Once a year, I stop in at Denny’s to see how things are going; I’ve undoubtedly had at least two of the worst meals I’ve ever paid for at Denny’s, but I keep rooting for them for a couple reasons, one is that most of them are franchisees, and I try and cheer on entrepreneurs of all ilks, and secondly because a friend of mine just bought 75 of them, and he’s a lot smarter than me, so I figure he must see an upside.
At least two of the bad experiences I have had at Denny’s I have been accompanied by Mrs. Burgerdogboy, and this week I returned to the spot where we shared one of our very first meals eever.
The last time I was at this location the experience was tainted in a good way by thinking I was in love, so the restaurant experience didn’t matter; I was also hobbling around Portland with crutches and a cast, courtesy of Hurricane Katrina.
This time I was not so handicapped, in either regard.
I’m pleased that a lot of things have changed, the restaurant was cleaner, the service affable, and I ordered a cheeseburger and fries, thinking a straight-forward entree would be a good test of the menu and kitchen.
The burger menu has been greatly enhanced, with a host of specialty burgers as well as a “build your own” menu with a substantial number of toppings, including picking your patty and bun:
Beef Patty, Grilled Seasoned Chicken Breast, Turkey Patty, Veggie Patty. Find Your Base: Sesame Seed Bun, Cheddar Bun, Whole Wheat Bun, Grilled Potato Bread. Say Cheese: American, Swiss , Cheddar, Pepper Jack. Choose Your Toppings: Grilled Onions, Spinach, Lettuce, Tomato, Red Onions, Pickles, Mayo, Chipotle Sauce, Bourbon Sauce, BBQ Sauce, Ranch, Jalapeños, Pico de Gallo. Premium Toppings (requires additional cost): Sautéed Mushrooms, Hash Browns, Bacon, Onion Tanglers™, Fried Egg, Chili, Fresh Avocado, Jalapeño Bottle Caps.
It’s a list comparable to any of the current niche burger joints, and a worthy one. Sandwiches and entrees are accompanied by a choice of sides, including Denny’s “odd” new fries, which they proclaim to be “Waffle cut,” which I think actually means “waffle extruded,” a fry made from a potato slurry mixture and forced out of a mold frying to freezing and frying. But they were better than most extruded fries I have consumed. Other side choices include hash browns, seasonal fruit or dippable vegetables.
The patty was clearly hand-formed and had a great beef taste. A third pound, at least. My one beef about the beef at Denny’s? You have two choices of “doneness,” according to the server, medium well and well. Period.
Those two levels of cooking are not anywhere near my personal preference, but I have to say, it was OK. Medium well didn’t mean completely dried out as it does at most restaurants.
Denny’s menu is full of ‘doneness’ cautionary statements, including about eggs. They’ve added a couple of ‘premium’ steaks to the menu, not sure if they can only be cooked to the same levels as the burgers or not.
Full menu and restaurant locator online.