I was fortunate enough to find myself in Jackson, TN for work on Monday. Being someplace else for work means I get to expense my meal and I get to try new places for the sake of a blog review. Unfortunately my fortune of selecting good places to eat has finally run out.
Barnhill’s Country Buffet wasn’t my first choice. It was only after finding out that my initial decision of one of the top 15 rated restaurants in Jackson on Urbanspoon was actually closed for lunch did I select Barnhill’s. I didn’t have much to choose from given the neighborhood I was in and I had to select quickly because I had to get back to work. The large sign from the road actually looked somewhat modern and despite the reviews, I decided to give the (then 50% rated) restaurant a shot.
Upon entering, Barnhill’s Country Buffet seemed promising with a vast dining area with tons of seating, a handful of patrons, and several buffet bars. Having been a patron to several buffets such as Golden Corral, Ryan’s, Fire Mountain, and the like… this one probably had the best appearance. At the entrance to the dining room, you paid the cashier first and got a meal ticket. There was a sign claiming that the lunch buffet was only $4.99 as the special. After my drink, my ticket ended up being $7.55 including tax. Not too bad.
With my ticket in hand, I selected a booth over to the far table. I sat there for about 2 minutes before a lady came over to see my ticket and get me my drink. Not bringing any silverware or plates, I asked her where I would obtain them and she told me they would be located at the end of the buffet bars. I never saw her again for the rest of my visit. She did give me a refill when I needed it, but it was while I was away from the table a 2nd time. She swiftly “ninja’d” me a new drink.
At first glance, everything on the menu actually looked good. A wide array of standard “country/Southern” food selection lined up the numerous buffet bars in no particular order. Since it was a buffet and I was to review as much as I could, I tried 3 plates with a little bit of everything which is just a sampling of their 7 buffet bars.
The first plate was green beans, mashed potatoes with brown gravy, turnip greens, a piece of fried chicken and a dinner roll. The 2nd plate was fried okra, corn, cabbage, and BBQ pulled pork. The 3rd plate consisted of chicken tender-like-nuggets, mashed potatoes with white gravy, stuffing, rotini pasta and cheese, and cornbread.
The following were of average quality. They weren’t great but it was edible: green beans, mashed potatoes with brown gravy, dinner roll, and cabbage.
The next scale is of sub-par quality, but still edible: turnip greens, cornbread.
Now for the bad… everything else I didn’t name was just plain nasty. The fried chicken was not crispy, but soft. It was almost as if they didn’t fry it long enough. Usually when you peel some of the battered skin off the chicken, it should rip into sections with some crunchy/crispiness to it. Not this chicken. It was rubbery and the whole side of chicken pulled off in a gooey clump.
Fried okra is supposed to be crisp. Again, not this kind. The batter shell was soft as if they came from the microwave. Have you ever microwaved fried foods? Not a pretty sight. Everything came out soft & soggy.
The BBQ pulled pork was really sweet with BBQ sauce but also really fatty. I tried my best to squeeze out the fatty oils with my fork, but it was just too greasy. An endless amount of grease would just ooze out despite my best effort to press it out.
The chicken fingers / tenders had a crispy outside, but the meat in the middle was as dry as the Sahara. Dry, tasteless, and tough. Biting into it left little stringy bits of dehydrated chicken between my teeth.
Since I liked the mashed potatoes with brown gravy, I thought I’d like the country gravy too. Wrong again… it tasted like liquid carcinogens. The gravy was burned badly despite it appearing ok. The secret ingredient here must have been wood ashes.
The stuffing had flavor, but had a bit too much liquid in it. So the texture was similar to slop that you would feed pigs.
Finally, the rotini pasta and cheese was so dry, the cheese actually coagulated back into a semi-hard state. Anyone familiar with macaroni and cheese knows it’s better to not reheat it from leftovers because cheese just doesn’t respond well to being reheated.
After all that, I didn’t even want to try their dessert bar. I haven’t had an experience as bad as Barnhill’s for quite a long time. A part of me wishes I would have gone to McDonald’s or Wendy’s for a quick lunch but then the other part of me is glad I actually got to experience this restaurant… so that I can write & warn my readers of how awful the food is. So now you know… Don’t say I never took one for the team because my stomach took a punishment!
|Barnhill’s Country Buffet
660 Carriage House Dr
Jackson, TN 38305-4253
Bill Total: $7.55