The Station House Restaurant is located on the grounds of one of America’s most historic hotels: The Chattanooga Choo Choo on Market Street in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The atmosphere almost makes you feel like you are back in the golden age of railroads. As you drive in, you pass by a booth made to look like it was built for a railroad switch operator. As you walk to the hotel, you pass by beautiful Victorian gardens and the train cars (which are actually hotel rooms).
At the Station House Restaurant, you will quickly be impressed with the talents of the singing servers. They perform mostly classics and oldies, but they throw in a few recent songs, as well as some gospel music. Because many people go there to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries, the singing servers frequently serenade the guests of honor or dedicate a song to them from the stage.
You can choose to sit on the main floor or up in the balcony. The balcony gives a great view of the stage, and sitting in the back of the balcony gives you a bit more privacy. It is very loud no matter where you choose to sit. The other guests add to the noise, as they try to yell above the live music. It probably isn’t a good idea to choose the balcony if you have any balance issues, since the salad bar is downstairs. Carrying a full plate up the steep, narrow stairs may be difficult for some.
The menu is mostly Southern style comfort foods, with steaks, ribs, and seafood dominating the menu. They offer a couple of chicken dishes too. While no one in my party had a complaint about their food, no one was really impressed with it. Every entrée comes with unlimited trips to the “Railway Baggage Cart Salad Bar,” which is loaded with peel-and-eat shrimp on ice. For salad lovers, the salad bar is a bit of a disappointment. It does not have everything you might like, and the lettuce is only iceberg without the healthy greens. I thought the ranch dressing was somewhat watered down. However, the salad bar meets the needs of the average person that would come to the Station House Restaurant.
Every table gets a bread basket, but you will probably have to ask for refills. I have to say that it was a little annoying that the bread basket came with only three rolls when four people were at my table.
The Station House Restaurant is not exactly vegetarian-friendly. In fact, I did not see a single meatless entrée. However, vegetarians can order sides like corn on the cob and mashed potatoes and make a trip to the salad bar.
Despite having your own server for your party, service is not quick, but with the live entertainment on stage, you hardly notice. The singing servers are very talented. My server sang an excellent rendition of a Johnny Cash song while playing the guitar. However, this entertainment comes at a price. Because the servers have to sing and cannot take on multiple tables, the restaurant charges a 15 percent entertainment fee, which is in addition to the regular gratuity.
The bottom line is that the menu is limited, the food is decent, and the cost is higher than most places. However, it is definitely a place where everyone should go at least once to experience the unique atmosphere of the Chattanooga Choo Choo, whether you are a local or a tourist. Just be aware that while they say they do not require reservations, they really should. It is a popular place, and it is rare that you can get in without a reservation on the weekend.