Last time we were in Chicago, J’s step-dad suggested we go to Houlian’s for dinner. Actually, he gave us the choice between Houlihan’s and Hackney’s in Palos Park. I lobbied for Hackney’s since I knew we had a Houlihan’s in Lansing. J and her mom agreed so we went to Hackney’s.
Today, J wanted to make a quick trip to Horrocks to get some apples for the week. It was a little later in the afternoon and we hadn’t eaten lunch yet. I was still pretty tired and didn’t feel like thinking or researching so I suggested we go to Houlihan’s at the Lansing Mall. J didn’t argue, so that’s where we headed.
Houlihan’s is in the Lansing Mall near Macy’s. There’s an entrance from outside the mall as well as inside. We used the outside door and entered near the giant clock. We were met by a hostess who showed us to a booth near the windows in the non-smoking section. The decor wasn’t all that different from most chains. It was more of an upscale feel when compared to something like Applebee’s, but again, the design was too clean and too perfect to not be a chain. I hung my coat on one of the coat hooks attached to the booth and took a seat. J mentioned she was surprised that she wasn’t cold sitting next to the windows like she had been at other restaurants recently.
The first thing we noticed were the menus. The outside covers were a piece of tin. Inside, the pages were inside plastic sheet covers. The menu started with drinks. There were quite a few pages. I flipped through until I got to the food section. I just wanted a Coke. J got a pomegranite lemonade which she loved. She said it was just a little tart and was sparkling.
When it came time to order, I flipped through the entree section until I got to the burger and sandwich part. Pretty much everything on that section of the menu was around ten bucks, so it didn’t really matter what I got. I settled on the Tillamook Burger. Apparently, Tillamook is a kind of cheddar cheese. I had never heard of it. It pretty much tasted like cheese to me. Didn’t notice any difference. The burger was served on a whole wheat bun with bacon, lettuce, tomato and red onion with fries. The burger was OK, but nothing fabulous. It was a little overcooked and dry for my tastes, but it was satisfying. The fries still had the skin on, but I doubt they were fresh cut here in Lansing. They sort of reminded me of Arby’s fries which I really like.
J pulled a last minute audible and ordered the chicken finger platter. I thought she was going to order the chipotle smoked chicken enchilada. When she gave her order, she got the chicken finger platter. The chicken strips were served with honey mustard, a peanut ginger slaw, and fries. She got a pretty large portion of smaller chicken strips which were really good. They weren’t the long, half a breast strips that you usually get. These were much smaller and crispier. They didn’t skimp on portion size though. I had two pieces of her chicken and we still brought four pieces home. She really liked the chicken, thought the slaw was different, but not bad and liked the crispy fries.
Even though we were both stuffed, a table top ad for a dessert called snowball flight was too tempting. When the waitress came back to take our plates, J ordered one for us to split. The waitress brought back three martini glasses which she carried in a wrought iron holder. The bigger glass in the middle was filled with cinnamon clove doughnut holes. The two smaller glasses were filled with a Bailey’s white chocolate and a Kahlua chocolate sauce. I thought the white chocolate sauce was the better of the two. J didn’t want to choose a favorite. We each ate a couple of the doughnuts, but still ended up taking four home. After we decided not to eat anymore, I dipped my fork in the chocolate and just licked my fork clean.
Our total bill was close to $40. That’s a little more than I like to spend on lunch, but we both left full with a few leftovers. The thing I’ve noticed about chain restaurants is that you always leave having eaten too much. I guess that’s a good thing, but I never eat nearly as much when I eat at a local place. You can look at that two ways, I guess. I look at it as something I don’t want to do every day. There’s so much food on your plate and I don’t want to see it go to waste, but they always charge a little bit more than the local places too. Ten bucks for a burger, which is pretty standard amongst the chains, seems a few dollars too high. It’s hard to get out for under $20.
Houlihan’s was good. We sort of indulged a little bit since this was the only meal we were eating out together this weekend. J’s chicken fingers were really good and my burger was alright. The dessert was really good. Houlihan’s didn’t really stand out from any other chain as far as I was concerned. It was good, but it is what it is.