TERMS OF SERVICE: THE PRIVILEGE OF GOOD FOOD

Ah, the life of a food critic. Lavish meals, lots of rib-eye, foie gras, quail and uni — and your boss takes care of the bill.

But then there’s Washington Post writer Tom Sietsema’s latest assignment. He reviewed the nation’s top 10 casual, full-service restaurant chains — tops in terms of highest sales, that is. And he spent many months doing this, visiting each chain a few times, just as he does for “star-rated” restaurant reviews.That’s a lot of patty melts, pancakes and chicken strips.

The result is a 3,767-word treatise in which Sietsema counts down the top 10 in dramatic drum-roll fashion, starting with No. 10.

Oh, and he doesn’t just rank them. He assigns a letter grade too. Suffice it to say he doles out only one A, a couple of B’s and lots of barely passing or failing grades.

In his biting and funny critique, he eviscerates nearly all of the restaurants — even the ones he sort of likes. Perhaps you can guess which is which from his devastating descriptions:

No. 10 gets an F for “scrawny wings” and “woody carrot sticks.”

No. 9 offers pancakes that are “fluffy (if a dash salty),” which would seem to rate a grade higher than a D. But he calls the rest of the menu “a minefield.”

No. 8, also a D, is known for its 1,950-calorie signature appetizer.

No. 7, which rates a C-minus, features entrees that taste like “not much without melted butter, lots of it.”

No. 6, another C-minus, is a chain where “no amount of barbecue sauce hides the fact that the flesh (on the ribs) is dry.”

No. 5 ekes out only a C though Sietsema finds at this chain a “rarity” — “something relatively healthful that you could imagine actually finishing.” (It’s a chicken and quinoa entree.)

No. 4, another C, plies its diners with “pillowy wands seasoned with garlic salt, brushed with margarine and palatable only when warm.”

No. 3 moves up into good-grade territory, a B, because “beef is your friend here,” and you can get an “agreeable rib-eye cooked the color you ask.”

No. 2 also gets a B and praise for its “fluffy pancakes,” “pleasing chicken soup” and a spaghetti-and-meatballs entree with “a sauce that bridges sweetness and tang.”

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And No. 1 — the one that rates an A — is the only restaurant chain on the list with no California locations. (And least not yet; our first is scheduled to open in February 2018.) “No other chain restaurant in my months-long survey comes as close to home cooking as this operation,” he writes, singling out the meat loaf, the pork chops, the pecan pie and the weekly trout special for special praise.

How’d you do? Would you bet a bottomless salad bowl that you guessed them all? Check your answers against Sietsema’s story. And then come back here to add your thoughts to the article commenting below. Tell us: Is his bark worse than their bites?

Source : http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/12/13/top-u-s-chain-restaurants-ranked-and-raked-over-the-coals/

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