Thursday, March 13, 2008

My One (And Only) Visit to Denny’s

My family and I were heading out of town last Friday, on our way to the Twin Cities, ethnic food, museums, World Market, and Trader Joe’s. Since we were leaving during breakfast hours, we decided that it would be the perfect time to try out the new Denny’s.

The exterior of the building drives me nuts. The signs are off-center wherever they are mounted. It looks like the installer made a mistake on one sign, and instead of fixing it, just installed the rest of them like the first.

We arrived approximately 10 am, thinking that we were after the morning rush, and since there were few cars in the parking lot, we could be in, out, and on the road in short order.

After being showed to our tables, we ordered two cups of coffee and a glass of milk. My wife took one sip of coffee, then her face took on a look of revulsion. “I know you’ve spoiled me on coffee forever, but have you tasted this? It’s terrible!” she said. She’s usually more forgiving when it comes to coffee, so with that in mind, I took my sip and, although it was not the worst coffee I’ve had in Grand Forks (that designation belongs to the coffee at Gramma Butterwicks), it was definitely really, really bad. It tasted like ultra-low grade robusta beans, and the jitters I got soon after told me I was correct. I just looked online to see if I could find information about their coffee, and I see that this is their Special Blend that was introduced late last year. I’d hate to have tried the old version if this is supposed to be an improvement. I didn’t find any reference to the question “special blend of what?” That’s always a bad sign. If people use only good arabica beans they usually make sure to tell the public so.

We selected our breakfasts, my kid choosing the alien-shaped pancakes, my wife some form of “slam,” and since she doesn’t eat eggs she asked for extra hash browns instead. I ordered the Heartland Scramble. I usually look for an egg substitute option, but I didn’t see it listed. It may have been there, but it wasn’t in an obvious place.

Time goes by. A lot of time.

We see the waitress go in for our food, hear her say something about “This was supposed to be no eggs, extra hash browns.” Right then we knew we were in trouble.

More time goes by.

We finally get our food 45 minutes after we sat down, and my food was cold. I flag down the waitress, tell her of the problem, and she tells me that they will prepare me a new plate right away. They microwaved my plate, which is OK from a time standpoint, but microwaved eggs can become rubbery. Oh well, this was Denny’s, after all. My expectations were not that high to begin with.

All was going well at this point. We were eating, discussing the drive ahead, laughing (sort of) at the breakfast thus far, when I parted some eggs on the plate. That’s when I saw it: The Hair.

Fork down. Breakfast over.

We went up to pay the bill, waited about 5 minutes at the register until somebody came over to ring us up, and were asked “How was everything?” I’m not one to hold back much. I try to be honest in these situations, but also I try to be fair and tactful. I respond “Well, for starters, after spending 45 minutes in the restaurant my food came out cold…” No response. Not even an “I’m sorry to hear that.” Nothing but the working of the register. I looked over at my wife and said “Or not.” We had a small chuckle, knowing that customer service means so much more than just taking orders and bringing out food, and that we’ll never go to Denny’s again.

Addendum: So far for breakfast I’ve tried Darcy’s (decent food, but doesn’t take credit cards, and we were stared at the entire time we were there. I don’t think we’re that funny looking, but maybe we are) and Perkins (A much better experience than the one above, plus they have corned beef hash, waffles, and Egg Beaters). That’s where we’ll be heading next time. My wife has been to Seasons in EGF, as well, and said it was good, having Belgian Waffles.


Zaya said...

Denny's always gives me indigestion from all the grease, so I won't be going there. Now if only someone would put in an IHOP! :)

dale said...

A frequent statement, while looking for a place to go for breakfast after church, is "well, how bad can they screw up eggs?" Nice (not!) to hear that someone can screw 'em up pretty bad.

My dad used to love Dennys (though he no longer goes there, for some reason,) and I went with him once and a while and thought it was a tolerable (and less expensive) version of Perkins. My sole visit to the one in Grand Forks re-iterated that, though the service was off (somewhat forgivable, as it was the first week of opening.)

However, Sunday mornings it's packed 100% of the time, and the Big Sioux is only a little ways down the road, so we've not been back.

Some day I'll have to come over to your house and try some decent coffee -- I'm not much of a connoisseur, short of really missing my Gevalia subscription, so I'm fairly tolerant of anything that gets the caffeine into my morning. Though maybe I should leave it that way :-)

Anonymous said...

I had a hair in my food there, too.


Anonymous said...

OMG!! Low grade robusta beans at a 24 hour chain!!!! ALert the media.

Did your meal come with a side of pretentiousness???

Coffee Guy said...

Please look up big words before you attempt to use them. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I haven't tried Denny's yet, but after hearing of your extra added "side order" hidden in your food, I'll be be staying away.

I realize there is an abundance of restaurants in this town, and a shortage of restaurant workers, but still... come on people, keep the hairnets on in the kitchen, and out front - give some good service once in a while! It'll make your job more fun... at very least improve the tips.

Anonymous said...

I agree with all of your comments. Was really looking forward to a new place for breakfast, but nothing that I have heard or experienced about Dennys makes me want to go back.


Anonymous said...

I ate at Denny's this morning and had a terrible experience as well. Cold, bland, food. I do have to say we had okay service.

Anonymous said...

I am not making this up...

We went to Denny's a few months ago, and they were out of the following at 6:30 pm...

French fries
cottage cheese
cinnamon apples
some types of breads for specific sandwiches
coffee creamer

Unfortunately, I wanted a hamburger with french fries and cottage cheese. No cottage cheese or fries. I asked for apples. No apples. She then came back and said that they were out of buns.

We left.

Oh, did I mention that we waited 20 minutes to get water and menus?

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:40
I am sorry, really, but that just makes me laugh. Out of buns and french fries? Really? Come on...Really?? I have never been, but I don't think I will go. I love Village Inn breakfast, you don't wait that long, good service, and they have the best omelets!

Anonymous said...

You are rude! It is not the cashier's fault that your food was cold. You should have asked for a manager...

Try complaining to someone who can actually do something about it instead of the cashier who makes minimum wage and has to deal with rude yourself!

Coffee Guy said...

Are you telling me that I'm the one that was rude?

Interesting. Let's look at the facts, shall we?

* It took a long loooong time to get our food

* our food came old cold (after it was originally cooked wrong because somebody didn't bother to read the order slip)

* There was a hair deposited in my eggs

* I was asked a question, then ignored by the staff when I answered it

Yeah, I can see how you'd think I was the rude one in that situation.

Anonymous said...

I had hair on my plate at Denny's too. We went once and will NEVER return. Horrible burnt, over priced food, the hair, poor service. Of course we complained to management, but they just offered to bring new food - and it had taken so long in the first place that we didn't have time for it. No come back and see us again coupons for us. Ridiculous. I suppose they get enough Canadian traffic to not have to worry about quality and returning customers or something.


That Girl said...

Oh man, I had a horrible experience at Denny's too! I'm usually fairly forgiving when it comes to restaurants in GF because there is really a lack of good ones and so one can't be too picky. I have often returned to a restaurant after a bad experience... but Denny's OMG NEVER again! I went once and that was too much for me.

They use the cheapest nastiest bacon on earth (that really ultra thin precooked stuff that you just have to microwave for a few seconds), their pancake mix is awful and cheap tasting (Perkins is much better), their kids menu, which looks pretty decent is not. My poor daughter ordered a pizza off the kids menu and literally ate one bite of the disgusting cheesy gluey slop that just about made me want to cry for having ordered that for my child! Of course, the fact that they came with grapes was the only saving grace but she left the place very hungry. Our food took FOREVER and our waitress seemed very incompetent. it was just a nightmare. I have had some bad Denny's experiences before but this one at GF was the worst. Which sucks cause I was looking forward to getting a Dennys :(

cyndicate said...

the only Denny's worth going to in Grand Forks is the tavern on S. Washington....and it's not just for breakfast anymore!