As the festive season drew near, I headed to Georgia for a week of fun on the MJ family homestead which is just near the border of Georgia and Alabama around Columbus, GA and Phenix City, AL.
As we drove around the area, we hit upon several outcroppings of shopping centres and retail parks populated by largely unfamiliar (to me) or unexplored chain restaurants. MJ was keen to expose me to their various joys so we dived in on quite the little adventure.
Things started at Cracker Barrel, a place that evokes the spirit of the old western general store while serving a menu of southern staples. We managed to resist buying a rocking chair on the way in.
The place looks to do brisk business and we felt fortunate to be seated so promptly.
The menu held a dizzying array of options from which we both chose combo dishes. MJ opted for the country vegetable plate while I had their sampler which featured a trio of their more popular dishes. In both cases we could add three sides plus bread meaning rather a lot of food arrived once things had been prepared.
MJ’s dish was a big baked sweet potato – with butter and cinnamon sugar on the side – greens and ham, broccoli, and green beans. It looked a fairly mixed bag.
My dish included chicken and dumplings, meatloaf and country ham with mac n cheese, mash and carrots on the side. The carrots were watery and overcooked, and everything else was beige.
The mac was not bad, the meatloaf oddly compelling, but the dumplings – essentially just uneven piece of dough in gloop – were pretty bad. I’m not even too clear on what a good version of this curious dish might look like.
Service had been friendly and prompt. The total bill for the two of us came in at around the average price I’ve been paying for a starter which was both thrilling and terrifying.
Overall, Cracker Barrel was a fun introduction into the chains of the southern states. The experience was far better than the food, but it was quite memorable as well as offering a good benchmark. I look forward to where next we land on this adventure.
Blythe scores Cracker Barrel
2/5 for food
2/5 for presentation
3.5/5 for service
3.5/5 for setting
giving an overall 11/20
Today’s questers were: MJ, Blythe
We ate: vegetable platter, taster platter, cornbread, biscuits
We drank: sweet tea, water
We wore: Hawaiian shirt, Alabamian sweater
Total bill: $21.35
Address: Store #523 Columbus, GA