Denny's is open and we ate almost everything for you
The first question we had to ask was "Why?" There are plenty of pancakes in Metro Manila and there are surely more than enough casual family restaurants to go around. The Bistro Group, in fact, is responsible for most of the latter in the Philippines. They've already planted Italianni's, T.G.I. Friday's, Bulgogi Brothers, and Texas Roadhouse Grill, among others on local shores. Why Denny's?
"It's a heritage restaurant. It's 63 years old, one of the biggest restaurant chains in North America," says Ronald Olaes, operations manager for Denny's Philippines. "The menu is diverse. We're open for 24 hours. It's very well-rounded. We think the Philippines is ready for something like this."
Adds Olaes, "I went to the U.S. to train for one month and there, I would see construction workers in their heavy boots, there were men dressed in suits, truckers taking a break. Denny's really is something anyone can enjoy." While The Bistro Group might appear remiss in planting one of the most anticipated restaurants of 2016 in a still being-developed neighborhood instead of the more established High Street, their experience is evident. Denny's at Uptown Parade is right at the center of companies with 'round-the-clock operations, condos, and the Metro's night life. Like any good business, some patience is required, but they couldn't have picked a better location.
Denny's doesn't bank on old sentiment. The '50s diner design is there simply because the franchise actually began in 1955—back then it was a donut shop called Danny's. While there's something cheekily retro about the mustard-colored booths and the ABBA soundtrack blaring through the speakers, Denny's appeal comes more from a feeling of reassurance than a theme. It is about stability, consistency, a kind of unflappability that extends to more than pancakes (whose recipe, by the way, remained largely unchanged for six decades until the kitchen came up with a way to make fluffier flapjacks a few months ago).
A quick fix, the Chicken and Sausage Quesadilla is chock-full of roasted seasoned chicken. The ranch dressing on the side is a must.
The Pancake Puppies marry pancakes in donuts in a sort of breakfast version of cinnamon sugar-sprinkled hush puppies.
When you're not too blinded by the breakfast options, try the Chicken Cranberry Apple Salad.
A classic Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad
The yellow-lit diner is the type of spot you'd want to stumble into after a serious night of partying. The hearty The Original Grandslam (two strips of bacon, two sausages, two eggs, buttermilk pancakes) is the ideal pick-me-up after a long day at work. There are changes that are beyond our control, sure, but Denny's could always be counted on, a reliable friend you hold to when life is going crazy. The metaphor seems like a stretch, but imagine a payday Friday night carmageddon. What's a better way to soothe your antsy, frustrated soul than Choco Overload Peanut Butter Pancakes? Exactly.
People can tag it as nostalgic, but Denny's is very in the moment. When you're cramped in one of the seats, you don't sigh and reminisce about the good old days. You think only of the pancake-batter hush puppies and Sriracha-laced burger in front of you. With dishes that average in the P400 to P500 range, that's the kind of solace it gives.
The French Toast Slam: instead of pancakes, it has a pair of French toasts.
Is it breakfast? Is it dessert? The Choco Overload Peanut Butter Pancake Plate flaunts just the right of sweetness to be reasonable any time of day.
The Ultimate Omelette is filled with crumbled sausage, bacon, roasted peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, cheddar—the works, pretty much.
Ham and Cheese Omelette
A big believer of "everything on it," this Grand Slamwich comes fully loaded, too.
The Spicy Sriracha Burger is no lightweight when it comes to bringing the heat. It also comes with large jalapeño slices.
Bourbon BBQ Bacon Burger: a thick beef patty in a cheesy bun, with cheddar, bacon, mushrooms, onions. There's a sharp bourbon flavor in the sauce.
The Bistro Group is even paying homage to the chain's habit of functioning as a pitstop. "Most of the branches in the U.S. are in gas stations, highways, places to re-energize," says Olaes. The second Denny's in the Philippines will actually be at Vista Mall, Nuvali, right beside the Tagaytay-Sta. Rosa Road; it's opening in two weeks' time.
Breakfast food is easy enough to love, especially if you make it available any time of the day, but The Bistro Group has made Denny's much more relatable. According to Olaes, 90% of the menu is replicated from the U.S., but they managed to slip in a page's worth of Filipino specialties: Ribeye Bistek Tagalog, Lucban Longganisa, Tocino, Crispy Bangus Belly, Chicken Pork Adobo, and a series of silogs featuring steak, corned beef, or pork belly.
Denny's is a pop culture favorite, having been referenced in several movie and television projects (including Breaking Bad and South Park) and because it has a tendency to release specials based on blockbusters). Though not explicitly stated, one of its most iconic film "appearances" is in the 1970 drama Five Easy Pieces, where Jack Nicholson's character throws a fit after an unrelenting waitress refuses to hold the chicken in his salad order. Olaes assures us that you'll see no such thing at Denny's. They're always open, and they don't just mean the doors.