I have a voucher patiently waiting to be used for a well known chain, having been approached a while back to do a review for them. I've seen lots of reviews popping up for this particular chain and have seen via twitter lots of snobbery from food bloggers on why they don't use chains.
Does using chains make you a bad food blogger?
I don't think so.
I do comprehend that as someone that others may call a "foodie", although I'd never call myself one, I'm expected to hate chains, to only use independents and to be supremely interested in local sourcing of food.
Let me let you into a little secret.... I do appreciate seeing local sourcing of ingredients, but I don't hate chains. In fact, I probably use chains more than independents, particularly when eating out with friends.
Why - because I know where I am with them, my friends know they like them and mostly because I don't feel the pressure for the meal to be great if I've insisted on going somewhere independent rather than a chain.
I know that in Pizza Express I'll probably find the pizza slimy but that my companions will be happy enough with theirs, I know we all like the dough balls so we can share a starter without having to deliberate the menu an extra half an hour and then leave someone who didn't get their choice sulking.
I know in Akbars there's something on the menu that we all like, that the food won't really set my tastebuds on fire but it will be of an acceptable standard.
I know that my friend and I can go in any Wagamamas in the country and there's plenty on the menu that she likes, and yes it won't be as good as the little thai place we go to in London, but it's somewhere that will suit both of our tastes, won't break the bank and will be quick.
If I was able to choose every time I'd rather go somewhere new that I haven't been before, be that an independent or a chain. On my 29th birthday I wanted to go to an independent, but I was overruled by the friends I was with, one who has a digestive disease and is panicky of trying anywhere new, but would feel safer going to the chain we went to, the other who didn't really care where we had a curry, just wanted to have one. I was a bit miffed - it's my party and I'll eat where I want to, and all that. But I accepted that not everyone cares about trying new places - did I really want to make my friend worried about having something to eat, or did I want her to enjoy herself?
My two favourite restaurants in Leeds are independents - Pinche Pinche and Jaipur. But as neither are in the city centre it's rare I go to them. I shall be making an effort to go to both before things change completely in the Baxter/Hughes household though.
The snobbery I've seen on twitter has made me a bit wary of posting the review of the chain - will I be judged as a crap food blogger for accepting to do a review on a chain?
I would never normally do a review of a chain - we all know what they're like, it's not that interesting reading about it - unless they were doing something new, or I had a particularly great experience.
I agreed to do this one because it's a chain we used to go to as children, and I want to go as a family with Phil and the boys and take them. We loved going because of the theme, the huge sundaes for pudding and we loved sitting in the booths. It's not a place I'd normally go, because I know it's fairly expensive mediocre food, but I wanted to see if it has the same appeal to teens today.
What do you think about using chains?