Date of Visit: Friday, June 11, 2010 at 10:30 a.m.
IMPRESSIONS & ATMOSPHERE: Yes, this is a post about a Cracker Barrel. Another one. I simply had to post about it, because a.) I’m a bit neurotic in that I’ve got to record every breakfast journey, and b.) Cracker Barrel is the model of consistency. There is little difference between this Cracker Barrel in Beckley, West Virginia and the first one I reviewed in New Stanton, Pennsylvania. And what better way to demonstrate this than by writing about another one?
Every Cracker Barrel is situated close to a highway, with a tall, tall sign to draw weary travelers. The gift shops, the restrooms, the counters are all the same, as is the big covered porch with rows of rocking chairs.
The same bustling dining room, with sections separated by those lattice walls. Same wooden tables and chairs, and the big stone fireplace.
Their breakfast does have my favorite phrase – Breakfast Served All Day – emblazoned on the menus.
FOOD & SERVICE: The food at Cracker Barrel matches the decor: consistent, but lacking some character. You will certainly get a good and filling meal here, and the servers are always friendly, fast, and helpful. But don’t expect anything out of the ordinary.
I like country fried steak, so I gave Grandpa’s Country Fried Breakfast a try. Big piece of steak, nice breading, decent gravy. But you couldn’t cut it with your fork. For me, a country fried steak should be tender enough you can slice it with the side of your fork. Sides of eggs, their potato casserole, and grits. Also decent.
My wife tried the biscuits and the grits. The grits aren’t bad – there’s a little bit of butter in the them. And the biscuits held up. But nothing extraordinary.
OVERALL: I certainly don’t mind Cracker Barrels. Their consistency is a nice relief when you’re on the road and you want some place you know you can count on. From what I’ve heard, they really do cook everything from scratch. This may certainly be true, but the downside of such consistency is that everything can be too generic: there’s a low level of seasoning to keep the appeal broad. I don’t hold anything against Cracker Barrel, but I wish the local road food had as much big signage as the chains.
P.S. I said “No” to the vegetarian-friendliness of the place. While you can order pancakes or waffles or the like, I say it’s not necessary vegetarian because their menu states (scroll down), many of their dishes are prepared using meat seasonings. So I can you can make special requests, but there aren’t special menu items created for vegetarians.