I found myself eating at two chain restaurants recently, against my personal preferences. However, I learned of one thing that made dining there more acceptable, their wine friendly BYO policies. Specifically, Carrabba's Italian Grill (part of the Outback chain group) has a $0 corkage fee. Grand Lux Cafe (higher end of Cheesecake Factory) charged a $5 corkage fee. The glassware, while not crystal, was still large size cab/bordeaux glasses that were quite acceptable for the quality of wine one would bring.
Original Post
Good to know. I wonder what is Outback's corkage policy?
quote:
Originally posted by vinole:
I found myself eating at two chain restaurants recently, against my personal preferences. However, I learned of one thing that made dining there more acceptable, their wine friendly BYO policies. Specifically, Carrabba's Italian Grill (part of the Outback chain group) has a $0 corkage fee. Grand Lux Cafe (higher end of Cheesecake Factory) charged a $5 corkage fee. The glassware, while not crystal, was still large size cab/bordeaux glasses that were quite acceptable for the quality of wine one would bring.
Carrabba's and Outback! Now there's dining Mecca for you. Lake Erie water should be fine.

I've never been to a Houston's, but there's one not far from our place in Florida and they don't charge for BYO. There's something about the combination of a chain restaurant and good wine that reminds me of fingernails on a blackboard.
Don't worry. I'll let you know when I find out the correct info! You never know when you'll need this important info!
quote:
Originally posted by PurpleHaze:
quote:
Originally posted by Lorrie:
Good to know. I wonder what is Outback's corkage policy


I'm on pins and needles.

PH
Please continue to post. I live in Little Rock,AR and there is not much dining but chains. Now, when I lived in New Orleans there was variety. But when you live in Rome, you do as the Romans.. So, your knowledge is helpful to me!
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Originally posted by vinole:
These restaurants are certainly not my first choice as I already stated. I offered the info as I thought it may be helpful to others on the forum. Given the response, I won't bother doing so in the future.
quote:
Gigond Ass
Member
Posted Mar 11, 2007 11:19 PM Hide Post
Does anyone know what the corkage policy at Denny's is?

How about the Olive Garden?

What should I pair with the Rooty Tooty Rich and Fruity pancake breakfast at IHOP?


Denny's allows free corkage before 10AM. They do this in recognition that those who drink at this hour are probably not gainfully enough employed to afford corkage.

Olive Garden allows free corkage on wine, but forbids outside olive oil from being opened in the restaurant. They claim it is a state regulation out of their control.

Definitely Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill with the Fruity Pancakes. Do you know nothing about wine pairings?
quote:
Originally posted by Lorrie:
Please continue to post. I live in Little Rock,AR and there is not much dining but chains. Now, when I lived in New Orleans there was variety. But when you live in Rome, you do as the Romans.. So, your knowledge is helpful to me!


Lorrie, no! You don't do as the Romans if they are eating at the Olive Garden or Golden Corral. You cook, you make a concerted effort to find places of quality in the area or you take trips. I realize I sound like a huge snob but you do not need to eat at chains.
In 1997, we were driving from New Oreans to our place in SE Florida. We got to Ocala and got a motel room and then looked for a place for a quick dinner, about 9PM. There wasn't mcuh and we srumbled upon a place called "Golden Corral." We had never heard of it and went in. WHOA NELLIE! What a mass of inedible .... uh.... let's call it junk! Starchy, sweet, gloppy waste material. It's about the worst place we've ever eaten. We still laugh about it.

Olive Garden is to Italian food as MacDonald's is to steak. On a trip upstate years ago, we stopped for lunch at an Olive Garden. I can say something good about it. It's better than Golden Corral. Gangrene of the foot is better than brain cancer.
As chanis go, Carrabba's Italian Grill is better than most, if not as good as some. I don't think of it as Italian food, more American food for those who want to pretend they are Italian. Of course, the only ones I've ever eaten at were in Maryland and they do not permit corkage. And before you get on my case, he who had never eaten at McDonalds may throw the first Big Mac.
quote:
Originally posted by Board-O:
In 1997, we were driving from New Oreans to our place in SE Florida. We got to Ocala and got a motel room and then looked for a place for a quick dinner, about 9PM. There wasn't mcuh and we srumbled upon a place called "Golden Corral." We had never heard of it and went in. WHOA NELLIE! What a mass of inedible .... uh.... let's call it junk! Starchy, sweet, gloppy waste material. It's about the worst place we've ever eaten. We still laugh about it.

Olive Garden is to Italian food as MacDonald's is to steak. On a trip upstate years ago, we stopped for lunch at an Olive Garden. I can say something good about it. It's better than Golden Corral. Gangrene of the foot is better than brain cancer.

bwahahaha

I'm trying to imagine Board-O's face when he walked into GC.
http://www.ossi-net.com/Wine_images/Scores%20Tryout.JPG
quote:
Originally posted by dinwiddie:
As chanis go, Carrabba's Italian Grill is better than most, if not as good as some. I don't think of it as Italian food, more American food for those who want to pretend they are Italian.


I ate at a Carrabba's recently at the request of a lady friend. Good news, I am still alive to post this. Better news. I am no longer seeing said lady friend. She asked me to meet her at an Outback the following week. Basta!! Eek

Een! You rock.... My thoughts exactly!

PH
I probably overreacted some to the earlier posts, but I got peeved as all I was trying to say was - Here's a way to make the best of an undesirable situation. I avoid chains probably as much as anyone here, which is par for the course for wine geeks. However, I will occasionally end up at a chain (about once every couple of months) for two reasons, 1) I have three elementary school aged children and chains work well with them if we are tired of our regular mom and pops (I don't live in Manhatten with an endless supply of mom and pops), and 2) I have some friends that really like certain chains and I have to indulge their choice, just as they indulge mine at times. I imagine many here would be in similar situations, and find themselves eating at chains, though it would never be their first choice. Given that, I would rather drink some nice wine from home rather than pay $8 a glass for Santa Christina, especially if there is little or no corkage.

I was glad to see this thread get back to sharing information and entertaining stories, which is what forums should be about. To add further info, the Grand Lux was pretty bad. Chicken and beef "comfort" foods, and medium rare = medium well. A wine (and food) lover's hell. One of my worst meals ever was at Buca Di Beppo (3 of 6 dishes sent back, horrid service). Those are One and Dones. I won't go back no matter who insists or what the circumstances.
Vinole - dont sweat it. I frequent chains often. It's also easy for my family, including 3, 6-yrs old and under. I also prefer other dining establishments, but sometimes have to go with what works - and it beats my cooking! Thanks for posting...
I like Houston's... It brings back memories. When I lived in New Orleans I used to eat there at least once a month. It was good for a late quick mid-weeker dinner on my way back home after work. I never brought my own wine.
I was actually having dinner at the bar (it was the only place serving food at that time in uptown NOLA) watching CNN when I decided to evacuate the city the night before the landfall of hurricane K.
I've been to one in South Florida, not bad but I liked the one in NOLA better.


quote:
Originally posted by Board-O:
Carrabba's and Outback! Now there's dining Mecca for you. Lake Erie water should be fine.

I've never been to a Houston's, but there's one not far from our place in Florida and they don't charge for BYO. There's something about the combination of a chain restaurant and good wine that reminds me of fingernails on a blackboard.
Have to say I was a bit disheartened to discover that across from our hotel in Puerto Vallarta was an Outback Steakhouse. Also in town, right on the Malecon, was an incongruous Hooters. Eek They both stuck out like septic thumbs.
I seriously don't know how these places survive in an area with such fantastic food all around.
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Originally posted by mneeley490:
I seriously don't know how these places survive in an area with such fantastic food all around.


My guess is that because there are so many people like my biological relatives and inlaws around. They are afraid of anything "weird" or "different" when it comes to food. For them, it's freaky enough to be in another country (or town, or state, for that matter) and they don't want to accidentally go somewhere that serves something they haven't tasted before. New=bad and scary to a lot of folks.

I know I sound like an ass but this is a huge sore spot with me.
That's pretty sad. I live to experience new things.
When I eat out, it's almost always something that I'm not likely to make at home. I encourage my kids to do the same, but my 15 y.o. son is still a work in progress. I'm taking him to P.V. next month. We'll see how he survives without a nearby McDonalds.
mneeley, I am the same way.

When M. and I started dating years ago, he professed to not like different foods and I nicely said if the relationship was to progress he'd have to be more adventurous.

A good friend's husband is averse of new experiences to the point where he won't travel and won't eat anything that is not meat and potatoes. She loves wine and finally got him to start drinking chardonnay. He will try nothing else. It should go without saying that he really likes the major chains.
Ditto for me. Before Katrina, I liked a steak and the salmon appetizer at Houston's. But, I do cook the New Orleans food in Little Rock. So, all is not lost. You never know where life will take you. Life is slow and good in the Rock.
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Originally posted by redknife:
I like Houston's... It brings back memories. When I lived in New Orleans I used to eat there at least once a month. It was good for a late quick mid-weeker dinner on my way back home after work. I never brought my own wine.
I was actually having dinner at the bar (it was the only place serving food at that time in uptown NOLA) watching CNN when I decided to evacuate the city the night before the landfall of hurricane K.
I've been to one in South Florida, not bad but I liked the one in NOLA better.


quote:
Originally posted by Board-O:
Carrabba's and Outback! Now there's dining Mecca for you. Lake Erie water should be fine.

I've never been to a Houston's, but there's one not far from our place in Florida and they don't charge for BYO. There's something about the combination of a chain restaurant and good wine that reminds me of fingernails on a blackboard.
quote:
Originally posted by mneeley490:
...across from our hotel in Puerto Vallarta was an Outback Steakhouse. Also in town...was an incongruous Hooters. Eek ....
I seriously don't know how these places survive in an area with such fantastic food all around.

They're there purely for the tourist. I too, don't get it, when people are 'adventurous' enough to travel to another country, but then want nothing to do with anything of the culture. Might as well hole up inside a resort. Is it just the beach? I just don't get it..... Confused
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Originally posted by mneeley490:
....I'm taking him to P.V. next month....

Just a 'heads up'. Be a LITTLE more careful than normal while you're there. Things are a little 'out of balance' in Mexico right now. Have been for several months (thus the great deals out there). Nothing to be paranoid about, but just 'be aware'. Even Mexicans are avoiding many resort areas for this reason.
cdr, I'm with you regarding the oddity of bringing your own wine into a chain resaurant. However, I suppose I'll get thrown into a 'snob' category by saying that I just don't get the attraction to most any chain (personally I feel as if they all taste the same, behind all the frying, glopping overdone recipes). I'd rather cook at home (my comments assume one has a choice and disregards the 'kids' issue).
NTL, BYOW to a restaurant accepted by, even encouraged, the establishment is a great opportunity to mix great food with exactly the wine of your personal preference. In the U.S., I've been to some great places that haven't received their liquer license for one reason or another. This type of dining culture is VERY common in Montreal, with great success.
quote:
Originally posted by cdr:
I don't understand it either. Why on earth would anyone have any concern for eating at restaurants in Mexico?

Also, don't you think bringing wine into a chain restaurant is a little, well, odd? I guess I'll never understand BYOW.


You lack empathy.
quote:
Originally posted by KSC02:
quote:
Originally posted by mneeley490:
....I'm taking him to P.V. next month....

Just a 'heads up'. Be a LITTLE more careful than normal while you're there. Things are a little 'out of balance' in Mexico right now. Have been for several months (thus the great deals out there). Nothing to be paranoid about, but just 'be aware'. Even Mexicans are avoiding many resort areas for this reason.

I have a contact down there who tells me that the unrest that's hit other resort towns hasn't been felt in PV yet. Hope it stays that way.
Below is a (relevant) quote from the local food critic about this subject. In order to be as annonymous as possible, I have turned off my signature and removed the name of the restaurant/wine bar I have a financial interest in. FYI, the purpose of my post is to let everyone know that this topic is already being addressed in such sleepy little areas as Delaware............


"I'd like to take a moment to have a word with some of you. I don't know your names, but I see you all the time -- waiting outside chain restaurants in the rain, in the winter, without a reservation and without hope of seeing a plate of warm food before 9 p.m.
You folks shouldn't bother going to XXXXXXX XXXXXX .
If you want predictability, it will be scary. If you want mediocrity, you will be disappointed. Possibly, the night will be more of a cultural and culinary shock than you can handle.
Be warned: at XXXXXXX XXXXXX, you don't have to wait endlessly for a table. There will be no clueless-but-adorable young hostesses, no "bloomin' onions," no watery, bottomless iceberg lettuce salads. No groaning heaps of mushy pasta, no pasty prefab desserts. You will be confronted by wines you've never heard of and may suffer through menu descriptions without a cutesy adjective to be found.
What's worse, the atmosphere will be pleasant and sophisticated; the service professional and unobtrusive. You will get your food promptly, and the waiter will actually have a working knowledge of the menu. There will be 50-odd wines by the glass, all of them chosen by a person who actually knows wine, and all of them priced in small portions good for sampling.
In short, XXXXXXX XXXXXX has none of the attributes of Delaware's most beloved restaurants. For some of us, that failure is the best thing that's happened for Wilmington in a while."

Hmmm, maybe food critics are ahead of the crowd?
The food critic dines on other people's money, and therefore has no clue. Dining out, even at a chain restaurant, is a treat for many people. Going to the place with the 50 wines by the glass and the "Wine Director" (whatever the hell that is) is not an option.

Haven't you ever taken the kids to outback? They love it. The can spill and have fun and there are no spike haired guys with black framed glasses and the little hair thing under the lip to scowl or try to tell you what you shopuld eat and drink.

The alternative restaurant alluded to by the critic (yours, I presume?) is a best case scenario on a good night. Most restaurants have poorly trained staffs without menu or wine knowledge. Most restaurants do not execute, even the fundamentals of good service night in and night out. Most restaurants have pretty much the same wines on the wine list.

This critic, like most critics, are full of crap, condescending and should describe the place they are dining at instead of spewing this b.s.
I have probably been to Mexico at least 50 times, and never been sick. I eat at the taco carts, the cheap restaurants, and the nice ones. Caution in a foreign land is advisable, but lets face it. We have all gotten sick many times right here in the good old U.S.of A.

As to why bring wine to a chain, I don't see any fundamental difference between that and bringing wine to a 5 star restaurant. Both have the same intent. Namely, to bring a wine that you know you will enjoy without busting your budget. In fact, I think it makes more sense to bring your own to the chains than to the 5-stars. The 5-star probably has a very good, if not excellent wine list. People don;t want to order off it becuase they don;t want to pay the dough. At the chains, there may be nothing decent at all. So if people want to avoid the chains because they want better food, I certainly understand. If people want to BYOB, I understand. But I do not understand why you should be allowed to enjoy a nice bottle from your cellar at the $50 per entree steak joint, but not at Outback. Should only the wealthy (who can afford the restaurant mark-up in the first place) be allowed the luxury of BYOW? You guys need to pull the silver forks out of your mouths to think about what you are saying.
Wine Joe, I always like anti-snob sentiment. Honestly though, I think Outback is expensive. If you compare the price you pay at an Outback Steakhouse to a lot of other establishments in San Diego you will realize for a few dollars more, or less you can get better food.

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