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Food chains you trust enough to try any new item


jhlurie
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I trust EVERYTHING coming out of White Castle. I love all the variants they come out with on their burgers.

Which reminds me -- has anyone had the new Garlic Cheeseburgers and Garlic Chicken sandwiches from White Castle yet? Instead of the regular american cheese, they sub in Monterey Jack cheese and a creamy garlic spread that is really garlicky tasting. Its an amazing improvement over the same old, same old.

EDIT: Alas, the Garlic Chicken and Garlic Cheeseburgers are no more. I hope they bring this one back soon.

http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories....03639361&EDATE=

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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McDonald's may be consistent ingredient wise. It is in the execution where McDonald's has fallen apart and lost all consistency. I see that getting worse not better. I will not go to McDonald's because I do not trust the food to be fresh. The exception seems to be the Egg McMuffin, which they can't seem to screw up no matter how badly they sacrifice quality for menu variety.

Nathans should be ashamed of themselves. They have taken a brand name totally associated with quality and allowed their products to be squeezed into turnpike feeding stops and anyone else who will sleep with them. You see a Nathan's sign and you don't know which Nathan's you're going to find - a full service Nathan's that knows what it's doing and does it very well or a Nathan's where the same person under-grilling the hot dog and grabbing a cold bun out of the package is baking a cinnamon bun or drawing frozen yogurt.

The chain I trust the most is probably one of the only chains that will never add anything "new" to its menu. There may be a menu addition for that chain, but they will not innovate. I know that whatever I get at this chain will be fresh, cooked to order, skillfully prepared, and served with a smile.

The best chain in terms of both quality and execution is, tadaah, Waffle House.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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There a several chains I'd try anything at here in the UK :

1. Nando's - excellent South African chicken chain (I believe they are coming to the states soon). They have rotisserie chicken which they baste in peri peri sauce and then put on the grill after you order. Great spicy fries, and scrummy portugese pastries. We go quite frequently as my husband is addicted.

2. Itsu - a decent conveyer belt sushi place

3. Zizi - a wood-oven pizza and pasta place

4. Carluccio's Cafe - I'm here at least once a week (they are really child friendly). italian deli/cafe/restaurant with much better than average food.

In the States:

1. Figs in Boston (fig and prosciutto pizza!)

2. Starbucks (OK, I'm a sucker for their frappuccinos)

3. Panera Bread - pretty reliable sandwich, soup, and salad place

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I trust EVERYTHING coming out of White Castle. I love all the variants they come out with on their burgers.

I'm with Jason. And, I'm really sad about the garlic thing. That was good. I love everything at White Castle.

Jason, have you ever had breakfast at The Castle? They actually take an egg in a shell and crack it on a griddle! In front of you!

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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I haven't had anything bad off the Steak'n'Shake menu. I haven't made a big effort to try everything, though.

My boyfriend and his best friend between them have probably had everything on the Jack in the Box menu, but that has more to do with being drunk late at night in Honolulu than with aiming for completeness.  I've had the tacos and really liked them.  We don't have Jack in the Box where we live, or I would surely be more familiar with it.

I can easily agree with Steak'n Shake--at least from my four or five exposures to them. Jack In The Box? Not so sure about that.

I trust EVERYTHING coming out of White Castle. I love all the variants they come out with on their burgers.

I'm not quite as enamored of everything at WC. The hamburger variants are always great, but I've rarely liked anything chickeny there. And the sides? Honestly... I don't think White Castle has ever had a really decent side item.

McDonald's may be consistent ingredient wise.  It is in the execution where McDonald's has fallen apart and lost all consistency.  I see that getting worse not better.  I will not go to McDonald's because I do not trust the food to be fresh.  The exception seems to be the Egg McMuffin, which they can't seem to screw up no matter how badly they sacrifice quality for menu variety.

I can understand this objection. I was speaking more of the "food science" aspect behind their new menu items than quality control issues. But even on that score, they are still far better than average, I think.

Nathans should be ashamed of themselves.  They have taken a brand name totally associated with quality and allowed their products to be squeezed into turnpike feeding stops and anyone else who will sleep with them.  You see a Nathan's sign and you don't know which Nathan's you're going to find - a full service Nathan's that knows what it's doing and does it very well or a Nathan's where the same person under grilling the hot dog and grabbing a cold bun out of the package is baking a cinnamon bun or drawing frozen yogurt.

I couldn't agree more. Nathan's has totally betrayed their roots. And it's NOT just the quality control, it's also the menu. Rather than concentrating on what they are good at, they have crap like Cheese Steaks and badly made chicken sandwiches on their menu. Why? Just concentrate on the hot dogs, damnit!

Back to McDonald's for a second. My point with them is that unlike Nathan's, their menu expansions actually seem to work more often than not. While it's true that ultimately I'd probably prefer a better burger, at least with McDonald's if they don't do that, what they are doing seems to be consistently well thought out, marketed, and yes, at least passably tasty, if not excellent. And again, unlike Nathan's, I don't think the presense of other items at McDonald's is actually making the core product worse--at most it's just maintaining a status quo that's less than optimal for improving that core product.

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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McDonald's may be consistent ingredient wise.  It is in the execution where McDonald's has fallen apart and lost all consistency.  I see that getting worse not better.  I will not go to McDonald's because I do not trust the food to be fresh.  The exception seems to be the Egg McMuffin, which they can't seem to screw up no matter how badly they sacrifice quality for menu variety.

...

Back to McDonald's for a second. My point with them is that unlike Nathan's, their menu expansions actually seem to work more often than not. While it's true that ultimately I'd probably prefer a better burger, at least with McDonald's if they don't do that, what they are doing seems to be consistently well thought out, marketed, and yes, at least passably tasty, if not excellent. And again, unlike Nathan's, I don't think the presense of other items at McDonald's is actually making the core product worse--at most it's just maintaining a status quo that's less than optimal for improving that core product.

Menu expansion has taken away from the core quality of their primary product, hamburgers. McDonald's can no longer fresh grill a burger and serve it within 5 minutes or toss it. The number of products they now produce makes it impossible to control production (grilling) of hamburgers. Burger demand is down because of the breadth of their menu. That is why they have gone to bins that hold cooked burgers until ready to be assembled. Way back when, a McDonald's double cheese burger was a decent burger. And the quarter pounder, back in the days of the six foot grill, was even better. Now it is like eating airline food.

And they don't have all that great a history of menu expansion. Top of mind is McD's various attempts to serve a Whopper like burger. Remember "hot side hot, cold side cold?"

I'm hoping one of these days the brain trust at McDonald's will come up with a "Classic Coke" McDonalds - limited menu, six foot grill - No McNuggets, No fried and grilled chicken, No salads.

Ray Kroc's McDonald's.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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I couldn't disagree more on McDonalds. It is my least favorite Fast Food chain (not that Ireally have any particular favorites). Ironically, Taco Bell is one of the few FF joints that I find passable in a pinch. I used to like Chik-fil-A when I lived in the South. There is no place, however, that I would necessarily try whatever they put on a menu.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

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I wish we had a Sonic here in Hawaii - I always eat at Sonic when I'm on the mainland. My favorite, most trusted fast food place.

"Eat it up, wear it out, make it do or do without." TMJ Jr. R.I.P.

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From a domestic US perspective, I'll take anything In N' Out Burger has to serve up.  But they don't change their menu, so the point is moot.

Ah, but In N' Out lets YOU change the menu. Up to a point, admittedly.

IMHO, they're far and away the best -- thought I still want to test out that theory by going to a Chik-a-Fil (sorry, the name escapes).

A moment of silence: For Popeyes' onion rings, fallen gallant soldiers on the field of fast food. (a tear)

My fantasy? Easy -- the Simpsons versus the Flanders on Hell's Kitchen.

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I trust EVERYTHING coming out of White Castle. I love all the variants they come out with on their burgers.

I'm with Jason. And, I'm really sad about the garlic thing. That was good. I love everything at White Castle.

Jason, have you ever had breakfast at The Castle? They actually take an egg in a shell and crack it on a griddle! In front of you!

Nope, never had breakfast there. But it sounds like I should.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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I trust EVERYTHING coming out of White Castle. I love all the variants they come out with on their burgers.

I'm not quite as enamored of everything at WC. The hamburger variants are always great, but I've rarely liked anything chickeny there. And the sides? Honestly... I don't think White Castle has ever had a really decent side item.

The fries suck, true. The onion rings, however, are very good.

The NEW fried chicken breast sandwiches -- not the chicken rings --- that they launched like a year or so ago are good -- I like them as a folly to the burgers, so you have something to alternate off of. They need pickles on them (which you need to ask for) and you definitely need to get them with cheese.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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I used to like Chik-fil-A when I lived in the South. There is no place, however, that I would necessarily try whatever they put on a menu.

I love Chick-fil-A, but there's only one of them in the entire NY/NJ metro area, so I don't have a chain-wide point of reference.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Menu expansion has taken away from the core quality of their primary product, hamburgers.  McDonald's can no longer fresh grill a burger and serve it within 5 minutes or toss it.  The number of products they now produce makes it impossible to control production (grilling) of hamburgers... 

And they don't have all that great a history of menu expansion.  Top of mind is McD's various attempts to serve a Whopper-like burger.  Remember "Hot side hot, cold side cold?"

That sandwich would be the short-lived McDLT, served in a double-wide styrofoam box that functioned as a do-it-yourself hamburger kit. Do I get a brownie point for remembering that, Holly? :rolleyes:

There are two sides to every story and one side to a Möbius band.

borschtbelt.blogspot.com

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I wish we had a Sonic here in Hawaii - I always eat at Sonic when I'm on the mainland. My favorite, most trusted fast food place.

I'm a big Sonic fan, but I don't go deep into their menu. I know what I like, and I know it's going to be good, no matter which Sonic I visit--so they get points for consistency. The only fast food restaurant where I'm likely to try every new menu item is a Texas chain, Taco Cabana, which may have the best darn Mexican fast food known to humankind. :wub:

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I would definitely try new items from:

1. Churches Fried Chicken -- I think they have the absolute best fast food fried chicken. Love their chicken, love their sides (especially their fried okra). Northern Virginia used to have a few Churches outlets, but I think they're all gone except for one in Ft. Belvoir. While on business in Austin. Texas one of the places I insisted upon dining at was Churches. Delicious as usual, but in Austin they give you a choice of either brown gravy or white (cream) gravy. How civilized! Stupid Northern Virginia.

2. Denny's, at least the one near me, especially breakfast items.

3. Krispy Kreme Doughnuts as opposed to God-awful Dunkin Donuts, with a synthetic taste to everything they touch (the taste of styrofoam coated with sugar).

4. KFC. Not as good as Churches though (cringing as I know I'm about to be stoned for that comment).

5. Arthur Treacher's Fish and Chips. Whatever they make I'll try though I don't think I ever tried the chicken since it's the seafood items, in particular the fish, that I crave. I think they even had a hot lemon pie. Once again, however, the one most convenient to me has closed. Unlike McDonalds with it's 3,000 or so item menu, Arthur Treacher's has always kept it short and sweet. Dumbass Stupid Northern Virginia.

Popeye's is okay, but some of their new ideas in the past have tasted like barf and they must fry up the tiniest chickens/chicklets(?) to be found. I've actually gotten chicken legs from them only slightly larger than a drummette. And why get rid of the onion rings?

As for Taco Bell, I have a visceral dislike for them but no rational reason for it.

EDITED TO SAY: While I've had a visceral reaction against Taco Bell for some time, the one thing that really did it was when a then co-worker and friend bit down into one of their alleged tacos and broke off a crown which she had only recently had placed in her mouth. Turns out that along with the meat, someone scrambled in a piece of metal from the disintegrating grill/griddle(?) in that place. Ugh. And they even had the nerve to give her attitude! :angry:

I really wanted to add McDonald's to the list, but as it was said upthread the good old days McDonald's is long gone, but I do like the idea that someone mentioned about opening a "Classic" McDonalds with the short menu, food that's thrown out after a few minutes, and fries fried in BEEF TALLOW, with an option for vegetable oil fries for those who want it.

Edited by divalasvegas (log)

Inside me there is a thin woman screaming to get out, but I can usually keep the Bitch quiet: with CHOCOLATE!!!

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  • 3 months later...
I am profounded, Bux.

I will try any item at Arthur Treacher's Fish & Chips. As far as I'm concerned, it's the best of the fast food chains. And it's not just the best; it's actually good. I'm not sure there has been anything added to the menu there since the 1970s (interestingly, the first Arthur Treacher's opened in Columbus, Ohio, just 11 days after I was born), except maybe the Crunch Pup, which I'm not sure they serve anymore. Arthur Treacher's often appears bundled with two other very good chains: Pudgie's and Nathan's.

I also like Chick-Fil-A but would probably not be inclined to try new menu items there. Ditto for Pudgie's and Nathan's.

Regarding Taco Bell, I think the bean burritos will do in a pinch, and the price is right. But I wouldn't depart much from that.

Subway is useful out on the open road. At least you can get a salad made from fresh vegetables for cheap. But again I wouldn't venture too far deep into the Subway menu.

I too will try any new item at McDonald's once, because I think of it as a question of cultural literacy.

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I trust EVERYTHING coming out of White Castle. I love all the variants they come out with on their burgers.

Which reminds me -- has anyone had the new Garlic Cheeseburgers and Garlic Chicken sandwiches from White Castle yet? Instead of the regular american cheese, they sub in Monterey Jack cheese and a creamy garlic spread that is really garlicky tasting. Its an amazing improvement over the same old, same old.

EDIT: Alas, the Garlic Chicken and Garlic Cheeseburgers are no more. I hope they bring this one back soon.

http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories....03639361&EDATE=

Well i know this chain doesn't compare to White Castle, but why hasn't anyone mentioned 'HOUSTONS'

I think their food is consistently great, fresh and creative.

Their salads, fish, veggie burgers and every thing else is top notch!

Just wondering why I haven't seen it mentioned.

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I do love me some fast food, but I'm kind of a puss about what I order when I do go (which really isn't that often). I don't like to deviate too much from the familiar. McDonalds? I get their double cheeseburgers... plain. That way, I know that they have to make it "fresh" (ha ha). (BTW... has anyone noticed that McD's has been adding copious amounts of salt and pepper to their patties? Yum.) The thing is, I don't want to eat any kind of "special sauce", "tangy sauce", "chipotle mayo", or ranch dressing. Ga-ross. Special sauces keep me from trying the new things on the menu.

That being said, there is an exception... Taco Bell. Spicy Chicken. Oh baby. I took a chance on it and it paid off, big time. It's best enjoyed in it's soft taco incarnation. Spicy chicken, lettuce, cheese, and pico. They're a dollar. I love them. There is also a burrito, but they put they're foul jalapeno funk sauce on it and I can't deal.

I also really like Baja Fresh. They're always really good for a quick snack and since we don't have Rubio's here in NEO, I'll take it.

Edited by lesfen (log)
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Well i know this chain doesn't compare to White Castle, but why hasn't anyone mentioned 'HOUSTONS'

I think their food is consistently great, fresh and creative.

Their salads, fish, veggie burgers and every thing else is top notch!

Just wondering why I haven't seen it mentioned.

Probably because Houston's is not considered to be "fast food," though their service is undoubtedly fast. Houston's is mentioned exactly once under the thread about favorite chain restaurants.

That said, I was surprised at how much I ended up liking their buttermilk garlic salad dressing, and I must admit to making a spinach and artichoke dip that is very, very similar to their recipe, because I don't think I've tasted one better than theirs. Not groundbreaking stuff, but reliably good.

I'm not sure I get the popularity of the veggie burger, though it is different from just about every sit down restaurant with which I'm familiar in that it's entirely house-made (rather than a frozen patty made from extruded soy or wheat products.) Good, and better than most, even, but I'm not sure I'd seek it out.

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The only one I like in this category is Duchess, a small chain in Connecticut. Consistently good for decades. Love the chili cheeseburger, had fried clams recently and they were cooked to perfection—very tasty. I'd definitely try anything from their menu.

~Amy
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Sonic restaurants in the South and Southwest tend to be pretty good. Drive-up, car-hops, tray affixes to your window. I'd try any thing new on their menu.

Menu is hot dogs, chili, burgers, devilishly good onion rings. It's tough to escape with less than 500 grams of saturated fat clinging to your hips.

I'm with you - Sonic is it for me. Everything i've ever had there, i've liked.

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I would definitely try new items from:

1. Churches Fried Chicken -- I think they have the absolute best fast food fried chicken.  Love their chicken, love their sides (especially their fried okra).  Northern Virginia used to have a few Churches outlets, but I think they're all gone except for one in Ft. Belvoir.  While on business in Austin. Texas one of the places I insisted upon dining at was Churches.  Delicious as usual, but in Austin they give you a choice of either brown gravy or white (cream) gravy.  How civilized!  Stupid Northern Virginia.

 

i've never eaten at Church's for one reason and one reason only. a few years back, i was a phone jockey for fast food customer service lines. And Church's tended to get the nastiest calls of all of them. things like dead roaches on the food, fried foreign matter all sorts of things. jsut bad - remarkably worse than the the number of other places we got calls from (several of which are on your list)

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