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Mike's American Grill, Backlick Road and Commerce Street in Springfield


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Up front admission -- I'm not a fan of GAR. I think their restaurants are too loud, and the food is just not that creative. There has to be a central kitchen behind all of that ubiquitous short-smoked salmon and garlic mashed potatoes. No real chef can be in those individual kitchens, pouring out all those dry pork chops and too-salty ribeyes.

Tried Mike's tonight for what might be the 15th time. Never my choice, but I get invited out a lot.

First of all, I like the decor. I'm a big baseball fan. But who the heck decided that the sun-dried cranberries are a good addition to every salad? You get the same cloyingly sweet sensation and texture of Gummi Bears.

I thought I finally found something on the menu worth ordering -- breaded chicken cutlets over pasta with a brown butter sauce and mushrooms. Sounded good, bit I wish I tasted more than salt.

The food is consistently dreadful, which makes it consistent with Coastal Flats and Sweetwater. You can consistently count on these places to be incredibly loud, have consistently mediocre food and consistently perky wait staff. They are, uh, consistent.

The GAR restaurants are, in my humble opinion, a waste of a good opportunity to eat well at another restaurant.

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But who the heck decided that the sun-dried cranberries are a good addition to every salad? You get the same cloyingly sweet sensation and texture of Gummi Bears.

The GAR restaurants are, in my humble opinion, a waste of a good opportunity to eat well at another restaurant.

Boy, I think you're being kind about them tasting like Gummi Bears; heck, I'd take them any day over sun-dried cranberries! I think Mike's & GAR are at least consistent about being filling and filling a niche of those who want an atmosphere and consistent food. But then again, this assessment is based on an experience 4 years ago. Guess I should try there again too.
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The GAR restaurants are, in my humble opinion, a waste of a good opportunity to eat well at another restaurant.
But they do save money on printing, I don't think the lunch menu has changed in the nine years I've been in the area. The group of people I go to lunch with try to get there right at opening time, that keeps the din to a somewhat manageable level (ohboy! Mike's is LOUD!).
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But they do save money on printing, I don't think the lunch menu has changed in the nine years I've been in the area. The group of people I go to lunch with try to get there right at opening time, that keeps the din to a somewhat manageable level (ohboy! Mike's is LOUD!).

We eat in the various GAR a few times a month - love the crispy, crispy fries and the great honey mustard. Plus, they are very attentive to food allergies and will separate out the breads and side dishes on to separate plates.

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Another invited-out dinner at Mike's last night. This place is dreadful. But it's packed to the rafters with people who have to shout to be heard and who obviously like their food overly salted but otherwise tasteless. People were sitting out front on the steps with pagers waiting for a table! Yet, within walking distance is Manila Cafe, Tommy Thai and Saigon Village! Yikes!

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Another invited-out dinner at Mike's last night. This place is dreadful. But it's packed to the rafters with people who have to shout to be heard and who obviously like their food overly salted but otherwise tasteless. People were sitting out front on the steps with pagers waiting for a table! Yet, within walking distance is Manila Cafe, Tommy Thai and Saigon Village! Yikes!

Be a leader! I imagine this wasn't a business dinner, so take the opportunity to turn even mild acquantences onto any one of those other restaurants!
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Be a leader! I imagine this wasn't a business dinner, so take the opportunity to turn even mild acquantences onto any one of those other restaurants!

You're right, Brian. I'm ashamed at how many times I've acquiesced to a horrific meal at the GAR chain, where short-smoked salmon (WTF is that anyway?) and sun-dried cranberries (yuk!) pour out of some ill-conceived central kitchen somewhere. I rather eat food right off the Sysco truck than eat at a GAR restaurant.
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I'm just not figuring out where all this hate for Mike's is coming from. They are what they are. A chain that dishes out consistent, uninspired food in a raucous environment. I've been there several times as well as many of the surrounding restaurants that have been mentioned. If there is somewhere with transcendent cooking nearby I'd like to know.

As an example, I happily tried Trommer's in Clifton in search of good food, found hit and miss good food, but the service was so poor that I might reasonably have enjoyed a dinner at Mike's with poorer food but remarkably better service.

In short I find Mike's a reasonable option for that area.

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I'm just not figuring out where all this hate for Mike's is coming from. They are what they are. A chain that dishes out consistent, uninspired food in a raucous environment. I've been there several times as well as many of the surrounding restaurants that have been mentioned. If there is somewhere with transcendent cooking nearby I'd like to know.

As an example, I happily tried Trommer's in Clifton in search of good food, found hit and miss good food, but the service was so poor that I might reasonably have enjoyed a dinner at Mike's with poorer food but remarkably better service.

In short I find Mike's a reasonable option for that area.

I don't get it either, especially when praise for places like Delia's and Malek's Pizza have been made in the past. Both of those places are certainly no better than Mike's.

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I don't get it either, especially when praise for places like Delia's and Malek's Pizza have been made in the past. Both of those places are certainly no better than Mike's.

I'm not so sure I agree with that. Delia's salads trounce anything that comes out of Mike's kitchen, its Peruvian chicken makes Mike's chicken (with the requisite garlic mashed slop) look like fast food, and the service and atmosphere at Delia's is far more comforting. Malek's sandwich lineup is fresher and more diverse, its salads not quite on a par with Delia's but well above Mike's and its Greek and Italian entrees are superior to the uninspired dreck that comes out of most GAR kitchens. If you like Mike's above Delia's and Malek's, I'm shocked.
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This place is dreadful. But it's packed to the rafters with people who have to shout to be heard and who obviously like their food overly salted but otherwise tasteless. People were sitting out front on the steps with pagers waiting for a table!

An unavoidable trip to Springfield led us to Mike's. The place looks like a factory building in a strip mall fantasy land that puts Route 22 in New Jersey to shame. The food was passable. The $5 Lobster Bisque I actually thought was a bit of a bargain. Not fantastic, but enough morsels of slightly overcooked lobster in a fair size bowl to make it worthwhile. The salads were OK, and delivered much as described on the menu. It's hard to fark up a salad, though they made a noble attempt with the sun dried cranberries served in a single clump. 40 simoleons for two soups, two salads, and 3 drinks seemed fair. As for ambience, the place was mobbed and loud, which fairly well overwhelms anything else they have tried to do with the place. We found the last two spots at the bar, but overhead others waiting for an hour or more for a table. Not sure I would do that. Dreadful? Not really, though it did remind me of a Bennigan's with better food albeit the same concept. The bar service was quick, attentive, and friendly.

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Springfield has so much more to offer than Mike's. Within walking distance alone, there is Manila Cafe, Canton Cafe, Tommy Thai, Saigon Village and Kate's Irish pub, all within about two blocks, and if you stretch your walk another block, there's Aabshaar. That's six places within walking distance of Mike's where the food is better, the atmosphere is better and the prices are better.

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I had a friend that worked as a server there for a bit and would joke when he was introducing the "specials" he should just say "tonight we have protein...on starch!" because that was pretty much the only distinguishing characteristic about them.

Still, if I was with a group and stuck going to someplace chain-like I'd rather eat there than one of the REALLY crappy non-local mega chains. That's not even a close one.

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MrB and I have been living in Springfield since last summer.  Before we moved down here, we had never been in a GAR restaurant. (I take that back, we ate at Coastal Flats in Tysons Corner Mall whenever we were there because we thought it was the best restaurant in the mall.) Since moving to Springfield, we have dined at Mike's more times than I can count.  Why?  Because it offers consistency.  The service is always good, the food is good (but not spectacular), and the price is a fairly good value.  The only thing I don't like about Mike's? The parking -- the place is so popular that it's relatively small parking lot is often full.  

Today we had a late lunch/early dinner at Mike's.  I had the crab cakes, which I've ordered many times in the past.  These are good -- they're relatively filler-free and are served with a remoulade sauce and a coleslaw that I like a lot -- it's tangy and fresh.  MrB had Mike's chicken salad, which was very fresh and, despite containing the 'hated dried cranberries', which MrB actually likes, he liked his salad a lot.  

I am the last person to praise a chain restaurant.  You won't find me at any of the national chains, ever.  But, GAR, I like.  It fills a niche and a need.  I really don't understand the hate that has been expressed on DR in this (and other threads) for GAR.  

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On 4/24/2016 at 5:36 PM, LauraB said:

I am the last person to praise a chain restaurant.  You won't find me at any of the national chains, ever.  But, GAR, I like.  It fills a niche and a need.  I really don't understand the hate that has been expressed on DR in this (and other threads) for GAR.  

It's only been one person (mostly), and even that is something I consider to be a personal quirk, as this poster is an absolute model member, and a highly valued, well-respected leader of this community; it's just that you have to know about (and accept) this one thing. If you disagree with a comment strongly enough, comments are fair game for criticism, as long as you don't criticize the poster himself.

My impression is that it's a personal issue, and is resolving itself over time, but I also may be wrong about that - regardless, I wouldn't trade his membership here for anything, because he has been absolutely wonderful, both to our members, and also to me (so have you, by the way).

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Count me in the camp that enjoys GAR restaurants for the most part. Mike's has been proudly serving Springfield for decades, and I'm glad it is still thriving after all these years. 

Parking is an issue. If it's busy, and it often is, you'll have to park across the street.

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Mike's seems to have dropped the "Grill" from their online presence, although the sign still remains on the restaurant itself (that would be more expense than it's worth), so their website now calls it "Mike's 'American.'"

Oct 23, 2015 - "6 DC Restaurants in Top 100 Money Makers in the Country" on oldtownpost.com

Mike's isn't one of the six, but did come in at #80 in the nation (which I presume makes it #7) in the 2014 survey.

And yes, lonewolfcub, parking can indeed be a problem - I experienced that the last time I went; it isn't that it's a small lot, it's that there are a lot of diners!

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