Scott Hardie | April 26, 2005
McDonald's has discontinued the Ham, Egg & Cheese Bagel from their breakfast menu. In six months, I should be down several pant sizes.

What food item do you regret seeing eliminated (from any restaurant)?

Anna Gregoline | April 26, 2005
Oh man. I tried to eat that once on a road trip because it was my "safest" option from the breakfast menu, and found it too gross. Ended up just eating the bagel part.

I may eat McDonald's from time to time (hell, I had Chicken Selects yesterday) but their breakfast menu turns my stomach.

We had the opportunity to eat Hardee's on the way home from our hellish Massachusetts journey (the trip was hellish, not the time spent there) and I was disappointed that they seem to have changed their "Frisco" burger option. I loved the old one when I was still at Bradley. It was not as tasty, even more so because I was sick almost 20 minutes after eating it.

I guess this shows that fast food can have a bad effect on me, or something.

I had a favorite Italian restaurant close here in Chicago called Jezebel's. They made this wild mushroom ravioli in a sun dried tomato sauce that literally (I'm not joking here at all) made me moan a little while eating it. It was that good. I wish I knew where the chef went after the place closed.

Scott Horowitz | April 26, 2005
The Outback used to have this great shrimp scampi dish called "Brisbane Shrimp Sautee" I used to get it whenever I went there, but alas they got rid of it. I think most people are happy when the McRib goes away.

Lori Lancaster | April 26, 2005
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Scott Hardie | April 26, 2005
For a long time I couldn't stand McDonald's breakfasts. The popularity of the McMuffin and the various biscuit sandwiches (so dry! so hard!) baffled me. But their newer breakfast items, the bagels and McGriddles and (ok not so new) breakfast burritos, appealed to me quite a bit. Even though the local McDonald's still has the sausage & bacon bagel sandwiches, I can no longer find them on the official corporate web site, so they're probably about to disappear as well. Damn. I think they were the most unhealthy breakfast items, probably something like 2300 calories each, so I have Morgan Spurlock to thank for taking them away from me.

For a long time I mourned the Monster Burger from Hardee's, as well as the curly fries that they didn't sell in the south. Both are now being sold at one St. Petersburg location, but I tried the Monster Burger and not quite the same: Bland and so big you have to force yourself to choke it all down. The fries are still great, but they're just not enough. (My other old Hardee's favorite, the ham & cheese sandwich, also seems to have undergone some kind of bland-sformation.)

Kelly's Revenge: For years she adored the fajitas at Taco Bell, and sobbed every time they disappeared. No matter how many times I worked there, I never tried them, but I understood the economics that they were so cost-inefficient as to be unprofitable unless supported by a marketing campaign, thus they were only available for certain limited engagements. This past winter, I pulled through the neighborhood Taco Bell and decided to try one, and it was fucking delicious. I had no idea Kelly was so right all those years. Thus, of course, I decided to go back for two of them the very next day, but alas: Overnight, they had been discontinued until sometime next year.

Jackie Mason | April 26, 2005
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Scott Hardie | April 27, 2005
I thought your family picked on Olive Garden for being inauthentic Italian? I like it fine. They had an Ande's Mint Pie there once; the thing was like an Ande's Candy the size of a piece of cake. That's been long gone, but the chocolate lasagna is still a must-have. Even when I'm too full to eat it, I can't go to Olive Garden and pass it up; I get it to go and put it in the fridge for later. :-)

Anna Gregoline | April 27, 2005
Sounds like great bubble bath, Jackie! I never saw that one, but you've got me wondering if you could do that with regular bubble bath...I can't see why not...

If we can expand this into general products we love that have been discontinued, I'm sure I could come up with hundreds.

Jackie Mason | April 27, 2005
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Anna Gregoline | April 27, 2005
I very much dislike Olive Garden. It is really fast food Italian style, and not even Italian style often, at that. I guess I'm spoiled with all the great non-chain Italian food in Chicago.

Jesse gives a similar scoff whenever he sees a Red Lobster, being from the East Coast. = )

Oh man. Yeah, lots of makeup woes of discontinued colors. Also, for a while there, every bra I ever bought was promptly discontinued. My favorite lip gloss, UnPetroleum in Lime was stopped and I nearly cried. It was so yummy I practically ate it.

Jackie Mason | April 27, 2005
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Michael Paul Cote | April 27, 2005
Funny you should say that Jackie, because the thing I mourn the most is good seafood! I haven't had any since moving to Florida from NH. And trust me, if you had clam chowder (actually pronounced "chow-dah") in Florida it was not true! Even that bastardization made with tomato sauce from Manhattan is better than any I've tried down here. It's sad that a Red Lobster has the best seafood around. Like Anna's friend, I wouldn't even venture into the place up north. If anyone has suggestions about good seafood I'd appreciate any help I can get. I did try Shells once and it was ok but kinda generic. And now that place is gone too. Help!!!

Scott Hardie | April 27, 2005
My favorite seafood restaurant in the bay area is the Castaway, just on the Tampa side of the Courtney Campbell Causeway, right on the beach. Great food, fantastic atmosphere. John and Jackie have also eaten there and may (or may not) vouch for it. But it's pricy, $15-25 per entree.

Steve West | April 28, 2005
A comedian (I can't recall who) once said that one of the infallible rules of restaurant advertising is that the fish is always fresh - even in Kansas.

Scott Hardie | April 28, 2005
Sounds like the same restaurants that insist they're the home of some "world famous" (!) item on their menu. Even in Kansas.

John E Gunter | April 28, 2005
Another good seafood restaruant was/is Shells. I'm not sure if they're still in business, but I liked their seafood. Especially their shrimp!

Mike, have you tried Shephard's on Clearwater beach?

Oh and the Castaway is a good restaurant.


Michael Paul Cote | April 28, 2005
thanks for the tips! I'll give them a try.

Jackie Mason | April 28, 2005
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Scott Hardie | April 29, 2005
Buca di Bepo, huh? Haven't heard of it. The four dominant Italian chains down here are Olive Garden, Johnny Carino's, Carrabba's Italian Grill, and Romano's Macaroni Grill. (I don't know why they grill macaroni.) Each one I consider vastly superior to the next on the list, though I will never eat at Carrabba's again after atrocious service one recent night.

First of all, it was Survivor night, and I'm hard on any restaurant that doesn't get me home in time for the 8:00 showtime. I called in my carryout order at 6:50 intending to get home early, and they said it would be ready in 40 minutes. I pulled up at 7:30 in the carryout zone and waited in my car. The waitress entered and exited the building repeatedly while I sat there watching and waiting. Finally at 7:45 I got out of my car and stood in front of the restaurant door, and the bitch walked right past me, inches in front of my face, so that I had to call at her from behind to get her attention. She said she'd fetch my order and bring it to me, which she did at 7:50, but she left me holding the credit card receipt and pen. 7:55 passed and she served other customers. 8:00 passed and she served other customers. I was ready to throw the pen and receipt at the building and drive away, but at 8:05 I got out of my car and stomped into the building to hand them to her. Her remark? "Oh, I'm sorry! I forgot you were there!"

Curbside service also seems to take an eternity at many other restaurants (I'm talking about you, Outback Steakhouse), and I normally have a high tolerance for bad service, but this wait was outrageous to me: The food was room-temperature by the time I arrived mid-episode. I will never patronize Carrabba's again.

Scott Horowitz | April 29, 2005
Personally I am not a fan of chain Italian restaurants. I find the smaller ones have much better food, with a wider variety of menus. Though, I have been avoiding Italian restaurants lately...(fattening, and I'm still on my diet), just wanted to throw in my 2 cents about ihis.

Scott Hardie | April 29, 2005
Same here, about avoiding chains. But I have the misfortune to live right in the middle of brand-new suburban sprawl, where there's an Applebee's at every exit but not a bona-fide neighborhood grill in sight. I had made a New Year's resolution to stop eating at chain restaurants altogether, but it meant limiting my choices to two restaurants in the vicinity out of around twenty-five. :-(

Scott Horowitz | April 29, 2005
That's one of the great things about living in NY. There are great restaurants everywhere. The city you could just walk down a block and have 20 non-chain restaurants.

Anna Gregoline | April 29, 2005
Chicago too! I'm a block away. I love it, and I'm going to miss it when we go to MA. I mean, there are great restaurants there too (and the seafood, god, the seafood), but it's all spread out. I like being able to just jaunt on over to Clark street and have my pick of non-chain sushi (four restaurants now within walking distance! All of varying quality), italian, coffee shops, swedish bakeries, Middle Eastern (oh man, it's so good - if you haven't had authentic Middle Eastern food, you really should try it), etc!

Amy Austin | April 29, 2005
While I am in agreement about the obscene proliferation of shitty chain-style restauranting, I have to say that I think that Jackie's comment about Buca di Beppo's (also a chain, but not an incredibly large one -- most, about 10, I think, are in CA; 3 in WA, and at the rate of about 0-2 in many other states (usu, in or near a major city), I believe there's less than 100 total) is total blasphemy! We LOVE that place, and the over-the-top Italian/Americana kitschy atmosphere is a major part of the reason -- it's the kind of overdone that even your standard "brass-and-fern" establishment (Bennigan's, Applebee's, TGIF, etc.) pales by comparison to!!! I mean, where else are you going to eat in a large, private room called "The Pope's Room", for crying out loud?!!! You can even get a private table (for up to six) in the kitchen -- everybody that eats there gets a little tour that takes them through there, and they say that "this is the best seat in the house" (also, no kitsch in sight in the kitchen ;-D... but I think that you might can still hear the Sinatra et al playing)... I am convinced that the interaction there must be great fun, or they probably wouldn't say this! And as for "authentic" -- let's not forget the "family-style" serving... meaning GIGANTIC portions of (delicious!) food served from a community plate, the leftovers of which will make a fantastic lunch or dinner at home!!! I can't say *any* of this about Olive Garden! (Don't get me wrong... I think the food there is pretty tasty and that -- despite their really stupid commercials -- the "not authentic Italian!" critics should get off their high horses about it. It's still a fine choice for dining out, as far as I'm concerned!)

And for those who love kitsch as much as I do, let me just tell you that Buca (the name mean's "Joe's Basement") is the place to go for it! Velvet "ghost" paintings on the landing between stories, bright festive colors everywhere (the Pope's room is mostly red as his robe!), cool 20s-50s photos and ads to look at -- I ADORE it! I wish there were one closer to us out here, but the closest one is just outside of Charlotte, in Pinesville, NC -- about a 3.5-hour drive, I would guess. If you live near one, it's well worth at least one visit, and even though it's a little pricey, the leftovers will be generous enough to consider that your paying for two meals. Did I mention that I love the place yet? (For shame, Jackie!!! ;-D)

Jackie Mason | April 29, 2005
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Anna Gregoline | April 29, 2005
Uh, thanks, but I'm not on a high horse. It's just that Olive Garden ISN'T authentic Italian food - a lot of the time they add really weird ingredients that would never be added to food in other Italian restaurants, or go overboard on cheese. It pales in comparison to real Italian food, and I hate that many people think that it's great Italian (the image they try to put out) when I feel it's anything but. Mass produced! Ugh. If you enjoy it, great, but I don't think I'm on a high horse for saying it's not authentic. It's not.

Anna Gregoline | April 29, 2005
Uh, not that what I feel has to be what everyone else feels - I just feel sad that a lot of people think it's authentic. It has nothing to do with whether you enjoy it - that's a different matter. Enjoy!

Denise Sawicki | April 29, 2005
It's funny how (at Olive Garden) they ask you "freshlygratedcheese?" for every item you receive... that is, this happened on the one occasion I went there in recent memory...

Anna Gregoline | April 29, 2005
I always think it's funny when you go to restaurants where they have that giant pepper mill? The one that's as tall as me? =)

Scott Hardie | April 29, 2005
When I order the chocolate lasagna for dessert, I halfway expect them to ask "freshlygratedcheese?"

(If Dave Barry were here, he'd say that was a great name for a rock band.)

Anna Gregoline | April 29, 2005
LOL, Scott, that image is priceless.

You guys might like the name for my teacher (who I saw last night), Mr. Poet Laureate's band when he was a kid - Puce Exit.

I think it's rather Dave Barry, myself.

Amy Austin | April 30, 2005
Uh, thanks, but I'm not on a high horse.

Uh, that was the "general tense of you" I was using there, Anna -- not directed at you... just a general comment. I tend to disagree about most people thinking that Olive Garden is "authentic" -- that's why I think their commercials are ridiculous... it's like they're trying too hard to convince us otherwise -- however, as Jackie correctly pointed out, their head chefs do train in Italy. What more, exactly, does a restaurant have to do to be considered "authentic", anyway?

Anna Gregoline | April 30, 2005
Well, you know. The group of people you were talking about included me.

Why does training in Italy make it more authentic, is my question. The food is still not authentic.

Jackie Mason | April 30, 2005
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