I rarely visit "chain" restaurants, as I prefer a "unique" dining experience, but I will make an exception to my de facto "rule," especially when I get a chance to visit a new restaurant of the day of it's official grand opening. Monday morning, December 02, 2019, I had the opportunity to be one of the first customers to the grand opening of the Rocklin, CA location of Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, and enjoy a genuine southern breakfast.
As with all restaurant reviews I publish, I have no affiliation with the restaurant reviewed, and there is no monetary gain on my part, as I am simply a person who likes to eat, and I love to write-up, and publish my dining experiences.
Photo: It's just before 6 in the morning, Monday, December 02, 2019, and I've arrived for breakfast, and the "Grand Opening" of Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, the latest addition to the Rocklin, and the western Placer County dining scene. There is a crowd waiting on the porch, as the opening of this fine restaurant has been anticipated for quite some time. There are not one, but TWO television stations covering this gala event... The store had briefly opened the past Wednesday and Friday for a "soft opening," but today was the "Grand Opening."
The Rocklin Cracker Barrel location is the latest link in a chain of restaurants, which are mostly centered in the southeastern section of the country, and are gradually marching westward, in the opposite direction of Sherman's "March to the Sea." The Rocklin location is the second restaurant in the greater Sacramento area, and is the fifth Cracker Barrel Old Country Store in California. The Rocklin opening has been anticipated for quite some time, and I wasn't surprised to see such a crowd lined up on this rainy Monday morning, waiting for the restaurant to open.
Photo: The porch in front of the store and restaurant includes all of the trademark rocking chairs, and lots of southern hospitality. Not to mention shelter from the pouring rain...
There are lots of diners at this early morning hour, plus crews from two local television stations. I enjoyed lots of company on this early Monday morning.
Photo: Your "foodie" journey begins, and ends through the store portion of the restaurant. The store sells souvenirs, general merchandise, tee shirts, soda pop, and canned or bottled versions of many of the condiments, sauces and products offered in the adjoining restaurant.
Photo: You enter the restaurant through the store, and you're greeted with a "Please Wait to be Seated" booth, with friendly meet/greeters who will sit you.
Photo: The dining room is absolutely GIGANTIC, very comfortable, and is furnished entirely with tables. I felt it a little odd there isn't a counter, especially for a restaurant that prides itself on breakfast, which is served any time the restaurant is open.
As I entered the dining room, I noted BRAND NEW smell of the room! The staff is super friendly, very attentive, but I could tell they were still on a bit of a learning curve.
Photo: Breakfast is served anytime the restaurant is open, as Cracker Barrel Old Country Store prides themselves on breakfast, with seems to be a southern tradition. This is the page of the "Traditional Favorites" section of the breakfast menu, and everything on the page looks amazing.
After looking over the menu, I landed on the "Uncle Herschel's Favorite," as the offering of catfish as the entree reeled me in, hook, line and sinker. How can anybody resist fried catfish for breakfast?
Photo: It's just a little after the 6:00 a.m.. opening time, and the dining room is very busy on this early Monday morning. The dining room is very large, spacious, comfortable, and tasteful decorated with lots of country charm, along with a good dose of southern hospitality. Decorations included pictures, photos, guitars, tools, and anything associated with the rural south. Each table is set with a kerosene lantern, and a large U.S.. flag is displayed in the dining room. Since Christmas is only three weeks in the future, there are holiday decorations.
Photo: There is a large fireplace at one end of the dining room, which provides cheery heat on this chilly, wet Monday morning. The gentleman standing at the right of the photo is a member of the senior management team, who was chatting with diners and making sure everything was operating smoothly.
Photo: The decoration above the fireplace include weapons, musical instruments, photos, and a mounted deer. I truly love the "country" decor of the dining room, as it makes me feel at home. Since it's early December, there are plenty of Christmas decorations in the dining room.
Photo: I didn't order coffee with my breakfast, as lately my "go-to" drink for breakfast is ice water, which is free of charge. Tracy is one of the staff who keep glasses of ice water full, and he uses quite a technique to keep the glasses full!
Photo: Meet Dawnmarie, who brings my "Uncle Herschel's Favorite" breakfast to me with a smile, in less than 20 minutes after I placed my order. Dawnmarie is a great hostess and a nice person.
Photo: Thanks Dawnmarie for taking my photo, as I prepare to enjoy a superior southern-style breakfast at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, located in Rocklin, CA.
My table is set with the signature "vintage red truck," filled with packages of sugar, salt, pepper and other goodies. Oddly, after I took the photo and published on this web site, I noted the lack of condiments, such as hot sauce or ketchup. I'm a rank novice when it comes to southern cuisine, so I assume those condiments aren't a staple at southern tables. I would imagine that if I had required ketchup, hot sauce or anything else, I could have asked, and the friendly staff would have brought them to my table. No problem, as my delicious breakfast didn't need any "enhancement" from anything, as it was delicious!
Photo: From the "Traditional Favorites" section of the breakfast menu, I ordered "Uncle Herschel's Favorite," and my choice of meat was fried catfish. Does breakfast get any more "southern" than this in Rocklin?
"Uncle Hershel's Favorite" starts with two farm fresh eggs, cooked to your specification, plus the choice of fried apples or hashbrown casserole. Meat choices include sugar cured ham, U.S catfish fillet - grilled or fried - fried chicken tenderloins or hickory smoked country ham. Like most of the breakfasts on the menu, a bowl is grits, a bowl of "sawmill" gravy, two buttermilk biscuits, with jam and butter. All of the meat choices sounded amazing, but how could I not resist ordering grilled catfish for my choice of meat?
The catfish fillet was seasoned, fried to perfection, and garnished with a slice of lemon, which I promptly squeezed on my fish. I'm guessing the fillet to be about 4 ounces, which makes a good "portion size" for me. It's not huge, but it was the perfect portion for my breakfast. I ordered my catfish fillet fried, and it was fried - not deep fried -and it wasn't battered, "crusty," oily or greasy, and it was simply outstanding and made for the centerpiece of my amazing breakfast. I did miss tartar sauce just a little - I should have asked the staff to bring a small cup of it - but the fried catfish really didn't need any "enhancement," as it was simply stand-alone delicious so I forgot about the tartar sauce. I suppose if you're hungry more meat with you breakfast, you could always order the "Double Meat Breakfast," or an extra portion of meat, on the side, at a nominal cost...
I ordered my two eggs fried over easy - my de facto standard - and they arrived perfectly "over easy," which is always the trademark of a breakfast chef who knows his or her way around the kitchen. I noticed a slight oddity in that the eggs were fried separately... normally eggs over easy come fried together. I really didn't know what to make of this, as I can't recall ever seeing eggs over easy with separate presentation.
I was tempted to order fried apples, but I went with the hashbrown casserole, as I prefer potatoes over just about anything. "Hashbrown Casserole" takes hashbrown potatoes, stacks them thick, and adds cheese, and "I think" some sour cream. It's almost like "stuffed" hashbrowns, but it's thick, and served in a square and takes hashbrowns to the next level of goodness. In all the years of savoring potatoes for breakfast, this is the first time EVER that I've enjoyed hashbrowns cooked like this. That being said, I've never had the chance to visit Dixie, so I'm not at all experienced with southern cuisine.
As with most breakfasts served at Cracker Barrel, "Uncle Herschel's Favorite" comes with a bowl of grits. How many restaurants serve grits with practically every breakfast in northern California? Not many... I like grits, but I'm not a major fan of grits, and frankly, I can't tell one bowl of grits from any other bowl, so I like them all. I basically ate my grits and enjoyed them. I didn't add butter, as many connoisseurs of southern cuisine do, and just ate my grits from the bowl and enjoyed every bite. As an aside, my server, Marion, commented that many diners don't know what to do with grits, and aren't familiar with them. That certainly got a laugh out of me! Of course the slice of orange added to the presentation, as was great to eat.
The two buttermilk biscuits are baked in-house, and come with a bowl of what the restaurant calls "sawmill" gravy. The biscuits were fresh, light, fluffy and delicious. Yes, Cracker Barrel gives you TWO biscuits, so if you're a biscuit lover, you've come to the right restaurant.
The "sawmill" gravy was outstanding, and it's got to be some of the best breakfast gravy that I've enjoyed in the greater Sacramento area. The gravy is seasoned, thick, rich, and includes lots of chunks of sausage, and an added commodity... a "smoky" taste that really makes the gravy. I loved the gravy! I cut off little pieces of the biscuits and dipped them into the gravy for an amazing taste sensation.
Quite an enjoyable breakfast! Every part of my "Uncle Hershel's Favorite" was cooked perfectly, and all worked together to make for a great breakfast. I'm a "novice" when it comes to southern cuisine, but if this is what breakfast is like in Dixie, then I guess I've been living on the wrong side of the Mason-Dixon line all of my life.
Photo: After you've enjoyed your meal, you pick up your check and you pay for it at the counter, in the store section of the restaurant. The store is your first... and last destination at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, so you get a taste of the merchandise coming and going. Oh... don't forget to leave a tip on your table for your friendly server, but if you pay by "plastic," you can always add the tip to your meal tab, and your friendly server will get their reward.
Friendly Kristy works the counter, which serves both the restaurant, and the store. Cracker Barrel Old Country Store is really unique in many ways!
The spacious dining room is breathtaking, the staff is friendly, the food is delicious and it's true southern cuisine, and the store is a lot of fun, and it's packed with souvenirs and lots of interesting merchandise.
Simply stated, there is no other dining experience like Cracker Barrel in Roseville, or western Placer county....
When you're in the mood for fine dining with a southern flair, pay a visit to Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, located in Rocklin. You'll love the charm, the "southern" atmosphere, the friendly service, and most of all... the food!
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store
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