Thursday, June 29, 2006

Restaurant Review: Cracker Barrel




I had no idea a place such as this even existed. Part of me wants to applaud the brilliant restaurateur that masterminded this behemoth Southern chain and the other part wants to give him a good swift kick to the bowels – just like his food did to me.

After seeing a Cracker Barrel restaurant at every truck stop between Nashville and Manchester, Linds informed me that I could not leave Tennessee without experience the trashy country-themed delight that is Cracker Barrel. They sell rocking chairs on the front porch! They have an entire country store fronting every restaurant! I bought a John Deere thermal shirt in a children’s small – and it fit! The glory! The horror!

Our waitress was an absolute delight. She guided me through the menu like an old pro, laughing when I said I’d never had chicken and dumplings or deep-fried okra before. When I requested cornbread instead of biscuits, she giggled and asked, "Have ya evah had cornbread before?" I should have said no, because I've never had cornbread that tasted like bacon before. Nor have I ever had green beans, macaroni and cheese or fried okra that tasted like bacon before.

I used to say "everything is better with bacon." I'm a changed woman.

The highlight of the meal came soon after I received my "Country Sampler" (aka "Country Salt Lick") consisting of chicken n' dumplings, meatloaf, country ham, macaroni and cheese, fried okra and cooked carrots. Linds and I were dying of thirst, having consumed massive amounts of sodium, and were keeping an eye out for our waitress. She arrived a few minutes later, a little flustered, but just as bubbly as before. "I'm sorry," she said, "but one of the girls just had a seizure in the kitchen!"

I imagined a woman flopping about the kitchen, knocking out her remaining three teeth and flipping over a vat of grits. Why? Because I think stereotypes are funny. And, I'm really not that nice of a person. Luckily, Lindsay is. She said, "Is she alright?"

"Oh, she's fine. The paramedics are here. "

"Is she a diabetic?" Maybe Lindsay isn't that nice either. Not all seizuring fat people are diabetics, you know.

"No. She just has seizures."

Lindsay looked confused. Our waitress nodded knowingly. It was my turn. "You mean, she has epilepsy?"

The lightbulb went off above our waitress's head. "Yep! That's why she has seizures!"

It was a brilliant moment. Our sweet, flustered waitress was doing everything she could to give us top-notch customer service while in the kitchen her epileptic co-worker was being wheeled away by paramedics after a grand mal. So we did what any good Southern diner would do.

"Glad to hear she's OK. Can we get the strawberry shortcake too?"


Mindy said...

A guy I dated a long time ago once tried to take me to this restaurant (in MN). But once I got there and saw all those rocking chairs and the many many MANY obese patrons, I got such a creepy feeling I had to turn around and walk out. Seems like I made a pretty good decision. :-) Great story!

christianne said...

Oh, you did. My goodness, you certainly did! I was doubled-over in pain from the "flavor explosion" that is Cracker Barrel. Be happy you missed it!

bs said...

So proud you made it to the Cracker Barrel. I nearly cried when passed one a few weeks ago--I was headed back to Chi-town from Kalamazoo and had no real reason to stop. I still dream of the eggs in a basket....