So, what's to say about Hooters that hasn't already been written? I don't have space to debate whether this is evil corporate exploitation or harmless fun (but I have to say I found it humorous that local businesses objected to Hooters opening, when the local strip club is just down the hill).
Franchises need an identity and Hooters has a pretty clear idea of what its target audience is: men---wide-screen televisions showing sports, attractive girls showing skin, bartenders showing how fast they can pour beer. The night we visit, the crowd is mainly male, with a handful of women guests beside myself. I don't feel uncomfortable though, helped largely in part by our "Hooters girl" who is giggly, funny and careful to treat us the same---no alienating the wife.
The restaurant is bright and clean, with tables on two levels and an open kitchen. The menu is beer-drinking food. Almost everything is deep fried and items like burgers, fish and chips and sandwiches abound.
We start with an order of the famous Hooters wings and ask for them mild. Our girl says nope, we won't like that sauce because it's butter-based and not very good. She suggests medium and while her personal favourite sauce is the parmesan-garlic, we might not like it because it's not really manly but how about some on the side? That's about as upfront a recommendation as you can get and refreshingly straightforward.
Our wings (10/ $8.99) arrive and I'm surprised to see the tips still attached. That's like a little bonus, as I've long thought of wings as merely a carrier of sauce---more wing, more sauce, more better. These are not bad wings at all. Although well-coated in sauce, they retain their crispiness and our girl's advice is spot on---the parmesan garlic is addictively yummy.
Not far behind comes our next round of food: a buffalo chicken sandwich ($9.99) and a Philly cheese steak ($8.99). Each comes with an option of coleslaw, baked beans or potato salad (we pick baked beans and coleslaw) and we split an order of corkscrew-cut "curley fries" potatoes ($2.99).
The chicken sandwich is enormous---a whole breast butterflied, battered, fried and tossed in hot sauce. The Philly cheese steak is a mound of shaved, seasoned roast beef, sauteed peppers, onions and cheese. Both sandwiches are very well executed basic standards. The sides are as expected: good canned beans and coleslaw from a food suppliers' bucket.
Our girl is back to ask about dessert and tells us we must have the peanut-butter pie. As she points out, her other recommendations have been "right on," so we must have peanut-butter pie ($4.49). We do, and it's good. The peanut-butter-chocolate filling is light and creamy, the crust acceptable.
The thing about the food here is that I doubt very much that anything is made on site: Like most franchises, consistency is key. Therefore, most of the product will be brought in, frozen or canned, prepared and ready to heat, plate and eat.
Not that there's anything wrong with that---it guarantees that your favouritedish will taste the same no matter where you eat it and there's a lot of comfort to be found in familiarity. We enjoy our meal at Hooters. It's a guilty pleasure of deep-fried sin, if you will: Fitting, for a franchise built on guilty pleasures.
Guilty pleasures and suggestive reastuarant names are collected at the hawtest site on the intertubes, foodcritic.ca.
THE FEED »
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