Or IHOP for short. I HOPe this little post will enlighten people who may be considering giving it a try. And I want to state upfront that this IHOP is the one located in Coralville Iowa. Call this a review if you want: I’m just telling you about the truly unique experience we had there today.
First, Years ago, When Cheryl and I were still dating, we went to an Ihop in Michigan because I always wanted to try it when I was a kid and we were looking for new places to try out on our dates. I’ll spare you the details and say: Let’s sum that up and a bad experience. One that made me take that chain of restaurants off my list for viable places to dine.
Fast forward to today! With not one but TWO gift cards for the IHOP in our possession. We decided we would make our weekly trip to Iowa City different and try out the IHOP with the gift cards. We have had them since Christmas and have not touched them. Remembering back to Michigan, I was not expecting much, but remained hopeful that the experience would be “different” and better this time around.
Well, I was not disappointed in several ways. First, the place was clean and the staff was friendly. They gave us a table immediately and we were able to look over the menus. It was just after lunch, so the place was not crowded. The Music was quiet and not harsh on the ears. So far so good…
Not being too hungry for a huge meal, Cheryl and I decided to share an appetizer sampler. Chicken strips, Onion rings, and Cheese Sticks with three dipping sauces. Normally, when trying out a new place that brags “family Dinning” I order the BLT. You can tell a lot about a restaurant by the BLT! It’s simple! Difficult to screw up. Taste good! Looks Good! And best of all, It’s a familiar gauge to grade the type and style of cooking to be found at that particular restaurant. And EVERYONE has a BLT! Unless you are an Asian or Mexican restaurant, there will most likely be a BLT on the Menu.
However, I had high hopes and thought that, since we did not want a “large” meal, the appetizers would be a second best option. Everyone does chicken strips and Onion Rings are also hard to mess up.
Let’s cut to the chase shall we….We got the food and …get this…Because it will set this IHOP…NO! This ENTIRE RESTAURANT DOWN IN HISTORY! The food was……(DRUM ROLL!) BLAND! I mean Bland Bland with capital “B’s” . I have never in my ENTIRE like ( that is saying a lot as I have cooked for over 10 years and eaten at countless restaurants in my 40+ years) ever experienced that level of blandness. The three sauces were honey mustard, Ranch and marinara. Unbranded catsup has more flavor. I am still scratching my head as to how they achieved that level of red tasteless sauce. I mean, How is that HUMANLY possible? Everyone wants to “spice things up” a bit…..The Honey mustard was similar. No honey. No mustard! Just yellow sauce that had seriously subdued sweet notes. Like they watered down the real sauce in a 50 gallon drum. And then the ranch dressing. They could have pulled anything off the shelves at HYVEE that would have tasted better.
The Only thing that was “ok” was the onion rings. The chicken and the cheese sticks were….bland. No spicy. No stringy gooey. No Flavor! As a Cook and former Line cook for a lodge and Perkins restaurant, I find this level of tastelessness unimaginable….and hence I will ALWAYS remember this moment. Cooks always make things too spicy, salty, sweet, creamy, …..GOOD! It is what makes cooks human. Sometimes we overdo it….sometimes we get it perfect. But this was like there was a robot in the kitchen who has no will of their own.
Which brings me to this. How can you hate a place that is bland. Devoid of any color, style, or atmosphere. Not to mention taste. Cheryl and I might have enjoyed drinking a glass of lukewarm water on the sidewalk better. As I write this I feel like I’m kicking a puppy. The food was not BAD! It was edible. It was cooked. It was SAFE. And that is probably what I had wrong with it. SAFE! SAFE? Are they being Safe when they make tasteless food. So no one will ever say it is “bad”? If that is the case, I’m surprised anyone ever eats there. It must be true…someone must! They are still in business after all. And perhaps there are other stores that are better in their décor, music, and food. But the one in Coralville, Iowa. Is a Stone on the beach that stands out for being..”Remarkably Undistinguishable!” I would almost recommend it so you will have something to measure other stores by. Coralville Iowa International House Of Pancakes : The Most Boring Bland food ever!