials with two drinks, three sides each and rolls, our order for two came to $21.25.
Our waitress was kind and attentive, two of the most important qualities in the industry. She checked on us regularly, but not too much. We also had another waitress stop by just to make sure everything was satisfactory.
My wife and I had our food in about five minutes. Service is faster for those who order the specials since they are ready to go. However, on the half-dozen trips I've made to the restaurant, the food has always been out quickly.
We overheard one man, who was getting ready to leave, ask about the casserole. The waitress offered to put some in a side dish for him to taste in case he wanted to get it on his next trip — a nice gesture many restaurants wouldn't take the time to do.
It's hard to beat Farmhouse's food, but the service comes pretty close.
It would be hard to come up with more than a couple of dishes in Cleveland better than Farmhouse's chicken casserole. I would argue that it's likely the best.
Contact staff writer Mark Pace at email@example.com or 423-757-6361. Follow him on Twitter @themarkpace.