In this world, you come across many people who shun chain restaurants solely because they are chains. I consider myself a little food snobby – I don’t enjoy eating bad meals when I know better ones are out there. I also don’t think bad food is balanced by a nice view or fancy place settings. Good food is good and if it’s a chain that makes it, hurrah for them! Or, maybe huzzah for them!
The first time I went to a Renaissance Fair with T, which was odd and strange yet entertaining and enjoyable, we were eating lunch while the Big Parade with the Queen and Other Important Folk sauntered by. I don’t know what the Oueen was saying to her loyal “subjects”, but whenever she stopped talking everyone else yelled “Huzzah!” Eventually, we just yelled “Huzzah!” along with the rest, in between bites of the ginormous turkey leg, of course. I think it’s an exclamation that should be brought back into today’s vernacular. Huzzah!
I have spouted my annoyance with Chowhounds often here, and that is one site where you’ll find more snobs than anywhere else in the world. Ironically, Chowhound also has a Chains board, but it’s often filled with snide “questions” like: “I’ve never heard of Jack in the Box… is there anything worth eating?” and “Being forced to eat at Cheesecake Factory – is there any menu item that won’t make me gag?” Regarding JitB, I have to say that one of my favorite items is also one I find kind of disgusting – the “tacos”. 2 for 99-cents! Mushy meat in a deep fried shell with (what I swear is) American cheese! It’s like admitting that you sometimes prefer Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese to the “real” stuff (I do). Granted, the last time I actually ate those tacos was a few years ago, but if I think about them, I get a little craving for them. And The Cheesecake Factory? Well, they have overpriced cheesecake and the menu is, like, 50 pages long, but it’s not like the food is awful. The wait is awful and it’s loud, but there are dozens of things that are actually pretty good. And you really can’t beat the portions. Order anything and you’ll definitely have leftovers for lunch the next day. I used to really enjoy their shrimp scampi, their salads, and most of their appetizers.
Now, I’ve been known to pout if forced to eat somewhere that I don’t deem acceptable. And I quickly point out every flaw I see – chlorinated water, cold bread rolls, stale chips, frozen pie that should not be frozen, too-chewy meat, etc. I’m kind of a brat that way. But I’ve never dismissed something just because it was a chain restaurant. In fact, I used to hate the Olive Garden. I was quite justified in this. Every time I ate there I had pasta that was overcooked (and mushy), undercooked (and crunchy), or a dish that was oddly really cold in the middle. But then I went for lunch at the request of a colleague and discovered that some of their new dishes were really good! I had braised short ribs that were fantastic! I also learned that if you ask for unbuttered bread sticks you get fresh ones because they have to bake them just for you. And the unbuttered ones are just as good (c’mon, we’re not talking about the heavenly bread sticks from Pat & Oscar’s). So, see? My mind can be swayed, even by chains! So, I get truly riled up by people who talk about chain restaurants like they’re all serving dog food and soggy lettuce, when I bet those exact people go home and eat frozen dinners but don’t admit it to anyone and are probably in self-denial.
All this to say, we had dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory and it was lovely. The only one left in San Diego is in San Marcos, which really isn’t that far from Poway, but it feels like it so we hardly go. Well, actually, T had never been. So, off we went to enjoy the complete meal of bread, soup or salad, pasta, iced tea, and spumoni. For pretty much $10! Now, I will never tout OSF as being a good Italian restaurant. I only order one thing whenever I go there, anway, but it’s exactly what I expect and it fulfills my craving. Spaghetti with mizithra cheese and meat sauce. I love the brown butter and mizithra cheese, but the cheese is very salty so you need another sauce to balance it out. T ordered the sampler with the meat sauce, mizithra cheese, clam sauce, and mushroom sauce. Oh, the creamy pesto dressing is the best. If you get salad instead of minestrone soup, get the creamy pesto dressing. T seemed pretty happy with the food, so maybe we’ll be back. I mean, if we want Italian food there are 2 good places close to home (one of which is within walking distance), but OSF never disappoints when you want some decent spaghetti at a good price. Oh, they do give you a choice of vanilla ice cream or spumoni, but when do you ever get to eat spumoni?
I hope everyone has a nice weekend lined up. We’ll be waiting for the fence guy to finish our end of the fence (we replaced the one running between us and the mean neighbors). He was supposed to be done last Saturday, but apparently he greatly underestimated his schedule and still isn’t done, even though he also worked Sunday. Our neighbors picked him (he did their back fence before and came in with a pretty low price) but I don’t really like him. I wish we could have gotten our fence guy, the one who did our back fence and the front gate, but I’m sure our neighbors wouldn’t have wanted to go with someone who had a higher price. It turns out he’s too busy anyway and isn’t taking new jobs right now, but I bet he would have finished when he said he would. He and his brother did our entire back fence and front gate in 1 day. The one we’re using now started Thursday and still isn’t done and at one point he had three other people working with him. What the heck? Good thing his price was low.
We’re also meeting with some landscape companies to get an idea of a) what to do with the back yard and b) how much it might cost us to do. I have grand visions for more patio, a canopy tent, and a fire pit. T wants a dedicated bbq area (not a built in bbq, though, that’s way too expensive) and thinks the fire pit should be kept away from the fence so as not to annoy any neighbors with fire pit smoke. Whatever. It’s not like they give any thought to whether or not we want to smell cigarette smoke coming in through the screen door that’s open because it’s hot and we aren’t ready to flip on the AC. Bah.