A Barrel of Bland

crackerbarrel.jpgWhen Cracker Barrel Restaurants started popping up all over Colorado I remember them causing quite a stir.  Tour busses would bring loads of people; there was always a crowd rocking out on the "front porch," and the gift shop was shoulder-to-shoulder chaos.  We went occasionally and I never admitted I didn't get the appeal (except for the retro stuff in the storefront), but when you wanted to meet people for breakfast-that was always a place that seemed to please.

A year and a half ago I ventured in to one by myself near a hotel we were staying in while Dave was teaching an onsite.  Not good.  They stuck me on a hard chair in the middle of the room, mere inches from diners on either side of me and served me the blandest of lunches.

Why, oh, why did I try it again today?  We're in Pueblo where Dave is teaching this week and once again, I thought I'd give the Barrel a try.  I decided to pore over that menu with a keen eye and get something really delicious.  It seemed to me that my problem was just that I didn't order well when I was there – my fault, not theirs. I asked my server what she recommended and then took her up on it.  It came out hot and fast and unseasoned and colorless and my check was already on the table within 12 minutes of me being seated.  And that was about the end of any service or notice of my existance…except for the patrons on either side of me, just inches away-wondering why I was eating alone and what I was having and if it was good.  Same middle table, same hard chair.

I really wanted something to eat, you know?  But their menu seems to be for people who don't have teeth or good eyesight going for them.  I am not ready for that yet!

But I would like one of their rockers…Jeanie

NOTE TO SELF: Never again choose Cracker Barrel, and try to go with grace if some one else does.

I watched their 30-second commercial and I want to know where that color came from on the tables full of food!??! 

14 thoughts on “A Barrel of Bland

  1. The Barrel of Crackers is absent spice because it is down home, hearty American fare and should be eaten with a spoon but only at 4 o'clock in the afternoon when you are ready for a Floridian settle in. It's not the spice that permeates life. I am still full from The Black Eyed Pea…

  2. Oh this makes me sad! The Cracker Barrel is in my top 5 restaurants. But then again, I am Southern! Wednesday night's special is Broccoli Cheddar Chicken. And it is TO. DIE. FOR. :)

  3. I've been there once several years ago. I think I'm still digesting the food they brought me. I remember it being the heaviest meal I have ever eaten. Everything covered in thick, thick gravy.

  4. So sorry to hear that. You would think there would be consistency in a chain of restaurants. My experience has been different in the Cracker Barrel restaurants I have visited. The only time my food was colorless was when I ordered only fried things. Breakfast is my favorite food they serve, but is also my favorite meal anywhere. Should you see a Cracker Barrel outside Colorado (Kentucky, maybe) you might want to give them another chance. Or perhaps their food choices are not the things you like to eat? I almost always eat alone, and have seldom been seated in the middle of the room. On the rare occasion when I didn't like where they were seating me, they graciously seated me somewhere else, when I asked. Of course, that would be more difficult when they are crowded. Note to self: Time to dine at Cracker Barrel. It has been a few days since the last time. Today's special is turkey and dressing, and the vegetable of the day is sweet potato casserole with pecan topping.

  5. Oh, this post made me so very sad.  How could you NOT be a Cracker Barrel convert?  The hashbrown casserole, the cinnamon apples, the ham steak… heavenly.  I think I'll have to stop by this weekend!  :)

  6.   OK- so here are my replies to making so many of you so sad:

    I actually love southern, home-cooking.  I just think a chain should make it better than what I can at home and they don't. I had the special (as suggested), which was chicken pot pie.  I asked for the promised side of veggies and was told, "The veggies are IN the pot pie."  There were 2 chunks of carrots and a whole can of peas (Kroger or off-brand canned peas, at that).  The filling was bland.  Period.  I also am not a big fan of turning every stinking vegetable into a casserole of some sort, though my family loves that and I do it.  It just turns stuff to mush. 

    With the special came corn bread, too crumbly to eat;  a biscuit that was tough; butter too cold and hard to spread.  I ordered a side salad, too, to add that fresh feeling I long for – which had frozen lettuce.  But the dressing was good and the tomatoes were almost in the red-family.

    I actually have liked their breakfasts pretty well, especially the grits (grits are gooooood!).  But it was lunch time for me.

    Also-I would've asked for a different table, but I was not given the chance.  Not one person there from the seating hostess to my waitress to the cashier ever looked me in the eye.  The hostess threw the menu on the table and said, "Enjoy," as she twirled around walked away.  My waitress was always looking around the room for some one more important, even as I ordered.  The cashier kept yelling to a manager that her computer wasn't "acting right."  It is not lost on me that having bad service will ruin an entire meal and maybe that is the problem?  Repeatedly.

    I love country.  I love southern (I cook this way!), I love food and it has to be pretty bad for me not to enjoy a meal out.  This was again…as usual for this establishment – for me.  But if I am ever in Kentucky (where my sister lives)…

    PS – I tipped my waitress more than 20% anyway because maybe she was having a bad day…

  7. Now-now, all of you! I am with Jeanie on this one, I am afraid… The last time I ate at a Cracker Barrel was because my best friend was meeting her mother there for lunch and they invited me to partake. Admittedly, I was excited by the giftshop, and think I actually bought some rock candy, but that will probably be the last time I visit, unless I again need rock candy. My biggest disappointment was not the fact that everything really IS greasy and bland, but that NO WHERE on that menu can one find FRIED GREEN TOMATOES. I mean seriously, people; what is more "country" than fried green tomatoes?

  8. I'm with you too! I have eaten there twice. One with Bry and the kids when it first opened in Thornton. It was the worst food I had ever had. Very bland. The food may as well be a black and white. It sat in my belly for what seemed like days. And the kids wouldn't touch it. The second time was with you and Heather for lunch (remember) I thought to myself "oh no, but its with my sweet friends and maybe it will be better this time. It had been several years." But noooo, it was yucky! I hope to never eat there again. But, I will if a dear friend wants to. I'll just remember to take my pepto along with me.  Amy Jo's right, were are the fried green tomatoes? I want to try them.

  9. I haven't been to the Cracker Barrel in years.  In fact, I remember the last time I went – over 4 years ago.  Funny, I haven't missed it at all.  Southern food??  I hope not!  Maybe I'll open my own "Southern restaurant" – I just need a casserole or two and fried okra and everyone in Colorado will be raving;o)  I think there are much better restaurants out there!

  10. Yeah, I agree, I'd pass on going to Cracker Barrel the next time the opportunity pops up.  I've added them to the list with Denny's, Village Inn, International House of Pancakes, Furrs and a few others.  (shudder) I get the heebie jeebies just thinking of having to eat at those places.  I appreciate that they have plenty of fans to keep them open for business – I'm just not one of them.  (Although, Rob and I did rush to Village Inn for a chocolate cream pie – take home – when we got a whim for one the other night.  Even that experience was shaky as we had to take a deep breath – hold our breath and dart in the door past a haze of smoke from the smokers who plant themselves right by the door before going in to the now non-smoking restaurant.  Just 3 seconds was enough for us to come home smelling like a "back in the day" bowling alley!)

  11. Is this the most reponses you have received on a post? Funny what comes out when we talk food.  Now that you have given me permission to not like Cracker Barrel, I think I am going to have to do that. Something inside me just says it is good because it is suppose to be. After all, it is Southern food and their gift store has fun candy. But, when I think back to some of the meals I've eaten there, they weren't that good. Except the cheesy hashbrowns.

  12. OK, having lived in "the South" for 20 years now, I feel uniquely qualified to comment here.  All the people who love CrackerBarrel eat breakfast there.  That's it.  The hashbrown casserole is definately the best thing they offer, and is easily accomplished at home.  The stuff in the gift shop is cute.  I bought a popcorn popper there once.  But, most importantly, we must continue to eat there once in a while, because my dad owns stock.  This is my inheritance we're talking about!

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