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Thread: America's Next Great Restaurant

  1. #81
    Crazy Shutterbug Harmony2000's Avatar
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    Re: America's Next Great Restaurant

    jadewarlock - you do have a point, my son will eat anything that is weird or different. If it looks strange or he is told it is "spicy"? Then he wants to try it. He likes to out "weird" and out "spice" his dad. They definitely could have played up to that more since I think it's a common trait in a lot of kids.

    I don't think my son would be into meatballs. He's not a spaghetti kind of kid, he actually prefers whole wheat noodles with olive oil and seasoning. He would consider meatballs as part and parcel of spaghetti.

    I was sure that Grillbillies would go far since they are serving Bobby type food. At this point, I'm not really sure who will win. I suspect that the Soul Daddy guy may come out of nowhere and surprise us all since we are all focused on the Spice Coast guy winning. It's who I want to win, for sure. Chicken and waffles just doesn't appeal to me. I see his cooking? And I think grease, fat, there goes my diet! I am trying to change our eating styles and choosing places that serve healthy food without crazy large portions, I would avoid Soul Daddy like it was the plague.

    Lynne - "Welcome to Moes!" LOL that is our favorite fast casual Mexican. They do a great job on the kid's menu too. They pack a ton of flavor in their food, unlike that bland Chiptole's.

    Cilantro lime rice - how is that Mexican?
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  2. #82
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    Re: America's Next Great Restaurant

    For the Indian guy, I thought a mild tandoori chicken might go over well with kids. Or some Indian chicken nuggets with very mild curry and yogurt dipping sauces and a mango chutney.

    I was surprised to see Grill Billies go. I don't think I'd go to the meatball place - there are plenty of Italian places and I don't think I've ever ordered meatballs at a restaurant.

  3. #83
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    Re: America's Next Great Restaurant

    As for Indian food, I agree that samosa and pakora would probably appeal to (some) kids. I think also a mild Chicken Korma -- chicken pieces in a creamy curry sauce. My kids love it (and so do I).

    I do wonder about the appeal of Indian food in general. When it comes up in conversation, seems like some people like it, some have never tried it and have no interest in trying it, and some tried it once or twice but didn't like it. Still, in a big city environment it should do well.

  4. #84
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    Re: America's Next Great Restaurant

    Soul food guy needs a new chef. There are plenty of healthy ways to do soul food. You have a kids challenge, you work with soul food, and you don't think to do something with chicken or homemade mac and cheese? Thinking outside of the box is nice, but you also have your staples of soul food that cannot be ignored. Stop pushing the waffle on everyone. Last week it was canned green beans and now this waffle sandwich thingy. He needs a chef that knows soul food. There's a small soul food place that I loved to go to. They went out of business when the owner died and the family decided to close and move back south, but they had the best oven fried chicken, and had a very healthy menu. Sure, they had the typical fare you'd expect and some of those desserts were so large you could feed the entire table with them, but there was no lack of healthy options. I guess they were a working version of the Sinners and saints concept. I really miss that place. Have not found a soul food place like it since. Have found some with healthy options, but not with as many choices as the one that I loved.
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  5. #85
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    Re: America's Next Great Restaurant

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynne View Post
    As for Indian food, I agree that samosa and pakora would probably appeal to (some) kids. I think also a mild Chicken Korma -- chicken pieces in a creamy curry sauce. My kids love it (and so do I).

    I do wonder about the appeal of Indian food in general. When it comes up in conversation, seems like some people like it, some have never tried it and have no interest in trying it, and some tried it once or twice but didn't like it. Still, in a big city environment it should do well.
    I do think an Indian fast casual place would do well in an urban setting.

    30-40 years ago, Mexican restaurants were pretty nonexistent. I grew up in California and occasionally had Mexican food at the homes of my Mexican friends, but there were no Mexican restaurants. About 1970 I went to a Taco Bell for the first time and I didn't know what to order because when I ate at my friends' houses, I didn't learn the names of what I was eating (except for sopapillos which I learned to make). Then spent 3 years in Ann Arbor and 3 years in Champaign. No Mexican restaurants in Ann Arbor. There was an awful one in Champaign.

    Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is that just as Mexican food took off, there's huge room for growth for Indian food. In England, it seems like there's an Indian restaurant or take-away place in just about every block.

  6. #86
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    Re: America's Next Great Restaurant

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynne View Post
    As for Indian food, I agree that samosa and pakora would probably appeal to (some) kids. I think also a mild Chicken Korma -- chicken pieces in a creamy curry sauce. My kids love it (and so do I).

    I do wonder about the appeal of Indian food in general. When it comes up in conversation, seems like some people like it, some have never tried it and have no interest in trying it, and some tried it once or twice but didn't like it. Still, in a big city environment it should do well.
    Spice Coast is southern Indian food and different from what we usually see in a typical Indian restaurant. Tandoori chicken, korma, samosas and pakoras are from a different region. I much prefer the southern style; it is mostly vegetarian and the most delicioius you could imagine.

    I have a difficult time with "healthy soul food." By definition it just cannot be. If you cleaned it up by steaming the collard greens and baking the chicken it would turn into something the Harvest woman would serve. I have only recently learned that chicken and waffles is a typical southern dish. I still think that is very strange. They don't go together in my head. I cannot see him winning.

    I love oven fried chicken but it is loaded with fat and high in calories, too. The recipe on the side of the Bisquik box is excellent and I love it but I consider it to be decadent.

    I have yet to have a good mac and cheese outside of my own kitchen or other homemade versions. Oddly it is something restaurants can never get right. 21st Century Mac and Cheese is a recipe all over the internet and an excellent version. Why not just do that?

    As I watch this I get excited for the next season when skilled chefs show up with fabulous ideas.

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    Re: America's Next Great Restaurant

    Shoepie -- You're right; I forgot that he is focusing on southern Indian food. I have been to many different Indian restaurants but I think they have all focused on Indian food that is not considered "southern Indian." I sometimes remember seeing a small section listed as "Southern Indian food" but they were one word names like idli and dosa with no descriptions, unlike the glowing descriptions on the rest of the menu. I think they were appealing to those people who already knew what the southern Indian food items were.

  8. #88
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    Re: America's Next Great Restaurant

    Shoepie- I agree that making the healthier versions of soul food may venture over into the healthy woman's menu but so many soul food places experiment with that now and have been for many years now. It may not be "traditional" but it's very tasty. Honestly, I notice more places at least trying to change it up a bit, though I don't know how often people choose the healthy option. I would guess there is some resistance to change, since many of the menus are still stuffed mainly with the traditional fare.

    You mentioned baked chicken-to me that fits fine into a soul food menu. Almost every soul food place I've been to offers baked or grilled and sometimes rotisserie chicken. Also braising is quite acceptable on a soul food menu. The place I mentioned upthread did a lot of these things and they always had a full house. I think if people tried the healthy versions they would find it's actually really tasty. The steamed veggies and fish may push the concept, but I think they can fit just fine. It's all about how much change people are willing to accept.

    Sadly, when you think of soul food you think of greasy food and adding fat to everything. Lots of soul food restaurants do the same thing. Lots are really trying to improve on that. If Soul Daddy is thinking of opening a chain of restaurants he really needs to stress how his menu will be different from a large amount of the soul food restaurants. Canned beans will not bring anyone back. The chicken and waffles thing is popular, heck even IHOP has a version of it, but there has to be more going on than that if he wants success. He's got to step it up. There are only a few concepts left now.
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  9. #89
    Crazy Shutterbug Harmony2000's Avatar
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    Re: America's Next Great Restaurant

    I think if Soul Daddy could figure out a way to make his food healthier but still maintain the "soul", he could be onto something.

    My family frequents Ruby Tuesday's and Friday's because they have a very good healthy menu. I don't know if it is a regional thing or not but our local ones have many entree's that are under 700 calories and healthy (not to mention delicious!). Things like beef, chicken, fish but all cooked in healthy ways. We love it and since the menu keeps growing, I feel pretty confident in saying that it is hugely popular.

    My husband loves chicken and waffles, it looks gross to me. Although the waffles with that bit of spice added to them sounded good.

    Stephanie - she was really onto something, I wish Bobby hadn't talked her out of her concept. An investor is going to snatch that idea up and run with it now that it's been aired nationally. There is definitely a market for fast, healthy, low-cal options that takes all the guess work out of staying healthy.

    About good cheese and mac - I read in the book "Eat this / Not that" that the cheese and mac on the kids menu is typically the highest calories! A child is only supposed to intake 1,500 calories a day...max! And yet many of the items on the kids menu are either pushing that many calories or completely exploded past it.

    So here's a concept - healthy kids meals! What parent wouldn't love to be able to grab fast food for their child and not worry about dooming them to a life of obesity and diabetes? We are all crazy busy, we don't always have the choice to eat at home but fast food is horrible.

    I'm hoping that next season we not only get great chefs but also get ones with really good concepts.
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  10. #90
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    Re: America's Next Great Restaurant

    Ruby Tuesdays is doing a good job with their healthy choices and it is nation wide. I haven't been to a Fridays is a very long time.

    Stephanies idea was a good one but Flay was rightfully concerned that she was spending too much time calculating calories and not enough on developing good food. As far as snatching that idea up, it is already being done by the chains you mentioned and some others. Gradually more will expand their menu. Taco Bell has a section on theirs and some local restaurants have added turkey burgers. I would not be surprised to hear that someone is out there seeking investors for this concept right now.

    I seek healthy food but I would not go to Stephanies restaurant if she is going to serve the things she has already showed us.
    I passed a fast food Japanese restaurant last year in Florida. We couldnt stop to check out the menu but we all wished we had one close by. It looked like a chain but it could have been a single owner who bought an old chain restaurant and changed the facade.

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