If you've ever seen my profile picture on Urbanspoon, you can make out a big plate of food which I'm gawking at. That, my friends is the Appetizer Platter at Claim Jumper. For those who are unfamiliar with the place, it is a chain restaurant primarily in the Western United States. It specializes in classic American food, from comfort to steaks and BBQ. But its real "claim" to fame are their absolutely ridiculous portions. Imagine a place where chicken strips really mean 7 whole fried pieces of chicken breast. How about a slice of Chocolate Motherlode Cake that boasts 7 sinful layers? Or better yet, how about a plate of ribs that are so big, the sides need to arrive on a separate plate? Yes, if you're hungry, Claim Jumper is your restaurant.
I was initially introduced to the place back in 2004 by Mother Goose. We were passing by Bellevue on our way back from California and decided to pay her a visit. Upon entering the cabin/lodge-type decorated restaurant, we were greeted with a lineup. Yes folks, when you have big portions at reasonable prices, there will be a lineup. That is where I foolishly ordered the Appetizer Platter which could feed a whole family. Nothing like a plate of fried goodness to satisfy my fat and cholesterol limit for the month. Okay, I think you're getting the picture. Quantity over quality here. That is partially true. Although the food will never win any culinary awards, it is acceptable. Basically, it's a chain restaurant that is family friendly. Yah, you know the type, so don't expect anything else. Let's just say that when we were in Phoenix a few years ago, we opted for Claim Jumper over PF Chang's. Yah, that's an easy decision on our part since my son was with us. There is no grilled cheese or mac 'n cheese at PF Chang's. Oh yeah, there isn't any Asian food there either...
Tonight, we met up with Nikita and Bluebeard since they happened to be in Seattle for a few days as well. We were early enough (before 6:00pm) that we got a table immediately. However, there was a steady lineup after that. One thing that'll catch your attention while looking at the menu is the vast selection. There are so many different things you could order, it takes quite a awhile just to get to the last page. Bluebeard finally settled on the Original Tri-Tip Dip (beef dip), which is staple at family-type restaurants. However, this version had a few tweeks, such as gouda cheese and caramelized onions. Hey, it's a decent beef dip. The beef is both plentiful and tender. With the addition of the cheese and onions, there was no deficit of flavour either.
Viv had the Chicken Pot Pie and it was very large as expected. What can I say... It was a very large pot pie with lots of tender white meat, carrots and potatoes. Nothing out of the ordinary. For my main, I ordered something I've had in the past - Beef Ribs. If you look at the picture, it doesn't do it justice. The thing is so huge, it barely fits on a large plate. It's so large, the veggies, baked potato and garlic cheese bread arrived on separate plates. Size is one thing; but execution is another. I've had this 3 times and although the bones are quite meaty and flavourful, I find the meat quite chewy and stringy. Obviously it's not slow-cooked the authentic Southern way. With that being said, I'm not sure why I order it each time. Possibly I do it for the shock value... Being a family restaurant, there's the good ol' Mac 'n Cheese for my son and even that is quite large. Served with 2 sides (we got mandarin oranges and frozen grapes... for my daughter, my son won't eat that), this is an ample portion for a child. Oh, and the mac 'n cheese was actually quite good too. Cheesy, creamy and almost al dente noodles.
Nikita wasn't too hungry and had the Clam Chowder, which curiously arrived last and much later than everything else. I didn't get a chance to sample it; but she seemed to like it and it looked good. Now we were all pretty stuffed at the end and didn't get a chance to share a slice of the Motherlode Cake. We normally do and honestly, it's amazing how anyone can finish a slice all by themselves. I know of one friend who did it and ate nothing else. It's actually quite a decent "slice" of chocolate cake since it is not too sweet (other than the icing) and not too dense. At $9.95, it's actually reasonably priced too. There are people who are going to point out that Claim Jumper merely represents massive quantities of food that may not necessarily be all that good. I can see that. The food is definitely hit and miss. However, it is more than acceptable for people with large appetites and families who have growing kids.
- Large portions
- Decent chain restaurant food (not the fancy kind)
- Gotta admit it's still quantity over quality
- Not the healthiest way to eat