Update:  04/27/2021  - Cracker Barrel is back on TV with round two of pretending to know how to make fried chicken…their  first round was a total failure and they stopped it…cold, after a ton of complaints.  Best described as “ it was flat disgusting” by all four of us at the table, thing it was fluke, we tried again…

Now chicken is popular again and even burger joints have embraced  the bird (due to cost and availability) wings are getting scarce.  And Cracker Barrel is touting their hand breaded fried Southern Chicken again… round two, and they will try to fry and die again…

👺  06/2019  —  THIS CHAIN SUCKS  —More Ways Than One —

I was trained in a Manhattan restaurant in NYC and we did a huge chicken business, fried, grilled, in stir fries, salad and sandwich’s.   About half a cow in burgers, 50-60  chickens a day, delivered fresh, we prepped, cooked  and ready by lunch time. I am a chickenhawk and just wrote a paper on Chicken in Tampa Bay… 

I found some of the worst possible treatment of everyday food the plebeian class lives on right here in Tampa Bay, the franchise beancounter franchise food capitol of the world. 

On TV this week all we heard was ad after ad that Cracker Barrel was now into Fried Chicken.  After a few days , I said to my associate critic, lets try the Fried Chicken at Cracker Barrel, I was TV brainwashed… she said OK…  After our meal there, and my statement to the waitress was  “ Who cooked this sh*t and why us he still working here” 

👺  BOTTOM LINE  —  It was the worst fried chicken I have ever been served in my life. And I just did a local special on roasts and wings so I was tuned into some good chicken… and this was inedible. This was not fried it was destroyed…and disgusting… I wouldn’t serve it even if my theme restaurant was a cemetery. It looked dead…

  • Our server, a really nice young lady told us you were getting a breast, a thigh, a leg and a wing.  Best description would be where did they get the anemic chickens.  These were smaller pullet size.

  • It was coated in something resembling concrete, crispy no, case-hardened yes.  If you had a tender bite, this stuff was like rocks.  It had more crust than two of its competitors.

  • I peeled back the layers of coating to get to the chicken and I would call it about a 60-40 relationship, 60% coating and 40% chicken with no taste.  I got tired of fighting with it,  I asked for the manager.

  • This Cracker Barrel does a good business and most of their other locations with serving conventional Americana foods But I would be scary about a 3.5 in evaluation. I was very wrong, the critical industry accurate sites showed them at a range of 2.3  to 3.0. Even worse. 

  • Their employees rated them under a three, what does that tell you…

  • They do business because they are at every exit on the highways and the first place after hours of driving for tea,  pee and sustenance.

Their ad bragged about Southern Fried Chicken, at Cracker-Barrel —

“ Authentically prepared, double-breaded by hand with a custom blend of three types of black pepper and several seasonings and spices, then fried until it is perfectly crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside”.  
Rock Hard Is Not Crispy,   It’s Burnt Or Stale —  This was a breadcrumb concoction cooked in a pressure cooker  (AKA KFC PRESSURE COOKERS)  and came out rock hard or laying under heat lamps stale.  I live in the South and we do a lot of chicken.   It was all for naught and the worst  $10.79. I could have spent times two.  For the 25 dollars I could have brought home five cooked chickens from Costco who won our Chicken Roasted contest and enjoyed themThe picture above is not what we got, it was Fifty Shades Of Grey darker and ominous to the point of not appealing

Manager Input And Corpo Guano Idiot Speak  —  I chatted with the manager.  “ Made-from-scratch offerings, the ad said".  I'm still scratching my head as to how did they screw this up.  He explained the equipment is new and can’t differentiate between a wing and a breast so it doesn’t cook evenly.   

Then I asked,  if he considered stopping serving it that way.   Then I suggested, calibrate cooking times and temperature,  If it’s that fast cooking, do the wings and legs alone and then cut the time.  I was then told they are automatic and not changeable or they had no clue as to how to do this.  

This Sounds Like A Typical Corporate Clusterf*Ck In Nature And Execution  — 

Carried forth by the dumb and untrained.   Simple, it’s a new process for them, no experience, so the result is bad faster food… and it’s called a pressure cooker.  Same process as the thing KFC uses.  Except no proper training, no testing, a poor showing.

Maybe the B team was on duty and don’t know how, but  I quote their ad:  ” We pay homage to one of the most well-loved dishes in Southern cooking, each piece of bone-in Southern Fried Chicken is authentically prepared, double-breaded by hand with a custom blend of three types of black pepper and several seasonings and spices, then fried until it is perfectly crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.”.   What a crock of corporate bullsh*t…

It was till you guys got to it... Where are the corporate bean counters when you need them...  I doubt if they had real Southern Fried Chicken made well nor Pressure Cooker Chicken

Resolve - Not Really A People Place To Eat Or To Work There  —  

  • I suggest they send a representative down here and contract me and I will take them to the Valhalla of Fried Chicken, Bob Heilmans Beachcomber, a five star known for fifty years for it’s Fried Chicken and learn a few things about taste and texture for real chicken, pan-fried, not pressure cooker manipulated bullsh*t they are spending money on advertising.

  • This was a total disappointment and the manager or asst manager whomever that moron was offered some tenderloins in exchange which was appreciated.   But that was f*ked up too, for the lousy chicken was replaced by more lousy chicken this time the two… insulting with tenderloin flat topped chicken as a consolation.  Burnt on one side naked on the other…

Adding insult to injury “  F*ked up beyond repair ( FUBAR)…  
Burnt black anemic 1/4 inch thick slabs of chicken meat totally burnt
on one side and 
not cooked on the other.

  • I had it… I looked, I pitched, and left… the tenderloins were insult to injury and thus I’m unloading to corporate, and my contacts in various food resources nationwide thru the six sites I write on not to eat that garbage.  How did this moron manager get the job? Did the same idiot screw up the chicken and then the tenderloins.

  • I grabbed the check, tipped the girl nicely, Samantha who was nice.  It was not her fault, a bad chef, or worker, or management fell on their butt that day,  and realized this place has gone down hill and something real is failing there.

Followup - A Pandoras Box Genre

  • On a followup, I started looking into that chain, poor relations with customers and employees and a whole bunch of corpo-guano bullsh*t…
  • Many charges of abuse, Neanderthal management, harassment of employees, no breaks, no discounts, stupid rules, no bathroom breaks if alone on shift,  really got to me, and a lot of reasons not to eat there. 
  • Cracker Barrel is a popular road trip stop chain of restaurants and needed toilet stop after driving three hours.
  • Cracker Barrel is a restaurant known for serving home cooked southern style food in an old looking building, a theme park for weak food.
  • This billboard reads “Comfort Food”.   Indigestion is not Comfort Food but “ Comfart “ food.
  • Being the first stop off the highway creates long times for seating, so you wait in the gift shop for genuine Americana made in China and Mexico.   The iconic Cracker Barrel rocking chairs offer a seat.   To call it a "store" is quite a stretch. I highly doubt anyone goes to Cracker Barrel just for the shopping experience. 
  • The golf tee game. Note the screaming child in the background: classic Cracker Barrel.
  • A closeness, In fact, the tables are so close together, you are almost at the next table over. 
  • The chairs are bare wood and your ass will let you know.
  • Lots of comfart food.  I can understand wanting something to make you feel comfortable but this is not the place. My chow hall in the service was more comfortable
  • Cracker Barrel’s food itself is mediocre basically boring food.   The food they serve is the kind of food most think grandma makes.  She’s not with us and so we also miss her touch like seasoning preparation and quality.
  • If you’re eating at a Cracker Barrel, you’re probably already on a road trip to somewhere, go to grandma and get the real thing.
  • It was time for me to go into investigative mode