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Monday, July 6, 2009

Dinner Report: Marie Callender's...

We headed deep down the list of places to eat today so I could knock off one of the ones my wife has been trying to interest me in for at least several years. I had actually been into Marie Callender's for a business meeting a few years ago and to be honest, it was fine. But in that case, I couldn't let my boss in on the reason why I hadn't been before; I had heard years ago on the radio one of the personalities on the morning show going there and just getting really sick. I know, the chances of it happening to me years later were probably nil, but for some reason, that little tidbit of information had always tainted my opinion.I know other people rave about Marie Callender's pies and frozen meals and I even know one guy who is apparently a fixture in the bar there, taking many meals a week there. So, armed with a coupon offering a buy one entree and get the next one free, my wife and I made our way in to give it a try.The place is nice looking on the inside with lots of thick wood and details that can easily make for a place you could take a business client or a date, without that loud atmosphere of Red Robin or even Chili's. The booths looked nice and the place reminded me of a restaurant my grandparents might dine.Of course, the booth we were seated at was not against a wall, so to afford us the privacy one needs when eating, they placed a little curtain between the tables. How thoughtful. Keep this in mind because I'll be revisiting it in a moment.When we were seated (right away, no waiting), we met our waiter who took drink orders and returned fairly quickly with our teas. He also brought a hunk of cornbread with warm butter, then took our food orders. I was thinking the cornbread would be really, really good considering the great reviews people give Marie Callender's pies, but it was just okay. My wife makes better, I promise.My wife had a hankerin' for a cheese burger, so she got the combo meal that comes with the fries and a slice of pie for dessert. The burger was actually really good. I had several tastes just to be sure my wife wasn't making it up, but sure enough, the meat seemed to be seasoned just right and thankfully, the bun was grilled. She did ask for mayo instead of 1,000 Island on the burger. We both agreed that the burger was excellent, and if you find yourself there and can;t think of anything else to order, you'll be good with it.I saw fish & chips and that was all I needed to see on the menu. When the order first came out, I sort of laughed, not at the size, but the fact that the fish looked like perfectly round fish sticks. But one taste was enough to clear that up. The tarter sauce was creamy and excellent, easily on a par with Clear Springs. The fish was cooked evenly, the outside batter was crisp but not too hard, and I would easily recommend it to anyone. The fries were average. I never even thought to ask for malt vinegar to put on them and in fact only ate a few. Likewise, the Cole slaw was dry and just not my style.

What was not good was the beverage service. Would it hurt a waiter to just leave the pitcher of tea at the table? I mean, if you don't intend to come around but once or twice during the whole meal, and you can see that I'm out of tea each time, why not just bring two glasses or leave the pitcher? If we were talking a dollar for the tea, fine, but they charge $2.29 for a small cup of tea and this is Texas!

That was the first thing. The second thing is, and I debated about even mentioning this because this kind of thing happens everyday and people should just get used to it, but a lady sitting diagonally from us was served her burger and fries, and before the waiter could even turn around she stopped him and pointed to the long hair sitting across her fries. He of course immediately took the plate back. I wanted so bad to yell to the lady to grab the burger and let him take only the fries back. I'm not accusing anyone of anything, but I have a standard policy: Nothing goes back to see the cook because he just may be having a bad day and your burger just may get a booger under a pickle. Even though we all know things like this happen, I couldn't help thinking about the lady on the radio who got sick.

Okay, third thing and this has nothing to do with Marie Callender's, but for you fellow diners, please consider this. Remember the little curtain that goes between my table and your table? It is not soundproofing. The reason you can't hear my wife and I talking is because we can dine quietly. To the guy sitting next to us yammering on and on about all the crap you just listened to on talk radio a few minutes ago, shut your freakin' pie-hole or at least get your adenoids fixed so you don't produce that nasally high pitched voice that sends a piercing needle like jolt through my ears. And by the way, I don't think your girlfriend/daughter was impressed at all; I'm pretty sure she is an AlGore supporter.

I'm sorry, I just got carried away a little.
When our waiter finally returned, we selected a slice of lemon meringue pie and shared it. It was good.

Overall, we were basically pleased but in all honesty, had we not had the coupon we would have felt fairly ripped off. Considering no bar drinks were involved, $28.00 (before tip and coupon) is a little steep for what you get, especially with the service.

Did we get them on an off day service wise? Have you ever had a hair come served with your fries? I'd love to know what you think about Marie Callender's. Tell me about it or leave a comment here.


Anonymous said...

Eva says :)

You forgot to mention the lady across the way asking me for my ketchup because the waiter never brought her any ...

Paige said...

We ate there a few weeks ago & had a very similar experience. The food was just okay, lousy service and steep prices. There are too many other places to go in this town. We will not go back there unless it's to pick up a pie (if they have a special sale) and leave.

Anonymous said...

i would of asked to be moved..because the place is quite charming for romantics..if not i would of told the waiter, when you tripped for attention, to ask the people at the next booth to shut their pie-hole...because we did and we just got moved..seems the ceo had more clout then us..whatever..they gave us a discount for complaining...just go at the early lunch-hour..

Dave said...

i would of asked to be moved..

Nah... by the time Mr. Talks-Too-Loud had started in with his non-stop bucket-mouth of yammer, we were pretty much done. The real issue was, we had to listen to him while we waited (for quite some time) to get the bill.

RB said...

Dave, funny you should review Marie Callender's....The kids and I just visited the one in Norman and had pretty much the same service. However, we did have an interesting experience... my 2 year old daughter started choking on a piece of ham which I immediately started patting her on the back and made her spit it in my hand (i did it as discreetly as possible) but some ol' blue hair from a booth behind us asked to be moved. On the way by us she remarked "THOSE PEOPLE never have any control over their children" in fear of exposing my 12yr old stepson to his first taste of blatant racism, I sat silent (which now just pisses me off)

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San Antonio, TX, United States
I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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