We recently spent four days in Helen, Ga., and really enjoyed the trip. It’s only about two hours from Chattanooga, with lovely scenery along the way. We ate at several restaurants; some really good, and some OK.
The first night there, we visited the Hofbrauhaus, located at 9001 Main St. overlooking the Chattahoochee River. The chef attended school in Romania, and continued his career in Bavaria, Germany, as well as Baden-Wuetenbert (Schwabenland), before settling in Helen in 2008.
There were so many tempting items on the menu, we had trouble deciding. We shared an order of escargot with mushrooms and garlic butter (with bread for dipping), which was delicious. Wayne ordered the 10-ounce pork tenderloin roasted in butter with fresh mushrooms and cream sauce. He absolutely loved it – so much he wanted to go back another night! I’m not certain it was the pork or the server in her little German outfit! The pork was fork tender and the cream sauce was not heavy.
I ordered the Hofbrau Haus Platter with bratwurst, homemade garlic sausage and smoked pork chops with sauerkraut and potato salad. I thoroughly enjoyed the sausages, especially the garlic – delicious! I can’t say I was impressed with the German potato salad. All my experiences with German potato salad have been warm with bacon whereas this was cold and no bacon. I also had an order of potato pancakes. Each of our meals was accompanied with a spinach salad featuring warm bacon dressing. I loved that dressing! Of course, I took home more food than I ate. The next morning at the cabin, I made hash browns from the potato salad and we enjoyed sausage and smoked pork chop with our eggs.
For lunch the next day we stopped at the Old Bavaria Inn at 8619 Main St. It is a fun place with a neat and quaint atmosphere, complete with accordion player in lederhosen and our server from Munich. Neither of us can say the food is impressive; nothing more than average. I ordered a bowl of Potato Leek soup. Wayne had the Black Forest Ham and Swiss half-sandwich. The menu states all items are made in house so the wait is approximately 20 minutes. The half sandwich was huge! Seems their “specialty” is gigantic pretzels brought in direct from Germany and almost every table ordered one.
The very best place we found was the Nacoochee Grill at 7277 South Main St. This place had wonderful food! And so many choices of really inviting menu items. We started with their smoked wings – medium and chipotle bar-b-q. I loved the smoky flavor and we had a few to take home for later! Wayne ordered the grilled shrimp that were so large, there was no way he could finish them. We took quite a few home! I ordered the Shrimp and Grits with red peppers, poblano peppers, shallots, green onions, bacon, roasted garlic, white wine and vegetable broth atop a bed of garlic cheddar grits. The Nacoochee Grill is very generous in their servings so we both had another meal from this delicious food.
The person next to us ordered the Buttermilk Fried Chicken and it looked fantastic. It consisted of a half chicken, so the guy ended up getting a carry-out box.
One other restaurant we experienced was The Troll Tavern, located under the bridge on Main Street. To me, this is bar food. I ordered the grilled Trout dinner, with coleslaw and baked potato. The coleslaw was actually pretty good; not real mayonnaised, but just enough to hold it together. Wayne ordered the Fish and Chips, which he said was pretty good, nothing special. The lady next to us ordered what was called The Troll special, and I could not believe the size of that sandwich. I don’t think I have ever seen such a large sandwich!
On the way out we had breakfast at Helen’s Café. They have maybe eight tables and feature country style cooking with gravy, grits, etc. A good place for breakfast and very friendly.
We had a nice trip to Helen and enjoyed the food experiences. If we were to ever go back, we would definitely re-visit the Nacoochee Grill. Helen is certainly worth the drive for a day or so to get away from it all. We took a carriage ride, hiked to Anna Ruby Falls, and visited many of the little shops. Fun experience.
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Old Bavarian Inn
- Photo2 by Janet Wilson