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What's the best dish you've ever eaten at a chain? What surprised you most?

Hands down, my favorite is the "Bang Bang Shrimp" from Bonefish Grill. If you haven't had it, they fry shrimp, then coat it with a savory, creamy, spicy sauce. It is crispy and creamy! It is a terrific value, too. I think I might be able to eat my weight in that stuff!
<(ahem, I exaggerate ;-)>. But I think I could eat it every day and be a happy camper.

I want to try a copycat recipe to see if it is even close. http://www.recipezaar.com/recipe/Bang...

What about you? What's the best dish you've ever eaten at a chain?

What have you been most surprised by?

For me, it was the spicy sausage and lentil soup at Carrabbas. I'm not big on lentils, but this soup was quite delicious and of very high quality. Here is a clone recipe, but I know so much depends on the quality of the sausage. http://carrabbassecretrecipes.blogspo...

I was also surprised by the excellent quality of Carrabbas' pork chops -- flavorful, succulent, thick, perfectly cooked.

(P.S. It's a given that Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits are a "top item," but I'm thinking about more substantial dishes: Appetizers, Main Dishes, Desserts).

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  1. I have enjoyed the crab cakes at Ruby Tuesday a few times after a reco here - nicely crabby with little filler, come with a sweet chili dipping sauce.
    Also, David Beard's Catfish King in East Texas and Louisiana has excellent fried catfish. My sister from Boston was certain her fussy 10 year old daughter wouldn't eat anything called "catfish"; turned out she couldn't get enough.
    Finally, "power breakfasts" at the Sanborn's scattered around Mexico City. Good bakery and desserts for the only time of day I have a sweet tooth.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Veggo

      I've had a lot of tasty foods at chains. Don't know about the best, but the best I can think of is a Hardee's breakfast biscuit with bacon and scrambled egg, and black coffee. The perfect road trip fuel.

    2. I cant say no to a blooming onion.
      My future cardiologist approves of this message.

      1. The beef carpaccio at Brio Tuscan Grill. It's as good as I've ever had anywhere.

        The world is a better place with Outback Cheese Fries with spicy ranch dressing.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Janet from Richmond

          We eat at BRIO a lot - friends who work there /close to our house and I book events for work there. Their lobster bisque is always excellent. Yes, I have had the bisque from Maine to California, and this bisque is fantastic albeit, very very fatty/creamy.
          In addition, they have a nice chopped salad, their salmon on the fried tomato is wonderful! I never even get the pasta b/c I love the seafood so much! oh, scallops are good too!!!

        2. At Olive Garden I really like the AYCE soup and salad. I get the potato, sausage, kale soup (I think it's called Tuscan). The bread sticks are weak. The salad is super crispy lettuce with pepperoncinis, tomatoes, red onions and really nice, light vineagrette. Actually it's the only thing I've ever eaten there.

          1. I love the vegetarian plate at Houston's. Seasonal stuff, really good meal.

            1 Reply
            1. re: roro1831

              - that Houston's vegetarian plate and their *insanely delicious* veggie burger were the first two dishes that came to mind for me.
              - i have a vague memory of trying a bite of someone's carrot cake at the Cheesecake Factory back in my college days and thinking it was way better than the cheesecake.
              - the Signature Onion Rings at Fleming's Steakhouse. outrageous.

              this is so depressing - every one of these foods is now off-limits to me because of the gluten. boo!