Thursday, July 26, 2012

Cracker Barrel

12401 Redwater Creek Rd
Chester, VA 23831
804.748.4032
www.crackerbarrel.com
Cracker Barrel on Urbanspoon

What?

That's right.

I'm sitting in a coffee shop in downtown Chapel Hill, NC just doing some work and surfing the net before going to dinner at Lantern.  And yes, I'm also writing a post about Cracker Barrel.   I'm in North Carolina to visit some relatives and I drove my parents and a niece down here.  On our way down yesterday, we stopped for lunch at a Cracker Barrel just outside of Richmond, VA.  Yeah, I know I took pics but I struggled internally about writing a review about the place.  First of all, its a chain restaurant which I generally don't write about.  Second, its not like Cracker Barrel is at the epitome of good food.  However, it's not like this blog has hard and fast guidelines and if food critics are writing about Olive Garden then Cracker Barrel deserves a little love.


So, should one write a post about Cracker Barrel?

F*ck yeah.

We used to make the drive from Toronto to Chapel Hill and I've made road trips to places like Knoxville, TN; Orlando, FL; and Lafayette, LA.  Road trips were a cherished part of my childhood and eating on those road trips were some of the best memories.  What I've observed over the years is that road trip food from chain restaurants is generally pretty sh*tty up North.  Whether it's a rest area or a place right near an exit, you get the same kind of craptastic food from the usual fast food chains.  To me, road tripping food doesn't get pretty good until you get into the South.  That's where Waffle House (that's right, you know you love Waffle House) and Cracker Barrel start to take over.  I don't think I've ever seen a Cracker Barrel in a populated urban area or anywhere but right off a major thoroughfare.  I guess that's part of their core corporate strategy but I'm just guessing there.

We stopped at the one in Chester, VA but it could have been the Cracker Barrel in any town.  On the porch outside, they have rocking chairs which are always for sale.  I guarantee you if you've ever been to a Cracker Barrel that you've asked yourself this same question:  "Who the f*ck buys a rocking chair from Cracker Barrel?"  You know you have.  When you walk in, there's the general store as you walk in where you can buy all sorts of Americana.  They have things like vintage packaged boxes of cracker jacks and just kitschy-like souvenirs.  If you're familiar with my pics at all, you should know I got myself an old school bottle root beer on my way out.

As road trip food goes, the menu is a ton more appealing than any fast food chains and the prices are really really competitive.  You can get breakfast 24 hours a day plus a whole assortment of comfort food.  I think my mom ordered some sausage and biscuits, Dad got an open face roast beef sandwich with gravy, my niece got the open face turkey sandwich special, and I, of course, got their country fried steak with mashed potatoes, kernel corn, and sweet baby carrots.  Also, this being the south, I got a sweet tea to drink.

Okay, so my whole meal came out entirely too hot and burned my tongue.  The gravy may have been the culprit as it was on top of the mashed and steak but bled on top of everything else.  But, after it cooled down and I doused my tongue with appropriate amounts of sweet tea, it wasn't too bad.  The mashed potatoes still had chunks of potatoes; the corn was sweet and creamy; and the carrots were even sweeter and buttery.  The steak wasn't the best cut around but fried really well and the batter remained crispy even with copious amount of black pepper gravy.  No, it isn't something to rave about but it is a meal that I would choose over any fast food restaurant any day of the week.

Oh yeah, this was really a post about Cracker Barrel.   Going on road trips with my family was always one of my favorite things when I was growing up.  Cracker Barrel was one of our preferred restaurants of choice when we stopped to eat so Cracker Barrel is part of those memories.  Now, I'm not saying that Cracker Barrel will set your world on fire.  But, if you're looking for a place to eat while on a long road trip, I can't think of a better place to stop if you're unfamiliar with the area.  It has everything you could possibly want:  cheap pieces of Americana for souvenirs; a place to rest your feet and rock out for awhile; and good, wholesome comfort food.


9 comments:

  1. Thank you for this review! I'm craving for any comfort food right now, and I want to eat it in a country style ambiance. This is just perfect!

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  2. I love the overall theme of the restaurant it's like a seaside-inspired one. I'd love to pay some visit on that fancy little restaurant when I get some time from my tiring work and want to unwind even for a brief moment.

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  3. The whole place is very inviting, aside from the delish foods that they offer, I like how the place was being arranged. They gave justice to the restaurant’s tagline; the place was perfectly set as an old country house.

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  4. Old-school charm taken to extreme levels. It almost looks like a saloon of sorts, what with all the wooden furnishings and that porch with all the rocking chairs. Now I want to go there.

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  5. Talk about western-inspired interiors. I want to take a bite out of that; haven't gone to a western-type bistro before, and I figure I may be missing out.

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  6. I love old country inspired places, I even made it as a theme in my newly renovated house. This resto seems like a good place to visit; I will definitely suggest this to my friends and try this resto right away!

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  7. Yes, I may have to agree with what Brooke said; the whole place is very inviting! Maybe that’s because the place is well set and perfectly designed, it’s all about choosing the right furniture for the theme of the place like this resto.

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  8. That country fried steak caught my attention immediately. I would definitely visit cracker barrel and try that one out. I read that you didn't like the steak that much but I am willing to try it.

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  9. The theme and arrangement of the place interest me. Especially the classic or the vintage stuff they hanged in the ceiling. I'll make sure to visit the place some other time perhaps.

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