Chain Restaurants in the San Fernando Valley
Why are they so inconsistent? I would think as a chain that the formulas are standard and many ingredients are pre-assembled in a central commissary with little room for error. But instead I'm finding more of a wasteland when I want/need a quick meal with wide options. I eat few carbs due to allergies, but I can usually find a salad or a burger that will satisfy me.
That said, in the past few weeks I've had awful burgers at Islands (gristle and mediocre taste), Ruby's (burger just about inedible-- it took a ton of catsup to make that dry, lettuce-wrapped patty go down) and tonight at Red Robin the server was a poorly trained imbecile and the kitchen was inconsistent on food temperatures.
It's not just limited to burgers because the "Kobb Salad" at Islands was appalling! The chicken was ice cold and sliced paper thin, filled with red cabbage and with almost no avocado or bacon added. It was truly awful! In my estimation Island's burgers have always been underwhelming, but they've had other choices like their tortilla soup that redeemed them. Just so you know my standard, I think CPK's Cobb salad is delicious.
We want/need/must have some other options when we dine with our pre-school grandchildren and need a fast meal. Is anyone else feeling like the chains are going down the tubes?
I'm in the Valley and have 2 young kids too. CPK is our go-to chain restaurant with the kids. Great kid's menu and decent salads and pizzas for us. We usually go to the Northridge one since that's close to our house. We also like Wood Ranch at Northridge mall -- good kids menu and good food for the adults too. My kids aren't into burgers and chicken nuggets so we like going to places where they can get grilled chicken or pasta or something like that. My 6yo son thinks the giant broccoli "tree" they serve him with his BBQ chicken breast at Wood Ranch is awesome.
We don't do Islands or Ruby's. Red Robin at Northridge mall is decent -- the kids like it. Never had any issues with food temps or poor service either, but it depends on when you go I guess.
You might throw Chili's http://www.chilis.com/EN/Pages/home.aspx into your rotation for a try or two. They have both a pretty good salad selection and their burgers are usually pretty tasty too. I know they have locations in both Northridge and Encino, but I'm sure they have other SFV locations as well.