Featured Food: O’Charley’s

My family used to visit Erie in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. We usually stayed at the KOA campground in McKean and there was plenty to do right there: swimming, biking, ice cream socials, campfires, etc. Plus, it’s located just about 20 minutes from Waldameer Park and Presque Isle. I’m not big on camping but I have fond memories of these trips and I’ve always wanted my nephew to experience them. He’s 6 this year so I figured it was a good time to take him and the family on a short trip over Labor Day weekend.

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Although we were there from Friday evening to Sunday evening, I did not get a chance to visit any bakeries in the area. I know, I’m a terrible person. There just wasn’t much time and the bakeries were closed on Sunday and Monday. However, we did have lunch at a place near Millcreek Mall that I had never been to before. We were all set to have brunch at a family restaurant called Butch’s Place and were driving up I-79N when my cousin saw a sign for O’Charley’s. She said she’d been to one when she lived in South Carolina and it was really good. So I swerved onto the exit ramp and headed for O’Charley’s.

I could tell from the outside that O’Charley’s is similar to Applebee’s and T.G.I.Friday’s. On the inside, it’s a little bit nicer but I still think of it as being in that category. It wasn’t quite  noon and the place wasn’t busy yet. The hostess sat us immediately, right next to the only occupied table in the restaurant. We were confused by this, as we were accompanied by 2 (screaming) children, and we felt badly for our neighbors. But hey, who are we to tell anyone how to seat people?

Then we got down to business. It was so hard to decide what to order at a place I’d never been to before. Overloaded Potato Skins. O’Charley’s Famous Chicken Tenders. Southern Fried Chicken Salad. I wanted to try everything. Then Cousin pointed out the Top Shelf Combo Platter which included Famous Chicken Tenders, OverloadedPotato Skins and Spicy Jack Cheese Wedges. I was sold.

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I didn’t love the chicken tenders, but I liked them. The breading was light and at least it was real chicken. The cheese wedges were very good. They consisted of fried breading with melted cheese inside. Can’t go wrong there. And the potato skins were phenomenal, if a tad overcooked. I think the ranch dressing was Hidden Valley (ew) but the honey mustard was pretty good. I’m not big on marinara sauce and it didn’t look very appetizing so I didn’t try it.

Boy had the Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich with fries. I was surprised by this choice because he usually doesn’t go for spicy foods. But he does go for chicken sandwiches and this may have been the only one on the menu. He said it was only slightly spicy and he really liked both the sandwich and the fries.

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Cousin had the Famous Chicken Tenders platter with fries and they were same tenders that I had with the combo platter. I tried one of her fries and was disappointed. I don’t like seasoned fries and they reminded me of Applebee’s. But that’s ok, I’ll just stick with the potato skins. However, Cousin does like seasoned fries so it worked out well for her. It appears that she had her chicken with buffalo or some other kind of sauce, which I had forgotten.

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The kids shared chicken tenders, fries and pizza and they had no complaints. Chunk did throw some pizza on the floor, but he throws everything. And he sure does love his fries.

We were all too full to try any desserts, unfortunately. While I liked some things and not others, I’ll definitely go back to O’Charley’s the next time I’m in Erie. We had a very nice lunch and the potato skins themselves are enough to bring me back.

P.S. For those of you who won brownies, I will get them to you ASAP!

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(Random people at Lake Erie)

 

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