Cracker Barrel's LC Breakfast Review (It's Not What They Claim)


One Fried Egg, One Sausage, Two Thin Slices of Luncheon Meat Ham, Sliced Tomatoes
Cracker Barrel advertises that they have a low-carb menu.
Here's what happened when we went there for breakfast.

Eating out on low carb shouldn't be difficult, unless you're gluten free. Most cafes and small restaurants have an a la carte menu you can order from - if there's nothing suitable on their regular menu. 

Cracker Barrel advertises that they have a special low-carb menu, though, which should make eating easier and less stressful. However, like the issues I run into when trying to eat gluten free, sometimes, restaurants just don't "get it."



My in-laws came home last week. During their visit, we made a trip up north, which is about an hour-and-a-half drive for us. 

While there, we decided to check out Cracker Barrel's Low-Carb Breakfast Menu. I had read some very good things about it on Jimmy Moore's blog, Livin' La Vida Low Carb, and I wanted to see if our own Cracker Barrel, here in Utah, would live up to that reputation.

First, let me say that Cracker Barrel isn't a new restaurant for us. We used to go there occasionally before I went low carb. 

The food has always been of great quality, as well as more than adequate quantity for the price you pay. Service has also always been great there, so when the in-laws suggested we stop by for a late breakfast, I was excited to give them a try.

Three of the four of us were low-carbing at the time. 

So after taking some time to look over the menu, we ALL decided to order a big meat-lover's breakfast. It felt like a good choice for us. After all, what I'd been hearing was that Cracker Barrel now catered to low-carb dieters, so there was nothing to fear.

Or was there?


Cracker Barrel's Low-Carb Breakfast Claim

Someone should have filled in the waitress about the company's low-carb breakfast claim because the waitress wasn't very knowledgeable about their low-carb breakfast menu.

Nor did she know anything about the low-carb lifestyle in general. We had to spend several minutes explaining what eating low carb required, and making sure that the restaurant could meet our needs.

The waitress had a lot of trouble answering our questions and kept apologizing for her ignorance. Her justification was that breakfast was not her regular shift.

I couldn't help but wonder what we'd gotten ourselves into since there is a lunch and dinner low-carb menu option there, as well. The lack of knowledge wasn't a breakfast thing. If we'd targeted lunch or dinner, we probably would have gotten the same treatment.

Due to the shakiness of the waitress, we decided to stick with the low-carb menu, exactly as written, making only one substitution:

We added low-carb toast to the meal like the menu said we could.


Loaf of Sourdough Bread
Cracker Barrel normally serves sourdough bread.
The menu said we could add low-carb bread
to our low-carb breakfast meal instead.


My brother-in-law, who is doing moderate carb, instead of Atkins, wanted the fried apples that came with a regular sampler breakfast, instead of their low-carb sampler meal, so that's what he ordered. The menu said the sampler was comparable to the meat-lovers breakfast, which is why we decided to try it out.

My sister-in-law and I both chose the Low Carb Sampler menu for $6.99, which was the exact same price as their regular sampler menu that my brother-in-law ordered. The menu said it came with:
  • 3 eggs
  • slice of ham
  • bacon and sausage
  • and sliced tomatoes 
The menu also said that portion of the meal was 3 net carbs. If you wanted to add 2 slices of low-carb toast, that would cost extra. The bread was said to be 7 net carbs.

This meal was going to be what we thought was a wonderful 10 net-carb breakfast, and since the menu actually spoke in terms of net carbs, I felt confident that they knew what they were talking about. I was very excited because I'd never tasted low-carb bread before.

What Cracker Barrel's Low-Carb Breakfast Really Was

When the food arrived, we were disappointed. 

While the regular version of the same breakfast came with fried apples and grits, the low-carb version came with 2 slices of under-ripe tomato instead. Everything on our plate and my brother-in-law's plate was exactly the same, except that our portions were super tiny compared to his:
  • three small eggs (instead of medium)
  • one piece of bacon (instead of the 2 that he got)
  • 1 oz sausage patty (half the size of his)
  • 1 oz very thin, overcooked ham (about 1/4 the size of his)
We were shocked! The plate looked like we were counting calories instead of carbs!

I've seen a better plate at a standard cafe.


Five Breakfast Sausages on a Plate Next to Mashed Potatoes
Five breakfast sausages take up 1/4 of the plate.
We were served just one of those.


Do you know how big one ounce of sausage is? 

It's the size of one of those skinny little links with the skin in the above photo. The ham we were served didn't look any better. It was that cheap paper-thin sliced ham you'd use to make a sandwich with, and we only got one slice. It was curled up from overcooking.

For the same price, we received less food than if we had ordered the traditional breakfast that my brother-in-law did, and threw away the fried apples and grits. If we'd done that, we would have gotten:
  • 3 medium-sized fried eggs
  • 2 slices of bacon
  • 2-ounces sausage
  • 4-ounce ham steak
Plus, fried apples and grits. Instead, we got less than half as much food for more money than he paid because the low-carb bread costed extra. But they had low-carb bread . . . Or did they?

But They Had Low-Carb Bread... Or Did They?

Slice of Toast on a White Plate
Did Cracker Barrel really have low-carb bread?
Or was that just a lie?

We consoled ourselves with the fact that we were actually getting low-carb bread, something we hadn't been able to find in any grocery stores or health-food stores in our area here in Utah. The bread was so good that we asked if we could buy a couple of loaves to take home with us.

The price was more than reasonable, at $1.99, so we bought 2 loaves.

Obviously, the price should have tipped us off to the fact that there was something wrong with the bread, but since I'd never bought low-carb bread before, and hadn't gone gluten free yet, I had no clue that the price was off. Today, I would also check the ingredient panel before ever laying down the cash, but back then, I was pretty ignorant still.


As the day wore on, that's when the inflammation, neuropathy, and extreme tiredness began. 

It got so bad that I started wondering about the bread we had bought. Confused by my symptoms, I decided to check out the label to see what the ingredients were. Maybe there was something in the bread that I was sensitive to. 

The first three ingredients clearly stated:
  • whole wheat flour
  • white flour
  • dehydrated potato flakes
For a moment, I just sat there, staring down at the ingredient list, confused and numb. I didn't know what to say. I had to be reading that wrong. But I wasn't. 

Eventually, I came to my senses. Okay. Let's check out the carb count then. But the carb count printed on the package was even worse: 

There was 18 carbs per slice of bread!!!! 

And I'd eaten two slices. 

That came to a total of 36 carbs, plus another three or four for breakfast. Forty carbs in a single meal is the uppermost limit I can handle before my blood glucose rises high enough to inflame the nerves in my feet, but I now know I have celiac disease, so wheat carbs don't have to be that high to produce inflammation.

This was NOT low-carb bread. Nor was this a misinformed waitress. What I held in my hands was just regular sourdough bread. And with that in mind, my next thought was: 

If this is just traditional sourdough, what did our waitress feed us for breakfast then?

Confronting Cracker Barrel

We marched right back to Cracker Barrel, but by that time, the inflammation and neuropathy was so bad I was unable to walk, so my sister-in-law took the bread back inside to find out what was going on. 

Immediately, the manager started giving her the brush off. "I'll check into it later," she said. 

My sister-in-law isn't one to let things go. She grabbed a menu, pointed to the reference to low-carb bread, and said, "NO. You are going to check into it right now."

After showing the manager where the bread was announced on the menu to be 7 net carbs for two slices, the manager went into the kitchen to ask them whether or not they even had low-carb bread. 

She told my sister-in-law that she had never heard of such a thing, even though it was clearly stated on their menus.

The kitchen folks told her yes, at first, and pointed to the loaf of bread they served us. When the manager looked at the bread, it was their normal sourdough. Next, she point-blank asked them if they have low-carb bread, and the staff said:

"NO, we do not. Sourdough is the only bread we have."

Cracker Barrel has only one kind of bread, and they serve the same regular sourdough bread to everyone!!! Low carbers included.

Don't Trust Cracker Barrel

PLEASE beware . . .

At least, in our neck of the woods, Cracker Barrel doesn't have low-carb bread no matter what their menu claims. 

The food is skimpy -- not regular-sized portions at all. 

It was a total waste of money, time, and diet in my own opinion because now I am back at square one, having to go through Atkins Induction all over again through no fault or desire of my own. 

A whole wasted month of dieting down the drain . . .


*UPDATE: 

I contacted Cracker Barrel management as Jimmy Moore suggested in the comments below, but they did NOT do anything. The person who called me claimed to be concerned because my scathing letter to the upper management had landed on his desk.

His argument was that tomatoes were out-of-season, and low-carb dieters are used to eating super-larger portions, which is why my breakfast appeared to be so skimpy. 

He didn't LISTEN to a single word I said. 

My breakfast was exactly the same breakfast served to my brother-in-law. The way they low-carbed it was to remove the fried apples and grits, replacing those items with 2 thin slices of green tomatoes. They cut down on the protein foods they served us and charged me more for the meal than they charged my brother-in-law.

The person spent over an hour arguing with me. 

He kept insisting that Cracker Barrel DOES have low-carb bread, even though the manager and kitchen told us they do not.

He didn't have an explanation for why the kitchen told us that, nor why we were served and sold regular sourdough bread instead of their low-carb item.

Although the man I spoke with promised to send me a gift card for a free meal, it never arrived. He lied about that too.

As far as I'm concerned, Cracker Barrel flat-out lied about having low-carb bread, tried to blame ME for what happened, and did not make good on their promise. While I would not have used it myself, it would have been nice to give to someone as a gift.

I WILL NEVER EVER go back to eat at another Cracker Barrel ever again . . .

Articles About Gluten You Might Want to Read:

The affect I got from eating sourdough bread was due to celiac disease, which I didn't know I had at the time I went to Cracker Barrel for breakfast. I thought the reaction was just due to my blood sugar going so high. It was, just not for the reason that I thought.

If you think you might have gluten intolerance, the following articles can help:

Could Gluten be Affecting Your Low-Carb Diet?
My 30-Day Gluten-Free Experiment
Results from My 30-Day Gluten-Free Experiment
Are Low-Carb Meals and Snacks Gluten Free?


Comments

  1. Personally, I would have skipped the "low-carb" bread anyway because I don't trust restaurant claims on this. But the rest of the food quality is uncalled for and I urge you to contact the Customer Relations department for Cracker Barrel.

    I used to work in Customer Service for a major restaurant chain and they WILL take care of you. They want to know when they mess up, so PLEASE let them know. Believe me, they'll appreciate it!

    Don't give up on all Cracker Barrels. But don't expect the employees to live your low-carb lifestyle for you. That's why YOU are the one in control of what goes in your mouth.

    Keep up the GREAT work and keep your head up!

    ReplyDelete

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