I guess Cracker Barrel (www.crackerbarrel.com) is a popular chain restaurant of down south. Its whole concept is a country store attached to a restaurant serving down home country cooking. There are only 4 locations in MA, but hundreds all over the country (it’s true, they even give away a free US map with all their locations on it). After a morning (and afternoon) of vigorous outlet shopping, MJ and I stopped at the Wrentham location for lunch.
Normally, I’m not a chain restaurant kinda girl, but it was close, it was convenient, and mostly importantly, Scott (the chicken fried steak expert from dallasfood.org) says that Cracker Barrel serves a “mean CFS,” despite being a chain.
You walk up to the restaurant and the front area is lined with wicker rocking chairs for resting, or purchasing. The lobby of the restaurant is an “old-fashioned country store, selling all sorts of candy, knickknacks and souvenirs. We got seated quickly and MJ and I ordered CFS (of course!), fried chicken, mashed potatoes, fried okra, fried apples, turnip greens and mac and cheese.
The CFS came toped with sawmill gravy (milk gravy) and was crispy, decent meat flavor and a good chew. It was pretty good. Best CFS I’ve had above the
I love sides, I love when restaurants give you choice of lots of sides. Cracker Barrel’s list of sides is nice and long: Whole Kernel Corn, Country Green Beans, Sweet Whole Baby Carrots, Fried Apples, Macaroni n' Cheese, Apple Sauce, Pinto Beans, Dumplins, Turnip Greens, Cole Slaw, Steak Fries, Mashed Potatoes, Breaded Fried Okra, Hashbrown Casserole and the Vegetable of the Day
The sides were mostly disappointing. The okra was soggy, which is strange because the CFS and chicken were fried nicely. The “fried” apples were good, but were not any different from stewed apples. I’ve never had turnip greens before; they were cooked like collards, with a ham hock, but had a strange aftertaste. Potatoes and mac and cheese were okay, nothing special.
Given the dearth of restaurants by the outlets (Ruby Tuesdays, Friendly’s or D&D), Cracker Barrel is a decent choice. I will definitely go back and have more CFS, maybe with the hashbrown casserole next time.