The Good: Inexpensive, Tasty, Generally original.
The Bad: Fried nature of the food makes it less nutritious.
The Basics: A fun occasional place to dine, Long John Silver's is one of the few fast food seafood restaurant chains in the United States.
As many of the readers to my food reviews might know, I like a diverse range of foods. I like things that taste good and I am not as picky about health as I ought to be. But every now and then, I get a hankering for fish – which is more healthy – when I am in the middle of nowhere. Then, I tend to find myself most satisfied by Long John Silvers. The chain is a fast food fish restaurant and while the fried and microwaved might undo some of the benefits of eating fish, it shakes up the tastebuds while on the road and is a consistent source of good fish, as opposed to taking my chances with an out-of-the-way local place (seriously, a local fish place in the middle of Kansas has to raise some questions). That said, Long John Silver's is good food, inexpensively priced and worth stopping for.
Long John Silver's is a fast food chain which makes fried fish dishes and sandwiches. The chain, which is continually growing as one of Yum Corporation's more diverse options, specializes in inexpensive meal options and virtually all of their foods have fish or other sea life in them.
Long John Silver's is a chain restaurant and they are continually growing, so parts of the U.S. still have very few Long John Silver's locations. I have found more market penetration on the coasts than in the MidWest. In addition to freestanding Long John Silver's restaurants, Long John Silver's is a frequent fixture in American malls as its chief demographic seems to be younger people with moderate amounts of disposable income who like fish.
Long John Silver's locations tend to set themselves apart from most areas they are in by having a bright yellow and blue color scheme and many of their independent stores have blue roofs. The brand's color scheme is blue and yellow, save in locations where they are paired with another Yum restaurant. Virtually every Long John Silver's restaurant is equipped with hard plastic booths and a few tables which are purposely uncomfortable. Long John Silver's, like most fast food restaurants, is a chain hoping to do business in volume and thus, they do not want customers getting too comfortable and lingering at the restaurant.
Like most fast food chain restaurants, Long John Silver's does not have traditional waitstaff. Instead, one places an order at a main counter, above which hangs the menu and their order is assembled by a team and the customer picks their food up further down the counter. Long John Silver's tends to have a younger staff in many of their locations, which might also account for why it is so popular with teens. The young workforce tends to mean drastically inconsistent service from location to location, though managers tend to be older and problems get resolved quickly and efficiently as a result.
Long John Silver's specializes in a higher quality of fast food and as such their prices are often a little higher than, for example, Taco Bell. Even so, the franchise has recently introduced more inexpensive meal options and the ability to add pieces of fish to their meal deals, which can fill up a person rather quickly.
More often than not, when I have gone to Long John Silver's, I get the Clams & More meal. The Clams & More meal comes with over a half pound of fried clam strips with three sides. Having a love of the hushpuppies, I frequently get those, the cheese sticks and the breadsticks. The clam meal is fried clams and the clams are breaded, fried and heated to a steaming temperature that makes it easy to smell the actual clams. They have a slight chewy quality to them that clams ought to have and I've never had a bad clam at Long John Silver's (save when I took some home and tried to reheat them, but that is not on the chain!).
The hushpuppies are 1 ½” spheres of spiced potato that are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. They come with a cocktail sauce which is delightful and these are a wonderful alternative for those who are sick of French fries.
Like the Clams & More meal, the restaurant also has Fish & More, Chicken Planks & More, Shrimp & More and (I've heard, though my local one does not carry them) Crab Cakes & More. The Chicken Planks are basically chicken tenders and Long John Silver's makes them well with the batter having more spices than most, so the chicken is flavorful outside and moist inside. The Fish is basically breaded, white fish that is more bland than spectacular and I tend to avoid the Fish & More meal because I figure I can make something comparable at home with great ease using frozen fish products. The Shrimp & More meal is basically a plate full of popcorn shrimp and Long John Silver's does nothing extraordinary with their incarnation of the tiny crustaceans. The breading tends to overwhelm the shrimp, which is actually how I prefer my shrimp (not a big fresh shrimp fan. . .).
Long John Silver's also features fish sandwiches and I'm not a fan of the mixing of fish and vegetables. Basically, the breaded fish is nuked, plopped between two buns and slathered with tartar sauce and lettuce and the lettuce is invariably soggy and gross. When I've had it stripped down to just the fish and bread, they are fine, with the fish being pleasantly flaky as I bite into it, but it is nothing indispensable (it is more convenient to eat while on the road, though!).
To drink, Long John Silver's is part of the United States’ obsession with carbonated beverages. However, for variety and distinction, Long John Silver's is currently offering frozen lemonades. The strawberry lemonade is an actual thirst quencher which actually tastes like a nice blend of real strawberries and lemons and it is very affordable at $.75 if one gets to the restaurant between 2 and 5 P.M..
The menu is topped off with desserts that seem esoteric for a fast food restaurant. The local Long John Silver's only has pies. I recommend the slice of Oreo Cookies and Cream pie. It is affordable, has a consistent, creamy quality and compliments the salty quality of the clams surprisingly well.
Long John Silver's is a nice escape from the doldrums of burgers and other, more predictable (red meat based) fast food. Even so, it is not the highest quality in the world and lacks the charm of an independent, reputable seafood restaurant. Ultimately, is a little more average than incredible.
For other restaurant reviews, please check out my review of Bruegger's Bagels, here!
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© 2011, 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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