HOME > Chowhound > Chains >


Best upscale chain restaurants?

I would like to know what are some of the best upscale restaurants that you guys eaten at? Also..name some dishes that you guys thought were great? I like seafood and my favorites are McCormick & Schmick's followed by Bonefish Grill. Cheesecake Factory is great as well. I ordered the miso mahi mahi from McCormick & Schmick's and it was fantastic. I ordered various types of fish at Bonefish Grill. The rainbow trout was alright but the halibut, grouper, and artic char were outstanding. I would recommend the miso salmon and cajun jumbalaya at Cheesecake Factory. The price points are pretty high at upscale restaurants due to them being "upscale" but they blow the Ruby Tuesday's and Applebee's out of the water.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I like Bonefish, but don't consider it upscale. McCormick & Schmicks in Charlotte, NC got the award for the single worst meal I've ever had at any price point from a chain. I like Flemings as far as upscale.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Janet from Richmond

      Raleigh is getting a McCormick & Schmicks that should be opening at Crabtree Valley most any time. Please elaborate on why your meal was bad. It could save those of us in the triangle area some time and money.

      1. re: goodeatsinadive

        We were seated at 9:30 for our 8:00 reservation. We were out of towners and fell into the "just a few more minutes" dance. The Caesar salad I had tasted like nothing. Bland, bland, bland. My salmon was "fishy" and overcooked and was supposed to be served with rice but wasn't because they ran out (no substitution was offered or made). Dh's steak had a huge section of grissle through the middle and was well done even though he asked for medium rare. And we had to ask for everything...menus, wine list, water, bread, the check....you get the picture.

        1. re: Janet from Richmond

          With all due respect, after an hour and a half wait for a reserved table you probably should not have been surprised if everything else went south. I'd have walked out and picked up a hot dog from a 7-11 before I'd wait that long anywhere.

          1. re: Emm

            No, we should have walked back across the street to our hotel and gotten room service. But we did not. We were with a group, in an unfamiliar town and gradually "a few minutes" turned into 90 minutes and a disaster.

    2. What is upscale? Mortons, Smith & Wollensky, Ruth's Chris? I think that these have higher prices than CF. My preference is Roy's, particularly the butterfish.

      2 Replies
      1. re: laulauman

        Roy's is my favorite as well. I have not been in a few years, so unfortunately I can't remember any of the dishes I ordered.

        1. re: laulauman

          Oh I forgot...what's upscale to some may not be to others. In my area...the upscale chain restaurants are Cheesecake Factory, PF Changs, McCormick and Schmick's, Ruth Chris, Bravo, California Pizza Kitchen, Gordon Bierch, Kincaid's, and I may have forgotten one or two. We don't have Flemings, Maggianno's Little Italy, Texas De Brazil, Morton's, Roy's, Chammps, and alot of others. I live in the Virginia Beach and Norfolk (Hampton Roads) area of Virginia and we usually get retailers/restaurants last...if at all due to our area not being affluent and consisting of alot of military population.

        2. I don't consider Cheesecake Factory upscale and have no experience with the other two you mentioned. The Chart House location in my area (large Midwestern city) is one I'd consider upscale and I've never had a bad meal there.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Emm

            Chart House is great. I didn't even know there were any locations outside of California and Hawaii. (I don't see the Honolulu location listed on the Chart House website, so it may not be related to the others.) I guess the landlocked locations must be located on a river or something, because part of the appeal of this place is spectacular waterfront views.

            1. re: Thefoodczar

              You just have to watch out for local "Chart Houses" that aren't part of a chain. I know of a few independent places called Chart House that absolutely suck.

              I wonder if Fogo de Chao and the other churrascaria chains belong on here?

          2. Buddakan is very good, though not very widespread (more regional than national) as far as chains go. Houston's, while not particularly exciting or special, is reliable for good food in an upscale atmosphere.

            1. I consider Roy's and Flemings upscale, along with Ruth's Chris. All of them a place I would visit on a special occasion. Bonefish is good, but not great. Although my husband does really like it. Went to McCormick and Schimick last month and the crab appetizer in the bar was very fishy, but I loved my Moscow Mule cocktail and would go back just for that.

              1. Capital Grille is very good, and they have several seafood dishes on their menu. They popularized the now common "RI-style" fried calamari with hot peppers -- Capital Grille started in Providence around 1990 -- but we suspect they might have "borrowed" the recipe from a little establishment on Federal Hill called Trattoria del Antuono.

                But whatever the origins, the calamari is a great dish, and CG does tuna and swordfish very well too (two meaty fishes, now that I think about it).

                1 Reply
                1. re: Bob W

                  Second Capital Grille. Have been to several locations around the country and have never had a bad meal plus the service is always excellent. Although the menu is pretty standard steakhouse faire, the specials are usually great. And don't forget to get a Stoli Doli! I live on the water so I'm not a fan of any of the seafood restaurant chains.

                2. I don't consider Cheesecake Factory upscale. I'd say it's barely above Applebee's. Barely.

                  My favorite upscale places are any of the steakhouses.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: irishnyc

                    I know Cheesecake Factory is a bit overrated, but, barely better than Applebee's?

                    Applebee's has the worst food, service and price across the board. I've been to a few of their locations, always at the bequest of others, and everything, from the drinks (soda is watered down) to the apps (gross) to the meals (the riblets had bone splinters in them) to the desserts (still frozen) are awful. At least at CF I can enjoy the bread (awesome) and there's so many choices on the menu that you can't really go wrong. And the Jambalaya Pasta is awesome.

                    1. re: Philthadelphian

                      I've been twice and never liked anything I or my dining partners ordered, and it's certainly not even close to good enough to justify the wait.

                      1. re: irishnyc

                        I really don't like Cheesecake Factory; everything I've ever had there has been pretty mediocre. But that's still better than Applebee's where everything I've had there has been bad.

                  2. My personal favorites are Cheesecake Factory and Wildfire. I always get the crusted chicken romano at Cheesecake Factory (though I love a lot of their other dishes as well) and the filet medallion trio at Wildfire. So good!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Chew on That

                      I like Firebirds Rocky Mountain Grill. They have a cilantro and buttermilk marinated grilled chicken that comes topped with a smoky cheese sauce - it is AMAZING. Even their salad is wonderful. They call it a BLT salad and it comes with chopped tomatoes, bacon and a garlic ranch dressing. Not only is the bowl chilled - but they even chill the FORK! This place really takes the term chain restaurant up a notch!

                    2. When I lived in the Detroit area, I always enjoyed The Capital Grill. McCormick & Schmicks & J.Alexanders for better chain food...

                      1. Roy's is my favourite upscale chain (and now we have one in Anaheim GardenWalk!). I wouldn't consider CF upscale, but rather, a nicer mid-scale restaurant.

                        1. Don't forget about Houston's, they rock. Another newcomer chainlet is called Wildfish, not cheap but great quality.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: jonrogan

                            I love Houston's and their Key Lime Pie is the BEST... They only serve it in the spring and summer.