I used to have a dangerous weight problem, and failing other weight loss methods over years I had weight loss surgery. It’s been hard and I’m not even sure I recommend it, but it was effective enough. So since then keeping my weight under control has been easier but I still need to be careful. If I eat too much it hurts. Physically. Stabbing pains. Ouchie - no no. I generally can’t drink anything until 45 minutes after I’ve eaten so if I have a few sips before I eat that’s the way to go.
That said, I’ve been away from the USA for nearly two decades and with TV being more international, listening to lots of podcasts by Americans and between Twitter and Facebook I’ve heard many references to Fast Food outlets, various restaurants and the like - most of which don’t exist outside of the US.
Hence when over here for a conference I made it my personal mission to try as many as reasonably possible. Without making myself feel ill or enduring searing stomach pains…
I’ll release a full update on the flight back, but for now here’s what I’ve tried and my thoughts on each. Please note: it’s not possible to try every single menu item, it’s a one-hit-one-outlet-one-meal kinda deal, so I’ve asked friends for recommendations and of course, done my best to pick…the following aren’t in order of anything:
- iHOP: International House of Pancakes. Meal: Breakfast, Drink: Black house coffee, Food: Mexican Churro Pancakes; Okay so an odd choice for breakfast but damn these were amazing! The sauce between layers was delicious and over-powered any of the three syrups I tried (Old fashioned, Butter Pecan and Strawberry). Oddly the coffee actually wasn’t too bad. I’d heard horror stories but it was drinkable (black of course, no sweetener or anything)
- Chick-Fil-A: Meal: Lunch, Drink: Freshly squeezed Lemonade, Food: Number 2 Spicy with Waffle-cut Fries; The Waffle Cut fries were a bit bland to be honest, and the Lemonade was really tart and I couldn’t drink it but oh my god, that chicken burger was next-level amazing! My previous favourite KFC chicken burger has been comprehensively pipped for top spot. Truly outstanding!
- Olive Garden: Meal: Dinner, Drink: Diet Coke, Food: Three-sample platter with Lasagne Fritters, Cheese Sticks and Fried Ravioli plus three bread-logs/sticks; Diet Coke is Diet Coke, dunno what to say, the bread sticks are comically huge but very nice - remind me of Sizzler cheesy toast in flavour a bit. All of the items on the sharing platter were amazing. I also love the on-table ordering device where you could order, play games (why?) and pay for your meal or summon people with it. I paid using it and was gleefully delighted despite the fact the waiter was standing right next to me the whole time for moral support. Thanks mate :)
- Cheesecake Factory: Meal: Dessert, Food: 1 Slice of Reece’s Cheesecake Cake, and 1 Slice of Cookies and Cream; Well these will last a few nights because I can’t have more than half in one sitting. They are both amazing and so evil I hate them because I love them. Ugh. Wow.
- Whataburger: Meal: Dinner, Drink: Barq’s Root Beer, Food: Single Whataburger with Onion Rings; Root Beer was from a dispenser but geez the cup is made of styrofoam? And it was huge too and flimsy! That’s a regular size? I’ll ask for extra-small next time. Onion Rings were very nice - not the best I’ve had mind you but I’d say the best from a fast-food outlet. The Burger itself wasn’t that great until I added the Spicy Tomato Sauce and then all was forgiven - I’d put them above McDonalds and Burger King, and worth the effort for sure.
- Newks: Meal: Dinner, Food: 16oz Chilli Bowl Soup, Slice of 6-layer Red Velvet Cake; The chilli was amazing and the cake was very nice, rich and couldn’t finish it unfortunately. Not as nice as Cheesecake Factory. Not even close.
Before moving on part two I’d like to add the following notes:
- I am not a food critic
- Repeat: Not a food critic
- Your taste bud mileage will vary and all tastes are different
- Doubtless there are other options on these menus to try but I can’t try them all in a week
- I look forward to returning home when I’ll have to lose the 10 pounds I’m going to put on this week alone as a result of this :(
Part Two soon…