A bag of chips better than McAlister’s pricey menu

Hunger and sex are mankind’s greatest motivators. When I say mankind, I am not trying to be politically incorrect. I mean that the rule only applies to men. Women are motivated by sympathy, love and owning more shoes than any other female in the clan.

Returning to hunger, I was hungry on Saturday. I was hungry enough to gamble on a restaurant I’d never been to — McAlister’s Deli.

It was not a deli. It was a restaurant that served sandwiches. Where I come from, a deli is a retail store where a chubby, rosy-cheeked man sells you sandwich-building materials. I instantly removed points for dishonesty when I saw the sign.

To imagine what McAlister’s is like, one would have to imagine Panera Bread — and that’s it.

McAlister’s is the same thing as Panera Bread. It’s the same bizarre hybrid between a fast food restaurant and an order-at-the-table-with-waiters joint.

A customer orders and pays at the front. The customer sits at a table, a server brings food, the server keeps coming back and asking if everything is okay. The server picks up the plates and the server gets no tip. At least I assume there was no tip.

Aside from the confusion with the tippage, I enjoyed my experience. The place was very clean, though almost all of the booth seats were torn and/or stained.

The ultimate factor in my ruling was, naturally, the food.

I had a delightfully moist and greasy sandwich. The name escapes me, but it was turkey, cheese and some kind of sweet mustard on hot ciabatta. The cheese was stretchy, just how I like it.

My girlfriend got a salad with strawberries and it was huge. I do not eat vegetables, but she told me that it was very tasty. I remarked on the meal’s quality, and then she showed me the receipt to remind me what I paid.

It was $22 for a little hot sandwich and a big salad with a little scoop of mashed potatoes, a pickle spear, two iced teas, and two cookies. Sure, the meal was good, but so is a bag of Doritos. I could have just had that instead and that fact still haunts me.

McAlister’s charges the prices of an Applebee’s or a Chili’s with the atmosphere of a Starbucks. It was not terrible, but I don’t care if I never eat there again.

Between McAlister’s and McDonald’s, I am starting to lose pride in my Irish roots.

Rating: C

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