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What Is America's Worst Restaurant Chain?

Absolutely, and any or all of a number of cost cutting measures before actually raising prices.

Sep 22, 2014
coakes in Features

What Is America's Worst Restaurant Chain?

This thread has had an amazing life span!

So after watching for too long I thought I'd finally chime in.

I have to differentiate between a restaurant chain and a fast food chain. I have different expectations of each type, to whit:

I don't expect really good food from from a fast food chain, just something tolerable to tide me over because it's not convenient to cook - if I go in with any higher expectations than that it's my problem, and I'll always be disappointed. Lets face it, there's only one In-n-Out! :-)

If I take the time to go into a restaurant, chain or otherwise, then I expect restaurant treatment and food done by cooks who respect their clients and their art. That second part is rough considering what restaurants pay. But as a consumer I am paying for overhead, for servers, for atmosphere (sometimes) and for quality ingredients prepared by quality staff. Anything less and I'm disappointed so to me the Olive Garden portion of this thread is germane.

OG used to be our favorite "go to". We're not Italian nor are we experts on Tuscan cuisine so we don't pretend to rate the place on authenticity, but over years of cooking experience and restaurant experience our palates have grown to recognize even subtle differences in pasta, sauce, veg and protien quality and you can really tell with OG. The food anymore is just blase', the atmosphere is rushed, the wine service is a joke ("would you like the 4oz. or the 6 oz.?" Are you freaking kidding me?) and they've lost our business.

It's much the same with other chains out here on the west coast like Red Robin, Red Lobster and such.

Maybe it's the economy. If you notice your grocery bill climbing but your restaurants prices are steady then you know they are skimping somewhere.

Economies like today's are rough on restaurants - product cost is climbing and labor costs threaten to skyrocket, yet your customers expect to pay the same and get the same quality and quantity. But you know they are skimping somewhere. In the case of OG it shows, badly!

Condiments for hot dogs

Bobby Flay's relish is killer. I know it's too late but what the heck, save it for next time.

May 26, 2014
coakes in General Topics

Olive Garden has been disappointing me quite a bit lately?

I agree that the food and wine quality, and service have gone way down so we stopped going there long ago. In fact we've pretty much given up entirely on chains. I'd rather spend a bit more on a proper meal from folks who are happy to have my business, and of course chef food when we can afford it (which is now a thing of the past since the government has destroyed the economy).

Jan 01, 2014
coakes in Chains

Ground Chuck = Boring Burger

I found that as well so I started experimenting with all sort of cuts, then all sorts of animals, and mixing them together.

Mixing beef/veal, bison, pork, lamb, elk, poultry etc. in differing varieties and quantities can really, really liven up your burgers. Just remember to balance the fat content. For example bison is low on the fat so mix it with something fattier.

Nov 01, 2013
coakes in General Topics

Stand mixer: Bowl lift or tilt head?

I have the Cuisinart 7qt because every review I read said plainly that many bread dough's will get the best of the KA's. The Cuisinart has a heavy duty motor and a tilt head.
Someone mentioned the inconvenience of scraping down the sides of the bowl with the paddle in the way and that's very true, but to me it's a small inconvenience to know that the motor will last.
They're all pricey so this is an investment, and I need to know it can take the abuse.

Nov 01, 2013
coakes in Cookware

fiesta ware plate size question

We prefer to use the fiesta past bowls for salad.

and FW is all over eBay.

Oct 27, 2013
coakes in Cookware

High End Cookware That's Easy To Clean?

As the chief dish washer at home...ok only dish washer at home, my money is on All Clad and cast iron all the way.

Agree with others on the teflon thing too, not worth spending big $ on AllClad teflon when it doesn't last any longer than less expensive stuff.

As for thermolon, there are a couple other threads on that little mystery.

Oct 25, 2013
coakes in Cookware

CHOW Reviews: Simply Calphalon Ceramic Nonstick 8-Inch and 10-Inch Omelet Pan Set

I've had a Henkels 10" thermolon for over a year now. When new it was magic, but the older it gets the more things stick. Meat is the worst, and forget searing.
(my wife once seared off some chicken but used that cooking spray (pet peeve); it took Windex to get the pan clean!

I have not used it with fish because of the meat experience; can't imagine how fish would rip apart on a sear.

I read in another chow-topic that it helps to treat it like cast iron so I've started oiling it before putting it away so we'll see how that works. In the mean time, it's become a unitasker - the egg pan.

Oct 04, 2013
coakes in Cookware

It (doesn't) last forever

I'm real pleased with my Forschner Fibrox stamped chef; it takes an edge well and keeps it for a while, and responds well to the steel; it's light and easier on the arm after a few hours in the kitchen, and the fibrox handle won't slick up, even if it gets greasy, which means a lot fewer bandaids. And when it does break, it won't cost a fortune to replace. Besides, I'm not looking for an heirloom, I need a tool that does what I need it to and doesn't cost a fortune to do it.

On the other hand, my son saw be drooling over an 8" Miyabi Damascus and surprised me with it a couple years ago. I love the weight and the steel is amazing, but I also find myself being a lot more anal about that knife too.

Sep 21, 2013
coakes in Cookware

GreenPan Thermolon cookware -- any experience with this?

Understood; I just didn't see a point in starting a new thread for my comment, which was intended to be about Thermolon, not necessarily a brand of it.

Sep 11, 2013
coakes in Cookware

GreenPan Thermolon cookware -- any experience with this?

Longevity is the problem, just like teflon.

Like most folks I was looking for an alternative to teflon that would maybe last a little longer. I bought a Henckels 12" Thermolon fry pan for $89 and was impressed at first, even recommend it to friends! I mean that sucker was slick!

Now it's been a year and I am not only unimpressed but a little miffed. Teflon lasts longer and is easier to care for.

Meats stick, badly some times, especially bacon, and you have to use your wood spatula to scrape it off while the pan is still hot.

Once my wife used it to sear off some sausage but used cooking spray (the bane of my existence). The reside stuck to the pan badly. I tried dish soaps to no avail, then went for other things, dishwasher detergent, barkeepers helper, laundry soap...then I declared chemical war and went for the bleach. Nothing. Nada, zilch, NOTHING even made a dent on the cooked on grime. Finally the windex won the war (after airing out the bleach of course!).

Now, unfortunately, the pan is far from non-stick and I am once again looking for a replacement. I think I will try to season it like cast iron and see how that does but I am not confident.

Sep 10, 2013
coakes in Cookware

I'm in an arugula rut - new ideas?

Been thinking it'd be yummy to work Arugula into a good chimichuri recipe...

Aug 24, 2013
coakes in Home Cooking

Lodge Mini Cast Iron

just used mine this morning for fried potato cakes, finish in the broiler and served with eggs on top with or without a sauce of choice. Yum factor 8.

Aug 16, 2013
coakes in Cookware

Single Serving Coffee Pot??

KitchenAide just came out with a single serve model too. I'm not one for what I consider to be the gimmicky K-cup machines because it's locks you into a brand, and it does seem like an awfully large counter eating appliance for an 8 oz cup-o-joe.

Aug 09, 2013
coakes in Cookware

Egg pan

I'm just glad to know I'm not the only one with a dedicated egg pan :-)
Well actually two now that they've come up with the analon non-stick. The analon is outstanding (mine is Henkels) Previous to that I've been using the Rachael Ray fry pan as it is deep enough to do a batch. they are of good quality and relatively inexpensive. Teflon wears out after a few years so it's a lot cheaper to replace these than to buy something just to match my All Clad.
Bacon goes in a different pan altogether or preferably, the oven (in my oven it's 400 for 25 min, standard, not convection) on a rack in a half-sheet.
I've had good success with eggs in cast iron but I've also had disasters and cast iron disasters are a major pain to clean up!

Jul 05, 2013
coakes in Cookware

Marinade for fajita meat?

That sounds good too. I might suggest some tequila in there as well. And as I said, cilantro is magic in a marinade :-)

Jan 20, 2013
coakes in Home Cooking

Marinade for fajita meat?

Try Aida's here on Chow. Wish I could say I've tried it but I can't. I did however save it. http://www.chow.com/recipes/10679-car... (personally I was going to add a bunch of cilantro to it


Any Carne Asada or southwestern style skirt/flank marinade would work.

I don't like the jarred stuff either but in a pinch some of the jarred Jerk sauces are pretty good.

Jan 19, 2013
coakes in Home Cooking

Sanity check, please - Cookware use and warranty

Return what you can.


Jan 19, 2013
coakes in Cookware

What to serve with macaroni and cheese

SO I thought I would re-ignite this thread since it gave me some options for a mac&cheese meal I'm serving 200 in a couple weeks, buffet style.

I was thinking of toppings. I do stove top M&C because it's faster, and served fresh nothing beats the creaminess of it. But for those who can't even think of M&C without it being baked with a topping, what's the topping of choice, and how would that topping work if it weren't baked?

I thought it would be nice to have a topping bar, like a salad bar, with a few options.

So what options would you have for toppings? Bacon? Crushed potato chips? Jalapeno? Thai chilis?

Jan 08, 2013
coakes in Home Cooking

The "Go To" Italian Cookbook(s)?

All you people rock! Just sayin. Four great sounding books now in my Amazon cart!

Dec 04, 2012
coakes in Home Cooking

The "Go To" Italian Cookbook(s)?

Thank you both for the replies. We've been relying on TV/Celebrety Italian too much and know we are missing something here!

Dec 03, 2012
coakes in Home Cooking

The "Go To" Italian Cookbook(s)?

I didn't see a "cookbook" board so thought I would post here. I realize there can never be only one cookbook that represents an entire culture but I am wondering if there are some few "go to" cookbooks for Italian cooking like "The Bread Bible" or "The Bread Makers Apprentice" is to baking?

Understood they may be region-specific (i.e. Tuscan, coastal, etc.)

My wife and I both love cooking and eating Italian and have a decent collection of cookbooks, but we're always looking to expand the repertoire!

Dec 02, 2012
coakes in Home Cooking

Pete Wells Kneecaps Guy Fieri. Is This a New Era for Food Reviews?

I'm with lagne, earlier, and will add that I think the review was nothing more than self-inflating babble; pontificating if you will, as if Hours is omnipotent final word in all that is good or worth the ride in the restaurant world. Some people just take themselves a little too seriously; get over yourself. The author was a rude ass. The only saving grace to the review commentary is,oddly enough, it's directed at the food, the place etc. as usual. The hound comments however are directed at Fieri. I will echo the bully-angle that a couple others have mentioned. I don't care if you like me or not, what do you think of my food? These comments sound like the jealous laments of a local HS clique.

Nov 16, 2012
coakes in Features

Dry Mac and Cheese - help

Baking is for lasagna. I think the best way to make it creamy and keep it that way is to serve it stove top style. If you must encrust it with something then use the broiler. I've even skipped the bechemel altogether and simply used a little more cheese to tighten it up.

My problem is KEEPING it creamy in the warmer to last through the dinner rush, so I've had to make it in smaller batches to keep it as fresh as possible.

Oct 13, 2012
coakes in Home Cooking

Is Organic Food Healthier? Duh

I have to agree that the author did not do a very good job in making a point. I read it more than once, and I haven't a clue what the point is.

So I've decided the guy was just blowing off steam. Someone tweeked a pet topic so he blasted back. OK, I get it.

I use organics, but not religiously because more often than not I choose not to pay the additional cost. I like the idea, but I taste no difference.

To me the hoped for benefit is less pesticides, less ugly chemicals overall, and in terms of meat not genetically modified. As I said, "hoped for". That's the same hope I have when I shop at the farmers market.

Why the author had to use a valid study to go into some political whineyland is beyond me. The debate is obviously not over, no matter how badly you want it to be.

Sep 30, 2012
coakes in Features

thoughts on the pampered chef

that takes cheesy to a whole new level - gross!

Jun 04, 2012
coakes in Cookware

thoughts on the pampered chef

My wife really likes her PC Santoku but personally I really dislike it. It's too heavy and not well balanced, but worst of all it will not hold an edge longer than 1-2 days cooking.
Cooking in a restaurant give one a real appreciation for good cutlery.

I did the obligatory buy from a friends party, a synthetic cutting board for the specific purpose of working with raw meats because it said it was dishwasher safe. It warped on its first ride. They exchanged it, but it sure made me wary.

We also got a pizza stone and stone half sheet that work as advertised.

Overall their stuff is over priced and you take your chances with quality.

Get thy sister to a Chef's Supply for lasting value. I don't like to buy something more than once.

If one cooks a lot one soon spots weaknesses in cooking tools.

For the occasional, or obligated cook it's probably fine; what the heck, if it makes her happy and she enjoys the social life of it, who am I to judge? But overall I would not recommend Pampered Chef.

Jun 03, 2012
coakes in Cookware

Mail Order Ingredients

To the Caribbean actually, and only for a few years; looking forward to many exotics, especially chili's.
And thank you ;-)

May 28, 2012
coakes in General Topics

Mail Order Ingredients

I just wanted to say thanks to everyone for posting, great sources and I am sure I will try most if not all. Funny, I never even thought about Amazon - who knew!

May 27, 2012
coakes in General Topics