Cheddars – “What’s All The Fuss?”

Wednesday, January 8, 2014 - by Willie Mae

When I let my friend Betty in on my little hobby we planned to get together for lunch. Betty is a very outlandish person, in fact, people have called her ‘Crazy Betty’. I thought including her on a few of these jaunts might be quite interesting. I had told Betty, when we had first started talking about getting together, that I wanted to try the new place on Gunbarrel called Cheddars, but that they were always so packed.

Betty suggested that we go during a time when it is unlikely for others to go. Now, why didn’t I think of that?

I did. A few weeks ago, I picked a few hours before dinner and I braved a rainy day, but they were still packed and, with a 45-minute wait. I wanted to wait to try it again when all the hype about this place had died down.

Betty called me up on a day that was too cold for even a sled dog and I knew for sure she was crazy! She said that nobody in their right mind would get out in five-degree temperature unless they had to and I agreed with her. What made her think that “I” would go out? Maybe I am as crazy as Betty, but I really wanted to see what all the fuss over this place was about.

I could not believe I agreed to get out on such a cold day. When I arrived at Cheddars it still looked pretty crowded, but at least parking wasn’t impossible. Getting out of my warm car to enter this place was hard enough but passing their fountain and seeing it frozen solid convinced me that I was just as crazy as Betty!

Betty was inside waiting in her mink coat and snazzy cap that covered her tucked hair. She told me that she liked wearing it because she didn’t have to fix her hair and she wished she could wear it all year. I told her if she wore it in the summer, it would only be stylish if she made her pants saggy in the back. I’ve seen young people wear a toboggan all year round and they usually had saggy britches too. I shouldn’t have told her that – she may actually do it.

Now, I have had a few friends say that they just loved Cheddars, so keep in mind that my experience is just my opinion and I am not an expert critic. We started off with sweet tea and it was a little weak in color. It tasted weak too. I wondered if they brewed a second run with the same tea bags. We were asked if we wanted an appetizer and we declined, but they did not bring any complimentary bread or chips, so keep that in mind if you need a little something while you wait for your meal.

Betty ordered the catfish with two sides and she chose buttered ‘off the cob’ corn and broccoli casserole for $7.59. I ordered the Hawaiian Chicken sandwich with fries for $7.29. Thoughts of Hawaii somehow made me feel warmer. I thought the prices for such a nice looking restaurant were very good.

As we waited, for our meal, Betty was talking about getting a facelift. She asked me what I thought and began pushing her face upward with her fingers. I didn’t think that helped, so I told her maybe she needed a forklift (I could only get away with that with Betty).

A young man brought out our meals and Betty saw the tartar sauce on her plate. She wasn’t a tartar sauce kind of gal so she asked the boy for a side dish of vinegar for her catfish. That suits Betty – I think I would describe her as somewhat full of … vinegar. I told her this wasn’t Captain D’s and the boy told her he wasn’t sure they had any, but would check. I don’t think Betty believed him, so when our waitress came to see if we needed anything, she asked her for some vinegar too.

The boy did bring back vinegar, but it wasn’t the malt or apple cider vinegar my briny friend had hoped for – it was red. I am sure it was balsamic vinegar they used for salad. Betty usually likes just about anything, so I figured she could handle it, but it just didn’t do it for her. The broccoli casserole looked like they had opened a package of broccoli and cheese already mixed and had added some type of dried onion or breading to call it a casserole. Betty was not impressed and neither was I from just looking at it. Her ‘off the cob’ corn looked packaged too. She did say the fish was good and she ended up liking the tartar sauce that was a little spicy.

My chicken sandwich was hanging off the bread, so I nibbled a bite of the chicken first. It had a wonderful char-broiled flavor and I expected to love my sandwich. When I took a full bite, there was something stringy hanging from my mouth! It was lettuce… but not any shredded lettuce I was used to. This was not shredded or even julienne – I don’t know what you would call it, but it was as thin as sewing thread! Lots of thread-like lettuce piled on top and it didn’t have a good flavor either. With each bite, the stringy lettuce pulled away and flung its way to my chin. Nothing about my sandwich tasted very Hawaiian either (unless the lettuce was supposed to be a grass skirt)! I pulled the chicken out and ate it with a fork leaving the rest of the sandwich.

When I asked Betty what she thought of her meal overall, she leaned over closely and said, “Honey, I could have had a V-8!” We were given the bill early and never asked if we wanted dessert. Since neither of us finished our meals, I asked Betty if she wanted dessert and she suggested we go somewhere else close by to get it.

I followed her in my car on the back road from the parking lot. Leave it to Crazy Betty – to pull into Dairy Queen in five degree temperature.

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