One of my gentle readers informed me just last week that there had been some changes at the Telford Diner, an East Tennessee classic eatery.

Having waved goodbye to our friend the Retiree who, predictably, was off once again on another of her traveling adventures, my dining partner and I decided to visit Telford and see what renovations our friends Warren and Vickie Browder had made to their restaurant.

The Telford Diner is the “pictured-in-the-dictionary” example of a classic family-run Tennessee restaurant. It is located in the town of Telford, just a stone’s throw from Old State Route 34, (now Tenn. Highway 353). After a quick turn onto Telford Road, you make a quick left turn just over the Little Limestone Creek Bridge onto Mill Street. A minute or two more and you’ll see a yellow building with a sign identifying the place. Restaurant parking is ample on both sides of Mill Street.

The Browders have made some changes to the Telford Diner’s interior since my dining partner and I last enjoyed their company. Though the restaurant’s down-home wall décor is still in evidence, the buffet line has disappeared; a victim of the pandemic. Arranged per social distancing requirements, the restaurant’s seating now accommodates 40 or so hungry patrons in a dining area that appears even roomier than before. The very active kitchen’s new layout gives the Browders and their kitchen team a bit more room to swing a spatula than was previously possible.

Chicken Club sandwich

For her supper, my dining partner chose a Telford Diner signature dish, their chicken club sandwich ($5.29) done “all the way” by adding to the fried breast of chicken and crispy bacon strips some lettuce, a tomato slice, dill pickle and mayonnaise. For her side dish, my partner ordered a baked potato with sour cream. The chicken was freshly batter-dipped and fried until golden brown. The crispy bacon was center-cut and delightfully smoky in flavor, and adding the lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise made my dining partner’s chicken club sandwich very good eating indeed.

Hamburger Steak Plate Meal

Wanting something more substantial than a sandwich for my supper, I asked our server Crystal which of the Telford Diner’s plate meals she’d recommend. Crystal thought for a moment, then told me the hamburger steak platter ($10) was her choice, being a half-pound of chopped hamburger steak grilled my way (medium), matched with a crisp garden salad and a baked potato with ranch dressing on both side orders, together with a big slice of Texas Toast. Well, I took Crystal’s recommendation and found it to be a good one. Whoever was running the grill at the Telford Diner knew their stuff, because my hamburger steak was done to a turn. The salad was a cold, crisp mix of torn iceberg and leaf lettuce leaves, chopped cucumbers, together with slices of ripe tomatoes and red onion rings, all of it covered with shredded, mild cheddar cheese. Even my baked potato, a nutty-flavored russet, was baked to my liking, even more so with a dollop of ranch dressing instead of the usual butter and sour cream.

The bottom line

Despite the changes that have been made, the Telford Diner’s menu thankfully hasn’t been one of them. There is good old American cooking offered here Tuesday through Saturday. Friday still has the popular all-you-can-eat fish night, with fried Alaskan whitefish and popcorn shrimp available in plentiful supply. Regarding the Telford Diner’s accepted methods of payment, owners Warren and Vickie Browder accept cash or checks, but not credit cards, so be sure to bring along your checkbook and/or wallet to make your departure a smooth one.

Unlike other restaurants that are weathering the pandemic’s “Interesting Times” as best they can, Warren and Vickie Browder’s Telford Diner still provides a quiet cove where those who find the “weathering” difficult can stop in to catch their breath, enjoy quiet moment, hear a kind word or two, and enjoy a meal that has comfort in every bite.

Between the Browders’ cooking and server Crystal’s friendly and unobtrusive service, your visit to the Telford Diner is elevated from eating to dining.