When I found The Dancing Bear Lodge online, I had no idea it would be this fancy…. 

Convincing Mom and Dad

After 4 days of the same turkey, bacon and ranch sandwiches, I finally convinced my dad to let us go to a restaurant on our Townsend, Tennessee vacation last spring. We had gone grocery shopping at the beginning of our trip to buy allllll the supplies we’d need for the rest of the week. And originally this sounded great! We rented a tiny home (featured in the image to the right) and would have our own kitchen that would be great to cook in. That is until day 4 rolled around and we had eaten the same food too many times in a row. It was time for a change. My brother (Lincoln) and I wanted to go out to eat, but we had to get Mom and Dad on board. Getting Mom on our side would be an easy task. She was always down to go out to eat. Dad on the other hand, would be a challenge. He’s the one who had the grand idea to cook at our rental home every day. But as any child knows, the key is to push one parent enough to nudge the other. And after days of lightly suggesting it, and one long day of begging, we finally did it. We got them to agree to take us out to eat. Making sure to accommodate for the celiac members of the family, we narrowed down our choices to the very best option for gluten free dining- The Dancing Bear Lodge and Appalachian Bistro. 

We rocked up to this Bistro in the finest clothes we brought with us….. But because this was a hiking trip, we didn’t have much. We all wore our cleanest, most plain shirt and our swooshiest hiking pants. I wish I was kidding. I honestly thought this would be fine attire because we were in Townsend, Tennessee. It was literally in the middle of nowhere with only campgrounds for RVs and one dollar general nearby. Surely everyone else would be wearing their nicest hiking clothes too! Right? Wrong.

As soon as we pulled into this parking lot, the only other two people we saw were pulling dry cleaned clothes on hangers out of their back seats. I don’t think I’ve ever used hangers as fancy as those. I knew we’d made a big mistake. My hair was greasy, and my brother’s shirt had camo print on it. We all started giggling at how ridiculous we looked, and Lincoln and I decided to “pretend to be fancy.” We immediately stood up straight. Put on our fancy North Face coats and discussed what it looked like to be fancy. We both agreed that children of fancy families were quiet and respectful around adults. They walked quite calmly. They stood up straight. They didn’t gawk around at all the beautiful decor but rather admired it quietly. They used words like rather and quite. 

We walked as fancy as we could into this bistro. Our server sported a black tie as he led us past the couples on dates in button up, collared shirts and dresses. I had never felt so out of place.  We sat down at our table, but the silliness didn’t end there. We continued to hold our fancy drinks with pinkies up and clink our glasses together politely. We ordered an assortment of hors d'oeuvres with ingredients I couldn’t pronounce and dined finely. 

Note to the Reader

Normally I’d just skip past this part if I was reading a blog post, but I encourage you to read each of these words. I encourage you to ask yourself if you know what most of these things mean. I did not.

Our dishes were described as following:


As an appetizer: pork belly burnt ends with celeriac puree, kilt cabbage and special growers chives.  


For my dad and I, Truffled filet mignon, yukon potatoes, charred romanesco, mushroom duxelles, braised cipollini onions and port rosemary reduction


For my brother, Bourbon Marinated airline chicken breast, sumac roasted root vegetables and golden raisin compote


And finally sweet tea brined cheshire pork chop, tasso spoonbread, red eye gravy reduction and fermented red pepper emulsion for my mom.

We should have known when looking at the menu online that this place was fancy. I see that now. But either way, we had an incredible time. “Pretending to be fancy” is something that Lincoln and I still giggle about to this day, and I know we’ll continue to laugh about it for years to come. 

I write all of this to you to say that some of the best memories you’ll have with your family are ones you never could have predicted. I never anticipated this experience to be the moment we look back on as the time we tried French press coffee and became obsessed with it. The time we ate $100 cherries in our Shirley temples. The time we all laughed for hours about how Dad and I almost didn’t make it up the mountain on our last hike. About the time we saw a field of Elk eating in a field. About the time I fell in my pee- wait, you don’t know these stories??? Hmm… I guess you better go read my other blog posts to catch up! 

If you liked the sounds and sights of this food and you're planning a trip to Townsend Tennessee, here is a non-affiliate link. I highly recommend the place, but I also recommend bringing nicer clothes!!

Dancing Bear Lodge | Restaurant & Lodging in Townsend, TN