Tag Archives: molten desserts

Red Lobster at Night, Casual Diner’s Delight

Is there any casual dining establishment that’s enjoyed a catapult back into the public consciousness like Red Lobster has in the past year? RL has been with us since the 60s, with its life-giving Cheddar Bay Biscuits and its seemingly endless -fests (see: Lobster, Shrimp, etc), but Beyonce’s reference to it as a post-coital reward for satisfactory lovemaking has reminded us all that it’s time to revisit the place that brings slightly classy seafood to the masses.

The chain’s longevity and its distinction as being the only true seafood restaurant around in the upper Midwest gave this encounter a special feeling. Also contributing to that special feeling? The fact that this was two members’ first time at any Red Lobster. We kept expectations high for those tasty biscuits, and low for everything else.

This casual encounter was also notable for welcoming Sadie, Rachel’s newly-born daughter, as a participant. She slept almost the whole time, but her outfit showed that she was committed to the cause.

A thematically-appropriate onesie? Come on, that’s adorable.

Food:

Seafood, duh. But a wide variety of preparations for said seafood kept it interesting. Would you like your seafood fried? Skewered? Atop pasta? What about a sauce or seasoning? The menu was not quite Cheesecake Factory-level of length and complexity, but it was somewhat daunting.

John says: Johnny on the spot, aka Rachel Levitt, let us know if we sign up for the Red Lobster Club we get a free dessert or app with the purchase of 2 entrees. So we hit that up. Aaron ordered some calamari. It was fine. I ordered the Ultimate Feast for my dinner! It didn’t disappoint. Lobster tail, crab legs, two types of shrimp, rice, mashed potatoes, and a salad. Everything was good. 

Jenna says: I found the lengthy menu to be overwhelming, almost to the level of Cheesecake Factory’s menu. I sort of assumed that my first visit to RL should include lobster, but holy hell, that s**t’s expensive. I went instead for a lightly breaded tilapia in honor of Tilapia Monday [Ed. note: Follow @twinkiejiggles on Snapchat to learn more], and it was very good. Not too fishy or oily, perfect ratio of breading to parm to fish. It even was better the next day. Dinner included a basic bitch house salad, steamed broccoli and mashed potatoes, all fine. The cheddar bay biscuits were…..overrated? Sorry not sorry, I said it. Perhaps I found them just “meh” because my pants are still tight from eating my weight in delicious biscuits in Nashville [Ed. note: What a f***ing hipster].

Tilapia Monday

Rachel says: In true Rachel fashion, I spent too much time kibitzing with my fellow diners and not enough time looking at the menu, which led to panic ordering. But it turned out just fine. My garlic shrimp skewers were tasty and light. The menu also features calorie counts for all food, with which I have a love-hate relationship. Don’t tell me my business, menu! But also, thanks for helping me make healthier choices. Confession: I also think the Cheddar Bay Biscuits are overrated. Good, but overrated.

Shrimp skewers. Note also the plate that once held biscuits.

Food rating:  

Beverages:

The drink menu tended to skew more towards “beach” than “asea,” but you didn’t hear our crew complaining. [Ed. note: What would an “asea” themed drink be? Seawater served out of a buoy?] Lots of blended drinks and synthetic fruit flavors.

John says: I had a Malibu hurricane. It was refreshing unlike other hurricanes. I’m looking at Katrina and Andrew. 

Jenna says: I really wanted a well made margarita on this particular Monday evening. As in no super sweet margarita mix, just tequila, triple sec, lime juice. I tried to explain my desire to Susan and her suggestion was to add soda water to cut the sweetness of the mix. That’s a stupid idea, Susan. My marg was full of soda water, and not enough tequila. Despite the snickering from my dining mates, I stand by my request. [Ed. note: Stop trying to make margaritas happen at non-Mexican establishments, Jenna. Bad marg once, shame on them. Bad marg twice, shame on you…]

Rachel says: This was only my second drink postpartum, after not drinking for about a year, so I really regressed and went for a pina colada topped with strawberry puree. OMG IT WAS DELICIOUS. 

Behold, a table full of delicious yet obnoxious beverages. Not pictured: A decent margarita.

Beverages rating:

Service:

John says: We had great service! Another home run. She was very friendly and helpful. She even made sure our order got in before the table of 16 in the corner did. That was huge. She spoke very highly of Red Lobster and that was really cool. She wasn’t Earth but she was damn close. 

Jenna says: Susan, oh Susan. Our evening together had its high points (she made sure our orders got put in prior to a large party), low points (her defending RL’s decision to not make a bigger deal about Beyonce name dropping the chain) and just weird points (more info than needed on her love life). One thing’s for sure though, Susan LOVES working for RL, specifically this location, and she will defend the s**t out of them. Our relationship with Susan was a rollercoaster, but in the end she earns 5+ cheesecakes because she checked on me multiple times while I was dealing with the aftermath of my car being broken into [Ed. note: What kind of a**hole breaks into a car in a Red Lobster parking lot???], and she brought me supplies to help cover my broken window.

Rachel says: I agree with everyone else in our party, Susan was top-notch. Such a pro move getting our order in before the big group. Nothing makes me harrumph harder than having food be delayed. Susan was maybe a little too talkative at times, and spoke a lot about her dating status when it was just time for the damn check or whatever. But I don’t hold it against her. The newly-created mom in me also appreciated that she made us agree to actually drink our water before she brought out waters for all of us. Susan is not putting up with any BS.

Service rating:

Ambience:

Ahoy! Red Lobster definitely leaned into its maritime heritage [Ed. note: Red Lobster is based in Orlando, so no actual maritime heritage to speak of], but not too much. They could have gone with a crap-on-the-walls aesthetic, like a nautical Chili’s, but they didn’t. Way to take the high road, RL. Except when it comes to the depressing tank full of lobsters in the entry way. Give ’em a little wiggle room, why don’t you?

John says: Nautical theme of course. The obligatory lobsters in aquarium was gawked at. Nothing too exciting. 

Jenna says: This was my very first visit to the RL, and I went in with the lowest expectations. I expected it to smell like the aquarium at the Minnesota Zoo. Or like the flaky food you feed goldfish. Much to my surprise, not only was there barely a smell, but I totally dug the decor. I am such a sucker for anything nautical, turn an anchor into a light fixture and throw an East Coast seaside on the wall and I’m yours.

Jenna attempts to discern whether a squall is a-brewing.

Rachel says: Classier than I’d expected. I figured there’d be way more whimsical decoration than their was. This kind of restraint is admirable, but made the dining room somewhat bland. Kudos for not having a fish smell, but demerits for having a bathroom that smelled like one at the State Fair.

Ambience rating:

Casualosity:

John says: VERY casual. It was so casual even a baby was allowed in. Specifically, Sean and Rachel’s newborn Sadie! She was fun.

Jenna says: I’m reaching a point in this ranking process where I’m getting downright pissy that the cost of food and drinks at these “casual” restaurants is on par with the not so casual restaurants in this city.

Rachel says: On the one hand, not very casual. Prices were pretty high, and the dark wood and cloth napkins gave it a somewhat classy feel. Susan talked about how often this place is used as a date spot, which tells me it’s not very casual. On the other hand, Aaron wore Crocs as footwear, and no one really noticed. [Ed. note: We’d love to know more about how Aaron felt with this footwear chocie, but he refuses to take this project seriously and submit his ratings.]

Crocs. Very casual, very gross.

Casualosity rating:

Dessert:

John says: Putting our freebies to work (described in detail earlier so I won’t explain again, you can’t make me) we ordered two desserts: vanilla bean cheesecake and a chocolate cake with ice cream. Both were quite tasty. I wish the cheesecake had been better than Old Country Buffet’s though. 

Jenna says: All the cheesecakes/gooey brownies/ice cream things are starting to blend together. I’m sure the dessert was fine.

Rachel says: The vanilla cheesecake was tastier than anticipated. The chocolate cake was good, nothing groundbreaking. I’d hoped for something more…molten. But no complaints. 

Dessert rating:

Favorite part:

John says: Special guests! Always my favorite part when it happens. Rachel’s husband Sean was with as well as baby Sadie! My sister Jessica also was there! All great additions.

Jenna says: Sadie’s first casual encounter! Spending Tilapia Monday with Sean McPherson, creator of Tilapia Monday! John’s sister!

Rachel says: Special guests, like my husband and baby!

Least favorite part:

John says: For how seemingly empty the place was, we waited quite a long time to be seated.

Jenna says: My car getting broken into while I was eating mediocre biscuits. I’m still finding glass shards in my lunch bag.

Rachel says: Jenna’s car getting broken into. Having to tolerate too much small talk from Susan, at times. 

Overall rating: 

Next  up: Fueling ourselves with chicken and testosterone at Buffalo Wild Wings!

 

Dining Well in the Surrounding Community

Our March Casual Encounter was at the most stereotypical of casual dining establishments, Applebee’s. If Olive Garden is the sanitized version of Italian food, Applebee’s is the sanitized version of already-sanitized food. Despite their recent to commitment to sophisiticaed tastes (like “wood-fired grill” menu items), Applebee’s is still the most convenient shorthand for the restaurant we, as overly-self-aware hipsters, love to disdain. Though the restaurant cracks the top 10 on our list (#10, to be precise), we were prepared for disappointment. And we were not disappointed in…being disappointed. We were disappointed, is what we’re saying.

[Ed. note: Jenna and Sarah dined with us as well, but they couldn’t be bothered to send in their comments or ratings in a timely fashion. They are henceforth considered “on notice” though no real consequences exist.]

Food: 

The hot deal at hand was the 2 for $20 promotion, where you choose an appetizer and two entrees off of a limited menu for, you guessed it, $20. Many of us had the brilliant, if less-than-classy, idea of ordering that promotion with the intention of eating one entree at the restaurant and bringing the other home for a future meal. [In fact, Olive Garden does something similar to this on occasion but calls a spade a spade, explicitly saying that one entree is for now and one is for later. Another in the Win column for OG.] Others of us ordered a la carte, like regular people. All of us experience similar levels of mediocrity.

John says: 3/5 of the table went for the 2 for $20 meal. That’s just prudent planning. I ordered a caprese burger with fries as well as the three cheese chicken cavatappi. I ate the burger as my dinner. IT WAS TERRIBLE. It came absolutely loaded with onions which  was disgusting. The cavatappi the next day was really good. 

John, right before the burger in front of him brought untold disappointment

Aaron says: Several of us thought that it was a good idea to get the 2-for-$20 deal.  It turned out to be a GREAT idea.  Except that the food was pretty sh***y.  For the appetizer, I got the boneless wings.  They were pretty good, but I have to think they are not that hard to f*** up, so I’m not going to give them too much credit on that one.  I got the rib tips for my dine-in option.  They were bad.  Real bad.  I couldn’t tell if they were super charred or just mostly bones.  For my second entrée, I got chicken tenders, figuring that they’d be good to reheat for lunch the next day.  I toasted them up in my little toaster oven and they were great.

Rachel says: As per usual, I married value with flavor and got the 2 for $20 special, just like John and Aaron. I went with the hard-to-mess-up chicken fingers for my dine-in entree, and the Fiesta Lime Chicken for my to-go entree. My chicken fingers were very tasty, and the fries weren’t bad either. I do think they skimped on portion sizes, even though the menu specifically states that the promo comes with “full-sized entree.” I didn’t get to try the Fiesta Chicken because my husband was hungry later that night and I offered it to him, because I love him/I’m a sucker. Anyway, he said it was good.

Keep it simple, stupid.

Food rating:

Beverages:

John says: I tried to order a hurricane. Apparently I request extremely difficult drinks because their bartender couldn’t make it. [Ed. note: Bartenders know that Google exists, right?] It was the Sevyron situation at Ruby Tuesday all over again. I amended and got a boring ol whiskey ginger after that.

Aaron says: Limited selection of tap beers.  Mostly national big brands.  But, beer is beer?

Rachel says: They have Pepsi products, so I stuck with water. The water tasted a little funny, maybe Roseville’s water treatment plant is a little more lax or something. I did think it was BS that John’s ginger ale refills weren’t free.

Beverages rating:

Service: 

This casual encounter brought us a level of service more in line with general expectations surrounding casual dining. Our server was polite and somewhat attentive, but dead behind the eyes. Either the Roseville Applebee’s was her first career stop, or her last…

John says: I am struggling to remember our server’s name which should say something. She didn’t do a good job of checking in often enough. Also, she recommended the Caprese burger which is a major flaw. I miss Earth.

Aaron: Our service was a little lackluster.  The server seemed to avoid us for long periods.  On the plus side, they did keep our to-go orders in back for us until we were ready to leave.

Rachel says: Sophia was very nice, but bland; there wasn’t much going on behind her eyes. My guess is she was tired, or an android. She also had perfectly smooth skin, which puts one in the “android” column as well. In any case,  she was patient with us during our 2 for $20 ordering frenzy, was pretty on the ball about refills and checking in, and ran our checks herself instead of making us do it on the Ziosk knockoff that was at our table.

Service rating:

Ambiance:

Four words: Stuff on the walls.

John says: Again, Applebee’s is known for stuff on their walls and they didn’t disappoint. The most prominent things were the various high schools nearby and all the accolades they’ve won. Congrats Timmy! You won your JV baseball game, let’s go to Applebee’s to celebrate. Terrible parenting.

Rachel says: It was oddly dark where we were sitting. It kind of felt like I was reading the menu by candlelight. The “stuff-on-the-walls” aesthetic had a Minnesota bent to it (e.g. a photo of the State Fair Grandstand) which was a nice, if basic, touch. Our table had 6 seats, but felt pretty squished. There were plenty of TVs so Aaron could watch hockey players beat the crap out of each other.

Ambiance rating: cheesecakes

Casulosity:

Despite their pathetic attempt at being more gourmet (see: Wood-fired grill explanation above), Applebee’s remains staunchly casual.

John says: We were seated in the bar area which is not ideal for me. Also, the table was entirely too cramped for 5 people. The stuff on the Rosedale Applebee’s walls was as great as ever.

Aaron says: Still being early in the spring, I opted not to wear my velvet flip flops.  I did however wear my crocs

Rachel says: Quite casual. Aaron wore Crocs instead of velvet flip flops, so our methodology is skewed this time, but I’d argue that Crocs are even more casual than VFFs.

Casulosity rating: cheesecakes

Dessert:

Our group had to call an audible and order something else when we learned that no cheesecake (in regular or shooter form) was available. We went with that age-old axiom: When in doubt, order something with “molten” in the title.

John says: No cheesecake available. I was already so full from my shitty burger that I barely wanted to have dessert anyway. But I (we) soldiered on. We ordered the Triple Chocolate Meltdown which is engorged with sugar. And it was great.

Aaron says: Truly saving the best for last. Not only did the triple chocolate cake not have cinnamon, but it was also delicious.

Rachel says: The highlight of the meal. We shared the molten chocolate cake, and it was fantastic. Molten-y, chocolatey perfection. I wish we’d ordered two (maybe that was the pregnancy talking, but probably not).

  Dessert – before
Dessert – after

Dessert rating:

Favorite part:

John says: Celebrating Rachel’s last casual dining encounter before the baby is born.

Aaron says: Being savvy diners and getting the 2-for-$20 for ourselves.

Rachel says: That dessert, and feeling like I made out better than my dining companions by sticking to the basics. 

Least favorite part:

John says: Onions.

Aaron says: Generally not good food.

Rachel says: The disappointment of everyone else at their entrees. I could feel their pain.

Overall rating:

Next up: Red Lobster!

Chili’s: Diners on the Storm

Chili’s (#21 on our list) holds a special place in many of our group members’ hearts. This was one of the crucial hangs in high school (if it wasn’t after hours. After hours, it’s Perkin’s or GTFO.). The sensory memories here are strong, and expectations of the food tasting the same as back then were simultaneously high and low. Cautious optimism, thy name is casual dining.

Food: After much deliberation (seriously, there were way too many choices on the menu), a surprising number of steaks were ordered considering the Tex-Mex theme of the restaurant.

Aaron says: I naturally went with chiiiillliiii’s baby back ribs, being one of their signature dishes, or at least the only thing that I can remember from any of their commercials.  I went with the original BBQ sauce, as I didn’t feel like venturing into the world of Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce.  I don’t know if I could handle the responsibility of BBQ sauce laced with Dr. Pepper.  Plus, it was a school night.  The ribs were good, not great, but as expected.  The BBQ sauce tasted good, but the meat itself was a little flavorless.  

Sarah says: The menu was too much. There was the main, huge menu and then two additional “special” menus. Why? Rachel made a great call by bringing in a coupon for chips and queso. The queso had a hint of beans which made it gross to look at but delicious to eat. For my entrée, I had a 6 oz. steak that seemed bigger than 6 oz. It wasn’t anything special, but it was only $12.99, it tasted fine and was cooked as I ordered it (medium rare). (By the way, did you know Donald Trump orders his steak well done? Well, he does. Not surprising, right?) 

Jenny says: – It was Colorado Springs, 2001. I remember a specific moment in high school of eating perfectly golden and delicious Chili’s Chicken Crispers. I’ve been chasing that taste every since…last week. I was not disappointed! I ordered the classic -i repeat, classic – Chicken Crispers. I don’t know what the new Crispers are and I don’t care.  My chicken was again crunchy on the outside and juicy white inside. The side of corn on the cob was also delish.

Rachel says: I had a coupon for free queso, so I was delighted to treat the group to that crucial part of the Chili’s experience. But it was only ok. Not that that stopped me from eating a bunch of it. After much entree deliberation, I landed on the Quesadilla Explosion Salad (which was basically the name of what happened to John after our visit to Chevy’s). It was your average “southwest” salad, aka a regular salad where chili powder has been added to the ranch dressing, plus pieces of cheese quesadilla as garnish. That’s definitely not a complaint, though. I took said garnish home for lunch the next day. Two meals in one: That’s value. 

John says: I was very happy with my choice. I got the ribeye and a loaded baked potato for a side. It was cooked to my liking and had good flavor. We also had a coupon for queso and chips. Both were adequate. 

Food rating: fresh-strawberry-cheesecakefresh-strawberry-cheesecakefresh-strawberry-cheesecakefresh-strawberry-cheesecake-half

Service: Our server, Kale/Cale/Cael, was friendly and unflappable, which is very impressive considering there were plenty of children in his section, along with a group that had the damndest time making up their minds on what they wanted to order (read: us). But things took an immediate downtown at the end of the evening when Caheale handed referred us to the “Ziosk” on our table (heretofore only recognized as a gaming machine) to pay our bills. It was nice that things were split up by seat, but Jesus H. Christ it took 10x longer to pay our bill because of it. It’s supposed to “revolutionize the dining experience,” and it did, in that it turned it from one where the server runs payment on a machine he is familiar with, to one where we have to do our best to figure out who should pay what while the server ignores us.  After submitting payment, the Ziosk asks for your feedback on your experience. Everyone commented on how the Ziosk, the very thing that was asking the question, had somewhat ruined that experience. Ironic.

Aaron says: With many of the servers we’ve encountered on our casual experience vision quest (for food), Cale (sp?) warmed up to us more and more as he realized how fun we were.  I mean, we were fun the whole time, it just took him a while to realize it.  The only knock on the service here was handing us off to the robotic “Ziosk” for paying our bills.  Then we were left to fend for ourselves for picking our meal and dealing with the card reader on the machine.  In theory it seems like there’s a place for it, but for a group of people paying separately, it made the bill-paying process longer than it needed to be. 

Sarah says: Cale was friendly and I liked the positive affirmations he gave us when we finished our entire molten lava cake. One thing that was not cool, Cale, was laughing us off when we asked about the tornado emergency plan. The weather was very ominous, and it was really coming down out there. Yet Cale did not assist us in preparing for possible tornadoes. Luckily, Aaron took his belt off and used it to demonstrate the technique used at the end of Twister. Thanks for picking up Cale’s slack, Aaron. Aaron gets 5 cheesecakes for his safety demonstration. 

Jenny says: Chilis did not have an evacuation plan in the event of monsoons, but Cael eased our worries that the Chili’s reinforced nuclear shelter could withstand this storm. Cael was attentive and pleasant. No complaint. No near Earth experience from what I hear. [Ed. note: Truth.] Also, the table machine that took all of our payments seemed pleasant as well. [Ed. note: Jenny was obviously using some different payment kiosk from the rest of us.]

John says: Cael was great. Attentive and funny. He complimented us on our ability to finish the desserts we ordered. Flattery will get you everywhere. 

Rachel says: I also appreciated how he told us we did a good job with finishing our desserts (we did). I liked his tolerance for John’s insistence on knowing of an evacuation plan, as if we didn’t all know it was going to be some variation on “Hit the exit and run like hell. Or find someone with a strong belt and a plan.”

Service ratingfresh-strawberry-cheesecakefresh-strawberry-cheesecakefresh-strawberry-cheesecakefresh-strawberry-cheesecake

Ambiance: The most impressive thing about the ambiance here was that it’s exactly the same as any other Chili’s, at any other point in time. Their commitment to faux-Spanish tile holds fast and true.

Jenny says: It was a quiet Wednesday. We were seated near people but not too close. The only complaint was a screaming kid. But that’s what they do, right? The random lone sled on the wall was out of place but might be comforting if the storm was in January and not August.

John says: Pretty standard fare. It was kind of cramped where they seated us. It was absolutely pouring outside to the point where it was terrifying. We kept checking to see if it was still coming down out there. We then asked about Chilis’s storm plan. They didn’t have one. Sigh. [Ed. note: Stop being such a baby, John. Obviously Aaron’s belt skills would have saved us in the event of a tornado.]

Sarah sees the storm approach.
Sarah sees the storm approach.

Rachel says: I thought their “crap on the walls” aesthetic was lacking in conviction. Don’t just put up a random sled on the wall, with nothing near it, and expect me to be filled with whimsy. 

Ambiance rating: fresh-strawberry-cheesecakefresh-strawberry-cheesecake  fresh-strawberry-cheesecake-half

Casualosity: Casual in high school, casual in our 30s.

Aaron says: Went in with my velvet flip flops and went out with very wet velvet flip flops.  They fit right in with the fitting tiled table tops and random sh** on the walls. 

Sarah: Chili’s was extremely casual, but not in the way I wanted. First of all, Chili’s was too casual about tornado preparedness. Also, the lights were too bright, the music was too quiet, and the atmosphere seemed kind of sterile. It was not the cozy, warm environment that I like to see in a casual dining establishment. Also, part of the casualosity at Chili’s is the Ziosk at each table, which is used for trivia and to pay the bill. It seemed as though the first few minutes of trivia were free and then you would have to pay after that. But nope, we were charged $1.99 for three minutes of trivia. That’s shady, Chili’s. 

Jenny: I felt pretty casual and relaxed. I was not the least bit embarrassed by Aaron’s velvet flip flops. It would have been more cas’ if you didn’t have to pay $2 to play electronic trivia. 

John says: Totes casual. More room would be nice. 

Casualosity ratingfresh-strawberry-cheesecakefresh-strawberry-cheesecakefresh-strawberry-cheesecake

Beverages: Your typical casual dining selection. But also, 2-4-1’s!

Aaron says: 2-4-1s! They had two for one house margaritas.  I went with original flavor, on the rocks.  Maybe a little sugary, but also what I expect from a fine establishment like Chili’s.  

Jenny says: I had a classic Margarita, the El Presidente. (Wait is that the the president). While it was not on the 2 for 1 menu (I found out later), it was worth it. The little, royal blue shaker they give you is like a magic lamp of never ending ‘rita. It was just right. [Ed. note: Apparently every single Presidente marg is shaken exactly 25 times on the way to your table. We didn’t see Cale shake Jenny’s marg, so we can only assume this standard was kept. Still, an interesting factoid, no?]

John says: I had two delicious house margaritas! They were two for one. It felt like college again! 

Beverages ratingfresh-strawberry-cheesecakefresh-strawberry-cheesecakefresh-strawberry-cheesecakefresh-strawberry-cheesecake

Cheesecake/dessert: There’s really only once choice when it comes to dessert at Chili’s: Molten chocolate cake. But we also ordered the cheesecake, because we’re professionals with a job to do.

Aaron says: Cheesecake, meh.  Molten chocolate cake: delish! 

Sarah says: The molten lava cake was exactly what I wanted in a dessert. I felt absolutely no shame as I helped myself to the last bite without asking anyone else if they wanted it. When it comes to molten lava cake, it’s every woman for herself.

Jenny says: The cheesecake was ordinary but thankfully I have low cheesecake standards. The other concoction we ordered  (what was it?) was gooey, sugar heaven [Ed. note: Goddamn right, it was]. We devoured it. I loved the balance of cold ice cream and hot chocolate brownie.

John says: Fairly standard cheesecake (nowhere near as good as Old Country Buffet’s).  [Ed note: GOD DAMN IT JOHN.]

Rachel says: As sure as the sun rises in the morning, Chili’s molten chocolate cake is delicious and tastes the same as it always has. 

From left to right: Glorious, meh.
From left to right: Glorious, meh.

Cheesecake/dessert ratingfresh-strawberry-cheesecakefresh-strawberry-cheesecakefresh-strawberry-cheesecakefresh-strawberry-cheesecake

Favorite part of the casual encounter: 

Aaron says: Two for one margaritas and getting to FINALLY order chiiiilllliiii’s baby back ribs.  My parents never let me as a kid.  

Aaron finally gets to try Chili's famous baby back ribs, just like he always wanted when he was a little girl.
Aaron finally gets to try Chili’s famous baby back ribs, just like he always wanted when he was a little girl.

Sarah says: This doesn’t really have anything to do with Chili’s, but you know when you’re a little kid and there’s a tornado warning and even though the tornadoes are nowhere near your town, your parents usher you down to the basement where you play board games and listen to weather alerts on the radio until the tornado warning expires? And it feels fun and exciting because you know that your safety isn’t in any real jeopardy? Reliving that feeling was my favorite part of our Chili’s experience.

Jenny says: Reliving my high school memories through food and booze. And being a part of a cool club. [Ed. note: Aw, thanks!]

John says: Favorite part-all of our great jokes about the weather. And of course the great jokes about their shitty paying stations. Sigh.

Rachel says: Time traveling back to high school, on those rare nights when my parents would let me go out for dinner before a school dance instead of making me eat dinner at home with them. Molten chocolate cake, get in my mouth. 

Least favorite part: 

Aaron says: Ziosks.  F*** those little robot bastards

Sarah says: The kiosks. Worst thing to ever happen to casual dining. This better not be a trend. 

Jenny says: Leaving during the rain. And Aaron splashed me when he ran by. 

John says: Having to drive home in what I believe was Hurricane Katrina Part 2: World Pup. 

Rachel says: The storm. It was really coming down out there. 

Aaron and John valiantly try to figure out the Ziosk payments.
Aaron and John valiantly try to figure out the Ziosk payments.
?
Aaron voices his displeasure at the Ziosk experience.

Overall Chili’s Ratingfresh-strawberry-cheesecakefresh-strawberry-cheesecakefresh-strawberry-cheesecake fresh-strawberry-cheesecake-half

See you all for our next Casual Encounter: Fuddrucker’s!