The Smith House is an elbow-to-elbow eatfest. Tables are communal, shared by local folks and visitors, who all behave as though they were at a family party, passing platters back and forth, chattering happily about the delicious food.
Pay one price and eat your fill. There is no menu to look at. Everything the kitchen has prepared that day is brought to the table in large serving dishes. Count on fried chicken, supplemented by Brunswick stew or catfish and hushpuppies; plenty of southern-style vegetables, including such specialties as chestnut souffle, turnip greens, and fried okra; and always warm breads: cracklin cornbread, blueberry lemon muffins, angel biscuits.
Smith House history starts before the Civil War, during Georgia’s gold rush, during which a wealthy Vermonter named Captain Frank Hall built a mansion, complete with carriage house and servants’ quarters, smack on top of what he thought would be a great vein of gold. For reasons too complicated to note here, he never mined the vein; and in 1922, long after Captain Hall’s passing, Henry and Bessie Smith bought the house to run it as an inn, where for $1.50, travelers got a room and three square meals a day. Mrs. Smith was a sensational cook, and word spread fast about her fried chicken, country ham, and platters of fresh vegetables. By 1946, when Fred and Thelma Welch took over the kitchen, the Smith House was known for family-style feeds.
Today the Smith House has become an attractive bed-and breakfast base camp for exploring the spectacular North Georgia mountains; the meals at its happy tables remain pure country.