Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Heart Attack Grill, Chandler AZ

My godfather is visit Arizona, so he and my son and I made a pilgrimage to the Heart Attack Grill in Chandler last week.  Since my godfather is staying at my cousin's home in Surprise, it was 60 miles, each way, and took most of the day driving from the far NW to the far SE of Phoenix.  We'd heard a great deal of hype about the H.A.G., and the place had several high points, and missed on a few things.

There were the "nurses" dressed in costume, and each customer was required to wear a hospital gown, which the nurses helped them put on.  It was a little corny, but ok.

Above the center "nurses station" were large screen TVs that blared music (old Beatles videos) at a volume that made it hard to hear yourself or your fellow patrons.

There was indeed a doctor's office scale (with a whistle hanging by a  string, that the nurses could blow) for any patron who came in over 350 lbs.  The menu states this on the first page...

The menu was extremely limited, and slightly misleading.  The photos on the menu showed white and yellow cheeses - leading one to think it was a swiss, or provolone, or some other slice of white / light cheese, stacked with the 1/2 pound beef patties.  When I inquired to the later-20-something waitress what kinds of cheese she admonished me "Oh no, ONLY American" - oh well... ok... less flavorful, more partially hydrogenated oils in a "cheese product" as "American" typically is.. but fine.  I'd roll with it.

My son ordered a 1 pounder - "Double By Pass".  My uncle ordered the 1/2 pound "Single By Pass" and I ordered the Double.  Not wanted to be shown up by the younger lions, my uncle upped his order to a Double as well.  The nurses take your order to the "doctors" who are wearing scrubs back in the "grill" area.  I put "grill" in quotations, because it's a giant frying surface, a griddle, not a grill.  I always think of a grill as a place where there's flame or a heat source beneath a cooking surface, and that heat can directly cook the meat that rests on a series of thin metallic bars suspended above the heat source.  The "Heart Attack Griddle" doesn't sound as good, I guess.  Waffle House has a griddle.  Pancake breakfasts have griddles.  So does the "Heart Attack Grill".

The nurse asked us if we'd all be having fries.  As high carb as potatoes are, I abstained, as did my uncle.  My son however, indulged in the "all you can eat fry bar" - which consisted of merely a french fry tray with a heat lamp.  On the "sneeze guard" were the letters "Only 100% Lard Used To Fry".  Ok, another gimmicky touch. 

We needed something to drink.   The 30 oz butter milk milk shake was way too much for me.   Maybe as a meal in itself, ok, but not to wash anything down. so I opted for PBR, while my fellow travelers ordered Cokes, made in Mexico, with full sugar cane, served in glass bottles. 

And that brings me to the next point of a "let down".  Coronas (which, I was told in Monterrey Mexico, are only drank by low wage manual laborers construction workers, as it is considered a nasty beer by the Mexicans) and Mexican Cokes were on the menu - which is fine, if that's what someone wants to drink - but all over every page were slants against President Obama. 

WTF?  Why?  No, there's not a Federal 9.1% sales tax on food, that's a STATE sales tax.  But stating "9.1% is taken by Jan Brewer" doesn't have as much gravity, I guess.  

And it is not Barack Obama who eats healthy food, it is his wife, Michelle, who encourages children to eat 'healthy' food.  Barack and side-kick Biden go to "Five Guys" and get greasy bags of take out, and he still smokes.  So the openly expressed Republican bias was a let down to my uncle and I as well as my son, who saw no need for it in a eating establishment, or anywhere outside of a Chamber of Commerce meeting, Board Room, or Frat House.
And "PBR the Last American owned brewery" is an insult to the hundreds of micro brewers all over America, who brew a variety of beers, some of them much better than PBR.

If you order the quadruple by pass, and you finish it in one sitting, the nurses will wheel you out to your vehicle in a wheel chair, for tender loving care.  Playing on the large screens over-head were testimonials by enormous men who made Refrigerator Perry look like a normal sized human being, saying things like "since I began eating at H.A.G. I've gained 20 lbs!".

When our burgers finally arrived, they were served with a stack of napkins, and a tiny little paper "tray", the kind you get at a state fair, that barely held the enormous burger.  No large plate, and no room really for fixins (toppings). There was a small topping bar that was devoid of lettuce. It did have pickles (from a giant Sysco Industrial food service can), a sliced medium sized tomato (the only thing that was fresh), loads of high fructose laden ketchup and mustard, and a variety of jalapenos.  There were also the wimpiest, cheapest, plastic forks and knives I've ever seen, completely inadequate to do anything except stab a un-crisp sliced pickle.  I was going to try and eat my burger bun free, but that as impossible with hot melted cheese slathered everywhere.

So you're balancing this tower of a burger on this tiny little paper tray, and as it teeters, you're trying to apply toppings, hoping the burger won't topple over into the toppings containers below, arms extended under sneeze guard.  Each of us struggled with this unsteady set up - it was not just un-coordinated me.

So the food was OK - there was lot of it.  The service was OK - friendly but not overly friendly.  The venue was cheap.  Dining accessories were cheap as hell.  Condiments were lack luster.   When the bill came, it was totaled wrong - 3 fries instead of 1, which our nurse corrected.

The anti-Obama sentiment was misplaced, inappropriate, and uninspiring to this meat lover.  The distance - was a giant trek.  Only cash is accepted.  The premise was weak - eat here because it is unhealthy?  Maybe something to do once a year at most.  Once in a life-time, maybe....  but I can't give it a massive, ringing endorsement.   Perhaps it's better on a Friday or Saturday night.   We went on a Wednesday afternoon at 1 and were only 3 out of about 20 patrons, with one veteran nurse, and 1 nurse in training.

They have merchandise for sale, at somewhat inflated prices.  A vending machine sold T shirts for $20, and the website has a variety of merchandise as well.  We didn't get any, but we did snap pictures. 3 of us ate for one Ulysses S Grant, tip included.

If you come to Phoenix to visit, and you REALLY want try the Heart Attack Grill, we can go there on the way to or from the airport (which is about 1/2 way there) and if it is not rush hour.   I'd hate to try and make that journey by highway in heavy traffic.

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