Sunday, January 25, 2009

Food: Cracker Barrel

The Cracker Barrel chain of restaurants/stores is a study in contrast. On the one hand, it's a well-established piece of American kitsch; the first one opened 40 years ago, and now you can find locations scattered throughout the country, usually next to highways. They're aiming for a slightly southern-tinged American nostalgia, complete with rocking chairs and newspapers on the front porch.

Look at the contents of the typical Cracker Barrel storefront, though, and you'll find a whole bunch of "Made in China" labels. Even the candy being sold is often just flavored high fructose corn syrup. Most people eat breakfast at these places when they're on the road, and there just isn't a whole lot of the old-timey community atmosphere when you have a bunch of tourists sitting in one place.

The Cracker Barrel in Gainesville (the location I'm reviewing) is one of the most well-run operations you could ask for, though. Wait times, even during the notoriously crowded back-to-school weeks, are never too outrageous, and the breakfast is acceptable if unspectacular. You could definitely cook a better breakfast yourself, but sometimes that's a tall order on a sleepy Saturday morning.

2/4 stars


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