Thursday, September 6, 2007

Eat'n Park, Pittsburgh

Eat'n Park
Perkins/Denny's/Embers/Big Boy-like chain of diners in Western PA that was surprisingly not as bad as it looked

According to Eat'n Park's website, when the chain was founded in 1949, ""Park & Eat" was as common a sight as "Drive Thru" is today and could not be copyrighted. In a brainstorm, [the founder] decided to reverse it -- to Eat'n Park."

The restaurant itself is very much in the mold of a Perkins or Denny's or Big Boy, a family-themed restaurant that offers diner-like fare (big breakfasts, sandwiches, steak'n'chicken entrees with gravy and mashed potatoes). But Eat'n'Park goes a step beyond that. In addition to the usual diner fare, they offer a gluten-free menu, an "Eat'n Smart" menu, and a low carb menu, things I would expect to see more in a California restaurant than a western Pennsylvania one. The salad bar is about what you would expect, but has some good healthy stuff in it as well, and the soups included a wild rice and portobelle mushroom soup that was quite tasty.

And of course, there are the trademark smiley cookies, sugar cookies with colored frosting in a big smiley design. They also had (for a limited time!) dinosaur cookies that were cute enough that I had to get one for our friends.

The big plus of those family diners is usually the friendly, homey service. We were there at an off hour, so we didn't get attended as well as we might've hoped, but the waitress was very personable when she did come by. The food was pretty tasty overall, a notch above what we were expecting. If this is representative of the whole chain, then we'd pick it over other family diners, if we were set on eating at a family diner-type place.

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