What is your favourite chain restaurant?

a bit pricy: Hawksmoor 

cheap as chips : Leon

Cote - decent quality grub and wine at sensible prices, proper restaurant feel to it, nice premises and generally OK service.

Pizza Express - Does what it says on the tin. Decent pizza, reasonable price, kid friendly. 

good Q

used to quite like Gaucho Grill back in the day

here, there’s a belgian chain called Frites which is pretty good 

Macellaio RC if you can call it a chain.

Giggling Squid. Half decent thai food. 

Zizzi purely for the beef and chicken calzone.

 

is that mexican chain, Wahaca, still going? That was decent for quick eats, although I can’t really forgive it for displacing Bad Bob’s 

Hawksmoor or Royal China

Not tried Giggling Squid, heard it can be a bit hit and miss depending on which branch. But haven’t had decent Thai in ages, keen to try.

Hmmm, see 5 years ago I would have agreed with you about Loch Fyne, but the last time I had lunch at one (in Covent Garden) shortly before Covid I was very disappointed with the quality/value. The seafood platter was positively miserly. Back in the day they were truly remarkable value though (and I wonder if the central London menu has been 'value engineered' to account for high rents). 

Been thinking about it and I'm not that much of a chain eater in terms of things I would seek out on purpose as opposed to just end up in for convenience. 

Dishoom I suppose as I sometimes like it for breakfast.

I like Cote. It sits where Pizza Express used to in the 80s, I think. PE is a shadow of its former self. 

o hang on - can I put in an hon'ble mention for Five Guys? I mean, you wouldn't want one every week, but... 

Been to loch fyne a couple of times and always disappointed, usually far better indie options for seafood at similar price at least by the coast.

Escaped I haven't eaten in a Five Guys since I left the US. Just don't think their burgers are that good and can do better for the same money elsewhere. And omg their fries are crap. For example, if in Edinburgh I would prefer to go to Bread Meats Bread or Salthorse

“used to quite like Gaucho Grill back in the day”

Also like Gaucho but think Hawskmoor pip them

Dusty, Salthorse is primarily a craft beer hole (and pretty small) just off the Mile on Blackfriars, but they also do excellent burgers. I would recommend the any burger with wings and fries combo they do. Bread Meats Bread used to be pretty inconveniently only on Lothian Road, but recently opened on North Bridge, again just off the Mile. They are also in Glasgow

bought an ooni which has killed desire to eat pizza out. ooni better

giggling squid or wahaca for me

Harvester. 

Unlimited salad bar. 

Unlimited pop refills. 

Their katsu curry burger is better than Wagamama's katsu curry. And it comes with chips. 

Agree on Wahaca. No idea why there are haters. Far more interesting food than you get in most wannabe-Mexican places - at least there's an attempt to make it something other than just a slop of beans and cheese. 

Franco Manca is definitely a good shout for the most astonishingly good value chain restaurant around.

Franco Manca or Honest Burgers

When I was at uni going to cafe rouge was considered the height of sophistication. What happened to them?

Franco Manca is good. The one in Bermondsey has a lovely atmosphere. 

The only time I'd had sourdough pizza previously was at Flour and Ash in Bristol and it was terrible so I just assumed all sourdough pizza was terrible. Franco Manca completely changed my mind. 

Worst steak I've ever had was at Cafe Rouge in Greenwich. Would never go back. 

When you have kids the frequency of visiting chain restaurants increases massively. 

What I cant work out is whether cafe rouge has got worse or what we expect from a mid range chain has gone up dramatically since the 90s.

My local cafe rouge was pretty good. Rather curiously there was no consistency say like McDonalds or Pizza Express. you could visit one a few miles away and it would be and was inedible. I suspect it is even worse now, they have closed 90 stores following an administration process.

Café Rouge described by David Mitchell as "unmitigated shit with an ill-deserved middle-class veneer of respectability" 

Stardust, I used to frequent the one in Brizzle every week, and it was superb, I cannot speak of other branches as I haven't as yet visited any.

Ebit has reminded me of going to a restaurant which was part of a chain founded by a friend. It was the early days of the chain when my friend would still regularly be in the restaurants himself and he came over and quietly explained that as it was mid-week he had a trainee chef in the kitchen but would make the meals for me and my companions himself to ensure they were up to scratch.

Suspect the issue with some chains is that they are all given the ingredients and recipes but some have better kitchen staff than others.

If we are talking proper, country-wide chain then it is Pizza Express followed by Five Guys.

If we are talking limited number/limited city chains then it is Shoryu and Flat Iron. 

Surprised no-one's said Ping Pong.

Wagas for a reliable routine meal, Cote or Ivy for a treat.

Giraffe used to be good for brunch until the chain got sold, went downhill immediately

All these chains are at their best when they have been expanded by their original owners - they’ve had a bit of funding and are benefitting from an economy of scale so reasonably priced but they are also hoping for a massive influx of PE money to take them global so are making sure that the food is good and everything looks nice to entice any possible angel investor stopping after seeing the latest blockbuster at the Vue next door. After they get the PE money things go south. 

Five Guys is disappointing, really hasn't travelled well. Honest Burger is miles better.

Franco Manca is horribly overrated too. Prefer PE tbh,

I have soft spots for (caused by) Taco Bell and Nandos. And Busaba Eathai, over Waga.

Top end, Hawksmoor, definitely.

Five Guys is disappointing, really hasn't travelled well. Honest Burger is miles better.

Franco Manca is horribly overrated too. Prefer PE tbh,

I have soft spots for (caused by) Taco Bell and Nandos. And Busaba Eathai, over Waga.

Top end, Hawksmoor, definitely.

Wildwood for pizza, quite like Zizzi too. Smoky Boys for burgers. Waga always good.

Cote is complete gash.

Gaucho was awesome until private equity ruined it for the end user as they do with everything they get involved in.

Ping pong is fooking rubbish for dim sum. Royal China outlets so much better.

Enoteca da Luca pretty good too, now I come to think of it. 

I don't understand how cafe rouge still exists. Cote does the brasserie thing much better and I've never had bad service there. 

Has honest burgers started the post expansion decline yet? Haven't been to one in a while.

Obvs hawksmoor when i have cash. 

Not Gavroche, no.

little local independant cafes and bistrots. Like what we used to have before big corp came along with its branding and over expansion.

Cote is solid, feels nicer than a chain and never had a bad meal 

Feel like there should be a de minimis no of places before it’s a true “chain”

yes they call it Benito's Hat these days.

 

There's a chain called something like Robuchon, bit expensive, not bad

ittle local independant cafes and bistrots. Like what we used to have before big corp came along with its branding and over expansion.
 

Minkie I think the chains have actually raised the standard of mid level dining in the U.K.  In France where such chains are far fewer the quality of local bistros is extremely variable and more expensive than equivalent food in U.K.  They also all seem to do the same dozen or so dishes.  Yes there are gems but I would say average standard lower without the competition from the chains 

Had an awful steak at Cote Godalming on Father's Day, without asking they comped the whole meal for both of us despite (faint) protests.

Had another awful steak at The Ivy Brighton and had to have a stand-up argument with the waiter to get the uneaten steak off the bill  

Generally go local.

If chain, Cote does a wonderful Duck Cassoulet.

Nandos if want cheap and hungry.

I think reading that would be too depressing. Akin to The Thick of It starting to represent the actual political situation in Westminster. Eeshk. 
 

BACK TO THE FOOD. 
 

Fougasse for everyone 

The Thick of It portrayed a governing class that was a model of competence and rectitude compared to the current lot, who in the relatively sane days of the norties, would have been considered far too unbelievable and ridiculous to be decent satire.

The JB novel is a satire about a theme park on the Isle of Wight. That’s what we’re left with, brexiters.

There are some serious burger philistines on this thread. How can you mention fooking Five Guys, Honest Burger and Byron but not the purveyor of the finest burger in this country, Shake Shack?! MEATliquor and Patty + Bun are also infinitely superior to the other burger chains mentioned here.

I agree that there clearly has to be a de minimis number of restaurants to qualify as a chain, otherwise you could just choose Padella as your low value option, Aulis as your high value option and be done with it.

Piccolino is a privately owned small chain. Go to the one in Brum regularly. Strong recommend. 

Mowgli for Indian street food done with style. 

I thought Loch Fyne had gone bust. They deserve to. Lobster served still half frozen. WTF???

Cote chocolate mousse is class. 
 

 

 

Mowgli is a good shout. Before dishoom opened in Manc it had the market for excellent indian street food in the north west.