For Foodies, the wife and I don’t get out much. When dining with the family, we lean to the inexpensive, family friendly:
- Armadillo Grill
- Jason’s Deli
- Five Guys
- Chick Fil A
- Jersey Mike’s
- Los Tres Vaqueros
- King’s Wok
- Sweet Tomatoes
- Amante Pizza
- Casalinga – not inexpensive, but the best Italian in town.
Wow, that list depresses me, but when you’re feeding 5, including a 12 year old that eats like he’s 16, it really needs to be inexpensive.
We generally try and stay away from “corporate” eating, despite the list above being more chain than small local. The Rogers family will never darken the door of a Red Lobster or Olive Garden. EVER. Not as long as there is a Kemp’s Seafood or any small mom and pop Italian restaurant.
This past weekend, however, clearly shows the paradox being a food snob can present. Friday night, we made a return to the Magnolia Grill for the wife’s birthday. I will not do a repeat of that magnificent review from last year’s visit, but suffice it to say that it was a wonderful sacrifice to the culinary gods. We need to solve the world hunger problem, and then we must figure out how to replace those round, red things in the grocery store with heirloom tomatoes. Oh my lord!
Then there was our Sunday road trip. When on the road to anywhere but the beach, we will eat at Cracker Barrel, a clear exception to our chain, corporate restaurant embargo. I do despise the fact that there is as much gift shop as there is restaurant, but the food isn’t bad. It’s actually pretty good. It’s somewhat reassuring that within 5 exits on any interstate, there will be somewhere we can sit down and have a decent “meat and two”. The Cracker Barrel has found a niche in that it is impossible to know of a mom and pop hole in the wall restaurant everywhere, and that’s why, when going to the beach, we only eat at Wilbur’s, McCalls, and the Meadow Village Restaurant – not Cracker Barrel.
We visited the depths of hell, however, Sunday night for dinner. This trip was to take the oldest to Camp Cheerio Extreme (“Just 30 minutes past the middle of nowhere!”). For the 2nd year, we’ve let our middle child choose where we ate dinner, and both years we’ve ended up at Streets of Southpoint, or the home of the corporate restaurant. Last year it was Maggianos, but their fried cheese was “weird”, so it didn’t make the cut. He chose the Cheesecake Factory.
What a god-awful attempt at mediocrity. Their website claims “something for everyone”, which is the whole problem. The 15-20 page menu has mexican, italian, american, chinese, and thai food. PICK SOMETHING AND TRY AND DO IT WELL, instead of everything with mediocrity.
I would have been happier if the fish tacos had been bad, but they weren’t. They were completely tasteless, even when covered in guacamole and salsa. Salt and Pepper didn’t help. There was no saving them.
Of course, the place was packed the whole time we were there. At least the cheesecake was good.