It’s hard to imagine now – even when running across an old picture – but Pigeon Forge wasn’t always the neon mecca it is now.
In 1925, with the coming of the national park a decade away, Pigeon Forge wasn’t much more than a series of farms covering the wide valley between the mountains.
And it was in this time period that Dr. John W. Ogle returned to his home to practice medicine.
Born in the 1880s, Ogle went off to study at the age of 16, setting up his practice in the Harrisburg community at the age of 21. It was there that he met and married Blanche.
Soon thereafter, the Ogles moved to Pigeon Forge and Dr. John set up his practice as a mountain doctor making house calls by horseback or buggy.
Finally, in 1925, he purchased some land where he planted a few more trees and Five Oaks Farm was born.
Who owns Five Oaks Farm Kitchen?
Today, that Ogle tradition is alive and well at Five Oaks Farm Kitchen in Sevierville (near the Pigeon Forge line), built near the spot where Blanche often fed the hungry. And she, at the same time, raised the couple’s four children there.
And Ogle’s descendants remain behind the business today.
Jake and Taylor Ogle, partners in the Five Oaks Development Group and great-grandsons of Dr. John and Blanche, built the eatery. The restaurant operation is operated by KBS Enterprises, owned by Kirby Smith, the Ogle brothers’ cousin.
The Ogles’ memories are alive and well within the building located across the street from the old family home.
A giant sign quoting Dr. John greets guests at the door, welcoming them to the farm. Family photos adorn the interior walls. Visitors are encouraged to take a minute to explore the building and get to know the family and its history.
“Having guests dine at the restaurant is the family’s way of sharing their family kitchen with travelers in a similar way to how their grandmother Blanche Ogle did so lovingly for many years on the Five Oaks Farm,” the restaurant’s website says.
But what about the food at Five Oaks Farm Kitchen?
Certainly, all the history in the world isn’t going to make a difference if the food isn’t up to snuff.
Five Oaks offers three menus – breakfast, lunch and supper – and a variety of down-home mountain favorites.
Five Oaks Farm Kitchen breakfast
For breakfast, it’s the staples you’d expect down on a farm where you started the day with a heavy meal to give you energy for the hard work ahead. Omelets, pancakes, thick slabs of French toast are all excellent, as are the variety of meats. There’s a special place in my heart for the breakfast casseroles.
In addition to the traditional fare, the star of breakfast – served from 8 am to noon – is the fried cinnamon roll. It is not for the faint of heart.
The freshly made cinnamon roll is dipped in pancake batter and fried golden brown like something out of the Iowa State Fair. Served with caramel sauce and whipped cream, it is possibly the greatest foodstuff ever concocted.
However, man cannot live by deep-fried cinnamon roll alone. And if he tried, it would probably kill him.
Five Oaks Farm Kitchen lunch
In comparison to breakfast, lunch is almost Spartan.
An array of sandwiches and soups – including mountain favorite soup beans – are available.
Selections from the smokehouse include pork ribs and a pulled pork plate. Chicken pot pie and meatloaf are available as heartier fare. However, if you don’t know the joy of eating a smoked bologna sandwich, you haven’t really lived.
Five Oaks Farm Kitchen dinner
The supper menu – dinner for those of you not from around here – features individual selections from the smokehouse.
Explore the smokehouse offerings with the sampler, if you’re in the mood. Or you can order from the Farm Table menu and experience a favorite mountain meal. Fried chicken livers, sugar-cured ham steak and open-faced pot roast are all on the menu.
In truth, it’s hard to go wrong with the chicken and dumplings made with stewed chicken and dumplings made from scratch. It comes with one “farm-fresh” side. Given the option, I almost always choose the fried okra.
The menu offers tea, coffee, milk, soda pop and lemonade to drink.
To clarify, there are folks who think that all Southerners refer to sodas as Cokes or co-colas. On the contrary, soda pop is actually the go-to term for that sweet drink in the mountains, traditionally speaking.
Finally, if lemonade is your thing, Blanche’s County Fair Lemonade is the stuff of wonders. But, it’s one refill only for the lemonade, so judge your thirst accordingly.
Is Five Oaks Farm Kitchen worth it?
These days, a lot of places in the mountains claim to offer the authentic mountain experience. Often, the best you can hope for is honoring the traditions, the spirit and the love that made mountain communities what they were.
Five Oaks does that exceedingly well.
You won’t know what it was like to sit at Blanche’s table nearly a century ago. While that may be true, you will feel welcomed and leave nourished. And that’s pretty close in my book.
Have you visited Five Oaks Farm Kitchen? What did you think? Let us know in the comments.