i was reading my VIS at chicago stories the other day, and i was reminded of baker’s square. i think it was my first restaurant job after my first job at the “sparkle city cafe” in wind lake, wi. upon having one of those horrible server nightmares where everything is falling apart and you can’t get to any of your tables and you can’t ring up any of your food, i came in and told someone about it and they said, ‘you had your first squaremare.’ nice.
once i moved to the city i pretty much have eschewed chain restaurants. why bother? there’s so many unique, delicious choices in the city. why go to something that’s so humdrum and mundane? that is the same everywhere you go? even a regular diner in the city has got something that a chain restaurant doesn’t. character.
however, sometimes it’s the familiar one craves. and there are things on the baker’s square menu that are still damn good. not to mention the pie, people! the pie! so, it’s a chain that i can hang with, and occasionally i will even crave. there’s one on the north north side of the city. the other chain that i have a weird fondness for that i am more guilty about is … olive garden. but i never eat an entree there. if/when i go there, i always eat the same thing. for any meal. soup, salad and breadsticks.
all of them are all you can eat (you pay more for dinner, but who cares?), and they’re all freakin’ excellent. the salad is its own entity — delicious. the pasta fagioli is awesome. and the breadsticks. oh, bread. what a great combo. it’s fucked, because who wants to go to olive garden? it’s the joke of the italian restaurant community and like i said, i don’t eat “real” food there, but that particular meal rocks it, too. there’s one in lincolnwood, i think?
lastly, the other chain that i can dig is chi chis. supposedly, that’s mexican for ‘boobs.’ whatever. their chips rock and their salsa, while hated by some, is A-OK by me. delish. and the only meal i get there is their steak fajitas. yeehaw.
places i’m a hater about:
chilis (sorry j-dog) — other than the onion freakout, they’ve never had anything to hold me. in fact, they’ve had plenty of things that i’ve flat out been sad i’ve ordered.
applebees — i think i’ve eaten there twice? three times? everything’s sucked. EVERYthing. service. food. everything.
TGIFridays. — i used to like this place. and would repeatedly go there. and would repeatedly get the smackdown with HORRIFIC service. over and over and over again. fool me once, shame on you. fool me twice, shame on me. fool me five times, i’m a drunken idiot. plus, they don’t have my signature meal there any more — “triple sticks.”
outback steakhouse — actually, i like this place. but for what i’ll spend there, i should eat at a place in the city.
california pizza kitchen — dear god. i’ve tried this place three times, i think. i should really pay attention to the title of the restaurant. CALIFORNIA pizza kitchen. it’s not pizza. if it were an appetizer at some place, great. but when i trick myself into thinking i’m getting pizza, and then i eat there, i’m always devastated. and then fucking pizzed.
what else? what am i missing? tons, i’m sure. let’s talk chain restaurants, shall we? sit down, preferably.