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I’ve been working from home since November and have found that podcasts are a great substitute for office chatter. Most of my faves are in the comedy and politics categories, but I just found my first food-related show – The Sporkful. In each 15-25 minute episode, hosts Dan and Mark tackle topics like soft vs. hard pretzels, what’s the best dip for fries, buffet strategies, and popcorn etiquette. Check out their blog too.

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We got a mailer promoting the new Buffalo Wild Wings (near the Wegman’s on 248) that opened just this past Monday. I love to indulge in some wings on occasion and wanted to check the place out while it’s still new and clean. The mailer mentioned something about “Wing Tuesdays,” and I wasn’t in the mood to cook so we figured the timing was right.

Well, the line was out out the door at 5:30. As I made my way to the host’s podium, I was already questioning if I was in the mood to wait for a table. It was a madhouse – tons of little kids, noise and chaos. I chalk a lot of it up to the newness of the staff and the novelty of a new restaurant. From an atmosphere standpoint, my first thought was that it was more like a cafeteria than a sports bar. Bright lighting and a high ceiling – with hints of yellow being the big interior design “idea.” I really wanted it to be cool. Too bad.

It turned out they had a table for two available near the bar so I didn’t get a chance to reconsider. Overall it was nothing too special. The wings were good but my wife’s meal was just OK. It was happy hour (weekdays 5-7) so the draft beers were half price. And “Wing Tuesday” means 45 cent wings. The basic rundown:

  • Lots of draft beers
  • Maybe 15 wing flavors (along with other typical sports bar food)
  • Video trivia you can play remotely from your table in the bar area
  • Lots of TVs

It’s probably a wild scene during big games in the fall – if that’s your thing. I doubt we’ll go back unless it’s on off-hours when the chaos is at a minimum. The beer selection is a plus, but there’s more satisfying food and atmosphere next door at Five Guys.

Aside from the annoying commercials and mediocre food, here’s another reason to stop giving your money to Olive Garden. They’re bullshitting you. To your face. Why reward them for it? Unlimited volumes of low-value bread and pasta?

As consumers, we really need to start looking at chain restaurants more critically. McDonald’s tastes the same around the world because they engineer the meals for consistency. It’s “fast food” so we accept that lack of wholesomeness in exchange for convenience. But we should also be questioning how places like Olive Garden and Red Lobster manage that same consistency from PA to Kansas to California. We live under an illusion that all sit-down restaurants with waitstaffs have big kitchens run by skilled chefs. More likely, there are huge regional facilities using corporate-designed recipes to premake and portion sauces, breadsticks, desserts, etc. They freeze and ship the food hundreds of miles to the franchises to be thawed, reheated and assembled per some laminated card full of plus signs and pictograms.

Remember, you are eating for you and your family’s nourishment – to live long, healthy lives with strong bodies and minds.  Corporate restaurants are trying to turn a profit. That’s it. They’re run by executives in big cities far away and don’t know you or care about you or your community – no matter how many smiling families they put in their commercials. Twenty years from now, you’ll be suffering the effects of their cheap carbs, fat and preservatives. And Olive Garden will be long gone with your money.

RSS Go feed yourself

  • bakery-style butter cookies + the new book is here!
    Today my second cookbook, five years in the making, Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Triumphant & Unfussy New Favorites, at last leaves my noisy, messy kitchen and, perhaps, makes its way into yours. I am, as ever, a nervous wreck. I hope you love it. I hope you find a new favorite recipe (or 5) in it. I hope you make the granola biscotti and have them on hand […]

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