Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

The chain restaurant topic


Recommended Posts

And of course Five Guys -- DC's answer to In-N-Out.

I second that Five Guys vote! Never tried In-n-Out so can't compare, but Five Guys makes an excellent burger. Remember to order the small one, if you order a regular one it comes with two patties. That's a lot of burger. And OH those cooked-in peanut-oil fries!

Link to post
Share on other sites

If you're going to eat chain restaurant food which is mostly inherently bad anyway, you might as well dine somewhere that revels in it. That's why my chain restaurant of choice is Waffle House.

If I ever win the lottery, I'm opening a Waffle House in Manhattan. It would be a goldmine, and I could have scattered, smothered, covered, topped and chunked hash browns any damn time I wanted to.

Other than Waffle House, I try mightily to avoid chain restaurants even in locales where non-chain food might be sketchy. For me, it's an anti-corporate-support-local-business thing.

Olive Garden is just Luciferian.

:smile:

Jamie

See! Antony, that revels long o' nights,

Is notwithstanding up.

Julius Caesar, Act II, Scene ii

biowebsite

Link to post
Share on other sites
If I ever win the lottery, I'm opening a Waffle House in Manhattan.  It would be a goldmine, and I could have scattered, smothered, covered, topped and chunked hash browns any damn time I wanted to.

Plus everyone would get to experience the fabulous Waffle House jukebox, with Waffle House signature songs!

"Special Lady at the Waffle House"

"Waffle House Hashbrowns (I Love You)"

"Why Would You Eat Your Grits Anywhere Else?"

etc., etc.

:laugh:

"Tea and cake or death! Tea and cake or death! Little Red Cookbook! Little Red Cookbook!" --Eddie Izzard
Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm not surprised to hear that they are owned, at least partially, by McDonalds.

Glad you like Pret. So do I.

A bit of background to McDonald's partial ownership of Pret. Pret was started as an independent company in 1986, and has expanded (mostly in London) steadily since then. McDonald's bought their stake a few years back, and to their credit made a lot of public declarations about not getting involved at an operating (or at least at a food-) level. I think part of McDonald's motivation behind making the investment was the purely financial desire to diversify away from their saturated sector. I've noticed no real decline in Pret's quality since McDonald's bought their stake; on the contrary, they've continued to innovate in ways totally in keeping with their high-quality brand (e.g., switching to organic milk).

Pret deserves some kind of award for their almond croissants - I really have never had anything nearly as good in London or the US, posh bakeries (e.g., Paul) notwithstanding. One of the things I missed most when I lived in the US.

One major slip-up Pret has made is on their soups: these are totally substandard and bland. Blech.

Link to post
Share on other sites
The Waffle House Menu

For the sadly uninitiated who may be wondering what scattered, smothered, covered, chunked, topped, diced, and/or peppered hash browns are.

:laugh:

Jamie

you know, I've never waffle housed before, for a couple of reasons. One, there aren't any in Michigan.

2, my wife thinks they all look dirty.

3, I can never remember how I want to order the HB. Can I just say I want them with everything you can possilby do to them, or will that just get me a wierd look?

Link to post
Share on other sites
My favorite chain is Fuddruckers. I've always been real happy with the burgers there. They cook 'em the way you want. The buns are fresh-baked and toasted. The do-it-yourself toppings bar is good. The kids like the fresh-baked cookies.

Fuddrucker's is somewhat notorious for inconsistency between locations. Years back, when the chain was young, they had tight control. That didn't last.

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

Link to post
Share on other sites

The local Fuddrucker's is pretty consistent quality-wise & I like the fact that they will split a burger such as the 2/3# between two baskets (costs less than ordering two 1/3# sandwiches).

"A good dinner is of great importance to good talk. One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." Virginia Woolf

Link to post
Share on other sites
A bit of background to McDonald's partial ownership of Pret. Pret was started as an independent company in 1986, and has expanded (mostly in London) steadily since then. McDonald's bought their stake a few years back, and to their credit made a lot of public declarations about not getting involved at an operating (or at least at a food-) level. I think part of McDonald's motivation behind making the investment was the purely financial desire to diversify away from their saturated sector.

That's their strategy with regard to Chipotle too, isn't it?

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

Link to post
Share on other sites

Pret a Manger reminded me of the Automat.

Olive Garden is "truly" the finest dining available in Springfield, Illinois.

The "real" chains are obvious, but every city seems to end up with it's own local chain-ette. In Chicago, there was just a review of the newest rendition of the "Francesca" phenomenon. The first, Mia Francesca, was hip, happening, and pretty good (but I have eaten so much Italian food in NY and NJ that nothing except Rosebud even comes close around here). Now there are "Francescas" popping up everywhere...formulaic menu...one pork chop dish, one chicken dish, two/three seafood/fish dishes.... The reviewer for the Sun Times, Pat Bruno (whom I respect very much--very knowledgable about food and the business), even said that if they were not careful, they'd just become the Olive Garden.

We also have "Lettuce Entertain You" (Rich Melman's company)--which specializes in "concepts." Some of them are very good, some of them serve hog slop, and some of the restaurants simply use the corporation to fund the business (a la Jean Joho).

Link to post
Share on other sites

We have a chain (of sorts) here in Northeastern Ohio, that's pretty darn good. Rockne's Pub. Pretty standard pub fare... burgers, steaks, sandwiches, salads, etc... but I would crawl through broken glass to get to a bowl of their Cuban black bean soup and smothered steak sandwich.

Link to post
Share on other sites

ww had an after work thing last night at Chili's.

We ordered a slew of appetizers, including their version of the blooming onion. Got part way through, and realized that we were now eating raw onion, and uncooked batter. eeewwww.

Link to post
Share on other sites

There is one chain that I like. Carrabba's.

I like their open kitchen. The cooks at location that I used to go to would tell me the recipes, show me how to cook them...

I am always allowed to substitute things on the menu, and everything is fresh, not frozen. Fresh herbs etc. I always get the same thing, the "Chicken Bryan" which is "Fire-roasted chicken breast topped with caprino cheese, sundried tomatoes and basil lemon butter sauce." It usually comes with pasta but they let me sub a big order of their garlic sauteed spinach instead. :wub::wub: .

My Dad likes the place, so when we go out, that is often a place that we end up.

Granted, they do enjoy fine dining, and Austin has no shortage of wonderful places to go.... and while its no Basil's, Carrabba's is good food.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Not sure if I said this before, but: I used to like Pret a Manger, except for the pretentious written materials (especially the napkins and bags). But then they closed the one nearest me after maybe 6 months, if that long; apparently the place wasn't making its numbers. To me, that's an awfully short time to expect to change people's eating patterns. So now I do not like them. Besides, Claudia Fleming left.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Not sure if I said this before, but: I used to like Pret a Manger, except for the pretentious written materials (especially the napkins and bags).

Some of it is a bit much, I agree.

But the new posters in the shops promoting the fact they make the sandwiches fresh are great:

[Picture of concerned-looking 1950s scientist]

Headline: "Eating fatty food can make you fat. Just think what eating old food will do to you!"

Link to post
Share on other sites
The Waffle House Menu

For the sadly uninitiated who may be wondering what scattered, smothered, covered, chunked, topped, diced, and/or peppered hash browns are.

:laugh:

Jamie

you know, I've never waffle housed before, for a couple of reasons. One, there aren't any in Michigan.

2, my wife thinks they all look dirty.

3, I can never remember how I want to order the HB. Can I just say I want them with everything you can possilby do to them, or will that just get me a wierd look?

To address your points:

1--Good to know. I'll never drive through Michigan.

2--That's the point.

3--I can guarantee that, even though we've never met and I know nothing about you, you will be the least weird person in Waffle House no matter what you do or how you act.

:laugh:

Jamie

EDIT: clarity

Edited by picaman (log)

See! Antony, that revels long o' nights,

Is notwithstanding up.

Julius Caesar, Act II, Scene ii

biowebsite

Link to post
Share on other sites
The Waffle House Menu

For the sadly uninitiated who may be wondering what scattered, smothered, covered, chunked, topped, diced, and/or peppered hash browns are.

:laugh:

Jamie

you know, I've never waffle housed before, for a couple of reasons. One, there aren't any in Michigan.

2, my wife thinks they all look dirty.

3, I can never remember how I want to order the HB. Can I just say I want them with everything you can possilby do to them, or will that just get me a wierd look?

To address your points:

1--Good to know. I'll never drive through Michigan.

2--That's the point.

3--I can guarantee that, even though we've never met and I know nothing about you, you will be the least weird person in Waffle House no matter what you do or how you act.

:laugh:

Jamie

EDIT: clarity

I appreciate that. More so than you know.

Excuse me, but it's time for my medication now.

Nurse Ratched?

Link to post
Share on other sites

No matter where I travel, I can rely on finding a McDonald's, which I use for bathroom breaks, but never for dining! Chick Fil A is probably the only fast food place I'll dine in voluntarily (something about a chicken sammich with pickles), and maybe KFC, because it reminds me of my childhood.

I've always had good experiences with Chili's, but find most of the rest of the bunch to be sub-standard, particularly Red Lobster and Olive Garbage. I mean Garden. :laugh: They each got one chance with me and failed miserably.

I've been to Maggiano's a few times, mostly because I love the house salad dressing and my husband likes HUGE portions of pasta. I must admit I kinda like the dark atmosphere too. And Cheesecake Factory is always a good place to go with a bunch of girlfriends with varying tastes who have varying diets (all meat, no meat, etc.) and they are pretty good about substitutions. I have only been there with certain people and we always have a good time, so I think the event clouds any concerns with the quality of the chow.

My favorite chain restaurant, however, is Roy's (Yamaguchi).

Kathy

Minxeats
http://www.foodloversguidetobaltimore.com/'>Food Lovers' Guide to Baltimore

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to admit, I was quite surprised to discover all of the chain-hate on this board. For as long as I can remember I, and everyone I know, has dined primarily at chains, Fridays, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, etc. It is even to the point where what we would consider a 'higher end' restaurant would be simply on the slightly more upscale end of mainstream, such as the Macaroni Gril.

Now, I have to say that I have had very few bad meals at these places... but as somone said earlier in this thread, perhaps I have just never had a wonderful one either to compare it to. Perhaps my range of experiences lacks entries in the sublime and thus my scale is warped such that well executed mediocrity excites me.

I have in my life dined at two establishments I would consider 'fine dining' although perhaps they don't at all compare to where some of you have been. One was a Sullivan's Steak House (I had no idea this was a chain until reading this thread), and the other was the Green Room at the Hotel DuPont (probably the finest hotel and French restaurant in Delaware... not that that is necessarily saying much). I have to say I was incredibly impressed with Sullivans, and I easily saw how it was much better than Outback (which has never impressed me in general), but the Hotel DuPont left me wanting.... Perhaps I didn't order the right entree, perhaps I was just not prepared for high end French cuisine, or perhaps the place simply is not as wonderful as it is hyped up to be.

What really surprises me is that I have always found Olive Garden to serve up fairly good pasta (even if it is apparently not authentic Italian). Living in the northern Delaware shadow of Philadelphia little Italian Sub/Steak/Pizza/Pasta shops are a dime a dozen, and I have sampled the offerings of many, and from most it was not as good as what you get from Olive Garden or the Macaroni Grill. Perhaps I actually need to drive into the city to find the real deal, or maybe I just don't know what good pasta should taste like. I would assume that what tastes the best is the best... but maybe that is also a flawed assumption.

All in all I have become very interested in both learning how to cook as well as learning what fine dining actually is, and hopefully expanding my horizons some. Having browsed over the 'dinner' thread and seeing the wonderful creations that Jinmyo comes up with is certainly encouraging me to seek out more exciting foodstuffs, I have never encountered anything remotely similar to the quality of what she appears to create on a menu anywhere. So while I do see more chain visits in the near future as I will be dragged when the choice is up to friends and family, I am hoping that I can also add in some better alternatives, and maybe start to catch up on what I have apparently been missing.

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, Nullo, what a thoughtful post.

By the way, not everyone here dines at the high end all the time. I eat at chain restaurants frequently. When you have small children it helps to dine in places that you know will have high chairs, changing tables, and other accomodations for kids.

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

Link to post
Share on other sites

chain restaurants have their place because the pallettes of many (if not most) people are as dull as a butter knife. These people want quantity over quality and they see nothing wrong with simple sustinence being just that. There are fine dining restaurants for people who want to fuel their bodies with something special and there are the Denny's, Applebees, TGIFridays, and so on for those who could care less what goes inot their bodies as long as it is doused in salt and "spice".

I'm not implying that I never go to chain restaurants...but if someone asks, "Let's go out and have a nice meal." I'm not one to suggest a chain.

Edited by Bicycle Lee (log)

"Make me some mignardises, &*%$@!" -Mateo

Link to post
Share on other sites
chain restaurants have their place because the pallettes of many (if not most) people are as dull as a butter knife. These people want quantity over quality and they see nothing wrong with simple sustinence being just that.

Other dine in chain restaurants (and some ethnic restaurants too) because their children are not welcome anywhere else.

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...