San Leandro Reviews
Why, you may ask, am I reviewing a chain restaurant in San Leandro? Indeed, you may ask why I'm going to a chain restaurant in San Leandro to begin with. I don't like chains (usually); their food tends to be generic and not particularly tasty and they displace local restaurants which tend to better serve the local population. But I've been wanting to try it, for the simple fact that it is in San Leandro, and when Mike suggested we go there after a movie at Bayfair, I jumped (not literally) at the idea.
It was a Saturday night, and though it was very busy, they were able to seat us right away (probably because there were just two of us). Service throughout the evening was rushed, but ultimately fine. The menu is somewhat difficult to read, as items are not listed in a logical order, but we ultimately found the baby back ribs they are so well-known for (thanks to their own commercials). Mike ordered a rack of them (half original sauce, half Carolina - $15.30) and I had half a rack of honey BBQ baby back ribs and a classic sirloin combo ($15.50). We skipped appetizers as we weren't that hungry (though this was our only meal of the day). To my surprise, the food was very good. The ribs were nicely seasoned, they were tender and the meat fell off the bone (but not too much so), the bbq sauces weren't too gooey, and they tasted great. I assume that they have consistency down to a 'T,' so if I'm in the mood for baby back ribs, I'd probably come here again. But what really surprised me was the steak. The sirloin was perfectly cooked medium rare (to the rare side of medium rare, which is how I really like my steaks) and it had a pleasant rub on it. For being a sirloin (I'm more of a NY Steak or Ribeye person), I really liked it. The entrees came with your choice of sides (not many choices) and we had the loaded mashed potatoes, the regular potatoes, the vegetable (broccoli) and the corn on the cob. I liked the loaded mashed potatoes (loaded with cheese and bacon bits), though they were served lukewarm. Mike also liked the regular mashed potatoes; these were served at a normal temperature. The broccoli, according to Mike, was yummy. It wasn't overcooked and it was nicely buttered. Only the corn on the cob was a failure; not very sweet.
We were full by then, but I insisted we try one of their desserts (for the sake of this review, of course). We chose what must be their most popular dish, the molten chocolate cake ($5.60), described as a "Warm chocolate cake with chocolate fudge filling. Topped with vanilla ice cream under a crunchy chocolate shell." Yeah, it sounded good, and it was really good too. Top restaurants should be able to make a dessert this good. The cake was moist, the oozing chocolate filling delicious, and the ice cream brought all of this together. This is a dessert large enough to share between three persons too. Don't even think of ordering it for yourself.
The restaurant itself is nice, exactly what you'd expect of an upscale chain restaurant. There is a lot of wood, low hanging lights (so it's pretty dark), and, only in our booth, random pictures of people (don't ask me why).
In all I had a surprisingly pleasant dining experience. Chili's is very kid friendly, of course, so I can totally see coming back here with the kids. They love ribs.
15555 E 14th St, Suite 366
San Leandro, CA