Tonight, Date Night asks the philosophical question: Can a chain restaurant only have one location? We are at Chequers, which is less than two miles from our headquarters in East Cobb. This is not to be confused with Checkers Drive-In, the fast-food place, although I’m sure they get those jokes all of the time.
This location was a Houlihan’s for over ten years before it was recently converted to Chequers, which is coincidentally, owned by Houlihan’s. This is the only Chequers in the country and this is a new location for the “chain”, which used to be over near Perimeter Mall.
They must use the concept to test out ideas for their other upscale restaurants. Like their $10 martinis, which look good, but we don’t go for the hard stuff.
Our loyal readers will notice that there is just water in our glasses tonight. We would normally talk about a good craft beer during this section of our review, but the beer list here is so bad at we would rather drink water. The most exotic beer is Sweetwater 420, which really has become a glorified “convenience store beer”. Craft beer has become such a cash cow for restaurants that you wonder why the chains have not caught on. Perhaps it has not hit the Houlihan’s headquarters in Kansas.
We decide to sample two small plates and split an entree.
Before we order, two excellent biscuits are delivered to the table. They are hot and the butter melts right into them. I am not embarrassed to report that I consume two of these tonight.
The crab spring rolls are pricey at $12. One sauce is sweet and one is spicy. They are enjoyable, but small for the price.
The clams are a much better value. They are very clean and unlike the clams we recently enjoyed in the northeast, have no sand. The white wine sauce goes well with the grilled French bread that comes on the side.
The menu is mostly seafood and steak. On the left side of e menu you can pick the fish you want and pair it with two sides, or you can lean to the right side and let the chef put together the combos for you.
In the sprit of trying as much of the menu as possible, we split the mixed grill, which happens to be the most expensive choice on the menu. They grill with mesquite here and the wood imparts a nice flavor (or is that “flavour”?) into the fish. There is a nice variety on the plate, including shrimp, scallops, salmon and a crab cake that doesn’t have a lot of filler. This is the order, which the kitchen was nice enough to split into two plates for us at no extra charge. Our sides include grilled asparagus and some whipped yukon gold potatoes that have no lumps. Eve hates lumpy potatoes. The guy across from us eats this dish by himself. It’s a lot of food, but again we think the $36 price is a bit steep.
We are too full for dessert. We are able to use a $20 coupon, not because we are famous food bloggers, but because they mailed one to everyone in our neighborhood.
The Bottom Line on Chequers: it might be a little expensive for our tastes, but if you are a 60-something in East Cobb, this might be the place for you. It’s packed tonight and the martinis are flowing like the water in our we-wish-it-was-beer glasses. Obviously the expensive menu is not keeping people away. The prices keep the kids out, which makes for a quiet dining experience in this family-friendly part of town. The food was excellent, but they need to overhaul the beer list and drop the prices of the entrees for this to become our neighborhood hangout.