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Chain Restaurants (Steakhouses in Particular)


OSJ
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So, we almost derailed another thread by veering the discourse toward good places to get a great steak. What are some of yours? Being a Seattle boy, I've a soft spot for the Keg on Roosevelt as it was good and affordable (to say nothing of making an absolutely kick-ass Caesar salad.) We did Ruth's Chris once after I got a big royalty check and even splitting a steak and just having a couple of sides, the tab was like eighty bucks. It was good, but not THAT good. If I'm spending eighty bucks on dinner thirty years ago, there better be lobster medallions on my steak and there weren't.

I don't know if they still exist, but our go-to was always the Black Angus, it went pretty far downhill after owner Stuart Anderson sold out to a corporation, but in its glory days it was fantastic. As for what we have here, we have the damn Sizzler, which I think is vile, but Kathy loves it. I usually think places that provide a taco corner at the salad bar are pretty great, as it seems a very thoughtful thing to do, (sometimes you want a bit more than just salad, but don't really want a full entree, the taco corner is perfect for such times), unfortunately, I think Sizzler uses roadkill as the meat for their taco corner. Whatever it is, it tastes like nothing I've ever had before or ever want to experience again. Just nasty, (which is my general opinion of the Sizzler).

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We had a Sizzler in town for a bit. Food was ok at best. The waitress looked like Patty the Daytime Hooker's stunt double. It got closed 7 years ago when maggots were found in the salad bar.

Now one half of it is a Mexican resturant that sucks. The other half is a liquor store.

Edited by bobholly138
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I'd been enjoying Outback until COVID happened. Good steaks cooked properly with good seasoning, and tasty sides. Plus, I like their bread better than Black Angus's molasses bread.

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Outback is pretty good considering that's the main one we would go to.  We also have a Texas Roadhouse near us which has its good and bad to it.  The steak is good and the bread is awesome.  But of the two places for overall atmosphere I'll take Outback any day.

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I'll always have a soft spot for Sizzler after all of the pre-Super 8 bashes we had over the years. For super fancy-pants steak dinners we're fond of Morton's- super expensive but really worth it.

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6 hours ago, supremebve said:

This may be the single most savage insult I've ever read.  You have a gift.

I didn't notice that she looked like Patty,until I took Dad to eat there. At the time he was binge watching My Name is Earl. As soon as the waitress left the table "SHe looks just like Patty the Daytime Hooker."

 

And ,I already know I'm odd,but I don't like steak. Had shitty steak had great steak. To me it just ain't that good.

Edited by bobholly138
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Black Angus is still around. We have one here in Spokane. 

Outback is pretty good but they way over-pepper the steaks. 

Of the chains, Texas Roadhouse is our current favorite. 

Been to Ruth's Chris once. Waste of money. $200 for my wife & I for steaks worse than I used to make before I knew what I was doing. 

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Outback is OK,  but the one on my side of town doesn't know how to properly cook a steak.  Every time I want medium rare it's blue on the inside.  The bread is really good and I still love me a bloomin' onion so we still go from time to time.

We had a Flemings here for a while, and that was pretty decent but too expensive.  I'd put it about on par with Ruth's Chris.

If I'm gonna spend too much on a piece of beef I'll go to the Tornado Room, a local supper club/steakhouse and have an old fashioned and a steak au poivre.

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I typically don't like to order steaks when I eat out because I tend to think we cook them perfectly at home. That said, if we're out of town or something then I'll usually get a steak. Outback, as far as chains go, tends to be pretty good when it comes to steaks.

I'll also say Ruth's is way, way, way, way too expensive, but the food is good at least. We only ever go if I get gift cards from my work to go there. I think the last time we went I had $150 in gift cards to Ruth's and our bill wound up being $300. Oops. Mind you, that's $300 for me getting a NY strip, a side of loaded hash browns, probably 3 cocktails and a glass of wine and my wife getting steak and shrimp, au gratin potatoes, and the same amount of drinks. All that for the low low price of $300...

For the most part, we only eat at a chain place if we're out of town, my daughter is with us, and we just need a reliable place to eat without searching Yelp for 30 minutes for a local place to eat. Here at home and when we go to Chicago we'll stick to locally owned places.

I'm also wondering if @Ace eats at the Outback my friend works at.

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$300? at Ruth's Chris? Yipes! When I mentioned $80.00, let me be clear, that was for one steak which we split, (as it was the size of a small roast), a side of sauteed mushrooms and as this was well over thirty years ago it's quite possible that we had drinks with our lunch, so that would likely be a glass of wine for Kathy and a Rusty Nail for myself. Like I said, the tab was eighty bucks and I recall giving the server a $100 bill and telling him to keep the change... Good but ridiculously over-priced, if I'm doing steak in Seattle, it will be 13 Coins or the Metropolitan Grill... (assuming that both institutions are still there).

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Ruth's Chris is one of the least satisfying restaurant experiences you can ever have.  I've only ever eaten there on work's dime, but it's no where near close to being worth the price.  It's underseasoned steak wearing a tuxedo...except I'm not trying to pay to eat a tuxedo.  You can legitimately get a steak of that quality at any decent restaurant in the country.  Seriously, there's a restaurant group around here where you can get a steak for $25-35 tops, and it will be better than anything you can get from Ruth's Chris.  

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Only time I ever really eat Steak I don't cook myself is when I'm on the road for work and the mood takes me to go to Outback.  That's pretty much the only chain steak I touch anymore, although to be fair I haven't tried Texas Roadhouse yet, mostly because they don't have bars and I tend to like to have a beer or two when staying in a hotel (since I sleep like shit on any bed that isn't mine).  

It's not techincally a chain because i think there's only 4 of them, but I did have a $200 Waygu at Morimoto's in NYC once.  It was REALLY fucking good, but I don't think I could ever justify spending that much on a piece of meat for just myself again (and I only did it that time because the wife and I were using $400 of giftcards).  

Edited by Raziel
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6 hours ago, Craig H said:

I typically don't like to order steaks when I eat out because I tend to think we cook them perfectly at home. That said, if we're out of town or something then I'll usually get a steak. Outback, as far as chains go, tends to be pretty good when it comes to steaks.

I'll also say Ruth's is way, way, way, way too expensive, but the food is good at least. We only ever go if I get gift cards from my work to go there. I think the last time we went I had $150 in gift cards to Ruth's and our bill wound up being $300. Oops. Mind you, that's $300 for me getting a NY strip, a side of loaded hash browns, probably 3 cocktails and a glass of wine and my wife getting steak and shrimp, au gratin potatoes, and the same amount of drinks. All that for the low low price of $300...

For the most part, we only eat at a chain place if we're out of town, my daughter is with us, and we just need a reliable place to eat without searching Yelp for 30 minutes for a local place to eat. Here at home and when we go to Chicago we'll stick to locally owned places.

I'm also wondering if @Ace eats at the Outback my friend works at.

I eat at the one in Buena Park on Beach Blvd. I'm not overly fond of the Anaheim Outback. 

 

Edited by Ace
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Oh ok, nevermind then. He works at the one in Burbank.

Also, I don't know why, but I find it slightly interesting that most of us have a favorable opinion of Outback.

Regarding Ruth's steaks being underseasoned, I hear ya. The former head chef at the Ruth's here wound up opening his own tapas style restaurant across the street and I had mentioned how the steak bites at his restaurant were better than the steak at Ruth's. He mentioned that Ruth's, along with other higher end restaurants in town, really any that don't let you pick your raw cut beforehand, do quick turnarounds on steak where they're cooking them sous vide style and then throwing them on the grill and at his restaurant they're solely doing their steaks in cast iron. My guess is that Ruth's probably seasons the steak before hand, throws it in a bag, drops that in the water, then when it's ordered they're pulling it out of the bag, the seasoning runs off with the juices inside, it's grilled, served, and it winds up being underseasoned. I don't like a ton of seasoning on my steak, just salt and pepper and something aromatic is fine with me, but I at least want a crust on it.

Mmmm, juicy, crispy, buttery, garlicky, salty steak crust.

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22 minutes ago, Craig H said:

 

Also, I don't know why, but I find it slightly interesting that most of us have a favorable opinion of Outback.

 

Same!  I'm used to online forums being more snooty about these things, I guess.  I haven't been to Outback in quite a while, somewhere in 2014 probably, but used to go there quite a bit when my wife's folks were alive.  I can't say I've ever had a bad meal there.  I've probably been to 3-4 different ones, so they're pretty consistent in my experience.  I stick to the filet, maybe a side of sauteed mushrooms and onions.  Coconut shrimp if I've got a hankerin'.  And that bread is GREAT.  Maybe next time we go out and it's time for a keto cheat, we'll do Outback. 

Edited by Technico Support
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Don't really go to steak places often.

The Outback we used to have here was kind of bland steak wise. Golden Corral was serving better steaks. The Blooming Onion was always nice enough.

Been to a Brazilian Steakhouse at least twice for my youngest sister's birthday. That was decent enough.

My brother took me to Longhorn Steakhouse on my birthday last year. Though their steak was solid.

In the end the best steaks I've had still are homemade. My brother has managed some nice ones this past year after he started to use a grill. 

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7 minutes ago, Eivion said:

The Outback we used to have here was kind of bland steak wise. Golden Corral was serving better steaks. The Blooming Onion was always nice enough

I'm not saying Outback has the greatest steak around but that might be the first time I've read about Golden Corral having a better steak.  So either they're better than I remember or that Outback didn't know what they were doing.

All this talk about steakhouses and I had to look up and see if there were any truly independent ones around.  Sadly they're all chain ones but there seems to be a bar/grille place that seems to serve quality steaks.  So I'll be heading out there when I get a chance.

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1 hour ago, NikoBaltimore said:

I'm not saying Outback has the greatest steak around but that might be the first time I've read about Golden Corral having a better steak.  So either they're better than I remember or that Outback didn't know what they were doing.

The Golden Corral around here is actually ok compared to the ones people here have talked about, and yeah I get the feeling that particular Outback just wasn't all that great. There is a reason I said used to be around here.

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haven't been to a steakhouse in YEARS due to not having a good one in town, and my wife being an amazing cook.

that said, we were in Minneapolis like 10+ years ago and stumbled across a place called "Steak & Ale" and the building looked like a castle or mansion or something. The steak there was pretty damn good (and i enjoyed the ale too!). Looked them up and it seems the chain went out of business quite a long time ago now. 

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4 minutes ago, twiztor said:

haven't been to a steakhouse in YEARS due to not having a good one in town, and my wife being an amazing cook.

that said, we were in Minneapolis like 10+ years ago and stumbled across a place called "Steak & Ale" and the building looked like a castle or mansion or something. The steak there was pretty damn good (and i enjoyed the ale too!). Looked them up and it seems the chain went out of business quite a long time ago now. 

LOL they used to have a Steak and Ale in one of the suburbs north of Baltimore (Timonium).  Same look and everything.  I think I ate there once but it couldn't have been too memorable.

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18 minutes ago, Technico Support said:

Same!  I'm used to online forums being more snooty about these things, I guess.  I haven't been to Outback in quite a while, somewhere in 2014 probably, but used to go there quite a bit when my wife's folks were alive.  I can't say I've ever had a bad meal there.  I've probably been to 3-4 different ones, so they're pretty consistent in my experience.  I stick to the filet, maybe a side of sauteed mushrooms and onions.  Coconut shrimp if I've got a hankerin'.  And that bread is GREAT.  Maybe next time we go out and it's time for a keto cheat, we'll do Outback. 

Outback (and once upon a time, the Black Angus) were every bit as good as the pricey joints, I will say that 13 Coins edges them just slightly as their pasta side is amazing. Of course, so is the Blooming Onion so it's really like comparing Jumbo with Kobashi... I'm going to go with this order:

13 Coins: (Does two locations count as a chain?)(easily the spendiest of the restaurants that I've listed, but I recall dining there with my buddy, the Microsoft millionaire and while neither of us drink alcohol, we still had a bottle of non-alcoholic wine with dinner (an item that we were price-gouged viciously for). Some servers just don't grasp the concept that just because I don't have a drink before dinner and wine with dinner, I still have a palette and a tendency to over-tip if I'm treated well. On the other hand, if you behave as though I requested a Happy Meal simply because I didn't order any booze; you are going to get a nasty surprise when it comes to the tip. Since all of these places are a fairly rare experience, I don't worry about being remembered by the staff.

Outback: Okay, I'm not a snob when it comes to atmosphere. In fact, one of my favorite places for steak was this little dive on Aurora Ave. N. I don't recall the name or even which side of the County line it was on... Anyway, Outback... The location on Aurora is apparently a meat market as well as a restaurant/cocktail lounge if you know what I mean and I'm sure that you do. Like I said, I'm not a snob about a place with a lively atmosphere (though I confess to bafflement at the concept of places like Denny's, Outback, Applebee's and the like being hang-outs for a younger generation.) Far as I'm concerned, if a restaurant has a bar, there must be at least a dart board and a couple of table-top video games; a full-blown game room with pool tables is preferred, of course. Anyway, the din caused by giggling and shrieking barflys at the Aurora Ave location is actually bad enough to interfere with enjoying the meal. And God have mercy if there's a fucking Seahawks game on. Every 1st down is cause for much yelling and screaming and the noise level when a touchdown is scored is about equal to the volume of a Deep Purple concert. So Outback gets a big, fat "F" for their atmosphere.

The Keg: I just learned that this chain is far larger than I thought it was. They are just a hair below Outback in my limited experience with them (I thought they were just a Northwest thing with four or five locations... Anyway, the Keg sits comfortably in third place, you aren't going to rave and rant about the excellence of the place, nor will you find any cause for complaint. They are the perfect chain restaurant, you know exactly what you're going to get and while you won't be blown away by innovation,  it will be one of those experiences where you say "We should come here more often!"

Stuart Anderson's Black Angus:I don't know if they are still around, but they took a huge plunge in quality when Ol' Stu sold off the company that he had built. The original claim to fame was quality control to the max. The Angus beef was raised on the Anderson ranch, and while it wasn't wagyu, it was pretty damned good. Atmosphere? Little to speak of, it was a serious place to have a serious steak. No pretensions, while I haven't drank in over thirty-two years, there was indeed a time when I knew my way around a wine list or the appropriate cocktail to kick things off. (Note: if you are having steak and starting with anything but a Scotch-based drink, you're doing it wrong. If I may, I would suggest either a top-shelf variety such as Laphroaig or the Glenfiddich served neat or on the rocks. If you simply must mix it, soda is probably the least offensive way to go. For your after-dinner drink, a Rusty Nail is perfect. A Rusty Nail is 50% Scotch and 50% Drambuie (a sweet liqueur made with Scotch whisky as the base). It's sweet enough to take the place of a dessert. As for your wine with dinner, obviously you want to go with something full-bodied such as a nice Burgundy. Please note, in fact, go ahead and tattoo this on the back of your hand. Anytime that you pay over $30.00 for a bottle of wine, you have been ripped off. There are literally thousands of reds, whites, and blushes that can be had for $25 a bottle or less that are perfectly adequate as table wines and will stand comparison side by side with stuff selling for $800 a bottle..

The Rib Eye: I believe that there are four or five locations in SW Washington. We used to make it a point of stopping at the one in Pe Ell, which is one of those "towns" that are home to a couple of gas stations, several fast-food joints and a handful of mid-range restaurants. The last time we ate there was on our move to New Mexico. Unfortunately, they were doing a remodel/generally shake up of things and it was about as chaotic as you might expect. The Rib Eye is nowhere near these other places in terms of quality, what it does have going for it is quantity and price. Here's a helpful hint that I'm sure someone like @Christopher A. who travels extensively will back me up on. There are two things to look for in the parking lot of any restaurant located just off a major highway. Those two things are Semis and Harleys.  Truckers know where to get good grub for cheap and so do bikers. Neither group is enamored of pretentious bullshit, they want good food, lots of it, and they don't want to break the bank. Pe Ell is Bandito country and it isn't at all unusual to see anywhere from four to twenty choppers parked outside. If you are nervous about dining in the same place as a group of 1%'rs , don't be. If you are nice and respectful to the Banditos  they will be nice and respectful toward you. Hell, ask them some intelligent questions about their bikes. There is nothing that a biker would rather talk about then their bike. If typical, every extra dime they've come across has gone into constantly repairing and upgrading their vehicle; of course they are delighted to talk about it! The cocktail lounge at the Rib Eye is a pretty small place, seats maybe two-dozen people and has four or five TVs strategically placed around the room.  If you're making the drive from Seattle to Portland the Rib Eye is like exactly the mid-point of the journey, and we all gotta eat; might as well check it out!

 

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2 hours ago, OSJ said:

Some servers just don't grasp the concept that just because I don't have a drink before dinner and wine with dinner, I still have a palette and a tendency to over-tip if I'm treated well. On the other hand, if you behave as though I requested a Happy Meal simply because I didn't order any booze; you are going to get a nasty surprise when it comes to the tip. Since all of these places are a fairly rare experience, I don't worry about being remembered by the staff.

I've never been a server (just a lowly prep cook for a few months) so, servers of the board, forgive me if I'm making assumptions or am flat out wrong.  I get the impression that servers really really dislike it if you don't order booze because, since you tip on a percentage of the bill, drinks are a really easy way to pump up the amount you're tipping on without them having to do a whole lot of extra work.  If my wife, daughter, and I go out get only food, it's maybe $70, so a 20%, $14 tip if you don't suck, more if you're really good and we're in a pandemic.  The same meal with one drink for the missus and two beers for me comes to maybe 90 or 100, so drinks would get the server another $4-5 for just carrying them from the bar to us.

But it's a dumb, self-fulfilling prophecy, because, as you said, serve me like shit and your tip will absolutely suffer.  It's better to get 20% of 70 than 10% or maybe less.  Servers are out there shooting themselves in their feet.

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My friend who works at Outback (while attempting to be an actor) was telling me that the restaurant likes it when you order soda or lemonade because those are around $3 or more, they cost the restaurant nearly nothing so it's all profit, and it winds up pumping up the final bill. I think he also mentioned that since booze orders go to the bar, they wind up sharing tips with whoever are the bartenders that day.

I think where waiters and servers dislike things is if you're a smaller party occupying a larger booth or table because you're impacting how much they're going to make on the next group that comes in. And the things get progressively worse if you're just ordering water, splitting a dinner, etc.

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