There are a few things that I must bring out into the open and be honest about. The first is that after roaming this earth for many years and always being in search of good food, this is the first time I ever ate at Cracker Barrel. My wife and I did try attempting to enter one while traveling just south of DC last year but the line was out the door and we never made it in. I said that, even though I have heard good things about the place, nothing is worth a line like that.
It's a store!
So we pull up to the place and after stepping in it looks like my worst nightmare. Yikes!! It's nothing but a craft and country store with tons of things my wife would like to shop around for. My first impression is that the place is going to waste my time and clean out my wallet. I should have been warned by the outside porch that was lined with rocking chairs with price tags.
So here comes my second confession. After lookin' around a while, I liked the place. Besides Christmas ornaments, winter clothes and accessories, candies and nuts, rag dolls, rocking chairs and maple syrup they also had "manly" items. I enjoyed going through the large die cast 1950's-60's autos. I was disappointed that they didn't have a replica of the 1959 white Chevy Impala convertible with red interior that I owned and cruised with as a kid. The store also had some pretty cool "gift" tools and books that interested me. The John Deere and Coca Cola gift items were worth a good look too. I understand the Cracker Barrel does a healthy amount of business through Mail order.
I suppose this shop could help kill time while waiting on line to be called for seating.
Catering to All the Senses
We had absolutely no line at all on a Thursday morning at 9:00AM in the middle of Massachusetts. One thing I did notice about this place is that it caters to all the senses. First walking in you get the aromas of fresh cooking mixed in with the scent of a wood burning fireplace and also cinnamon and other spices that are from the candles and potpourri they sell.
The first items to see as you walk in the door through the store are holiday decorations that evoke the spirited winter months. Being the week before Thanksgiving I'm ready for that feeling.
The ear is greeted with calm country music being played quietly over the buildings sound system. You hear the music in the store, restaurant, and even the rest rooms.
Walking into the restaurant the body feels the warmth of the huge stone fireplace that is constantly being fed logs of hard oak. I enjoyed watching one of the woman workers throw these logs in and seeing all the burned embers cascading up, in and around the hearth.
The one sense that gets the best and most pleasant workout in this place is the sense of taste. Mmm, Mmm, good!
The restaurant's walls and ceilings are covered with Americana items like flags, roadside signs, wash boards, hand crank grinders, old wooden telephones, a shot gun and the like. Some hang from the beamed ceilings or are placed above the mantle of the fireplace that centers the large main room with high lofted ceilings. They even have a trophy deer head above the fireplace. The floors were made from oak boards. I saw plenty of high chairs and booster seats hanging and ready to go.
The brown paper menus are given to all as you sit at large wooden tables, with a hurricane lamp, that were nicely spaced from each other. The chairs were strong and comfortable too.
You can keep prices down for breakfast by having just a couple of eggs and biscuits for $2.99. In fact the menu has 17 combinations that run from $1.89- $2.99. These are different combos of eggs, meats, hashbrowns, fried apples and such.
The fact is though, that this big guy goes for the hearty dishes that combined many of these items. I had " The Sunrise Sampler at $6.49 that is described as Two eggs cooked to order with Grits, Sawmill Gravy, Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits, real butter and the best preserves, Jam n' Apple Butter we could find -plus- Fried Apples and Hashbrown Casserole -and- Sampling of Smoked Sausage, country Ham and Thick Sliced Bacon . Oh Man, I was in breakfast heaven! All was perfect and the different tastes were wonderful. When our plates were first brought out the regular biscuits were not ready so they brought us cinnamon biscuits for the time being. They too were excellent. Wow, even their coffee was good and they sell it in the store.
There are about six or seven large breakfasts like the one I had. There are even larger ones with Country Fried Chicken, Grilled Pork, Farm Raised Catfish Fillet or Country Fried Steak.
My wife had a different combo breakfast and, after we left, said it was the best breakfast she had ever had at a restaurant! Hey, you can't beat that recommendation.
I liked that many of the items were presented in their own bowls like the Fried Apples that were incredibly good. The grits weren't bad for anything served above DC. The bacon was D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S. It was thick sliced and tasty and I loved the hashbrown casserole. Hey, even the eggs were fresh and good.
Other items like French Toast and Pancake Breakfasts are listed and by the looks of them being brought to other tables were also a hearty breakfast. They offered Pecan, Wild Maine Blueberry, and Maple Pancakes.
A different touch was the small bottles of maple syrup that were brought to the table. My daughter had some pancakes and the syrup is brought very warm in little bottles.
Lunch and Dinner
Though breakfast is served all day, and a great value, Cracker Barrel also has a lunch and dinner menu. I took a look at it and it seems to expand on the country theme of breakfast with Roast Beef dinners, Chicken Fried Chicken, Meatloaf dinner, Country fried Shrimp Platter, Lemon Pepper Grilled Trout, Farm Raised Catfish Platter, Chicken n' Dumplings Platter and more at $7.49-$8.99. A few steak dinners at a dollar or two more are also listed. All these dinners come with your choice of any three country vegetables, plus made-from-scratch Buttermilk Biscuits or Corn Muffin and real butter.
All kinds of assorted sides are also available as are their Country Sandwich Platters. I would love to try some of their soups. If you are looking for something lighter they also have a full menu, eight items, of Salads n' Such.
Cracker Barrel also has a few Monday-Thursday specials at $7.99. These include Fried Pork Chops Monday, Butter Baked Chicken Tuesday, Brocolli Cheddar Chicken Wednesday, and Turkey n' Dressing Friday. These all come with two choices of veggies. Oh yes, the place even offers cheese burgers.
As refreshments Cracker Barrel offers Coca Cola brand items like their regular and diet sodas and Sprite. at $1.59 that are free refillables. Iced tea, lemonade, coffee and tea are free refills also.
Summing it All Up
We were fortunate when we went the second time, there was absolutely no wait at all. I did see a bus parking lot in the back of the restaurant that was empty. I suppose the place can really get hoppin' when these things pull in.
Having said that the last thing I must confess to is that, after trying the Cracker Barrel, I would now wait on a long line to be served good country cooked food that is a terrific value.
More chain eateries by popsrocks
Applebee's / Romano's MACARONI GRILL / KFC / OUTBACK STEAKHOUSE / Wendy's / OUTBACK Restaurant / Cozymel's / Cheesecake Factory / McDonald's / Taco Bell / Checkers Burgers / Red Lobster / The White Castle / TGI Friday's / Charlie Browns / Burger King / Arthur Treacher's Fish and Chips / Dunkin' Donuts / Starbucks / Ralph's Famous Ices / Cold Stone Creamery / CARVEL Ice Cream / Boulder Creek Steakhouse / Waffle House / Krispy Kreme / Friendly's / Nathan's / Jillian's / Blimpies / Quizno's / jumba juice / Katz's Deli / Ruth's Chris Steak House / Don Juan's / Bob Evans / The Olive Garden
Read all 358 Reviews
Write a Review