Thursday, January 10, 2008

What's that thing I'm not supposed to do with a book?

If this is your first time reading me, or if you've simply forgotten overnight, allow me to inform/remind you that I don't like chain restaurants. Fast food chains, casual dining chains, I'll go out of my way to avoid them, and often for good reason.

In the case of casual dining (i.e. Applebee's, Ruby Tuesday's, etc.), aside from the fact that they push a lot of smaller independently owned restaurants out of the market, I often find the menus too big (I operate under the assumption that if you try to make too many good items, you'll end up with no good items on a menu) and the food always underwhelming at best; and I've always thought the best example of this was The Cheesecake Factory (for reasons seen above).

So when Apples and I decided to check the menu out at P.F. Chang's, I was skeptical at best. Aside from the fact that we've had a running joke about the restaurant for two years now, I've never had any interest in trying it out, assuming it was an Asian version of The Cheesecake Factory.

When you walk in, the differences are striking. The layout (at least at the one in Arlington) is much more open than any of The Cheesecake Factories I've ever been to. No massive booths, in fact, no booths at all. Just tables and an open dining room, making for a more comfortable and classic experience.

The menu is also significantly smaller than TCF (first of all, it's not in book form), providing a great variety of food (everything from chicken and duck dishes to an amazing variety of vegetarian dishes) and very reasonable prices (this is Chinese food after all, it's not going to break the bank).

I decided on the coconut curry vegetables, which was surprisingly light on the sauce, and very heavy on the actual food. The vegetables were cooked perfectly; crisp and fresh, I was surprised this came out of a corporate kitchen.

Apples ended up getting the ginger chicken and broccoli (I'm pretty sure that's what she got), which again was surprisingly good.

Best of all, it came with a choice of white or brown rice, which was good because I'm really trying to limit my white rice consumption (blame Michael Pollan on this).

Overall, we weren't exactly blown away by the food, or the service, or the atmosphere - it was all good, but certainly no better than a lot of the other places Apples and I go on a regular basis. I wouldn't put P.F. Chang's over Palena or 2 Amy's, but I would consider coming back.

Which brings me back to the question at hand about that thing I'm not supposed to do with a book. At least I now know to open the door before I judge what's inside.


Anonymous said...

I eat white rice. If you don't, can I have your sushi at Sushi Ko next week?

friendsforkim said...

Ha, well...sushi doesn't count, right?

The Ex said...

You should have had the shrimp with candied walnuts. It's tossed in a creamy lemon sauce with melon balls. Best thing on the menu.

Also, you're SUCH a food snob. Anybody ever find that annoying about you? Just wondering.

Anthony said...

Yes. Pretty much everyone, including myself.

I addressed it here:

Anonymous said...

I try to keep him grounded. It doesn't always work. Also, he won't tell you that when he's not eating at fancy restaurants, he subsists almost entirely on peanut butter and jelly. So it evens out.

The Ex said...

Peanut butter and jelly should be a staple in all diets. Really! It's delicious!

Well if you guys go back to the Chang, trust me on the candied walnut shrimp :)