When the FOOD is Better than the Movie

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Matt the Ratt and Billy Famine at a Denny's in Whittier CA

Matt the Ratt and Billy Famine at a Denny’s in Whittier CA

2015 brought us two summer stinkers to theaters, Terminator: Genisys and Fantastic Four. So, after seeing both movies and being let down, as well as having other writers on duty assigned to review those movies anyways, I decided to review (with some help from Matt ‘The Ratt’ Bogarin from Ratthaus Productions) what was left: the promotional food items found in Denny’s and Red Robin restaurants.

First off, I want to talk about the Slamtastic 4 Menu (or Slamt4stic if you’re into spelling like you’re still in the nineties) at Denny’s. The first thing you’ll notice is that these pictures are just like browsing through a dating website, what you see is almost certainly not what you’re going to exactly get. They look so amazing, except for the Thing Burger which just looks a little off putting to me, honestly, and I want to be nowhere near “The Thing”. I guess my inner ‘Laurie Holden’ kicked in (get it?). Right away Matt calls dibs on the Human Torch Skillet, easily the fanciest looking one, and I opt for something more light, so I go for the not so smartly named Invisible Woman Slam, considering it comes with Strawberries and Banana slices and I figured I’m fat enough as it is, so I should try to start my morning right. I turn the page and see two more menu items as well, one that caught my eye was the Fantastic Four Berry Smoothie, which apparently has four different berries. Screw it I say, a berry filled morning for me.

What I was expecting my food to look like-- Fantastic Four Cheese Omelet

What I was expecting my food to look like– Fantastic Four Cheese Omelet

So, this is where the first disappointment comes in. They are out of berries. Much like the movie trailer, they are showing me things that aren’t even going to really be offered. I opt for my second choice, the Fantastic Four Cheese Omelet, which has four cheeses (duh) and I decide I’ll wash it all down with unsweetened ice tea. Great! Our decision is made, and we wait for our food to arrive and what I get is just what I expected; a dish that looks NOTHING like the advertised product. The omelet in the picture doesn’t even close, the ingredients are all spilling out of it.

My omelet, on the other hand, closes quite well. In fact, it took more than one bite off the edges to actually start landing on ingredients and not just egg. It’s mostly a ton of veggies, which I can dig but nothing exceptional, in fact I don’t think it even filled me up. It came with hash browns and toast, although not sure why I would review that since it’s all the same across the board with any dish there.

We exchanged a bit of food so I could try the Human Torch Skillet as well, which surprisingly DOES look like the advertised product and what do you know? The mix of vegetables, potatoes, eggs, and that sausage all mix so well. It looks really spicy, but instead adds just enough spicy twist to the flavor to make it all really stand out. I’m really jealous of Matt the Ratt at this moment, but I chose what I chose, so I down the omelet and move onto the hash browns and buttered up toast.

Pretty much what Matt the Ratts order looked like. I was jealous. It's good. -- Human Torch Skillet

Pretty much what Matt the Ratt’s order looked like. I was jealous. It’s good. — Human Torch Skillet

So, I might not have mentioned it, but they also offered Doctor Doom Lava Cake. Marshmallows, Ice Cream, chocolate… you get the idea. We order it for dessert and… it’s not bad. Nothing mind blowing or exceptional, but definitely enjoyable and delicious. I’m leaving Denny’s pretty happy, I had a standard omelet (which had bacon, now that I remember, although not a lot of it) and I didn’t have to drop down too much cash. My hunger was satisfyingly slammed. So Slamtastic Four, you have done much better by me than your movie counterpart did, and for Denny’s to beat out Fox using the Fantastic Four franchise is saying something.

Not long after Matt the Ratt invites me over to Red Robin, and the first thing I ask is if the Genisys burger is still being offered, and he says yes. I’m lacing up my shoes and already I know I’m going to order it, I don’t even know what’s in it, but damn it I’m ordering it and eating it all the way.

What the advertisement tells me the burger will look like.

What the advertisement tells me the burger will look like.

I get there and sure enough, there it is. I order first, look at the menu later, like a true action hero, then I see what I’m in for. Jalapeno aioli, jalapeno buns, roasted jalapenos, pepper jack cheese…. Geez, this burger is not meant to terminate my hunger, it’s meant to terminate the taste buds off my tongue! Not being a fan of avocado, I asked it be set aside (it also comes with lettuce, tomato, and bacon just to be sure you’re getting more than just a mouthful of spices). It’s Red Robin, so the burger doesn’t look exactly the same as the picture, but it least gets close.

Like the Fantastic Four Cheese Omelet though, you don’t get all the key ingredients until several bites in, and that’s a problem. At this point I’m getting cocky, thinking that it’s very delicious but not spicy at all. Towards the end… well, it’s like sticking a flamethrower in my mouth with every bite. Noted, I’m not good with spicy food and this burger is suddenly overloading me with so much Jalapeno in every bite, and the Cherry Coke isn’t doing much in alleviating my pain. I swallow everything on the dish, then I pat myself on the back for getting through with that.

What the burger actually ends up looking like. Picture taken with my phone at a Red Robin in Whittier CA

What the burger actually ends up looking like. Picture taken with my phone at a Red Robin in Whittier CA

Well, it said it would terminate my hunger and it does that. I don’t eat anything until the next day. The burger was filling and pretty good (although extremely hot at certain points). I have a bit of trouble digesting the whole thing (I won’t get into details, but the burger is huge and I’m only five foot four). Is the Genisys burger better than the movie? Well…. I don’t know. The movie had me shaking my head, but the burger said it would leave me satisfied, and it did. So yes, the burger was something better, although not by a lot. Red Robin successfully pulls off a meal based on the Terminator franchise, and I’m breathing more fire than a dragon, and not just from my mouth.

When I realized the burger was fire, but damn it I'm no quitter.

When I realized the burger was fire, but damn it I’m no quitter.

Two promo meals later I realize this isn’t such a bad idea. Pushing your movie through a restaurant chain is something I can get behind. Hell, let’s go full force. Star Wars? How about the Imperial Rib Eye Steak? Darth Fried Chicken and Fries? Or how about the Suicide Burger with a Suicide Mixed Drink for the Suicide Squad movie (getting drunk tattoos with your friends afterwards not recommended)? I wonder what they’ll even come up with for Deadpool or the X-Men (the Colossus burger, maybe? Seems like an easy shoe in).

So if the movie sucks, do what I do: stuff down your sadness with filling food. I’m sure Josh Trank himself probably just earned a lifetime of Thing Burgers and more Thing Sauce than he knows what to do with.

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