Along the banks of central Tennessee’s Old Hickory Lake, and adjacent to a home owned by country music star Gretchen Wilson, Cherokee Steak House and Marina prides itself as “The steak house of the middle south.” The very southern feel of the locale lends very much to that concept. Since 1958, the Steak House has served “beef from the heart of the corn belt,” giving patrons a scenic view of one of Tennessee’s more beautiful vistas.
A meal at Cherokee is an experience in Tennessee signature cuisine: a very strong blend of southern cooking styles from throughout the deep south. Your made-to-order steak comes with salad and sweet rolls. To drink, of course, sweet tea. Cherokee serves generous amounts of each to whet your appetite for the main course; strong dishes include grilled chicken, some catfish and seafood, in addition to the afore-mentioned Sirloin steak. Complimenting these are deep-fried southern favorites — onion rings and fries.
Cherokee offers a variety of country fried favorites. Its fries come in three varieties: American Fries, Freedom Fries, and German Fries. I gave each a taste…but each was a little dry. I would suggest the baked potato since it’s a healthier alternative, but mine was overcooked.
In fact, “dry” seems to have been a theme in the meal. The steak was somewhat juicy but it fell far short of what I would expect. I used a lot of sauce to equal this out, and though it improved the flavor, it would have been better if I didn’t have to rely on sauce to save the flavor. Still, for an 8 oz. steak, my sirloin was very filling. A taste of the chicken reveals it was clearly grilled on the same surface as the steak, and retained some of the steak’s flavor. Whether this is a good or bad thing is up to you. I found it unsavory, but one of the people in my group thought it was an incredible enhancement.
Cherokee had great service. The waitresses were very accommodating and happy to refill drinks and rolls quickly. They seemed especially good working with large groups. Cherokee has special menu rates for larger groups; the more people come, the more you save on your meal overall. It should be said that several groups of a dozen or more people dominated the dining room area, though smaller groups were given window seats to the activity on the lake, a very pretty view. I would definitely suggest bringing a larger group. Cherokee makes for a nice experience, but be ready to use ketchup and steak sauce generously.
- Cherokee specializes in catering to large groups. Bring family and friends to maximize savings on the meals. I didn’t see groups smaller than four or five anywhere in the steak house.
- Come hungry. The meals are very filling.
- Don’t gorge on the limitless sweet rolls and tea, no matter how good it is. The main course is worth waiting for.