Sunday, October 21, 2012

Mediocre Denny's? Say it Ain't So

On Saturday I woke up and looked over at my adorable wife and said "let's go out for breakfast." 

My wife, the night before, had worked late at work attempting to get some important work done before the Monday due date.  We had missed going out to dinner Friday evening somewhere downtown.  So in recognition of her working late, I thought we could sleep in and then head off to a good breakfast. 

We hummed and hawed for a while throwing out various options before settling on Denny's (2208 Bank Street, Ottawa).  We have previously enjoyed this Denny's location due to its location in the South Keys Shopping Centre which is large big box store complex at the south end of Ottawa.  We enjoy visiting the Winners, Loblaws, Roots and other stores in the complex before and after having something to eat. 

We arrived at the Denny's at 9 A.M. which is probably peak time for breakfast eating on a Saturday.  The restaurant was half full when we arrived but a steady stream of customers did arrive during our visit. 

We were seated right away by "Zane" a tall friendly teenager who showed us to our seats.  We sat down and perused our menues.  We were greeted by our server who took our drink orders and speedily returned in less than 2 minutes with our drinks and to inquire if we needed more time to decided on what we wanted.   We requested a little more time and he dissapeared.

He returned two minutes later two mention that the Original Slam Breakfast was not on the menu anymore, but we could easily have it and what it contained.  He ran through the Original Slam Breakfast components so fast we needed to have it repeated.  We continued to peruse our menues. 

Another two minutes and our server returned asking if we had decided.  He was like an overcafeneited helicopter parent inquiring with their five year old what they wanted to eat and the kid needing more time to think about it.  Really?  Most servers give you at least 5 minutes or more to peruse the menu as well as look at visual cues to see if the customers are ready. 

Visual cues?  Customers will most likely close their menues and/or start talking to each other about other things once decisions about what to eat have been made. But apparently this important serving skill has to be learned. 

We made our decisions and placed our order.

The Order: 1 Belgian Waffle Slam® (A golden waffle with syrup served with two eggs, two bacon strips and two sausage links) with a coffee and Original Slam (Scrambled Eggs, two sausages, two pieces of brown toast, hash browns and two pieces of bacon) with a glass of ice water.

Our waiter left and was back within 10 minutes with our orders. He dropped off two plates for the Belgian Waffle Slam and another two with the Original Slam.

The Belgian Waffle Slam®, spread over two plates, looked a little thin in portion size.  As noted in a previous post to a visit at a Denny's in Vancouver, Denny's seemed to be cutting back on their portion sizes.  The waffles themselves looked plain with a smidgen of whipped cream on top.  The syrup came in a little plastic container.  Why not serve the syrup in a larger serving container or provide syrup options like Perkins?  It seemed like Denny's, along with their food portions, was trying to scrimp on every last penny including the sizes of syrup available to their patrons per meal ordered.  But at least the syrup was enough to cover the waffles adequately.  The waffles themselves tasted average at best (i.e. nothing special). 

The sausages and bacon served with the meal were again nothing special.  The sausages were small and thin in nature instead of larger and fatter found at other greasy spoons.  The bacon was average, but it is hard to make bacon special or noticeable.  Bacon is just expected to be there in any greasy spoon and is not usually the main part of the meal.  

The Hash Browns were, again, average.  In hindsight we should have ordered some home fries or something similar.  The Hash browns were like a mess of potatoes grated, fried and put on a plate.  No real cohesion like a McDonald's Hash Brown, but I guess this more traditional way of doing it. 

Some repairs did need to be made to the location.  The men's & women's washroom (which my wife told me about) needed to be modernized.  The bench seat at our table with places for 4 had a back section askew that needed to be reinstalled. 

Overall this Denny's needs some work in terms of fixing the decor and an update on the bathrooms.  Food portions and condiments seem to be cut back across the board at all Denny's locations based on the two recent location visits we had (Vancouver & Ottawa).  With the portion sizes cut back and average tasting food, Denny's has fallen to mediocre on the breakfast list.  Competition in Ottawa is fierce in the breakfast category with Lieutenant's Pump, Perkins, Elgin Street Diner and others putting forth good breakfast selections.    But not all was lost, service at this Denny's was excellent, coffee was refilled, food came fast and service was friendly.  Sadly though, Denny's has fallen based on it's food to mediocre.  Sad but true.

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