Claim Jumper Fresno review
I know to some "chain restaurant" is a vile phrase. We (4 adults) had dinner at the Fresno location last week and had an enjoyable meal in comfortable surroundings. We don't drink alcohol so we got out of there on just about $100 including tip. For what we got this was a good bargain.
Claim Jumper says they're a "special occasion" restaurant with 45 locations all west of the Mississippi. I'm sure their menu is standardized but not entirely made from pre-packaged ingredients. I'm sure they use some pre-packaged food. Claim Jumper also has a line of frozen foods sold in supermarkets. It's not unusual these days. I read on Zagat today that NYC's world famous Rao's is mulling over a frozen line, though Rao's is hardly a chain.
The Fresno CJ location is a cavernous, dark wood mountain lodge style with massive beams, a fireplace, antler chandelier and so on. It wasn't overdone, just massive. It was about 100 degrees that day. The AC was too cold for one of our party but just right for the rest of us.
My dinner companion got the sliders with the works. He enjoyed them. They looked about average to me, but tasted good. The Tillamook cheese gave it extra flavor. The steak fries were crispy and well seasoned.
I had a "Widow Maker". It came to the table a mountain on a plate. I had to deconstruct it to eat it. So in essence I got a burger with a salad. I ended up eating it with fork and knife. The onion rings were sweet and cooked perfectly. I had their Thai peanut slaw on the side. It wasn't a spicy dish but definitely had a taste most Americans could associate with being Thai. My strawberry lemonade came with an enormous strawberry on the glass and also served as an appetizer.
The other female in the party had the Original Tri-Tip Dip. She talked a lot about the savory flavor as she ate. She ate the whole sandwich surprising even herself. She talked about it the next day so I'm guessing she enjoyed it.
The other gentleman in the party ordered the shrimp Gumbo. I didn't find the exact name on the online menu. The shrimp were finger sized. A small order is enough for a good appetite.The Gumbo included chunks of sausage and chicken. It was served on a bed of rice. Noodles are also an option. He prefers spicy foods and said this Gumbo didn't let him down. I was on the staff of a mid level steakhouse in Mississippi in my early 20's. This Gumbo looked and smelled better than the one I had served. I didn't think to ask for a taste but I may try it on a future visit.
One of Claim Jumper's signatures is huge desserts. For instance we took a "slice" of fudge layer cake home. It took 2 of us 3 days to eat it. It was about the equivalent of a single 8 inch layer cake for roughly $10. It was pretty good the next day but by the third it was tasting a bit stale and we left most of the serving.
Our dining companions took home a Brownie Finale (brownie and vanilla bean ice cream) which they shared the next day. They took theirs home in a box pretty much the size of a regular take out meal box.
I've eaten at the Fresno location several time since they opened. The design of the restaurant is basically the same to all locations. We've eaten at the one in Valencia because it's on the way down South. If you really want a BIG sandwich, try the Mother Lode, Tri-tip, ham and turkey. The 1st time I ate at the in Buena Park, and they brought it out I just stared at it because it was so HUGH.
I like CJ, there are some of us that ocassionally are very hungry and it does not disappoint. The atmosphere is good as is the service. The menu is huge so there is something for everybody. The ice cold wedge salad is great, I have mine chopped. I think that it is fashionable for some "Yuppies" to complain about CJ just because it is a chain.
Everyone has their preferences and we all like what we like. In Fresno there doesn't seem to be much in the way of fine dining and few family run restaurants. However, just about every chain on the planet is here. Some of them have excellent food at lower prices. I'm not a chain junkie but I won't exclude one with good food because it's a chain.
I like the big portions. It means I get a good dinner and another meal the next day.
I couldn't handle the portion sizes, I haven't required that many calories since I was about 18 working on a ranch. The food was prepared well though. Biggest turn off was the family next to us with two "tween" girls eating like hogs (and sounding like it too) Their combined weight must have been around 1500 lbs.