Some friends, whom I must now thank for the tip, motivated me to visit Lynn Garden Restaurant in Kingsport. I’ll be honest— I’d never heard of the restaurant until my friends began to rave about their visits.
The restaurant is tucked away in the Lynn Garden community, which is slightly off the beaten path for Kingsport. You can’t miss it — look for the large and distinctive outdoor sign as well as the old-fashioned red-and-white striped awnings.
According to a blurb on the menu, an earlier incarnation of the Lynn Garden Restaurant was known as Gateway Restaurant and was located in Gate City, Va.
A friend and I visited the restaurant on a recent Sunday afternoon to enjoy the Sunday lunch buffet.
The restaurant offers buffet dining for lunch Monday through Thursday. There’s also a Saturday breakfast buffet, a Friday catfish lunch buffet and a Friday evening fish fry buffet.
Diners can also order from the menu, which offers dinner platters — Hot Roast Beef with Potatoes and Gravy, Country Ham, Sugar Cured Ham, Hamburger Steak, Pork Chops, Chicken Livers and much more — as well as sandwiches, burgers and hot dogs.
Through the week, the restaurant also offers plate special lunches. Meatloaf is available on Tuesday and Salmon patties on Thursday. There’s also a seafood selection, offering shrimp, flounder, oysters, scallops and clam strips.
We were there, however, for the Fried Chicken that I’d heard so much about. The chicken is served on almost every buffet and can also be ordered off the menu as a 2-piece or 3-piece meal, as well as other arrangements.
Since picnic season has finally arrived, I thought readers might like to know that Lynn Garden Restaurant also offers its chicken in to-go buckets, including 9-piece, 15-piece and 21-piece selections.
When we arrived at the restaurant, it took a few moments before we caught the eye of a busy server. With a smile, she immediately told us we could choose a seat anywhere we liked.
After we were settled at a table, a different server arrived to take our beverage orders and provide menus. Of course, since we wanted to order the lunch buffet, we were able to dispense with the menu.
The two dining areas in the restaurant are quite interesting. Several of the walls are decorated with displays of vintage sleds and sleighs, mingled with vintage photographs of the community and local sports history. There’s even what appears to be an old-fashioned scooter equipped with skates for traveling over ice.
Another wall is dedicated as the Lynn View Sports Hall of Fame, featuring photographs and other memorabilia from Lynn View High School spanning the era from 1949 to 1980.
Seating is available at tables or booths upholstered in classic coral-pink vinyl. There’s also an old-fashioned lunch counter lined with a long row of stools. Some cute signs bear such messages as “Seven days without our chicken makes one weak.”
After tasting this chicken, I can certainly believe it. I don’t know their secret, and they’re not telling, but the Fried Chicken at Lynn Garden Restaurant is awesome. The skin is fried to a golden-crisp yet inside the chicken remains moist and juicy, as well as exceptionally flavorful.
My friends, who have visited numerous times, all attest that they’ve never been served a bad piece of fried chicken at Lynn Garden Restaurant. Consistency is a real plus when it comes to such a home-cooking standard as fried chicken like grandma might have made.
While the fried chicken was the star of the Sunday buffet, we were in luck and also got to enjoy some Chicken and Dumplings. The dumplings, made of big, fluffy drops of dough, were stored in their own container next to one holding the stewed chicken. Combined on a plate, they were indeed worthy of the Chicken and Dumplings many a grandmother has made.
My grandmothers made fantastic Chicken and Dumplings, so that’s a high bar to reach for a restaurant. Lynn Garden does a respectable job, and this classic comfort food is almost — but not quite — as those I enjoyed made with some TLC by my grandmothers.
Sunday lunch also consisted of a variety of side dishes, including Mashed Potatoes, Green Peas and Potatoes, Corn and Yams. Warm dinner rolls were also available.
The all-you-can-eat buffet also offered a small salad bar. The items were not too diverse, but a decent salad could be fashioned from chopped iceberg lettuce, green peas, onions, tomatoes, shredded cheese, hard-boiled eggs and pickled beets, as well as a variety of toppings and dressings.
The side dishes, which included green beans, peas and baby potatoes, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn niblets, and the like, were solid enough as side dishes go, but they paled somewhat in comparison to the delectable Fried Chicken. So I indulged and had two pieces of chicken, as well as a serving of the Chicken and Dumplings.
My friend and I both made one last trip to the buffet at the end of the meal for a sweet treat to conclude our visit. Desserts available included Bread Pudding, Cherry Cobbler and Banana Pudding. I got a serving of cobbler while my friend tried the Bread Pudding. Like the side dishes, they were not stellar desserts, but they did provide an enjoyably sweet finish to our visit. The Bread Pudding seemed to be a favorite, with bits of colorful fruit baked into this rich, moist treat.
During our visit to Lynn Garden Restaurant, we found the service warm and welcoming. The servers seemed to know a lot of their customers on a first-name basis, which tells me they get a lot of regulars enjoying a Sunday meal with them.
The restaurant also serves breakfast. I’m not sure I’d ever pass up the Fried Chicken, but the menu does offer some other tempting items I would like to try on a future visit. The prices are modest, so the bill won’t put too big a dent in the dining budget. If grandma’s too tired to cook some take the whole family to Lynn Garden Restaurant. Mother’s Day is just around the corner, so also consider treating mom.
AT A GLANCE: Lynn Garden Restaurant, 1105 Lynn Garden Drive, Kingsport. 246-3271. Monday-Saturday, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Credit cards accepted. Menu items $10.95 and under. Buffets prices $9.95 and under. Credit cards accepted. Carryout available.