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.