by David Cecelski
Julia’s Talley House is an old and much-loved restaurant in the little town of Troutman. I stopped there for the first time when I was in IredellCounty the other day and now I understand why it’s so popular. It offers good old-fashioned Southern fare for one thing—fried chicken, country ham, chicken and pastry, country fried steak, and other comfort foods. They’re served with classic side dishes like pickled beets, garden peas, seasoned cabbage and boiled carrots, a choice of cornbread, rolls, or biscuits and, for dessert, traditional favorites like peach cobbler and banana pudding.
You can get your meal in a little cafeteria line, like I did, being by myself, or have it served family style. If you choose the latter, your waitress will bring serving bowls full of meats, vegetables and bread that you can share with a table full of friends or family.
The best thing about Julia’s is the ambience. It’s located in a big, two-story farmhouse that was built in 1919 and was long the home of a local physician, Dr. T. S. Talley. There are rocking chairs on the front porch and, inside, it’s positively homey: a little threadbare, but very homey.
Four of the old house’s downstairs rooms serve as dining rooms. Two only fit 3 or 4 tables, so they’re especially cozy, while the other two are larger. An old player piano stands in the corner of the dining room that used to be Dr. Talley’s office. An oil portrait of the restaurant’s founder, Julia Shumake, is in that room, too. Photographs of her family members, who still run the restaurant, are scattered about the rest of the old house.
An antique grandfather clock keeps time and the restaurant’s well-worn rugs and furnishings all seem like they’re out of another age, as did the gentile good manners displayed by the older lady who took my money at the end of the cafeteria line. The whole restaurant made me feel as if I’d stepped into one of my great-aunts’ homes back when I was a child. I’m sure that most people come to Julia’s for the comfort food, but I imagine a lot of them are looking for other kinds of comfort there as well.
Julia’s Talley House is located on NC 21 N. in Troutman, just off I-77exit 42 between Charlotte and Statesville. It’s open 11 AM – 2 PM and 5:30 PM to 8 PM, Monday-Friday; 5:30 PM – 8 PM on Saturday; and 11 AM – 2 PM on Sunday.