Consumer Reports Chain Survey

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RubyRose
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RE: Consumer Reports Chain Survey 2003/06/10 13:13:53 (permalink)
The only chain within a 30 minute drive from my house is Friendly's and the only chain on the list I've ever been to is the Rainforest Cafe in Las Vegas, which was a memorable meal because of the incredibly poor food and service. Boy, do I feel out of touch with the rest of the world.
#31
Michael Hoffman
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RE: Consumer Reports Chain Survey 2003/06/10 13:27:39 (permalink)
quote:


Everyone, if you've taken the time to sit and watch the cook at a Waffle House juggle 10 short orders, you've witnessed a master at work.

A double order of hash browns, scattered & smothered (or is it covered? I can't ever remember; whatever it is with just onions fried in) is genuine comfort food.

FWIW, count me as a life-long member of the Waffle House fan club...


Waffle House dining is entertainment. I love to watch the grill people at work. By the way, scattered and smothered is onions. Covered is cheese. My preference, scattered, smothered and peppered (with jalpeno slices), and sometimes topped (with chili). My burgers at a Waffle House? Rare, with grilled chopped onions, and hold the garden. There are so many places these days where you can get a hamburger cooked anyway you want it so long as it's well done. I stopped going to Denny's because of that. And the same is true at Bob Evans.
#32
Michael Hoffman
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RE: Consumer Reports Chain Survey 2003/06/10 13:31:55 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by rmtnfoodie

I can see Morton's and some of the other's, but why downgrade Joe's Crab Shack? The one in Redondo Beach, CA last year was quite nice - and right on the water in King Harbor.


RT


I've been to two Joe's Crab Shack places in the Columbus, Ohio area. I went to the second one because I couldn't believe how bad the first was. There was no improvement. So noisy at both that conversation was impossible. The only crab they served was stone crab and snow crab. Both were so fishy-smelling as to be inedible.
#33
mayor al
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RE: Consumer Reports Chain Survey 2003/06/10 14:52:16 (permalink)
The Joe's Shack in Louisville deserves the same comments that you make for Ohio, Micheal.I like to be able to converse with my companion, or group during a dinner. If the din is so high that it makes Lip-Reading a requirement at the table, then it doesn't matter how good the food is, It is not a pleasant experience.

RB, The size of the bill is not as important as the satisfaction of a happy dining experience. If I had attended Morton's of Louisville with 75 fewer eater's in the room, a waiter who cared that I knew of the daily choices and treated me with equal respect that he gave another nearby table where lingering conversations about "How's you Uncle?" seemed to be the order of the day, and better timing of courses so we could finish our salads BEFORE the Entree was placed in front of us, I would have felt a lot better about the evening. This would have been unacceptable at OutBack, or even KFC for Pete's sake...Why should a "1st Class" operation think that it can do as it pleases to it's customer's in the name of "upscale dining"?...BTW this happened at 9pm on a weeknight, not the busiest of times in Louisville.
Thanks, I feel MUCH better now !!
#34
Bushie
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RE: Consumer Reports Chain Survey 2003/06/10 16:48:35 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by Michael Hoffman


Waffle House dining is entertainment. I love to watch the grill people at work. By the way, scattered and smothered is onions. Covered is cheese. My preference, scattered, smothered and peppered (with jalpeno slices), and sometimes topped (with chili). My burgers at a Waffle House? Rare, with grilled chopped onions, and hold the garden. There are so many places these days where you can get a hamburger cooked anyway you want it so long as it's well done. I stopped going to Denny's because of that. And the same is true at Bob Evans.


Michael, thanks for the clarification. It's one of those "mental block" things with me. We don't have a Waffle House in the Austin area so I'll have to wait until my next trip, but I'm going to get the "scattered, smothered, and peppered" next time! I honestly can't believe I've never done that.

As for the burger, I must ask; do you like mustard or mayo Your reputation is riding on your answer.
#35
Michael Hoffman
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RE: Consumer Reports Chain Survey 2003/06/10 18:50:27 (permalink)


Michael, thanks for the clarification. It's one of those "mental block" things with me. We don't have a Waffle House in the Austin area so I'll have to wait until my next trip, but I'm going to get the "scattered, smothered, and peppered" next time! I honestly can't believe I've never done that.

As for the burger, I must ask; do you like mustard or mayo Your reputation is riding on your answer.


Ah, but you used to have at least one Toddle House. I know, because when I was going to school in Austin I worked there. It was right at the south end of Guadalupe, on the cross-street where Guadalupe ends -- right near a place that was called the Nighthawk.

Now, as to mustard or mayo: The mustard used at the Waffle House is that terrible yellow stuff, and if that wasn't bad enough, it's that yellow stuff that comes in a pour bottle. Therefore, I use the mayonnaise. On the ones I make at home I often use both mustard (brown) and relish. I'll sometimes use those two condiments when they are available at other places, too.
#36
Bushie
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RE: Consumer Reports Chain Survey 2003/06/10 19:26:23 (permalink)
Michael, I don't remember the Toddle House; probably something I just overlooked if it was here after 1980 (the year I moved here). There was a Steak n' Egg Kitchen where Guadalupe jagged on 19th south of campus, which I LOVED. Closed long ago. Sigh. The only remnant of the Nighthawk chain is the Frisco, which is still on Burnet, and is still GREAT!

The correct answer to the burger question would have been MUSTARD, but I'll let it pass because you seem like such a nice guy. I love the brown mustard too, though. I grew up eating cheeseburgers with only mustard and onions, but my uncle turned me on to mustard, onions, and sweet relish years ago. That's the way I order my double steakburgers from Steak N' Shake, whenever I'm fortunate enough to find one.

Thanks!
#37
Michael Hoffman
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RE: Consumer Reports Chain Survey 2003/06/11 12:16:32 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by Bushie

Michael, I don't remember the Toddle House; probably something I just overlooked if it was here after 1980 (the year I moved here). There was a Steak n' Egg Kitchen where Guadalupe jagged on 19th south of campus, which I LOVED. Closed long ago. Sigh. The only remnant of the Nighthawk chain is the Frisco, which is still on Burnet, and is still GREAT!

The correct answer to the burger question would have been MUSTARD, but I'll let it pass because you seem like such a nice guy. I love the brown mustard too, though. I grew up eating cheeseburgers with only mustard and onions, but my uncle turned me on to mustard, onions, and sweet relish years ago. That's the way I order my double steakburgers from Steak N' Shake, whenever I'm fortunate enough to find one.

Thanks!
The Toddle House was there in 1954, which is a couple of years before your move to Austin. Oh, and thanks for the pass.
#38
RC51Mike
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RE: Consumer Reports Chain Survey 2003/06/11 13:04:49 (permalink)
I guess I look at Roadfood as a travel/dining adventure, not just going out for something decent to eat a fair price. When I travel I look here, Holly Eats, some diner sites and my own notes and references. Even armed with this data I still like to strike out on my own and take chances for a possible gem in the rough. There's in inherent risk in it but, that's what makes it enjoyable. I think most folks here are like minded. In the places to eat forum no one asks if there's a Red Lobster here or a Denny's there. No one responds that there's a TGIF or a Chi-Chi in their town. Chains (with few possible exceptions) have their place, just not here. Maybe www.chainrestaurantdining.com
#39
wanderingjew
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RE: Consumer Reports Chain Survey 2003/06/11 13:41:37 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by RC51Mike

I guess I look at Roadfood as a travel/dining adventure, not just going out for something decent to eat a fair price. When I travel I look here, Holly Eats, some diner sites and my own notes and references. Even armed with this data I still like to strike out on my own and take chances for a possible gem in the rough. There's in inherent risk in it but, that's what makes it enjoyable. I think most folks here are like minded. In the places to eat forum no one asks if there's a Red Lobster here or a Denny's there. No one responds that there's a TGIF or a Chi-Chi in their town. Chains (with few possible exceptions) have their place, just not here. Maybe www.chainrestaurantdining.com


Thank GOD!

Someone with common sense" /> I wholeheartedly agree with you!
#40
ocdreamr
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RE: Consumer Reports Chain Survey 2003/06/11 13:53:10 (permalink)
True but if we don't discuss the chains you might not know it was a chain. As discussed above many chains are regional and if you travel into that region and encounter one for the first time it's good to be forewarned. As you can imagine we don't have Joe's crab Shacks here in Maryland, but I now know to approach with caution if I come near one. Back in 1982 While in Dallas I encountered a restaurant that was very nice & served good food. After eating there I was talking to my sister who lived in Dallas & she informed me they were a local chain, the name? "TGIF" After going national they have definitely gone down.
#41
wanderingjew
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RE: Consumer Reports Chain Survey 2003/06/11 14:12:46 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by ocdreamr

True but if we don't discuss the chains you might not know it was a chain. As discussed above many chains are regional and if you travel into that region and encounter one for the first time it's good to be forewarned. As you can imagine we don't have Joe's crab Shacks here in Maryland, but I now know to approach with caution if I come near one. Back in 1982 While in Dallas I encountered a restaurant that was very nice & served good food. After eating there I was talking to my sister who lived in Dallas & she informed me they were a local chain, the name? "TGIF" After going national they have definitely gone down.


I can spot a chain by a mile. If the place looks "lived in" ie..a dump, I know it definetely isn't a chain and usually am never disappointed by what is served. If there is a "theme look" look to the restaurant, I can almost guarantee it's a chain, however I always check with the management if I am not sure.

By the way TGIF did not start in Dallas, they opened their doors for the first time on March 15, 1965 in Manhattan....The day I was born!
#42
ocdreamr
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RE: Consumer Reports Chain Survey 2003/06/11 15:10:37 (permalink)
It must be wonderful to be omnipotent! Personally I appreciate the help from others & I'm sure that Morton's & Ruth's Chris Steak would be interested to know that they are dumps!!!
#43
Liketoeat
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RE: Consumer Reports Chain Survey 2003/06/11 15:59:46 (permalink)
More Amen the more you write, Ocdreamr! You are the person who is expressing some common sense. Discussion of chains helps identlfy when traveling various restaurants unknown to us (and which we may not even know are parts of chains) and gives insight into which of those to avoid and which may be worth a visit (examples of such worthwhile info from postings re chains would be the three 4/28 postings and the one 5/4 posting by wanderingjew to the Regional Chains forum), just as discussions of independently owned restaurants unknown to us provide the same information. I've discovered some few top notch restaurants (Ruth's Chris, Palm, etc.) which turned out to be parts of chains or franchise operations (but such was unknown to me at time of my first encounter) and I've encountered a few restaurants which turned out to be parts of small regional or even more local chains which provide much more in the way of unique dining adventures (as opposed to just decent eats at a fair price) than do some independents in those areas. I certainly detest traveling with anyone who wants to go only to "a restaurant which we have back home so we will know what we are getting". There is nothing better than finding something good, new and different. But in some cases that good, new and different may be part of a chain or franchise operation as unknown and as different to me as are any of the independently owned restaurants in that area. I consider it a potential dining experience loss to automatically exclude an unknown restaurant solely because of its chain or franchise operation status (though other information may cause me to exclude it before a first visit, and in some cases I may discover that a visit to one establishment of a chain is quite worthwhile, while another is to be avoided). As extreme examples, I cannot fathom anyone going to the Wendys which sits in the middle of the French Quarter or to any Red Lobster anywhere along the Gulf Coast, but yet I would have missed out on some great food and unique dining experiences/adventures had I refused to set foot into any Phillips Grocery, Cotham's, or Abe's Old Feedhouse restaurants simply because of their being parts of small, local multi-unit operations or into any Copelands or LaHacienda because of their being parts of regional chains. As an old saying with which I grew up went, "It's like the fellow who kissed the cow; everybody to his own notion", and that is well and good. All I've got to say.
#44
wanderingjew
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RE: Consumer Reports Chain Survey 2003/06/11 17:08:58 (permalink)
Wow!

It seems like my words are being twisted around First of all I never called Mortons or Ruth's Chris dumps. I actually was referring to NON CHAINS. My theory is the dumpier the place, the better the food. Most theme restaurants are chains, that's a given. Of course there are exceptions. I never considered myself omnipotent. I would never hesitate to walk into a restaurant that I'm not familiar with but would suspect to be a local chain and simply ask the management. I actually appreciate local chains (very local) meaning 1/2 a dozen or less, and I have indicated this in the previous regional chains forum. I used to love Nathan's Famous in NY. Once they expanded outside the NYC metro area they went down hill. Same thing with "Mc Starbucks" in Seattle. However Greggs, Chelos, and Ricottis are small local chains in Rhode Island that hold their own. How many on this forum have heard of these "chains" ??probably very, very few if any. However there seems to be too much chatting about Waffle House, White Castle and other similar chains that we might as well just chat about Burger King and Mc Donalds while we are at it
#45
ocdreamr
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RE: Consumer Reports Chain Survey 2003/06/11 17:35:13 (permalink)
It may surpise you that I never heard of Waffle house until I read it here. They are not a chain that is everywhere! So again I say, just because you know of them not everyone does. And with that I rest my case.
#46
mayor al
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RE: Consumer Reports Chain Survey 2003/06/11 17:50:50 (permalink)
Trust me, There are positive food experiences outside of Rhode Island (Both Chain and Independent!!).
AL
#47
pigface
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RE: Consumer Reports Chain Survey 2003/06/11 18:56:02 (permalink)
Is this a Topic I should be Glad I didn't Step In ?
#48
RC51Mike
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RE: Consumer Reports Chain Survey 2003/06/11 18:58:37 (permalink)
Again, there is nothing wrong with chain food if that's what you like. One of the important things I like about Roadfood places however, is how the personality and pride of the owner is reflected in the location, the look of the place, its decoration, the food, and attitudes of the people who work there. Those places are artistic creations, the dreams realized of their owners. Some chains start out in similar fashion but once the franchising starts, it's all suits and accountants. There are some smaller chains that manage to retain some of the positive qualities but as Wonderingjew noted, at some point they lose that. In Delaware there is a three location "chain" of burgers called Jake's. You can go into any of them and now and then see Jake and say hi- the actual namesake of the business- and he may be making your burger. Dozen or so coffee shops called Brew-ha-ha. The owner, Alison may pop up conducting business, hiring or checking in on things. If she continues to be successful and grows to Startbucks proportions, it won't be the same anymore. It won't mean I'll stop going, just that it won't be the same. Chains and franchises aren't about the same things as I'm looking for in my explorations and adventures. They are about maximizing profits, business plans, cutting expenses, concepting, maintaining their franchise agreement conditions...
#49
Cosmos
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RE: Consumer Reports Chain Survey 2003/06/11 19:05:39 (permalink)
There are only three on the list in the Syracuse, NY. area; IHOP, Denny's and Friendly's.

I refuse to order pancakes unless they have real maple syrup (what's the point?...awful tasting brown goop on some nice cakes?), so IHOP is out.

Denny's? will someone give them the recipe for browning shredded "home fry" potatoes? Please? My god, they shred them so they'll cook faster, and invariably you get a pile of warm slightly less than raw potatoes.

Friendly's and gastro-intestinal problems go way back for me. So I can't argue with CR at all.
#50
wanderingjew
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RE: Consumer Reports Chain Survey 2003/06/12 07:55:12 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by ocdreamr

It may surpise you that I never heard of Waffle house until I read it here. They are not a chain that is everywhere! So again I say, just because you know of them not everyone does. And with that I rest my case.


I'm also quite certain there are people on this forum who never heard of Mc Donalds, Burger King and Wendys. Nothing Surprises me anymore
#51
Sundancer7
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RE: Consumer Reports Chain Survey 2003/06/12 08:09:14 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by ocdreamr

It may surpise you that I never heard of Waffle house until I read it here. They are not a chain that is everywhere! So again I say, just because you know of them not everyone does. And with that I rest my case.


Mr. OCDreamer. The Waffle House has over 1,400 restaurants in 26 states. so that means there are a lot of states they are not in. I see them a lot in the south and west.

They are one of my favorite places for breakfast. What you order is always prepared to the order. Nothing is made in advance. All of their sites look like they were cookie cuts. Their cooks are fun to watch particularly in their egg preparation. Their has browns are the best I ever had and you can choose them many different ways.

Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN
#52
Lone Star
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RE: Consumer Reports Chain Survey 2003/06/12 10:16:12 (permalink)
I had never heard of White Castle before, but I know if I see one I will want to try it.
#53
ocdreamr
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RE: Consumer Reports Chain Survey 2003/06/12 10:23:38 (permalink)
Sundancer,

I checked out their web page & found that the nearest one to me is about 50-60 miles away, not exactly breakfast distance but if I'm ever on the road & find one nearby I just might give it a try.


By the way it's Ms

Lone Star,
I had heard of White Castle & knew of their burgers from the grocery store frozen foods but locally we had more of the White Tower burgers.
#54
NancyPeter
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RE: Consumer Reports Chain Survey 2003/06/16 16:21:54 (permalink)
I second the nomination for P.F. Chang's as one of the better chains - the lettuce wraps are "to die for"
#55
Lone Star
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RE: Consumer Reports Chain Survey 2003/06/16 16:30:44 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by NancyPeter

I second the nomination for P.F. Chang's as one of the better chains - the lettuce wraps are "to die for"


Nancy,
I agree the lettuce wraps are fabulous. I was able to get the recipe off of the Texas monthly recipie exchange on their website.

I made them several weeks ago, and they were fantastic. I will see if I can find the recipie and post.

A little time intensive, but well worth it!
#56
NancyPeter
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RE: Consumer Reports Chain Survey 2003/06/17 10:28:16 (permalink)
Thanks, if you can find the recipe for the wraps, I'd really be grateful! Nancy
#57
Jameslakes
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RE: Consumer Reports Chain Survey 2003/06/27 07:46:35 (permalink)
Ahhhh, Waffle House. As a salesman, based in NYC who is always on the road, my mouth begins to salivate as soon as I hit I-81 in Chambersburg PA. It means only about one hour to the first Waffle House. Whatever the time of day, I will stop and have their pecan waffles (Get a second one for only 99 cents more). Nothing, nothing on God's Green Earth compares with the taste, the texture, the flavor of that first mouthful after a couple of months absenced. Ahhhh, Waffle House!
#58
NancyPeter
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RE: Consumer Reports Chain Survey 2003/07/01 10:50:36 (permalink)
Yumm - Iron Skillet - located within the Petro Fuel Stops along I-95 on the East Coast. The one in Ruthers Glen, VA, is fantastic. The salad bar is cold & fresh - you take your chilled pewter plate out of the cooler & "go to town." Homemade soups rival anything you can make yourself! The service is quick & friendly! An added benefit is that you can ask the truckers sitting at the front counter area for road info. We asked one man for assistance, & he went out to his truck, checked his map, & came back in to tell us what we needed to know! Incredible...

These places are a good solid alternative to the "cookie cutter" Cracker Barrel chain.
#59
hawkeyejohn
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RE: Consumer Reports Chain Survey 2003/07/01 12:37:28 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by NancyPeter

Yumm - Iron Skillet - located within the Petro Fuel Stops along I-95 on the East Coast. The one in Ruthers Glen, VA, is fantastic. The salad bar is cold & fresh - you take your chilled pewter plate out of the cooler & "go to town." Homemade soups rival anything you can make yourself! The service is quick & friendly! An added benefit is that you can ask the truckers sitting at the front counter area for road info. We asked one man for assistance, & he went out to his truck, checked his map, & came back in to tell us what we needed to know! Incredible...

These places are a good solid alternative to the "cookie cutter" Cracker Barrel chain.


Iron Skillets are located in the Midwest also, there is a big one at the junction of I90/94 and I39 near Portage Wisconsin.
#60
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