One of our dinners, per my sister’s request, was at Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner restaurant at Knott’s Berry Farm amusement park in Buena Park. Knott’s Berry Farm is “the other amusement park” in Orange County, located just up the road from Disneyland. Jennifer requested that we go to Mrs. Knott’s as she had fond memories from a visit there when we were children.
The history of Knott’s dates back to 1920, when Walter Knott and his family sold berries and preserves from a roadside stand.
In 1934, to make ends meet, Knott’s wife Cordelia (1890–1974) reluctantly began serving fried chicken dinners on their wedding china. For dessert, Knott’s signature Boysenberry Pie was also served to guests dining in the small tea room. As Southern California developed, Highway 39 became the major north-south connection between Los Angeles County and the beaches of Orange County, and the restaurant’s location was a popular stopping point for drivers making the two hour trip in those days before freeways.
These days, the wait for dinner is still long. Admittedly, we were a larger group than normal – about 10 people – but the wait was still about an hour.
Prices have gone up over the years (by about 100 times) but the menu remains pretty much unchanged. Frankly, this was more food than I wanted to have, as I was more interested in the boysenberry pie than anything else. Walter Knott was responsible for naming and popularizing the boysenberry, a blackberry, raspberry, loganberry hybrid cross-bred by Rudolph Boysen of nearby Anaheim.
The interior of the restaurant, made up of several medium sized dining rooms, looks very run-down, badly in need of a makeover or, at least, a deep cleaning.
Buttermilk biscuit – okay, but not nearly as flaky or tasty as mine.
Rhubarb compote served chilled as a starter. Very, very sweet.
Very sad salad. “Farm fresh”? Pathetic, really.
The main course itself – three pieces of fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, and corn. The food was okay, although I found the chicken a bit oily and, like pretty much all chicken in the US, the meat lacked any discernable flavor.
The dessert – the boysenberry pie with ice cream – was pretty good. So good that I managed to not get a picture of it! But overall, the meal proved the conventional wisdom that things are better in our memories than they are in real life. At least I was surrounded by family, so in good company for an otherwise mediocre dinner.
A nearly full moon climbs over the structure of GhostRider, the park’s wooden coaster.