The Joy of Chain Dining : The Bryant Park Project The joys of dining at chain restaurants, with emphasis on a personal favorite.

The Joy of Chain Dining

A New York Times article got more than a few BPPers talking about their loves and hates of chain restaurants. The Times dining coverage gets the most attention when it reviews the fantastically expensive and the impossibly exclusive.

So this piece stood out, since it reviewed several chain restaurants that normal people, far from Manhattan, go to every day, like Outback and Olive Garden. It caused a bit of a buzz online, even on blogs that normally stick to politics.

We'll talk to one of the Times reviewers and one of the bloggers on Thursday's show. Working on this segment got all of us talking, and thinking about our favorite chains. Someone proposed a BPP staff field trip to the nearby Times Square Red Lobster (the one with the really giant, really glowing, really red, rotating lobster out front). For me, there is one chain that towers over all others: Arby's. On a recent road trip, I swerved a car across two lanes of traffic to pull into one and grab a Beef 'n Cheddar. (Don't worry. No one was ever in danger, and the car was a rental.) Sadly, the king of marinated beef doesn't have a franchise in Manhattan. Or so I thought...

Crack research finds that there has been an Arby's, within easy walking distance of NPR, for nearly two years! I feel like every meal I have eaten since June 2006 is a betrayal of all the goodness Arby's employees work so hard to get between the warm, toasted onion roll. And yes, I've heard the story that Arby's meat starts in liquid form. It ain't true, and were it so, the Beef 'n Cheddar would have a place in my heart still. As soon as I'm done here, I'm strolling over to the Manhattan Mall (really, we have malls too) scarfing down a BnC, maybe two.