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Succotash, Asian-Accented Southern American at National Harbor and Penn Quarter with Culinary Director Edward Lee


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This might be the best restaurant in the National Harbor right now, but that's a little like saying that Florida State is the best university in Tallahassee.

Companions both had the great-looking Daily Farmer's Market Salad, and my eyes would order that starter if I ever come back. They also had the Dirty Fried Chicken, and although the entrees looked like a piled high mess, my companions declared both a hit.

I had the Crispy Local Blue Catfish, which looked to be a small school of catfish fried to a breaded crisp on the outside and tender-ish on the inside, drizzled with a spicy aioli...overall, not a dish I would order again, and sitting very heavy in the tummy right now. The star of the night was the side dish of Collard Greens with Kimchi, which I would order alone sometime for a quick meal whenever I'm in need of a cleanse....that dish was very tasty and had a nice spike of Kimchi.

Tom Sietsema gave this place 2 stars, and I can't argue with the rating, especially in the context of neighboring competition. However, this is a menu, kind of like the GAR Group or the America Eats Tavern, where it's difficult to find something that jumps out of the menu and says "order me!" That said, the place is nicely appointed, has a beautiful view, sets a great evening mood for dinner, and has passable food....

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20 hours ago, Tweaked said:

Succotash 2.0 to open at 915 F Street, NW in the former Equitable Bank Building (also the prior home to nightclubs The Bank, Fifth Column, and Platinum).

March 2017 (or so they claim)

Just a reminder that I went to Succotash 0.0 in Louisville (Edward Lee's flagship) just last summer, and although it clearly had some investment money behind it, the meal was nothing to really remember.

 

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We spent the night at the Gaylord, thanks to MGM's offer to put me up there for $99 with tax and fees included.  However, parking was not included, and even the public garage in Nat'l Harbor is $18/day.  When did parking at Nat'l Harbor get so freaking expensive?  If I didn't have the kids, I would've parked at the MGM for free and taken a shuttle to the hotel (parking at the Gaylord itself is $30).

So dinner was at Succotash.  I think it's a tourist class restaurant.  The menu is basically upscale bar food.  We had smoked wings, pimento fundido (basically cheese dip), shrimp and grits, collard greens and bacon mac 'n cheese.  BTW, I tasted no kimchi in the collard greens (but it's in the name of the dish). This is tourist and kids friendly stuff, like Match Box with a southern twang.  See what I did there?!

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9 hours ago, DonRocks said:

Thank you for saying what certain full-time critics don't have the ability to see.

The food was well executed.  The shrimp were nicely cooked.  The wings were tender and smoky.  The least successful dish from a southron perspective is the mac 'n cheese.  It really wasn't cheesy enough, nor did it have distinctive bacon flavoring. 

The target audience is clearly the people who visit National Harbor, not well-heeled DC residents looking for a culinary marvel.

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Anybody been to the new DC spot? It got really good professional and amateur reviews. I thinking of going later this week and am especially interested in the Taste of South multi-course option that looks like a value deal at $42 person for tastes of multiple apps and entrees (I like variety :-). Anyone tried it?

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On 10/16/2017 at 2:48 PM, KeithA said:

Anybody been to the new DC spot? It got really good professional and amateur reviews. I thinking of going later this week and am especially interested in the Taste of South multi-course option that looks like a value deal at $42 person for tastes of multiple apps and entrees (I like variety :-). Anyone tried it?

I would think twice before committing to the multi-course meal. This is hardly the place to go looking for value options. What's on the menu is the cost of admission to a spectacularly bustling double-stacked dining room, a supper club straight out of a Cecil B. DeMille melodrama without the billowing tobacco smoke. What's on your plate is nothing terrible, but maybe a bit beside the point. There is ample showing off here, but the food is designed to be so broadly appealing, it is bland. What the kitchen can pride itself on is how expeditiously it sends orders flying to the table. No one I know can beat it. This does create a certain tension among the busy crew scouring the floor for plates to clear, or snatch, and parties that are winding down. Turning tables commands attention at Succotash, and who can blame them. Keeping up with the hungry hordes is the name of the game. Chaos, even a total crash, are easily imaginable alternatives in this sprawling enterprise. And the mechanisms that have been put in place to safeguard against calamity, to keep the Corinthian columns climbing the restaurant walls from raining their leaves on the tables below is reassuring.

When it comes to eating here, don't count on the fusion lighting up some excitement from a menu that leans to the commonplace. Allusions to the chef's Korean culinary roots speckle the menu and to his indebtedness to U.S. Southern cooking even more so, but this is largely hype. I had read something about the care that has been taken in the local sourcing of the catfish. But it doesn't really matter how muddy runs the water from which they are taken when their flavor is half battered out of them. Like other fried dishes ladening the menu, the fish is crisp but a bit greasy and somewhat lost in a jacket that slips off more than it should. Sauces at Succotash are slathered on, or mottle the food, and in the case of the fish don't deliver the mint and jalapeño promised in the aioli. The accompaniment of burnt lemon sounds intriguing, but a lemon wedge is a lemon wedge, and hardly uncustomary. Lettuce slaw is also overly familiar. Where I come from, we call it shredded lettuce and often leave it in the serving box. Rounds of scuppernong grapes are the most exotic ingredient but they aren't much more than little sweet kisses that are harmless but not necessary.

Duck for schnitzel sounds a bit novel, and maybe Chinese, but it doesn't respond to pounding quite as obligingly as chicken or veal. Mounding it over with a gloppy brown gravy of who knows what is a bit of a premature burial though perhaps a missed opportunity for demonstrating the glories of cornstarch. There's treasure below -- a celery root purée (at least I think it was celery root though it might as well and probably should have been eggplant) clings to the belly of the cutlet, gumming the crust, a classic error. There is also purported to be ham (the South) in this plate, but who knows where. Invisible ham?

Chicken wings didn't seem smoky but maybe they weren't supposed to be. They come in a spice rub, which is about what you would expect to find on a nice barbecued potato chip. The white sauce on the chicken is thick, flavorless and does little to alleviate the dry poultry.

Fried oysters were the best dish of the night, the only one with a hint of heat (Korean), and I liked that they were mounted on bread, but does it matter that the bread is Sally Lunn? (My guess is here comes the South again.)

We took home a heavy slab of hummingbird cake -- a spice batter production with raisins and nuts baked until arid and drowning in sweet cream cheese lotion.This is a dessert to share, but you also may share waking up in the middle of the night with gastric distress. (This is only a guess, it could have been anything.)

I apologize for having some undue fun with the descriptions of the food at Succotash, which I reiterate is adequate, say, for the Canadian family member visitors you have dragged here to impress them with our booming city. I doubt the food here was designed to be held to the highest standards. It probably would come out someplace in the middle of one of those grueling television cooking competitions, but at least for now looks like it is reigning supreme when it comes to bringing money to the bank, as its surroundings would suggest.

Walking through Penn Quarter yesterday on my way to a triple feature at the National Gallery of Art, I passed restaurants of every stripe and was amazed to see them packed for lunch. Diners were literally spilling out of them into the streets.It made me wonder if the local restaurant business isn't reaching record heights. Business was not quite so swift even with free seats at the theater, though I can understand the attraction of a prolonged lunch on a beautiful day over several hours in the dark pondering classics from the early days of Czechoslovakian and Russian movie making. All three featured loutish husbands and persevering wives, one of whom attempted suicide by pistol, and two of whom perished -- from spilling scalding laundry water and getting trampled  by horses and mares while waving a red flag (Pudovkin's "Mother").

We completed a fairly full meal at Succotash in about an hour, so my overall impressions of the place are fleeting. The bar might be a better alternative. You will be there all night waiting for the drinks to kick in. For hearty drinkers, the alcohol is on the temperate side. (All I can say of the Hellfire Habanero Shrub at the bottom of my Waaaaay South was that maybe it was red.) I would work through the impressive list of bourbons instead, keeping in mind that drinking at this spot will cost you the rent.

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3 hours ago, giant shrimp said:

I would think twice before committing to the multi-course meal. This is hardly the place to go looking for value options. What's on the menu is the cost of admission to a spectacularly bustling double-stacked dining room, a supper club straight out of a Cecil B. DeMille melodrama without the billowing tobacco smoke. What's on your plate is nothing terrible, but maybe a bit beside the point. There is ample showing off here, but the food is designed to be so broadly appealing, it is bland. What the kitchen can pride itself on is how expeditiously it sends orders flying to the table. No one I know can beat it. This does create a certain tension among the busy crew scouring the floor for plates to clear, or snatch, and parties that are winding down. Turning tables commands attention at Succotash, and who can blame them. Keeping up with the hungry hordes is the name of the game. Chaos, even a total crash, are easily imaginable alternatives in this sprawling enterprise. And the mechanisms that have been put in place to safeguard against calamity, to keep the Corinthian columns climbing the restaurant walls from raining their leaves on the tables below is reassuring.

...

We completed a fairly full meal at Succotash in about an hour, so my overall impressions of the place are fleeting. The bar might be a better alternative. You will be there all night waiting for the drinks to kick in. For hearty drinkers, the alcohol is on the temperate side. (All I can say of the Hellfire Habanero Shrub at the bottom of my Waaaaay South was that maybe it was red.) I would work through the impressive list of bourbons instead, keeping in mind that drinking at this spot will cost you the rent.

giantshrimp, I give you credit for a very well written post. This could be a professional review. As for the content though, my experience was only partially similar. We got there a bit late and so didn't have time to do the tasting menu as I'd hoped.  I think you are correct that it is mostly Southern food with some Korean accents - although one dish we had a more of a straight fusion. I also agree that the dining room is really nice. We got a very cozy booth on the side which was perfect for a date night. As for the quality and taste of the food/drink, I was mostly rather pleased. The service was also exceptional - very attentive without being overbearing, knowledgeable, and friendly. My wife and I started with cocktails - I had the not worth it gimmick - Coffee  and Cigarettes - bourbon blend with a mini-chocolate cigarette. It was ok but mostly tasted of straight bourbon and all of the mixers were lost and the mini cigarette was simply a tiny piece of chocolate. On the other hand, the Belle's Punch was really excellent. We split a second one later on. It is mango-infused, peach vodka and bubbly punch. They also sell it by the pitcher which I would definitely do if we had a larger group. For app, we had the cornbread cakes which were a handful of tiny cornbread pieces with good strawberry-rhubarb jam and nutty sorghum butter - it was tasty but nothing to different. A standard breadbasket with these condiments would have been equally enjoyed. For mains, we had the dirty fried chicken and the salmon. Both were well cooked and ample - go here with big appetites. The dirty fried chicken is basically a big plate of 2 drumsticks and 2 de-boned thighs with a thick crunchy crust coated in Korean gochujang BBQ sauce. Tasty but not that different than spicy BBQ chicken. The accompaniments of pickled jalapenos, blue cheese, and nor flakes added a bit of complexity but mostly were lost amidst the strong BBQ sauce. A good dish that I enjoyed but the Asian accents were mostly lost.  Whereas the salmon was the real fusion. The salmon itself was pretty standard but it comes with white kimchi and a heap of grits made from edamame on top of a cilantro sauce. These accompaniments and sauce when added to the fish or eaten separately really showed the Asian side of the cooking.  I really liked the dish but my wife actually didn't like the grits or kimchi but she isn't much for grits or pickles to begin with (she was simply in the mood for salmon).  We also got the seasonal side of crispy Brussel sprouts with orange supremes and pecans. This was rather good too and plenty to share for 2. For dessert, we shared on 2 occasions (it is huge) a slice of the excellent hummingbird cake (apparently a Southern staple) - a carrot like cake but made with ground up fruit and nuts with coconut and a cream cheese frosting. If you like carrot cake, get this a be wowed. Really really delightful.   Overall, I'd recommend it for a date night, but skip it for lunch and maybe read a bunch of reviews to learn which dishes are more hits than misses.

Also re-the duck schnitzel - I didn't eat it, but the waiter explained the ham is wrapped around the duck before it is coated so I can see why someone might miss it.

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Forgive me for a little vent but here goes:
I have food allergies and when I'm having trouble swallowing yet must dine out for business purposes, I call the restaurant and ask about menu choices and easy alterations. It is never a problem.

Here's my vent: While the lunch menu says to call about allergies; there is not a phone number. Clicking on "contact us" on the web site home page got me a web form. Of course google had the number. I called. The hostess (A) seemed annoyed that I wanted to talk about food allergies and (b) didn't really seem to know a lot about the menu and (c) doesn't understand that cream is basically milk.

Vent over. I hope I survive this lunch. Something tells me that they don't really take food allergies very seriously.

Edited to include link to lunch menu in case I missed something.

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I survived. The space is beautiful and our service was not rushed. Because of food allergies (to milk, cream, butter, nuts) I ordered the one dish that didn't have those things; the dixie rice bowl with salmon poke on top. There is absolutely nothing southern about this dish but it is the most healthy item on the menu with a close second being the salmon with edamame grits.

One of diners asked for a salad to be altered and the waiter basically said, order two of the dishes, so not sure the chef is a fan of altering his masterpieces.

We were all new to the restaurant and ordered shrimp and grits, fried green tomato salad, and fried chicken salad with bacon jam as well as the two items above. I think the bowl was great and clearly the most healthy. Aside from rice and kimchi, it has non-spicy eggplant, warm blueberries (the one off note), and some other little things in it; really good.

The fried green tomato salad is laden with breadcrumbs and stinky cheese. The fried chicken salad with bacon jam has a very unreasonable amount of bacon jam on top of the chicken. It basically looked like fried chicken with BBQ sauce poured all over it. Miss according to the eater although he at it all. While I didn't get to try the shrimp and grits, it looked all runny and lovely and the other 4 shared the mac 'n' cheese side and felt very pleased with their two spoonfuls (apparently, wonderful rich).

I'd like to summarize by saying, there is almost nothing healthy on the menu and Succatash seems to be very dedicated to the menu as it is. The space is beautiful and service nice. 

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Interesting reviews. We're there Sunday for an early dinner with our niece.

The restaurant is indeed striking and was about half full with plenty of bar stools. We asked to be seated on the upper level to make conversation at normal speaking levels a reality.  our meal was enjoyable especially the chicken wings and fried oyster apps. My shrimp and grits was reduced in flavor by the unnecessary zucchini and fried egg making it a bit watery. The shrimp were of good quality but the grits were ordinary. I tasted the fried blue catfish which was well prepared and not greasy. Sides of collards and mac/cheese with bacon had plenty of flavor. Wine pours were average but priced at a reasonable level for DC. We were full and skipped dessert. Bill with tip was just over $200 for the three of us. Service was friendly and server Alex knew the menu. This is not cutting edge cuisine but generally fun to eat. The space is large enough that I wonder about sustainability in today's crowded dining market given the overhead required to operate a venue of this size.

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Came to the DC location for lunch on New Years day and the space was pretty full.  My party was promptly seated but it took another 10 minutes before a server finally welcomed us. Waited another 5 minutes before our glasses were filled with water. We had ordered several plates to share, but still had to ask for additional plates after our food arrived. I'm assuming the servers were shorthanded that day, given that it was a holiday, so I tried to not be too hard on them. At least the food came out relatively quickly after we put our order in.

Fried chicken and waffles were well-seasoned, but the chicken was on the dry-side (not sure how this is possible w' brined meat). Shrimp and grits were tasty but the fried egg on top was overcooked with burnt edges and the dish felt like it was missing something, like an acid component. 

Mac and cheese was under-seasoned and looked like it was prepared the night before and simply put under a broiler. Collards/kimchi/ham were tasty and the only thing we ate that had a semblance of Korean influence.

Given the reasonable price point (by DC standards), i can't be too disappointed by the food, but i was honestly expecting stronger/spicier flavors from a chef of this caliber. Instead, the whole experience was quite 'meh'. Service was pretty slow and inattentive (again, probably due to the holiday), and the food was just inoffensive at best. A space this beautiful deserves more inspired food. 

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I had brunch with friends here this weekend at the DC location- which is absolutely beautiful and stunning.  But the service from the time we arrived until the time I left was just bad.  I arrived a few minutes early and they offered to seat me, great, I could set my coat down and relax.  My friend had a special request for one of the round booths on the bottom as our friends stationed in Turkey were in town and we wanted to take them somewhere nice.  They put us at the one right next to the window and server station (why, you know this is the least wanted seat of those booths, so why not seat it last).  So when my tall friends arrived and it was impossible for them to be seated without servers being right on their backs, and I had figured out the window draft was quite severe we asked to be moved over to the empty banquet next to us.  Much better, but honestly why not seat us there at the beginning, my friend requested specifically to have a certain table, so you know they want a nice table.  I ordered hot tea to drink, and the little addition of honey and lemon was very nice; however, if you are going to serve a cup of hot water and not a pot, your servers need to be ready to bring more warm cups of water frequently.  Our server wasn't, in fact he could rarely be found.  Our friends got diet cokes, and once finished the first glass, despite their being a free refill, the glasses were just taken and they weren't asked if they wanted a refill- we then had to find our server and flag him down for this.  Two of us ordered the hangover special- both of our hangover specials came without a biscuit, we couldn't remember if it was supposed to have a biscuit (we thought it did) until towards the end of our meal when a beautiful fluffy biscuit came out on the banquet next door's hangover special- we didn't complain as we were done our meal at that point, but it just added to the bad service by the kitchen runners too who obviously didn't notice a glaring error on the dish (the biscuits are huge).  There are very few menu items that don't have carbs on the brunch menu, and any suggestion of an alteration is really frowned upon by the wait staff, which I just find to be fairly incredulous, in this day and age.  Another friend ordered a side of bacon, it didn't come out with our food, by the time our waiter came back to our table we were halfway done with the meal and he said not to worry about it he was almost finished, they did bring it out, on the house, but if the server had actually brought our food or come to our table when the food was first brought out, we would have been able to order a refresher on drinks and note the bacon.  When the diet coke refill order was placed, he repeated back regular coke, so I corrected him, he then had to come back to the table to confirm diet coke again.  If you can't remember what people order- write it down.  The food overall was good.  I liked my dish, the variation between spicy pork and savory potatoes and egg was nice, I really liked the warm potato salad.  It would have been better with the biscuit... I also had a side of sticky bun and I really liked the sticky bun, it had a really good amount of crusted pieces, but was still very moist and tender, there are two- smaller than a huge sticky bun, but bigger than bite sized rolls to an order so it is a nice dish to split.  But honestly, the service was just reluctant and terrible, and our dishes coming out and 3/4 of them were missing items or sides, having to literally look all over the restaurant for minutes on end to try to locate our server then flag him down, and his lackluster attitude, and then also oddly trying to rush us at every moment he did come to the table, despite the restaurant not being full, the whole experience was just odd.  Despite decent food and a beautiful location, it won't be on the top of my list to go back.  Oh well.

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Suck Tourist Cash.  I think that is the business model.  It's not expensive for the area.  It's got a "Top Chef" chef.  The food is accessible.  Why wouldn't tourists drop cash here?  I took my kids for brunch and ordered pecan sticky buns, fried chicken and waffles, deviled eggs, and a side of bacon.  The kids think this is the best brunch ever.  I think I'll just stick to drinks.  There were 3 pieces of chicken, with 1 drum-stick and a thigh cut in half.  Very crispy but relatively bland skin.  As for the National Building Museum, it's more of a jungle gym than a museum.

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had a nice lunch there. the space is really lovely, i think it would be a great date place, but more for the decor than the food. 

I had the vegetarian entree option, the rice bowl. which basically seemed like a nice bibimbap, with a few pieces of very nice crunchy fried tofu with a ginger glaze, and a slab of tofu with what i assume were meant to be blackened spices on it but in reality didn't taste like much. it was a perfectly good meal, and i was happy enough with it, but it wasnt particularly memorable or impressive. Was underwhelmed by the hummingbird cake. the portion was impressive but the cake itself didn't taste like much--like a mild carrot cake maybe--and the cream cheese citrus icing was pleasant, though nothing special. it really is a pretty space though. 

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1 hour ago, Bob Wells said:

Some big news on several levels: Succotash is considering our Avonlea development (well, as of yet its a non-development) for its next outpost. This could be the jumpstart Avonlea needs.

"Succotash in Negotiations To Open at Avonlea" by Chris Wadsworth on theburn.com

The piece of chicken on the bottom looks like a Blastoise.

Blastoise.pngBlastoise.png Up.jpg

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16 hours ago, NolaCaine said:

First, I love the building and the service.
Second, I do want to have a drink or two that sexy bar in the back.

Third, and this is most important, etoufee DOES NOT HAVE tomatoes in it. 

Thank you.

And it wasn't that good. gooey

NO TOMATOES. Ever. 

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4 hours ago, NolaCaine said:

More of a broken record then totally useless.... I've gotten this comment before, though it's been awhile. I, OTOH, am too lazy to add the accents. 😉

It isn't lazy; it's the PITA of remembering where the accents are on a non-French keyboard.

I'm OCD, so I *must* add them.

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We went to the downtown location of Succotash with some friends and their family from China.  I wanted a place that was really nice looking on the inside and this did the trick.  We were a party of 7, so we "had" to do the family meal.  To be honest, with our large group and some being from out of the country it was a good way for us all to try things, and similar to the banquet style dinners they treated us to in China.  We asked to have a leisurely pacing and they did a great job with that.  The guys got a couple bourbon flights, and us ladies had bottles of Barboursville wine.  The appetizers were: cornbread with sorghum butter and seasonal jam.  The seasonal jam was great.  I thought the sorghum was hard to taste.  Deviled eggs- these were good, just done in the traditional style- no thrills, but good.  Our guests were very amused with these.  Smoked wings- these were huge and exceptionally good, I would go back and sit at the bar and get a Belle's punch and eat chicken wings.  Fried green tomato salad was good.  For the mains, everyone loved the ribs- these were a big hit.  Dirty rice was also a huge hit, there version is very risotto like, but I think everyone was just interested in how it was made. The chicken and waffles were fine, by we all could have done with a little more spice and sweet combo.  The fried catfish was also very good- I don't really love catfish and this was light, crispy and a good way to eat catfish and not have it be too gamy in flavor.  To me the best dish of the night was likely the kimchi collards (I think he makes this on an episode of Mind of a Chef, I will copy this).  Then there was a plate of cookies and pecan pie bits for dessert, which was fine, as we weren't really dessert focused.  To me none of these dishes were the best representation of that food that I have ever had (not the best cornbread, chicken and waffles, etc), but it was a really fun meal, great to take guests, and it met all our requirements- good bar, nice interior, good food, good service.  None of it was bad, and if you didn't grow up eating tons of Southern food, I think you would likely find more of these dishes very good.   

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On 1/16/2018 at 2:31 PM, ktmoomau said:

Despite decent food and a beautiful location, it won't be on the top of my list to go back.  Oh well.

Has anyone taken a look at the "American" section in my Multiple Locations Dining Guide? It's pretty much top-to-bottom terrible - why can't anyone open a good American chain restaurant?

I went to 610 Magnolia in Louisville - back when it was Edward Lee's only flagship - and even that wasn't very good.

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3 hours ago, DonRocks said:

Has anyone taken a look at the "American" section in my Multiple Locations Dining Guide? It's pretty much top-to-bottom terrible - why can't anyone open a good American chain restaurant?

I know I'm in the minority here, but I've had a couple of good meals at America Eats. 

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15 minutes ago, mtureck said:

I know I'm in the minority here, but I've had a couple of good meals at America Eats. 

Oh, I definitely believe that, but America Eats isn't a chain. I used to take my son to Sweetwater Tavern all the time - it was never great, but it was always "good enough," and very fairly priced - remarkable, considering how much volume they do.

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