From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Trip to Patti's 1880's Settlement

Porkchop and pie highly recommended


On the porch of one the Patti's 1880's Settlement shops

I was supposed to go up in a hot-air balloon last Friday with my 84-year-old neighbor Miss M. and her daughter Sally. This was going to be a birthday celebration for Miss M. However, because of the very hot weather, the balloon ride is postponed until October. We went to Patti's 1880's Settlement at Grand Rivers (KY) for a birthday lunch, instead.

Grand Rivers is located just north of Land Between the Lakes and just below the dam that creates Lake Barkeley. Patti's 1880's Settlement is a restaurant and more. The Settlement includes a half-dozen  log-cabin gift shops, set into a nicely landscaped garden under tall trees. In keeping with the 1880's theme, all the employees who serve the public in the Settlement wear 1880's garb. And beyond Patti's, the village of Grand Rivers has more shops where a tourist can buy antiques, gifts, and souvenirs.

Patti's 1880's Settlement has such good food that it has even been featured in Southern Living magazine. My son has been to Patti's a time or two, and I've heard plenty of talk about the place, but this was my first visit. My lady friends were aghast at my lack of experience in fine dining -- but that's not new. They're always shocked at the restaurants I haven't visited. They enjoy educating me.

We sped out of Hopkinsville at about 10:30 a.m. and arrived in Grand Rivers in less than an hour. (Sally is a fast driver.) Our table was reserved for 12:30 p.m., so we had about an hour to walk around and peek in some of the shops.
Serious tractor collectors everywhere are shuddering.

We parked at The Pink Tractor, which has a fuchsia-colored tractor prominently parked outside it. I expected the little store to be full of folksy, country wares, but to my surprise, it sells trendy fashions from New York. "All the latest," the young clerk assured me, talking loud over the music so we old ladies could hear.

From there, we wandered down a pleasant, shady walkway, and found ourselves at Reflections, a shop that sells windchimes, candles, and other home and garden decor. It was tempting to buy something cute from the various collections that were marked 50% off, but I resisted. Sally bought Miss. M. a garden statue that she admired, a Vera Bradley bag, and some other pretty little things for her birthday.

I have a secret thing about chickens.


We didn't go in the Christmas shop, but I noticed that it has some nice nativity sets. We also passed a water wheel that really does turn and, nearby, a little chapel.  My lady friends assured me that I could get married there, if I wanted to. (No, thanks, I already have a husband!)  It looks like Patti's can do weddings on both a small and large scale. We saw covered outdoor seating for larger groups, too.


Finally, it was time for our lunch, so we headed inside. Our waiter took us to a corner table in a dining room that was completely draped overhead with weeping willow branches, clusters of grapes, and garlands of flowers -- or, at least, with interpretations of them. If you love lavish arrangements of silk flowers on the ceilings and walls, you will love the decor in all the dining rooms at Patti's. I noticed that most of the dining rooms had quilts somewhere in the ceiling decor, too.

I ordered the 1-inch thick pork chop. It had been recommended by one of my friends at work when she heard I was going to Patti's. She said the 2-inch pork chop was enough for several meals. My pork chop was thick and juicy, just excellent. I had it with a baked potato and a salad.  Miss M. and Sally both had chicken dishes, which they praised highly.

Then Sally decided that we should share a piece of pie among us. She ordered a slice of Sawdust Pie and three forks. Ordinarily, I would be squeamish about taking multiple bites off the same piece of pie with people who have strange germs. However, that pie was so good that I had several big bites and enjoyed them. I even felt a little disappointed when Sally announced that we'd had enough and asked for a to-go box for the rest of the pie!

Here's the description of Sawdust Pie from the menu on the Patti's website:

"Coconut, graham cracker crumbs, and pecans in an egg batter and baked with a flaky pie shell. We top this with sliced bananas, whipped cream and more sliced bananas. This pie got its name because the kids say it looks like baked sawdust. It was mother's first published recipe (Bon Appetit, May 1983).

In the restaurant's gift shop after lunch, I picked up a little potholder that had the sawdust pie recipe printed on it. When I went to the cash register to pay for it, I asked the clerk if the recipe really is the genuine sawdust pie that I had just enjoyed. He promised me that it is the very same recipe that their bakers use every day.

The clerk explained that Patti's entered their sawdust pie recipe in a contest several years ago and won first place. One of the requirements of the contest was that the winning recipes had to be fully disclosed to the public. Patti's prints the recipe in their (free) glossy, advertising folder, as well as on the souvenir potholders and in their Settlement cookbook. I've posted the recipe on my recipe blog, just to be double sure that I don't ever lose it, but I discovered that it's all over the internet as well.

Patti's also makes cream pies with meringues that are 6 inches tall. (I am not exaggerating! The menu says that meringues are 6 to 8 inches tall!) I don't know what they do with all the leftover egg yolks. Maybe they go into one of the pie fillings.

Sally brought the car to the front door of the restaurant, and we loaded up and sped home so the ladies could feed their dogs before heading to Clarksville for a second birthday party with family members. They invited me to come along, but I declined. I wanted to be home when my son arrived home from his week at college, and besides that, I was tired. Those two ladies have a lot more stamina for socializing than I do.

I enjoyed the excursion, though, and I enthusiastically recommend the 1-inch pork chop and the sawdust pie at Patti's. They are really, really good.

Part of the Settlement grounds

Antique stained glass from a NY mansion
in one of the Settlement's log cabin shops

7 comments:

Stitchy Mc Floss said...

I love Patti's. My favorite thing there is the strawberry butter! That stuff is so good, you could put it on anything. But of course I am a chow hound so normal people might not have the same thoughts. Sounds like you had a really nice day. When it gets closer to Christmas you really need to head back to Patti's for their awesome Christmas light display. The entire garden is lit up with lights everywhere. It's really beautiful. :)

Genevieve said...

I read about Patti's Christmas lights display in their flyer. I wonder if their Christmas traffic might increase a little this year due to Opryland Hotel, so far as I know, still being out of order from the flood.

Pamela said...

I loved this article. I have not been there but my family that live in Kentucky certainly have. I want to go when I come home to visit especially since I saw pictures of what all is there to see. Of course the pork chops & mile high pie would be wonderful too. Here in Marshalltown, Iowa we have a restaurant "Stones" it is under the viaduct that has been here for over a hundred years opened in the 1880's now passed down through the family of Stones. It was booming here when the trains were used more. We still have lots of trains
& this restaurant was known for its mile high lemon meringe pie.
Love to get all of your emails!!!
Pamela Siemsen

Stitchy Mc Floss said...

I was wondering about Opryland Hotel so I did a goggle search, go here: http://www.gaylordhotels.com/gaylord-opryland/index.html?source=/opryland-home.html

It looks like they are going to re-open in November 2010, so that is great news.

If you get a chance to head out to Patti's this Christmas season, I know you will be glad you went. But you have to bring your camera because there are so many things you will want to take pictures of. Don't miss the boats in the harbor, they also string up a few lights on their sails, too. It's really a neat place. :)

Genevieve said...

Pamela, I swear I typed out a thank you to your comment, but where is it?! I probably closed the window accidentally before I posted it! My brain has a limited capacity, and right now, it's full of wedding details. Our daughter is getting married in October.

Anyway, I'm glad you're enjoying the blog. I love lemon meringue pie, and I get a piece so rarely! You should go to Stonesand enjoy one for me.

Genevieve said...

Stitchy, that's good news about Opryland, especially for the people who work there.

I wondered how Patti's had 12 acres of Christmas lights (according to the brochure). I guess they extend their Christmas lighting beyond the actual Settlement -- such as down to the lake, as you explain.

John Ruberry said...

Good post, Genevieve

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

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