Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Tuesday Night #1: Hooters

For our first official outing, we knew we had to go somewhere special. We put some thought into it, and knowing the article would appear on the blog on Valentine's Day, we hit on the perfect venue... Hooters.

I don't think either of us was disappointed. The waitresses were wearing red devil-themed costumes, and I have it on good authority from Coaster that our waitress had "the cutest outfit". She's lucky, she gets to stare at all the ladies.

"...also, there are girls in tight red dresses everywhere." - Ian

Hooters - Manchester, NH
Grilled Cheese Platter (with curly fries) - $5.49
Total Dinner for Two (no dessert) - $23.00

Menu: Something we've noticed in our test runs is that the grilled cheese often isn't on the menu, even if it is available. If it is on the menu, it's most likely to be in a "Kids" section. I think that's a little demeaning. (Coaster has a more pragmatic opinion.) I'm happy to say that the "Grilled Cheese Platter" was on the menu, in the sandwiches section, given equal space to other sandwiches.

No Menu Ghetto for our beloved sammiches at Hooters!

Coaster: He says it sucks when the grilled cheese is on the kid's menu. Well, it can be kinda cool, 'cause it's usually cheaper-- but it can still suck 'cause sometimes they don't let kids over 12 get it, and the portion might be too small for anybody not-me.

Our Order: To start, we shared an order of Fried Cheese. For dinner, we each had a Grilled Cheese Platter. I drank an iced tea (sweetened, no option) and Coaster had her usual natural beverage (tap water).

Reaction: Another thing we've noticed is that sometimes when a couple of adults order grilled cheeses and a shared appetiser, restaurant staff won't be impressed. Whether because they think we're stingy, they think we're immature, or worry about a weak tip, it isn't unusual to get a bit of a Look. I'm happy to say that our lovely waitress didn't bat an eye, and cheerfully took our order.

Speed: After taking a second to notice us, and letting us know we could seat ourselves, service was consistently and impressively swift. They took our orders quickly, and our food came back with preternatural speed. The waitress checked up on us frequently.

Service: I don't know if we have been to a restaurant with friendlier service than our local Hooters. The waitstaff were cheerful, friendly, responsive, and, well, easy on the eyes. Technically, I wouldn't use the phrase "hooters", but the atmosphere was much improved.

"Delightfully Tacky, yet Unrefined"

Pickle: We always keep our eye on the pickle. Some establishments neglect to include one with a grilled cheese-- or worse, use sweet pickles rather than dill. Hooters gets full marks for giving us each a generous, crispy dill spear.

"I think the pickle juice is, like, stinging my dry hands." - Coaster

Potty: Another theme you will see repeated is that my cohort drinks plenty of water along with her grilled cheeses. As a result, she abandons me alone at the table early and often. This evening, she took one such break, a bit less than an hour into the meal. P-Time, 8.48 pm.
Coaster: It's true. I pee a lot.

The Grilled Cheese
The most important part of the review, of course, is the sammich itself. All of that other stuff is just setting, background, atmosphere, or other synonym. We're here for cheese on fried bread, so lay it on us...
Mmmmm tasty!

Butter: These grilled cheeses had a good butter level, I'd say "medium strong". Enough for the bread to fry rather than toasting, but not so much as to be too greasy. Salted butter, of course.

Bread: The sammich was well-toasted, to a dark-golden brown. Not perfectly even, but overall about right. The bread was fresh, spongy, and thick, just about how I like it. It may have been slightly too thick, though, because...
Coaster: Not as even as it could have been, but definitely the right shade of golden brown.

Cheese: The cheese was, unfortunately, not fully melted. This was presumably because of the thick bread. It was redeemed, though, for points on the Tasty and Unique scales-- Three slices of cheese, of two different kinds, meant that the cheese was generous and flavorful.
Coaster: He pretty much covered cheese. I really like that they didn't skimp on the cheese. Usually it's just one to two pieces.

Size: These weren't wimpy kid sandwiches. It felt like a real sammich, and ate like a meal. I wouldn't have to order two to really fill up.
Coaster: Very nice.

More Notes:
  • The atmosphere was less polished than I expected from this chain. It felt homey and genuine.
  • The wrestling posters and pictures of 80s celebs were nice touches. We sat next to Macho Man Randy Savage, Andre Agassi, and Patrick Duffy standing at a urinal.
  • The music was loud. This probably would have been a better group outing, as we could have challenged the volume more with help from our oh-so-reserved friends.
  • All of the TVs had sports on. All dozen or more of them. On the up side, ads for Ghost Rider and The 300 put us back in our element for a minute at a time. And, of course, we weren't staring at the screens a lot.

Final Impressions

IAN - 3.5 Pickles - In all, this evening was a good time, and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food, the friendly service, and the presentation. I'd say the sammiches compare well with the best from our test runs, and set a good baseline for our first official review.

COASTER - 3.75 Pickles - I felt like the rating of 3.5 Pickles was a bit too low, as I was very impressed by not only by the grilled cheese itself, but also the service. At the same time, I feel as if there are a couple ways the grilled cheese could've been improved, so I didn't want to get too overzealous about it's good points. Basically, it's worth a shot, and if your experience is like ours, you won't walk away dissapointed. Plus, boobies.

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