Sunday, April 22, 2007

Restaurant Review - Fuddruckers, Festival Bay Mall, end of International Drive, Orlando, FL

A couple of weekends ago, Hubby, the boys, and I were at Putting Edge glow-in-the-dark indoor mini-golf at Festival Bay Mall, when we started to get hungry for lunch. We decided to eat at Fuddruckers in the mall since the boys were hungry for cheeseburgers and we were not in the mood for McDonald's. Fuddruckers is located at the main entrance of the Festival Bay Mall in what is becoming the mall's "restaurant row." There is also a Dixie Crossroads there (see my review here and they are finishing up a Cricketer Arms English Pub and a Bergamo's Italian Restaurant (both relocating from the Mercado Center, also on I-Drive). Fuddruckers is the only one of the four to also have an entrance inside the mall besides an outside one.

When you first walk into Fuddruckers, you are "funneled" along a narrow pathway that leads to the ordering counter. Along the way, you pass several menu boards, along with a display of raw hamburger patties - I guess so you can gauge how big of a burger you would like to have? At Fuddruckers, you can have a 1/3 lb, 1/2 lb, 2/3 lb, or even a full 1 lb burger, with all sorts of toppings. There's also salads, and grilled and crispy chicken sandwiches, sides (all burgers are a la carte - if you want fries, you'll have to order them separate) plus a whole dessert counter. The kid's menu offers cheeseburgers, hot dogs, grilled cheese, chicken fingers, all with fries on the side (lucky kids) or mac-n-cheese. For $3.99, the kid's meals come with a drink and a cookie as well. Hubby wasn't feeling "burger-y" so he ordered the All-American Grilled Chicken Sandwich ($6.69) that comes with smokehouse bacon, mushrooms, and American cheese on a bakery fresh Fuddruckers bun. He then took the boys to find a table while I finished the order. I chose one of the Specialty Burgers (meaning some premium toppings are already included), the Southwest Burger in 2/3 lb size ($6.89), which comes with guacamole, pepper jack cheese and smokehouse bacon. Both boys wanted cheeseburgers and I upgraded their drinks to chocolate milkshakes for an extra $1.49. I was then handed a milkshake-shaped sign with a number to put on our table and was asked for a name for the order. The order taker said our milkshakes would be delivered to us but to come back to the counter when our name was called to get the food.

I arrived at the table with the sign and drinks for Hubby and me. The seating area is large, but feels very crowded. There are square booths and circle booths, and regular tables and high tables. There is pretty much no place to put a stroller and if you have a high-chair child, you'd better hope one of the regular tables is empty because that's the only kind that can accommodate a high-chair. About 5 minutes later, the kids' milkshakes arrived, which was good because it was something to keep their attention. Hubby wondered why they took the sign with the number on it when the shakes were delivered - how were they going to deliver our food now? I explained that, no, we had to listen for our name and then go back up and get the food. He thought that was very inconvenient for parents, especially if there is only one adult and a bunch of children - how would you keep track of your kids when you are going up to get the food? With so many other "fast-casual" restaurants today delivering food right to your table, I wonder why Fuddruckers hasn't adopted this as well. About 15 minutes later, our food was ready and I went up to the counter to get it. There are no trays for you to get your food with so I had to juggle the three burger baskets and one chicken basket on my way back to our table. The boys both wanted ketchup and mustard and BB wanted tomatoes, pickles and lettuce, too, on their burgers so I had to go back to the toppings and sauces bar to fix up their burgers. It's actually a pretty nice spread with fresh veggies and other toppings including onions, salsa, jalapenos, relish, BBQ sauce, ranch dressing, mayo, and about 4 different kinds of mustard. Back to the table again and now Hubby got up to fix up his chicken sandwich how he wanted it. My Southwest burger looked really good as is so I didn't feel like I needed any additional toppings. After cutting up LB's burger into quarters and BB's burger in half, it was now time for me to eat! Yum! The mix of guac, pepper jack cheese and bacon really gave the burger a great taste. Plus, I just love Fuddruckers' bakery buns. They slather them in butter and then toast them and they just taste perfect with the burgers. Hubby thought his chicken sandwich was okay - the chicken was a little dry but otherwise pretty good. Both boys did pretty good with their burgers and fries (homestyle cut and seasoned) but only got halfway through with their shakes. It's not clear when you are leaving whether you need to bus your own table or not but we didn't see any garbage cans so we left everything on the table. As we were leaving the table, though, a server did come by and start clearing our table. She also reminded us to get our kid's meal cookies at the bakery counter and that we just needed to show our receipt. That's right - the cookies! We had totally forgotten about those. I went by the counter and got two kid's chocolate chip cookies on our way out. I really like the food at Fuddruckers and the boys enjoy it too but Hubby doesn't like how it is so "self-serve" focused. I tend to agree and I'll have to make sure I have another adult with me when I bring the kids back.

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