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Subject:Tour de anti-gourmet
Time:12:26 pm
I used to tease a chef friend of mine about taking him out to dinner. We were going to do Tour de Chain, and I would take him to the worst suburbanite chain restaurants I could think of.
  • Red Lobster
  • Claim Jumper
  • Cheesecake Factory
  • PF Chang
  • Olive Garden
  • Benihana
  • Macaroni Grill
  • Outback
The general theme is "restaurants that non-foodie suburbanites think are good, gourmet food." What would you add to this list? (Edit: I added a couple, and clarified the gourmetness quotient.)

And would anyone like to actually do this? We could get a group together and share a couple of dishes at each place, so that we could thoroughly sample the local cuisine of middle America.
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melebeth
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-04 07:41 pm (UTC)
I actually don't mind the food at Cheesecake Factory, as long as I avoid dessert. But to add to your list...

Applebees
TGIFridays
Houlihans
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timprov
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-04 07:45 pm (UTC)
I'm trying to remember what's out there. TGI Fridays is, yeah? And there's a terrible Mexican chain that's much like the midwest versions of same, but I don't remember the name. Outback Steakhouse.

Certainly there must be something in the "elderly people who could never manage that foreign food" genre, what we have Baker's Square and Perkins and Embers etc. for.
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rightkindofme
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-04 07:47 pm (UTC)
You are probably thinking Chevy's. It's *not* Mexican.


I think I would love to do this kind of restaurant hopping. This is the kind of stuff I grew up with. :P
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violet_tigress1
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-04 07:53 pm (UTC)
Denny's & IHOP. I actually love IHOP< It's one of my favorite places.
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abostick59
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-04 09:57 pm (UTC)
Neither qualifies: nobody thinks they are great food. They *do* deliver what they promise.
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essaying
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-04 08:07 pm (UTC)
TGI Fridays, Applebee's, Chili's.
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schmengie
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-04 08:10 pm (UTC)
i am not sure i would put claim jumper and cheesecake factory in the same category as red lobster/olive garden. And I think PF Changs is in a level of badness by itself
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schmengie
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-04 08:12 pm (UTC)
just saw your edit and agree with the 2 new additions..someone already mentioned outback maybe add Chili's
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ronsrants
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-04 08:14 pm (UTC)
I take umbrage to the inclusion of Cheesecake Factory. I've actually had some particularly delicious meals there. Otherwise, you are correct. Additions to the list:

Ruby Tuesday
Shoney's
Waffle House
Hooter's
Applebee's
Golden Corral
Hardee's
Bojangles
Popeys
KFC
Ryan's
Zaxby's
Taco Bell (Scottro Style)
La Fogata
Any Chinese restaurant with order by number menus
Zoe's
Original House of Pancakes/Walker Brothers
Starbucks
Ruth Chris Steakhouse
Sonic
In and Out
Five Guys
Bonefish
and probably dozen's more

-R
(Reply) (Thread)


schmengie
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-04 08:20 pm (UTC)
totally disagree with you on five guys and in/out

totally agree that Ruths Chris is completely over rated
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phantomdancer
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-04 08:14 pm (UTC)
Elephant bar?
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whipartist
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-04 08:34 pm (UTC)
Oh! I know nothing about them, though I've driven past one.
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hachi
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-04 08:33 pm (UTC)
I believe "Ponderosa" from my childhood follows your theme. I am kinda happy to note that there aren't any within 100 miles.
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melebeth
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-04 09:33 pm (UTC)
Sadly there's one right where the middle of the traffic jam is coming home from NYC. I stopped in there once, because the road hadn't moved more than a mile in an hour and I was starving... I should have waited.
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(Deleted comment)

whipartist
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-04 08:40 pm (UTC)
Wimp. Scared to try the native cuisine of a foreign culture.
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(Deleted comment)

timprov
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-04 08:54 pm (UTC)
I have relatives who feel this way about Old Country Buffet, but they may be the only ones.
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sabyl
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-08 09:16 am (UTC)
Oh God - I dated someone who thought Old Country Buffet was a treat and it was one of his favorites - bleh!!! I hated going there with him. Really bad food.
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whitebird
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-04 08:57 pm (UTC)
I'm surprised no one has mentioned Sizzler's yet. Also, in the Bay Area, there's Cattlemen's. Are there any Hungry Hunter's left?

Personally, I rather like Benihana's, but I'm in it for the beef sashimi, and they do an entertaining meal (which I find to be more than reasonably tasty).

I'd certainly go to Cattlemen's, Sizzler, Benihana, and probably several others on your list.
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(Deleted comment)

adbjupe
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-04 09:26 pm (UTC)
Maggiano's.

There's one in San Jose, Santana Row. And another one here in NC. Bad Italian, nice interior. I have 2 more candidates: Biaggi's and Carrabas. Same category, but not in CA, yet
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fich
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-04 10:28 pm (UTC)
There's a Maggiano's in Fashion Show Mall here in LV.
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essaying
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-04 09:52 pm (UTC)
Thing is, I've had perfectly adequate, sometimes more than adequate, meals in most of the restaurants people have listed here. (Never been to PF Chang or Olive Garden.) Applebee's used to have a spicy beef stir-fry that I'd have been proud to put out on my own table -- not on the menu any more, sadly. Red Lobster, well, you just order plain boiled or steamed stuff that they can't fuck up. TGIF has decent salads. Chevy's isn't real Mexican, but it's very tasty whatever-it-is, and the chips and salsa are extraordinarily good. I'm always willing to eat a decent slab-o-cow as long as I can get the kitchen to send it out rare enough, and many of these places have adequate beef. Etc., etc.

When I was traveling around the country as a speaker, the places I got taken to were almost always on this list, simply because they're affordable, can seat a crowd, and offer enough options that almost anybody can find something there that they like. It's a bit like Starbucks -- it's easy to be snotty about it when you live somewhere that has superb coffee on every corner, but when you're in Columbus or Boise or Nashville, you are DAMN glad to see a place where you can get coffee that's freshly ground and brewed strong enough that you can't read type through it.

Not a big fan of the food-snob thing, I guess. Any food that doesn't make me sick is basically OK by me, and I'd rather eat middle-of-the-road, unpretentiously served, fairly priced food than pay half my paycheck for something that's set down in front of me by someone who acts like the whole concept is beneath them.

(Of course, in the Bay Area, there's the third option: terrific, cheap, unpretentious ethnic food served in family-owned neighborhood restaurants. If you're the praying type, offer up prayers of thanks that you live in a place that has that option, and be sure to support them with your dining dollars.)
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whipartist
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-04 09:58 pm (UTC)
Well, yes, but there's nothing to offer up that prayer for. I made a conscious decision to live in such an area, and I intentionally choose to support them with my dining dollars. The downstairs restaurant is essentially such a place, though in this case ethnic would mean "California". It's owned by friends and the families, the prices are reasonable, and the food is quite good.
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tiurin
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-04 10:06 pm (UTC)
Suburbanites think of these as _gourmet_ food? I didn't think even most suburbanites would go that far. Decent food as far as a restaurant that the whole family could go to, sure. But gourmet in the sense of two professionals going "we have a babysitter for the night and we're on a date" type gourmet? Don't see it.
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filthy_habit
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-04 10:17 pm (UTC)
Benihana? Most of the time, I agree, especially here in Vegas where it is way overpriced (at the Hilton) and there are dozens of very fine teppan/sushi restaurants off the strip. It's all a matter of who prepares your food. If you go to the Benihana in Concord, ask for Gary. He'll change your mind in a hurry.
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[icon] Tour de anti-gourmet - Patti
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