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May 4, 2013 02:25 PM

What to order when "forced" to eat at chain/non-Chow worthy restaurants? Advice and finds...

Once in a while, you may find yourself at a restaurant that just isn't foodie-friendly. Whether you're having a weak moment, or are going there because someone else got to choose the restaurant (don't you just hate when that happens?), you're going to have to eat something. When you do, what do you tend to order or stay away from?

For example, something I stay away from are pasta dishes because I prefer handmade pasta when eating out.

Last night we ended up at Milestones, mainly because we live in Markham and I didn't feel like Asian food and there are not a lot of great non-Asian options here. A find for me at Milestones is the American burger - some people won't love that they actually use real cheddar (instead of a processed cheese slice) on this classic sandwich - but actually, I prefer it. I ask for the bacon crispy.

Another find for me was the omelet at Milestones - it was one of the best I ever had, but I imagine it varies location to location. I was at the Whitby location.

A chain I seem to end up at about twice a year is the Keg. I love their garlic mashed potatoes and always order onion strings to go with my steak. Their Billy Minor pie is great too - and free if you go on your birthday.

Hoping to hear everyone's thoughts!


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  1. You and I have the same thing at The Keg. :). And the Billy Miner is excellent.

    I usually end up ordering a salad or a chicken dish at chain places. Those are mostly tough to mess up. For example, the guys I work with like Earls. Shocking, I know :). I usually have the pistachio crusted chicken salad. It's ok.

    4 Replies
      1. re: hungryabbey

        It's a mocha flavoured ice cream cake on a chocolate cookie crust, it's drizzled with a hot fudge sauce over top and then sprinkled with almonds.

          1. re: justxpete

            Lol thanks for the clarification - sounds tasty.

      2. Having worked in chain restaurants for many years before I finally "saw the light" (!), I know that most, if not all soups, sauces, dressings, etc. are not made in house, but are purchased and very likely full of preservatives and additives. So I'm with you on staying away from pasta dishes, and try to find the most "unprocessed" items on the menu - some salads, maybe grilled chicken, or like you, a burger.
        Luckily, most of the people I eat out with also avoid chain restaurants, so it's not often an issue.

        1 Reply
        1. re: hungryjoanne

          I would avoid all meat and poultry if you are concerned about antibiotics in the feed used in intensive livestock farming, or the farming practices in general.

            1. re: justxpete

              How about a Cabernet, followed promptly by that cab :)

            2. The chains I *had to* attend most frequently are:
              -Jack Astor's
              My strategy is to get a few people to share a bunch of appetizers. These places rarely mess up the deep-fried or the dips. They send them out in masses, so these are usually freshly (re)-fried. I have no problem with that. I would usually get a spring mix (sans the optional proteins) for main, and tell them to bring whatever that's on tap.

              1. I've found the appetizers and salads at Joey to be decent.I like their wings, calamari and fish tacos.

                I stay away from dumplings, sushi and curries at chain restaurants.

                For whatever reason, I like avocado spring rolls, which only seem to show up on menus in chain restos, and I usually order them when I see them on a menu.