Within spitting distance of us we have Dunkin' Donuts/Baskin Robbins, Bennigan's, Outback Steakhouse, Cracker Barrel, Big Boy, Don Pablo's Waffle House, Denny's, Joe's Crab Shack, Logan's Roadhouse, Hops, Orlando Ale House, Steak 'n' Shake, Burger King, McDonald's, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Ruby Tuesday, Hooters, Panera, Pollo Tropical, Wendy's & Panera. And I'm not even counting the local mom and pop places either. These places are ALL within walking distance of each other. And there's also the mall food court right there, too.
Given that we have so much "variety" you'd think that we wouldn't repeat a restaurant in a month (if not two) of Wednesdays. Even if you don't count the greasy spoons and fast food places. See, that would be too easy. Nana only eats certain types of food. I know it's because her dentures bother her (those are next up for replacing, just after my parents finish paying off her new hearing aids). So we stick to Olive Garden & Red Lobster mostly. If we're feeling REALLY adventurous (and Nana has a doctor's appointment the next town over) we might go to Chili's or a local mom and pop Japanese teppanyaki place. But those are rare occurrences (twice in the last year).
We used to go to Logan's more often, but Nana doesn't like it that much and since it's "her" day, we deal. Besides, they have $2 kid meals on Monday and Tuesday. Steak for $2! Yipes. Me likey. Especially with THREE little ones. I can score 3 meals for the price of 1.5. That's almost like buy one get one free. And lest you worry that I'm not tipping properly, I tip $1 per person and 50 cents for the baby (do the math: $3.50) flat rate. On a less than $12 bill, [rhetorical question] I think that's a decent tip, don't you?
Moving along, since Logan's is out, we've moved on to Cracker Barrel - the subject of today's blog. We (the three kids and I) were 40 minutes +/- LATE to lunch. Why? If you have more than half a kid, you probably know already. The eldest lost her shoes. She's only got one pair at this point (don't ask) so this is NOT GOOD. I'd already spent the morning (okay 20 minutes) ironing their dresses because they wouldn't be caught DEAD in jeans or shorts or anything not made out of cotton sunday-go-to-meetin' dress fabric. And then it was the hair-raising adventure of getting their hair brushed with all the requisite OUCH!!!!!!!es despite the fact that I was merely LOOKING at their hair and not actually touching it. Drama Queens much? And then it was peace talks and hostage negotiations aka "don't tell your sister you hate her. that's not nice. that hurt her feelings." and "give your brother back his toy, it isn't yours and now he's screeching and it's giving me a headache." Shoes found, hair brushed, baby octopus dressed (and that is a feat in and of itself) and out the door. How the instruction to "go to the car" turned into "chase the cat down the driveway and scatter in three different directions", I'll never know. So, we got to Cracker Barrel late.
The children ordered one Mac'n'Cheese lunch (Elder Ella), one kid's pancacke breakfast (Younger Ella). Prince Lorenzo ate some of my veggies. Mother Dearest had fried chicken tenderloins with fried okra and (not fried) pinto beans. She shared some of the chicken with Lorenzo. He wouldn't eat the breading. I don't blame him. Of course, the Ellas had to steal some of her okra (what's new) and the Elder Ella had some of her pinto beans, too. I had the veggie plate: cottage cheese (not a veggie, but I'm not telling), carrots, green beans & turnip greens. Since I've got gallbladder issues, I couldn't have the pepper sauce. Boo hoo. I let the kids have some of my carrots (ok most of them - I ate TWO baby carrots) and my green beans. And Nana? She got the Beef Stew. Or rather, the Beef *Flavored* Stew. It had precisely TWO half-inch square cubes of beef.
When we questioned the waitress, she was very apologetic and said that the item had been pulled from the menu previously because people complained that it didn't have enough beef. Nana wasn't buying it. She was pretty darn mad. Now she generally doesn't complain, but I think she wanted some MEAT. So I said I'd do what every savvy consumer does - BLOG about it. I explained about blogging and the virtual pen being mightier than the sword and whatnot. But I don't think that really got through. I just have to laugh about it, because I had this mental picture of the Wendy's commercial lady from the 80s...
Anyhow, I didn't end up complaining to management - and Nana was well and truly miffed. She was talking "false advertising" and whatnot. I figured it was good for a laugh - and we probably won't go back there again any time soon since Nana pretty much gets the beef(less) stew. Between that and the fact that the bill is pretty much always close to $35+tip for 3 adults and 2.75 kids, I think we'll stick to Olive Garden. There we can generally get away with $25+tip. Give or take.
PS: We did give the waitress an almost $7 tip because she said my kids were "so well behaved".
Edit: I HAD to add this picture:
A friend IM'd me and said that she found their food to be pretty crappy. I just can't resist a good opportunity to poke fun using photoshop. Isn't it good I use my power for good and not for evil? Can you imagine what I would be like if I did things like this maliciously? I'd be working for a tabloid!