Thursday, September 21, 2006

Restaurant Review - Bob's Big Boy, 795 Gateway Drive, Altamonte Springs, FL

A few week's ago, on a Sunday around noon, I dragged my parents and my kids to try out the new Bob's Big Boy Restaurant in Altamonte Springs. It's a new location in Florida although Bob's Big Boys have been around for years and years. In fact, I remember going to Bob's Big Boy as a child growing up in Virginia and I remembered liking it. So, I asked my parents to go with me on a trip down memory lane. To which my dad replied, "What? Why do you want to go all the way up there to eat at Bob's Big Boy? You might as well go to a Denny's around the corner! The food is about the same." But I insisted -- "C'mon, I need to eat there for my blog!"
The location was a little hard to find, you have to head south of 436 on 434 and then look for the restaurant on Gateway Drive at a new shopping center. Upon walking inside the restaurant, a large Big Boy statue greets you, naturally. My Big Boy (my 7-year old) thought it was cool to pose like the statue and have his picture taken. The inside of the restaurant resembles an old-time diner with lots of bright chrome and checkerboard designs. We were seated at a booth and given large laminated menus (kind of like at Denny's) and the kids were given paper menus that looked like comic books. My Big Boy (BB) was a little upset because he received what he termed a "girl" comic book menu but, luckily, we were able to exchange it for a "boy" one (Ninja Turtles). There were jokes, riddles, and puzzles inside with the menu itself on the back page. We had plenty of time to decide what we wanted when our server came to the table. She took our drink orders -- chocolate milk for my Little Boy (LB), a chocolate malt for me, Grandma, and my BB (hey, they had a sign saying Malt Shop - we had to try it!), with just water for Grandpa. Then, our server disappeared. Really. We couldn't find her for 10 minutes. And it's not that big of a restaurant. To kill the time, LB and I checked out the breakfast buffet. It was a pretty okay-looking spread with all of the standards - pancakes, waffles, eggs, sausage, bacon, grits, fruit, etc. I might have to try it some time. But today, I had come to try the signature entree - THE Big Boy burger. Luckily, by the time we came back to our table, a manager walked by and asked how everything was going. We explained that we couldn't find our server, or our drinks, so she promised to find them and then proceeded to take our food order. Grandma and I got the Big Boy burger, hers was $4.29 for the burger alone while I got the combo with fries and a side item for $6.89. I chose the cole slaw on the advice of the manager and then also decided to upgrade to the onion rings for another $1. LB wanted the hot dog kids' meal and BB ordered the grilled cheese -- with a drink, fries and a "special prize" included, the kids' meals were a deal for only $2.99! Another kids' meal choice is a kiddie burger and only $1 more to upgrade to kiddie chicken tenders. The manager kept calling the kids' meals "the kid's hot dog box and kid's grilled cheese box" so I assumed they would come in some sort of box with the food and surprise all together. Shortly thereafter, our original server showed up again, with all of our drinks. The chocolate malts were served "the old-fashioned way" in tall glasses with the remainder in the silver mixing cup. LB decided he wanted to try mine and then proceeded to suck the whole thing down. Good thing I had extra in the mixing cup!

Soon, our entrees arrived. The kids' food was served on regular plates so I don't know what kind of "box" the manager was talking about. I could tell by that point that our server was new so maybe she didn't serve the kids' food correctly? My Big Boy Burger looked like... well... it looked like a Big Mac from McDonald's. Okay, but the important thing is what it tastes like! And it tastes like... a Big Mac. It did. Oh well, my childhood memories were dashed. Bob's Big Boy really IS just like a Denny's (or McDonald's). Everyone pretty much agreed. But the cole slaw was really good, just like the manager said. All told, we got out of there for only $35, not including tax and tip - not too bad for 3 adults and 2 kids. As I was paying at the cashier, I remembered that we hadn't gotten our kids' meal "surprise". I stopped the server as she was walking by and she said she had to check with the manager what was supposed to be in the kids' meal. She came back with two plastic bobble-head Big Boy figurines. The boys thought they were funny and liked playing with them. As we walked out the door, I saw that they had a "gift shop" with all kinds of Big Boy collectibles. One of them was the exact same plastic bobble-head my kids had just gotten, going for $3 each! So, an even better deal (although I wonder if the server messed up and gave us the wrong kid's prize). All in all, I don't think I would head back up to Altamonte Springs for another meal at Bob's Big Boy. But it was fun to go for memory's sake.

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