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Posts tagged ‘denny’s’

Chains of Love: Denny’s Jackson Heights

Though it seemed like it appeared overnight, anyone following Queens chain news knew that this Denny’s has been promised for years. The first rumblings were in spring of 2013, a year and a half before I moved down the street. I assumed upon unpacking I would have Super Birds at my disposal 24 hours a day.

denny's facade

The most surprising thing about the new Jackson Heights’ Denny’s, nestled into the fresh, picture-window building also housing a Chipotle and Dunkin’ Donuts wasn’t that they don’t serve craft cocktails like NYC’s first Denny’s (they don’t serve alcohol at all) or that the host automatically sent my arriving party to the table where I was already seated (guess there’s a dearth of childless, middle-age white ladies in the neighborhood) or that it was nothing like the Denny’s in Japan. No, I was extremely tickled that the check was automatically divvied into three. I’m pretty sure I’ve never encountered that at a restaurant in NYC–or any other Denny’s.

denny's receipt

I did not take any photos of the interior. The restaurant is quite bright and large (the waiting area is the size of most cafes in the area) with lots of burgundy booths, diner seating, and totally nondescript décor. I kept getting distracted by blown-up photos on the wall depicting what looked like a Waffle House, but with Denny’s name on the signs.

The menu is heavy on Grand Slams, skillets, and burgers, as it always was. It’s also pretty trend-averse. There are no flatbreads or kale salads. Jalapeño bacon and salted caramel are about as daring as it gets.

denny's pot roast

Bacon cheddar tots were a new addition, and regular old fries could be upgraded to the little blobs, more fritter than tot, for $1.29, so that had to be done. They would probably be better if they cheese had melted rather than stayed shredded. I had no complaints about the level of American cheese oozing on my pot roast melt, though. With the addition of sautéed mushrooms and caramelized onions, held together by toasted 7-grain bread, this was not a bad sandwich. There was an unplanned double pot roast order at my table.

denny's duo

I love leftovers (I always freak when dining with people who leave 25% of their food destined for the trash) so I brought them to work the next day. I reflexively hid my plastic bag from view on the subway, but remembered this was the 7 train, not the F where my Olive Garden remnants elicited scowls.

Denny’s * 8710 Northern Blvd., Jackson Heights, NY

Un-American Activities: Breakfast at Denny’s Japan


I ate breakfast at Denny’s in Tokyo and wrote about it for Extra Crispy. Spoiler: there are no Grand Slams.


The Week in International Intrigue: Chalupas, Chicken, Coffee

Minutes ago Taco Bell Japan posted its first photo–just a teaser–to Instagram. Practically no other cuisine seems less Japanese to me than Mexican (or Ameri-Mex) so I eagerly await which concessions or inventions appear on the menu.

For now, I’m more curious about the Denny’s that’s been threatening to open in Dubai since September 2014.  Of course it will be in a mall, though not one of the big touristy ones. The Al Ghurair Centre is in Deira a.k.a. the Queens of Dubai. Denny’s will be in good company–this shopping center already has a Din Tai Fung, the Taiwanese dumpling chain, as well as a Wendy’s, KFC and Pizza Hut. Baconalia will probably not be a thing, I’m guessing.

The latest in Eater’s “Life in Chains” series revolves around Starbucks in China.

KFC is encroaching upon Starbucks’ territory in China. Why not try with lower-priced coffee? The QSR has a huge presence in China with roughly 4,500 locations (four times the number of Starbucks). It’s still not clear why the UK is getting edible coffee cups, not only first, but at all.

KFC does well for itself abroad. Even with only 395 branches, the brand was just ranked as the “most trusted” QSR in India, according to The Brand Trust Report.




Chains of Love: Denny’s Manhattan

twoshovelNearly four years ago Denny’s rebranded itself as America’s Diner. That might ring false in parts of the country teeming with chrome, Formica, and counter stools, and I thought the tagline was a little silly at first. Growing up, though, the Denny’s across the street from my high school’s football field, did serve a diner-like function since it was one of the few places where you could kill time with friends drinking mug after mug of coffee, chain smoking (the cigarette machine in the lobby practically encouraged it) and ordering the occasional Super Bird, if you had the kind of uptight parents who wouldn’t let you go clubbing or hang out downtown after sunset.

Nobody would argue that New York needs a chain diner. It doesn’t. But at least from the outside, the city’s first Denny’s is fairly understated, housed on the ground floor of a landmarked stone building facing City Hall. Maybe it was the scaffolding obscuring the signage, which I don’t even recall being gold and red, but I wouldn’t think twice if I walked past it.

Inside, is another matter. As everyone’s heard by now, this isn’t a suburban Denny’s, no sir. The first thing you notice when walking up the ramp and through the door is the prominent bar featuring plenty of exposed brick and pressed copper ceilings with requisite Edison bulbs sprouting from them. The only thing missing was a chalkboard with an avocado toast special hand-written in a jaunty script. (Even KFC knows what’s up with the scrawls on the wall.) On a Friday afternoon, the bar seats were occupied by middle-aged European tourists drinking margaritas and beer. A young well-dressed man, possibly a Pace student, sat alone with a laptop.

denny's paloma

Keeping with the indie ethos, the cocktail menu is faux letter-pressed and touts a drink called The Fixed Gear. A $10 Manhattan, here the Lower Manhattan (meaning the addition of Cafe Lolita coffee liqueur), is a pretty good deal even if you’re brought a margarita first. (Service is wildly friendly, though still a little shaky in execution. If you want to rat them out–I did not–more than one manager will likely check in on you.) Palomas are better suited for day drinking anyway, if not a little gross with eggs.

The food menu is pure Denny’s, laminated with specials also encased in syrup-resistant plastic tucked inside. My old standby turkey club now has a cosmopolitan spin-off The Tuscan Super Bird that includes spinach and sun-dried tomato mayonnaise just like they do in Florence. They’ve also rebooted the Moons Over My Hammy and made it Baja (yes, that would be avocado).

denny's belgian slam

In comparison, my Belgian Waffle Slam, two eggs, said waffle and four pieces of bacon (even two breakfast sausage links is two too many for me) felt demure. There’s no arguing that this is diner fare and as good a rendition as any. You can also have Tabasco and Cholula.

The lower Manhattan Denny’s won’t be an aberration for long (it’s also not the chain’s first attempt at being on trend–let’s not forget Baconalia) as it’s just the beginning of a number of planned locations. Downtown Brooklyn and Harlem branches will supposedly be themed to fit the neighborhoods, whatever that means exactly, yet it will be areas that consider Denny’s gentrifying not cheapening receiving the chain first: East New York is already listed on the website and the building that will house a Jackson Heights branch is under construction. The odds of Dom Perignon popping alongside pancakes are likely slim to none.

Denny’s * 150 Nassau St. New York, NY

Super Birds

New York City has been the recipient of an untold number of national chains over the past few years, some more high-profile than others. Even The New Yorker deigned to comment on Dairy Queen (online only, naturally). The Perkins in Harlem? Not so much.

I’ve been anticipating the City Hall Denny’s a little bit, I’ll admit, despite never being in the vicinity. Denny’s was my teenage go-to, across the street from my high school football field, complete with a cigarette machine in the lobby and bottomless cups of coffee. There weren’t a lot of choices for meeting friends to  chain smoke at 9pm on weeknight. (Clearly, downtown Portland was cooler but that took 45 minutes on the light rail rather than ten minutes in a car). You might think it was the Moons Over My Hammy that was embarrassing to order, but it was actually the Super Bird, my usual (turkey, bacon, swiss and tomato on sourdough–that’s a club, right?) that generally made me laugh out loud (this was pre-LOL) when saying its name.

It turns out, though, that I will soon be living just five blocks from another impending Denny’s (East New York will get there first, most likely), right on Northern Boulevard, not so far from the now-shuttered, sidewalk seating-free IHOP. It appears that Queens was not big enough to handle the two breakfast giants.

I love me some arepas and chilaquiles, but this is going to be big.

P.S. Did anyone ever eat at a Sambo’s–there’s one left–by chance? I certainly did.

Denny’s: Crimes Against Nature

Denny's maple bacon sundae top

Denny’s—where I spent many a high school evening drinking coffee, eating Super Birds and smoking in the back room because there was nothing better to do at night—are scarce around NYC. The nearest location, 20 miles away, just happens to be in my favorite part of New Jersey; the region that’s also home to Bud’s Hut and the Linfield Inn. I took this as a sign.

Avenel new jersey denny's

But before heading out to Avenel to finally experience Baconalia (I don’t only wait for hotspots to have a month-long cool-down period) I was warned about restaurants defaulting to imitation bacon. No way, not at Denny’s.

denny's maple bacon sundae

The Maple Bacon Sundae was not a purist affair, however. The bacon crumbles, more fatty than crisp, as I like them, were real all right, but the scourge of diners everywhere: maple-flavored syrup, a.k.a. corn syrup followed by high fructose corn syrup on the ingredient list, was the amber imposter drizzled atop and pooled at the base of the vanilla ice cream tower.

Despite the unnatural sweetener, this was not a bad sundae. The spoonfuls of melting ice cream striped with syrup and smoky nubs of pork were welcome sweet-salty blasts; the only thing that could’ve upped the ante would have been a sprinkling of chopped hickory-smoked almonds.

I still had to admire Denny’s moxie. Sure, bacon desserts are old hat to food trend followers (though it’s a faster trickle-down than craft beers now appearing at T.G.I. Friday’s) but that doesn’t mean the average customer is necessarily ready for the meeting of sweet and salty in soda fountain classics.

What we did with bacon

The disgust and outrage overheard at a nearby table might’ve been initially mistaken for the matrimonial union between two men.

30-something dad: “I love bacon…but on a sundae? This has got to be a joke, right?!”

Son: “Gross!”

After grandma hobbled back to the table, dad proceeded to fill her in on the maple-bacon atrocity. “Can you believe it?”

I did not hear her response. Perhaps, she’ll now finally be able to say that she’s seen it all. I hope she’s already watched Nannerpuss.