“Fried catfish is our No. 1 seller, followed closely by the Hot Brown,” says executive chef Mike Neal, who, with a staff of 13, has worked at Cumberland Falls State Resort Park’s Riverview Restaurant for 33 years.
Overlooking the scenic Cumberland River with the famous falls, the restaurant at the park’s DuPont Lodge, served by Cumberland Valley RECC, seats 300 people.
During winter hours, the Riverview Restaurant is open Wednesday through Sunday, and you can order off the menu or try the daily special, which might feature items such as meatloaf with two sides; pot roast with vegetables and two corn fritters; or a bowl of chili with a grilled cheese sandwich.
But what people always ask about and love are our buffets that start up again once spring returns, says Neal, which will include breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets beginning March 25.
Photo: Mike Neal
Kentucky State Park lodges are also known for their elaborate holiday buffets and special food events. The only two holidays that the Riverview Restaurant is closed are Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Mike Neal says this past Thanksgiving, they served 809 people from breakfast through lunch and dinner. “This year for Easter, we will be doing a big buffet, including fried chicken, carved roast beef, either pork or lamb, and catfish.”
In May, Neal says the park will be a special Native American Heritage event May 15–17, and the Riverview Restaurant will have their popular Buffalo Buffet on Saturday, May 16.
Neal, a people person, says he likes meeting new people and especially enjoys working the carving station Sundays for lunch when he can stand and talk to people as they come through.
Riverview’s breakfast buffet features a typical country breakfast—eggs, sausage, bacon, biscuits, gravy, French toast sticks, and grits. Lunch and dinner buffets feature a variety of entrees along with country cooking sides such as green beans, mashed potatoes, carrots, corn and desserts.
You can also order off the menu even when the buffet is being offered.
Neal adds that a lot of the food the restaurant serves is designated Kentucky Proud, such as produce and meat like the bone-in fried chicken, breakfast sausage patties, polish sausage, and the country ham that is used for the Hot Browns.
There are locals who come every weekend, but “we have several people who come here that book every year and bring their family members,” says Neal. “They come from everywhere—Florida, Michigan, Ohio,”—and anywhere around the region.
“It’s a family setting, so we have all ages,” he says. “We see a lot of families.”