Tag Archives: Denny’s

News: Denny’s Introduces New “Let’s Get Cheesy!” Menu; You Have My Parmesan to Start the Cheese Puns…Now

Denny’s, I’m starting to fall in love with you. You’re a sit-down restaurant, and when most people think of you, they probably think of breakfast with the family after church. Maybe a drunken late-night meal. Moons Over My Hammy.

When I think of Denny’s, I think of a restaurant chain ahead of its time. By this point, crazy menu items at fast food joints are old hat. Denny’s looked at that and said, “We can do that. We can do that and force people to eat it in public.”

I admire that.

Case, or rather, cases in point: mozzarella sticks inside a grilled cheese sandwich and a cheeseburger with french fries and gravy inside.

Denny’s isn’t resting on their laurels with their Tour of America Menu. They now have a whole new menu called “Let’s Get Cheesy!” And it’s just what you would think. “Urging everyone to try something a little different with their favorite dairy, the new menu boasts a medley of both traditional and unconventional cheesy choices covering, smothering, oozing and gooey with every dish.”

I have an official press release and Denny’s-sanctioned promo pictures in my hot little hands, and by golly, I am going to use them. I’ve decided to showcase them in order of “most normal” to “my God, why is this a thing that exists?” I hope you’ve taken your Lactaid.

Cheese Please Omelette


Cheese Please Omelette

“A three-egg omelette with a blend of cheeses folded in, topped off with a creamy cheese sauce and diced tomatoes, served with hash browns and choice of bread.”

Pretty straightforward stuff, here. Looks and sounds quite tasty. Anywhere there’s creamy cheese sauce, sign me up.

Say Cheese Sizzlin’ Skillet

Say Cheese Sizzlin Skillet

“A blend of diced cheddar smoked sausage, fire-roasted peppers and onions, grape tomatoes and seasoned red-skinned potatoes topped with shredded cheddar cheese, cheese sauce and two eggs cooked any way you like.”

This actually sounds quite delicious, although I have my suspicions about the “cheddar smoked sausage”, mostly because I then saw the…

Cheesy Breakfast Sampler

Cheesy Breakfast Sampler

“Featuring a cheddar smoked sausage, two eggs scrambled with cheddar cheese, hash browns topped with melted shredded cheddar cheese and choice of bread.”

I know, cheese inside of a sausage really shouldn’t bother me at all. And it’s probably right up my alley, as far as taste goes. But every time I see something like this, I get all squicked out. Perhaps I had a traumatic incident as a child with some cheese-infused meat product.

Although, the more I stare at the cheddar smoked sausage, the more I want to try it. My palate is always challenging itself, whether my brain likes it or not.

Also, what, no cheese on the bread? C’mon Denny’s, you’ve managed to cram cheese into every other item on the plate, you can’t conjure up some cheesy bread?

The Big Cheese Country Fried Steak and Eggs

The Big Cheese Country Fried Steak and Eggs

“Featuring a golden-fried chopped beef steak covered in pepper jack cheese sauce, served with hash browns topped with melted shredded cheddar cheese, two eggs cooked any way you like and choice of bread.”

Pepper jack cheese sauce on top of a country fried steak may be delicious, but it just sounds (and looks) decidedly unpleasant. Perhaps I’m offended on behalf of sausage country gravy, which is what really belongs on country fried steak. The pepper jack cheese sauce sounds like Denny’s is just trying too hard. On the other hand, as we move along, you’ll see that they can try much harder.

Winner Winner Cheesy Dinner

Winner Winner Cheesy Dinner

“Two golden-fried chopped beef steaks covered in pepper jack cheese sauce, served with a side of new creamy Mac ‘n Cheese, broccoli topped with cheese sauce and dinner bread.”

There’s two reasons this menu item falls below the Big Cheese Country in my hierarchy. The first is the name. Given, most of these have horrible punny names that are designed to embarrass you as the waitress takes your order, but I find this one particularly offensive. “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner” is a phrase that has been around for quite a while, with origins in gambling or something, but thanks to this douchebag, I can’t see the phrase or any cheesy derivative without flying into a rage and smashing everything within arms’ reach. I can’t have nice things.

The second reason you may have already noticed on the left hand side of the picture, there. “That’s odd,” you may have said to yourself. “It looks like they accidentally replaced the Mac ‘n Cheese with a bowl full of giant maggots.”

Unfortunately, you’re wrong. That is the Mac ‘n Cheese. It scares me. I’m sure they use some sort of white cheese, and that’s the end of it, but I think I’d prefer it be neon yellow rather than sickly white. Unfortunately, the only descriptor we get is “creamy”. Creamy, indeed.

We’re not out of the woods yet, though. We now come to the “outrageous crazy omg wtf Internet sensation” menu item:

Mac ‘n Cheese Big Daddy Patty Melt

Mac n Cheese Big Daddy Patty Melt

Feast with your eyes. Take a good, long gander. “A hand-pressed beef patty topped with new creamy Mac ‘n Cheese, melted cheddar cheese and zesty Frisco sauce on grilled potato bread, served with a side of wavy-cut French fries.”

I’m not sure what else to say. Denny’s pretty much sums it up. I have seen many sides and snacks stuffed into a sandwich, but this one fills me with particular trepidation. I can’t imagine the texture of pasta going well with hamburger. It freaks me out. As if that weren’t enough, there’s also cheddar cheese and “Frisco” sauce. Taste and texture aside, this sounds like a giant, gooey mess waiting to happen. As if uttering the words “Big Daddy Patty” in public wasn’t humiliating enough, enjoy having your face and hands covered in cheese sauce.

It’s gimmicky, it’s ridiculous, and I want one. Wait, let me rephrase that. I “want” one. Sometimes being a food reviewer is a terrible curse.

Just in case you haven’t had enough cheese in your meal, Denny’s also has two new sweet and cheesy items.

Strawberry Cheesecake Milk Shake

Strawberry Cheesecake Milk Shake

“Thick, creamy hand-dipped milk shake made with vanilla ice cream blended with strawberry topping, cream cheese and real cheesecake. Topped with a dollop of whipped cream.”

Cream cheese in a milk shake. Is this okay? I can’t tell. I love cream cheese, but I’m not so sure I would appreciate it in a milk shake. I can get behind the cheesecake itself, but cream cheese just sounds wrong. Also, this thing sounds heavy enough that you could order it and skip a cheesy entree altogether.

Strawberry Pancake Puppies with Cream Cheese Icing

Strawberry Pancake Puppy with Cream Cheese Icing

“Six bite-sized round pancakes made with strawberry and white chocolate chips. Sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with a side of cream cheese icing for dipping.”

Ow. I think I just got a cavity. While these things sound like sugar overload, I see nothing inherently creepy about them, which is a relief. They actually sound damn tasty, but I could probably only eat one or two before my stomach started protesting. I can’t even finish a donut; I don’t think I could put down a whole plate of these.

“And if the limited-time menu still doesn’t have enough cheese to please you, there’s the option to cheese it up even more by adding some extra ooze to any dish for just 69 cents.”

“Extra ooze”. Not the best phrase I would choose if I were in the marketing business, but after writing this news post, I find it apt. This thing is longer than many of my reviews. I never thought I’d get tired of cheese, but after just writing this review, I feel kind of cheesed-out, and that’s no small feat.

What a muenster of a post! You cheddar believe I’m spent. I hope you all have a Gouda day!

Okay there I’m done.

Edit: No, wait, one more thing: why are all the shakers in these pictures empty? Is there a serious salt and pepper shortage that I should be worried about?

Denny’s Tour of America: Midwestern Meat & Potatoes Sandwich

I recently found myself sitting alone in a booth at Denny’s. This is unusual for me; I can’t even remember the last time I was in a restaurant by myself. I wasn’t there for the food; I was there to meet the private investigator I hired to sleuth out what the next crazy fast food trends would be. I also had him researching the best way to sneak the Chilito back onto Taco Bell’s menu.

Okay, that’s obviously a lie. (Or is it? Some people will go to great lengths to find a Chilito.) I was there because my car was across the street at the mechanic’s, and I figured it would be more comfortable to wait somewhere where I could sit in a comfy booth and have some food and coffee, rather than sitting on a hard chair in the repair waiting room that smelled like rubber tires and man sweat.

Out of all these reasons, food was, of course, the deciding factor in regards to where I’d be passing my time. (Coffee and the lack of man sweat were close seconds.) Furthermore, it was fate that this Denny’s happened to be right across the street from the only mechanic in this city open on Sunday (protip: don’t break your car on a Sunday), because it just so happens that Denny’s is currently showcasing its Tour of America menu, which had several items in which I was interested.

At the top of the list was the Midwestern Meat & Potatoes Sandwich. Here’s how Denny’s describes it: “A Cheddar bun stuffed with grilled prime rib and French fries, smothered in brown gravy and topped with melted Swiss and American cheeses and mayo. A side of creamy mashed potatoes and yet more gravy completes this culinary masterpiece!”

Now, when I read that, it screamed “crazy go nuts marketing ploy food” to me. Even Denny’s acknowledged this in their press release, saying in reference to it, “Adventurous eaters, who tried Denny’s Fried Cheese Melt and the Maple Bacon Sundae, won’t want to miss out on Denny’s latest indulgence…”

However, the rabbit hole goes much deeper. Upon reading about the MM&PS, a friend of mine who lives in Minnesota commented that it sounded a lot like a regional dish served in diners and truck stops and the like. I pressed him for information like he was a clove of garlic that I needed finely minced, and he told me that this dish actually has a name: the hot beef commercial.

Hot beef commercial? What the hell? I went on a Google quest, but apparently the hot beef commercial is Minnesota’s best kept secret. I could find a few discussions, and learned that the commercial (it could also be pork or turkey) seems to only exist in Minnesota, but no real solid definitions. I had to go back to my friend for help. According to him, the hot beef commercial is assembled as follows (from the bottom up): piece of bread, meat, taters (maybe some gravy) piece of bread, more gravy.

That does bear some resemblance to Denny’s offering, and MN is definitely Midwestern. Notable differences: the commercial has no mayo or cheese, white bread instead of a cheddar bun, and the mashed potatoes go on or in the sandwich. Apparently you can ask for fries inside, but that’s non-standard. I find all this most interesting just because there seems to be more questions than answers on the Internet in regards to the commercial. Minnesota must be hiding a dark secret. And that secret is hot beef.

I don’t exactly have the means to travel to Minnesota, so I’ll just have to go off of my experience with the Midwestern Meat & Potatoes Sandwich, and leave the comparisons to someone else.

There are a lot of things going on with this sandwich that many people would find unusual or even off-putting. French fries inside a sandwich? Gravy on everything? Madness! Neither of these things really bothered me, though. I’m all for pouring gravy on pretty much everything. As for the french fries, I’ve seen The Big Fat Ugly, and after that, french fries are bush league.

My biggest concern was the mayo. I was totally down with all the other ingredients playing together, but it seemed that mayonnaise was playing dodgeball while the rest were trying to enjoy a nice game of four square. The idea of mingling mayo and gravy in particular made my stomach say “aw hell naw”. My stomach likes tired Internet memes involving Barack Obama.

When I ordered my food, the waitress said, “Oh, isn’t that sandwich just delicious!” I smiled and nodded, not sure why she would assume I’d had it before, and also ambivalent about whether the Denny’s waitress’s seal of approval was a good sign or not.

When my plate arrived, I was encouraged by the aesthetics. The cheddar bun looked delicious and the fries and steak were peaking out as if to say, “Hey baby. You look like you could use some saturated fat.”

I immediately opened the sandwich up and took inventory. Yep, everything was there – meat, cheese, fries, gravy, and…yes, there behind the cheese, the mayo. I appreciate that slice of cheese trying to hide it from me, but I couldn’t be fooled. I knew it was there.

Cutting the sandwich in half with the giant knife provided was a messy process. Messy was a common theme throughout my meal; when you’ve got gravy on a sandwich you’re eating with your hands, you’re going to blow through a lot of napkins. I had to ask my waitress for a whole stack.

The steak was surprisingly tender for a diner chain, and there was a hearty amount of it. The cheese was creamy and melty, which always works well with steak. You may not expect cheese to go well with gravy, but it did, and the gravy, while messy, pulled all the flavors together. There was also just the right amount of it. While the sandwich was messy, it wasn’t soggy, but it also wasn’t too dry.

The fries were tasty enough on their own, but in the sandwich, they seemed like nothing more than a starchy filler. I understand that this sandwich is supposed to be hearty, representing the spirit of the Midwest and/or adult-onset diabetes, but I really could have done without them. The bites I liked the best were the ones with just the meat, cheese, and gravy.

The cheddar bun didn’t offer much noticeable cheese flavor, but it was just the right size and density to stand up to all the ingredients without falling apart. As for the dreaded mayo? I don’t know if I got an unusually small amount, but it completely disappeared amongst all the other flavors. It’s like it wasn’t even on the sandwich, and that was just fine by me.

As for the mashed potatoes, they were, well…mashed potatoes. Nice and fluffy. I felt like I didn’t get enough gravy on them, however. I actually think the gravy worked better on the sandwich than the mashers. When tasted by itself, it had a weak brown gravy flavor, but in the sandwich, it melded with the steak and cheese, which made it seem more flavorful. The mashed potatoes seemed almost like an afterthought; an add-on designed to push the meal over the edge of excess. I would have liked the fries and the mashed potatoes to switch places, so the mashers were in the sandwich, like a real hot beef commercial.

So, it turns out Denny’s Midwestern Meat & Potatoes Sandwich isn’t so crazy after all, and it does actually represent the Midwest, in a roundabout way. As I said, I wish the fries had switched with the mashed potatoes, but the meat was tender and tasty, and, in combination with the cheese and gravy, it made for a hearty sandwich. I would order this sandwich in the future, but without the fries (and the mayo), thus ruining the theme of the meal. I don’t want to mess with Denny’s Tour of America like that, so maybe I’ll just get a California Club Salad instead.

  • Score: 3 out of 5 gravy-soaked napkins
  • Price: $6.99
  • Size: 1 sandwich; 1 pile of mashed potatoes and gravy
  • Purchased at: Denny’s #1970
  • Nutritional Quirks: No nutritional information available on Denny’s website, but an independent website clocks the meal as containing a rather staggering 2,826 milligrams of sodium. Minnesota!

News: Denny’s Wants to Take You on a Tour of America with TEN New Items; Tour Goes Slightly Off the Rails

Starting June 9th, Denny’s has introduced their new “Tour of America” menu. And by menu, I mean menu – there’s ten new items listed in their press release. That’s 20% of the United States!

I don’t normally cover sit-down restaurants, but there’s some…shall we say, interesting items on the Tour of America menu. Let’s get the more mundane out of the way before we get to the real meat and potatoes. You’ll groan at that pun later on. Just wait for it.


Pacific Northwest Iced Coffee

Pacific Northwest Iced Coffee – A “sweet and creamy iced coffee drink” that uses a blend of Sumatra and Arabica beans. Obviously a nod to Seattle and its coffee culture.


Hawaiian Tropical Smoothie

Hawaiian Tropical Smoothie – Made with coconut, pineapple and nonfat yogurt. Bring a flask of rum and ride the waves straight to Blackout Island!


California Club Salad

California Club Salad – “Featuring shaved turkey, diced bacon, grape tomatoes and avocado atop a fresh spring mix”. Solid but uninspired, if you ask me. Not sure how I feel about sandwich meat on top of a salad, though. Carl Buddig scarred me for life.

Florida Orange Milk Shake – Florida is known for three things: old people, being the penis of America, and oranges. This offering combines vanilla ice cream and orange juice, creating what I hope tastes just like a 50/50 bar. Otherwise known as a Creamsicle. Let’s not get bogged down in semantics; there’s a lot to cover, here.


Georgia Peach French Toast

Georgia Peach French Toast – French toast topped with glazed fire-roasted peaches. ‘Nuff said.


Philly Cheesesteak Omelette

Philly Cheesesteak Omelette – The name pretty much says it all: grilled prime rib, fire-roasted peppers and onions, sautéed mushrooms and melted Swiss cheese. Denny’s claims that it “truly captures the spirit of Philadelphia”. Dangerous words, Denny’s. I’ve watched enough cheese Travel Channel shows to know that Philly residents take their cheesesteaks very seriously.

Here are the offerings that really intrigued me:


Southern Shrimp and Grits

Southern Shrimp and Grits – “Grilled shrimp served over creamy cheese grits and topped with a jalapeno lemon butter sauce and sprinkled with crisp crumbled bacon and fresh diced tomatoes.”

I’ve never had grits before; hailing from SoCal and currently living in Arizona, the chance has never really been put in front of my face. Denny’s had me at “jalapeno lemon butter sauce”. And bacon, of course.


Hawaiian Tropical Pancakes Breakfast

Hawaiian Tropical Pancakes Breakfast – “Two fluffy macadamia nut pancakes layered with coconut whipped topping. Topped off with lightly grilled pineapple chunks, more coconut whipped topping and sprinkled with toasted coconut.”

Macadamia nut coconut pineapple coconut coconut. I hope you like coconut, because Denny’s is going to shove it in your mouth three times on one plate.


Hawaiian Tropical Pancake Puppies

Hawaiian Tropical Pancake puppies – Haven’t had enough coconut? I bet you haven’t! Order these babies as an appetizer or a side to your Macadamia nut coconut pineapple coconut coconut pancakes. “Six bite-sized round pancakes packed with sweet pineapple and white chocolate chips, rolled in delicious toasted coconut.” Also comes with syrup for dipping. No word if the syrup is also made with coconut.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this long news post, I don’t usually cover sit-down restaurants. I’ve only done one sit-down restaurant review, and it just so happened to be at Denny’s. What would actually motivate me to get out of my car and see the face of the person I’m giving my order to? How about fried mozzarella sticks shoved inside a grilled cheese sandwich? Denny’s hopped on the Crazy Food Train, and I couldn’t miss that ride. Which brings us to…


Midwestern Meat and Potatoes Sandwich

Midwestern Meat and Potatoes Sandwich – Aaaand there’s your pun. Sounds innocuous enough, right? Well, when Denny’s prefaces the item description with the sentence, “Adventurous eaters, who tried Denny’s Fried Cheese Melt and the Maple Bacon Sundae, won’t want to miss out on Denny’s latest indulgence…”, you know you’re in for a treat.

“A Cheddar bun stuffed with grilled prime rib and French fries, smothered in brown gravy and topped with melted Swiss and American cheeses and mayo. A side of creamy mashed potatoes and yet more gravy completes this culinary masterpiece!”

Kiss my Southern Shrimp and Grits, Hawaiian Tropical Pancakes Breakfast! Two different kinds of potatoes, two cheeses, two instances of gravy and mayo all in one dish definitely trumps three coconuts. This is the Tour of America money shot, and Denny’s knows it.

You only have until August 29th to take this tour, so get down to your local Denny’s and spend all the money you were saving for an actual tour of America on these ten new items. I’m sure I won’t be trying all of these offerings, but I sense a date with some meat, potatoes and…ugh…mayo in my near future.

Denny’s Fried Cheese Melt

It’s almost getting boring to say things like “fast food restaurants are trying to one-up each other by creating increasingly more ridiculous menu items”. I say “almost” because frankly, I hope they keep it up. This is the stuff I live for. It’s my bread and butter, baby.

So when a friend graciously alerted me to Denny’s new Fried Cheese Melt, I knew I had to have it. Denny’s isn’t the usual type of place I’d go to get a food to review – you mean, there’s a person who shows me where to sit, hands me a physical menu, and checks up on my periodically to ensure I’m having a pleasant dining experience? What foreign land have I happened upon?

But the Fried Cheese Melt was too deliciously silly to resist. It’s part of a revamp of their $2 $4 $6 $8 Value Menu, replacing the Three-cheese melt with soup or garden salad, which falls into the $4 category. According to Nation’s Restaurant News, Denny’s describes the Fried Cheese Melt as “made with four fried mozzarella sticks and melted American cheese grilled between two slices of sourdough bread. It is served with French fries and a side of marinara sauce.”

Yes, that is correct. Four fried mozzarella sticks stuffed inside a grilled cheese sandwich. Gawker calls it “culinary terrorism.” I call it AWESOME.

NRN also informed me that the new Value Menu doesn’t launch until August 24. My brain chose to ignore that statement, probably due to over-excitement, possibly because I was already sticking the keys into the ignition of my car. Either way, I found myself in my local Denny’s yesterday, eager to devour this potentially awesome, potentially lethal sandwich. You can imagine my disappointment when I didn’t find the sandwich on the menu. You can imagine my thoughts of suicide when I asked the waitress about it and she told me that it wouldn’t be out until next week.

And thus ends my non-review of the Fried Cheese Melt. Worst. Review. Ever.

But I like telling stories, so let’s just keep going! Who knows what kind of magical things could happen?

Resigned to my fate of not eating a Fried Cheese Melt and also of having to actually put pants on and leave the house again next week, I ordered a Spicy Buffalo Chicken Melt and consoled myself with a giant cup of ranch dressing. The sandwich was quite tasty, and the seasoned fries were really good. I tried to enjoy myself, but across the deserted restaurant they were conducting a training class, run by the female incarnation of R. Lee Ermey, so I could hear every word of what was going on. “The napkin-bundled silverware needs to be on the right of the place mat, not on top of it,” she shouted to a group of probably-terrified trainees. I looked down at my place mat, with its bundle carefully placed directly on top of the place mat on the left-hand side, and smiled a little.

But then they started talking about the new Value Menu items, and it’s like they were intentionally torturing me. A video was presented, where I could hear an overly cheerful gentleman describe in detail the sandwich that was beyond my grasp for another full week. Just as I was about to drown myself in ranch, our waitress magically appeared. Can you guess what she was holding?

“We have a treat for you! As you can tell, we’re doing some training over there,” she told me as she set the plate down on the table. “So, well, you know…” I wasn’t really sure what that last part meant, but I didn’t care. The sandwich was MINE! Tears welled up in my eyes and I thanked her profusely. My heart went from two times too small to just 1.5 times too small. Then I whipped out my extremely large camera and slid it across the table to my dining partner and sometimes-JFB-contributor Bob, because I’m too much of a sissy to take pictures of food outside the comfort of my own home. I didn’t tell Bob at the time, but I was also afraid the Feds would bust in and arrest me for culinary terrorism. I was happy I had the sandwich, but still heartless enough to throw him under the bus.

So, now that we’ve all gone through a classic tale of love lost and found again, how does this sandwich actually taste?

Well, it tastes like four mozzarella sticks inside a grilled cheese sandwich, which is actually pretty fucking delicious. The buttery grilled bread and the cheese surrounding the sticks keeps them firmly in place, which is great, because I hate when you’re eating mozzarella sticks and you take a bite and the whole gooey mess wants to stretch into your mouth and the breading gets all broken up. I also hate when the sticks get cold too fast, and I think the hot cheese helped to insulate them, keeping them warm and gooey but not falling apart. Additionally, the bread sopped up more marinara sauce, increasing surface area and absorbency so that a person who loves lots of dip like me could glob on as much as I wanted without the sauce sliding off. The marinara sauce was delicious, and the cup contained the perfect amount of it.

These are pretty much all of the things that I told the manager when he came over a little while later with our waitress. I knew he was the manager because he was wearing a tie! I felt like a rock star when he asked my opinion of the sandwich. I savored the feeling of power. My words could make or break this sandwich. Never mind the countless focus groups it probably went through before it hit my table; my word was Law. I could crush all the hopes and dreams of Denny’s marketing department with a single sentence.

But, like I said, I didn’t. I gushed and raved about it, and both the manager and waitress seemed very pleased by this. I bet the manager went home that night and told his wife all about how two twenty-something shlubs loved the new Fried Cheese Melt. She pretended to listen but was instead wondering if she remembered to record the new episode of  The Real Housewives of D.C.  It didn’t matter, though, because he was riding on Cloud Nine.

And thus ends my wonderful adventure at Denny’s. Ms. R. Lee Ermey provided great dining entertainment, I got a delicious sandwich that I wasn’t even supposed to have, I made a manager smile, and I got to feel like a rock star. Oh, and did I mention that the waitress didn’t even charge me for the Fried Cheese Melt? I hope I tipped her sufficiently, but really, you can’t put a price on such a lovely and somewhat surreal experience. Nay-sayers be damned; I’m two thumbs up on Denny’s Fried Cheese Melt.

Edit: Remember, the Fried Cheese Melt doesn’t launch until August 24.  I got really lucky, but you might not.

  • Score: 4.5 out of 5 hearts grown 0.5 times bigger
  • Price: $0.00; normally $4.00
  • Size: One sandwich with a side of marinara
  • Purchased at: Denny’s #6491
  • Nutritional Quirks: It’s probably chock full of everything bad for you, but who cares?