Saturday, January 7, 2017

Put Some Cracker Barrel In Your Mouth Today

As many of you know, I grew up in the south and lived there for 17 years. Due to this, it's made me no stranger to classic Southern fare like mac and cheese, chicken and dumplings, biscuits, and of course sweet tea.  Now that I live in New England, there's not many restaurants that cater towards southern cuisine around.  There's just something so comforting about digging into a plate of something warm and delicious that reminds you of childhood.

Cracker Barrel is an American chain of a combined restaurant and gift store that has a Southern country theme.  You'll enjoy bringing the whole family to this eatery where you can make your belly happy with such menu choices as grilled pork chops, hickory smoked country ham, rainbow trout, or even roast beef.  There's something for everyone including sandwiches, salads, soups, and even breakfast all day! Don't forget the delicious sides like mac and cheese, buttermilk biscuits, fried okra, country green beans, fried apples, and so much more.  You can't leave without finishing the meal with a sweet treat such as fruit cobbler with ice cream, a slice of pie, or even double chocolate fudge coca-cola cake!

Cracker Barrel will leave you happy and satisfied and you can walk off that meal afterwards by shopping in the gift store.  There's always something uncommon and interesting to see in the shop.  You'll love the housewares, unique food and candy options, as well as clothing and toys.  It's next to impossible to walk into the store without buying something.  

My family recently visited Cracker Barrel last night for dinner on our way down to Florida to visit my parents.  Scarlett had not previously been before and I knew she'd love it.  I hadn't been in many years and was really looking forward to the dining experience.  From the minute you walk in, you're welcomed warmly by the staff and it feels like home.  The atmosphere is cozy and offers vintage ads plastered on the walls featuring beverages, food/candy, and even car ads.  I love vintage ads and they really appeal to me.  It's fun to see all of the old signs which certainly are not like today's ads!

We started off the meal with drinks and the most delectable biscuits I have ever had in my life.  I could eat my weight in these biscuits, they were that good. Who could resist round and fluffy buttery circles of heaven? I enjoyed each and every bite of these warm beauties.  I wish I had one right now!

My husband Jay ordered country fried chicken covered with buttermilk gravy for his entree.  The three sides that came with his meal included pinto beans, fried okra, and a tomato, cucumber, and onion salad.  With 20 sides to choose from it can be hard to pick just 3! The portion size of the chicken was large and completely blanketed with the gravy.  He said the chicken was perfectly crunchy, juicy and cooked well.  The gravy gave it a nice boost of flavor that he loved.

Jay said the tomato, cucumber and onion salad was cool and refreshing as well as a nice addition to the warm chicken. The juicy tomatoes complimented the chilled cucumbers and onions and it was the perfect mix.  The pinto beans and fried okra are a classic combo and you can never go wrong with them.

I decided to be adventurous and order something completely out of the ordinary from what I normally  order.  The apple cider BBQ chicken breast caught my eye and looked like something I could enjoy.  An added bonus is that it's on the lighter section of the menu at only 330 calories.  I chose fresh apple slices and macaroni and cheese for my sides.  The chicken is seasoned with a smokey southern spice and topped with zesty apple cider BBQ sauce and a fresh gala apple and dried cranberry chutney.

My dish turned out to be beyond delicious and more than I expected!  I couldn't get over how fantastic it was and I gobbled it up in record time. The chicken was nice and thin and I loved the uncommon apple cider BBQ flavor that it offered.  It was sweet and zippy at the same time and a flavor combination that I've never had before.  The chutney consisted of a nice chunky mix of apples and cranberries and it really was a fantastic addition to my dinner.  I want to try to replicate this meal at home as soon as possible!

The macaroni and cheese that came as my side was a surprising size for a side.  They really gave you a lot which was welcomed by me since I'm a big lover of mac and cheese.  To say that I enjoyed it was an understatement.  I inhaled that cheesy goodness like it was my job.  The level of cheese provided for this dish was very generous and really made my taste buds happy.  I couldn't get over how tasty the mac and cheese was and I couldn't stop eating it. The pasta was perfectly cooked and packed with cheesy flavor that you won't soon forget.  I could have certainly eaten my weight in it!

My apple slices were fresh and flavorful and perfectly crunchy.  This was a good way to continue the apple theme from my chicken.  Scarlett also enjoyed them as that's one of her favorite fruits.

Scarlett had the kid's mac and cheese for dinner and loved it as well.  She's just like her mom and enjoys a lot of the same foods as me.  What child doesn't love mac and cheese though? She took a few bites and said "mmm" after each bite and smiled.  I think it's safe to say that she enjoyed it!

At the end of the meal, we had to follow it up with sweet treats of course.  It's a sin to finish dinner without dessert in my eyes.  Jay had blackberry cobbler with vanilla ice cream while I opted for the double fudge chocolate coca-cola cake.  I'm a chocolate lover through and through so this appealed to me more than the cobbler did.  Not long after ordering, a large piece of warm cake came with a perfectly round scoop of vanilla ice cream to accompany it.  The cake was moist and flavorful while the thick double fudge frosting was sweet and rich. I wanted to dig in as soon as I saw it.

I think the soda helps moisten the cake and make it more soft and fluffy. There was no trace at all of the soda flavor.  Cake and ice cream is a classic pairing and I loved having a bite of cool and creamy ice cream with the sweet cake at the same time, it made for a fabulous tasting!  I let Scarlett have a bite of each and she was in absolute heaven.  It's rare that she has sweets but I knew I couldn't deny her this.

Jay enjoys fruit desserts much more than I do and was excited to dig into this fruity beauty.  The blackberries were prevalent throughout the dessert and paired well with the delicious sweet crust on top.  You can't forget the generous scoop of vanilla ice cream that's on top either! All in all, Jay was very satisfied with his dessert choice.

We left the meal with full stomachs and a positive dining experience.  I bought my daughter Scarlett a cute dress in the Cracker Barrel store that I couldn't pass up as well as some candy for me.  We loved the restaurant so much that we went back for lunch the next day! Two meals at Cracker Barrel in two days is a win-win for me! I can't wait to go back again sometime soon.

If you're looking for a delicious restaurant that the whole family can enjoy, it's time to make a visit to Cracker Barrel.

*DISCLOSURE* Thank you to Cracker Barrel for providing a complimentary visit in exchange for this post.  All thoughts are strictly my own. 

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