As I remarked in a previous review, franchised family restaurants are pretty much a known quantity. They can be good, bad, or indifferent, and most locations tend toward the middle and lower end of that quality range. That said, every one in a great while I run across a chain restaurant that is so good that it challenges any preconceptions I might have had about the genre as a whole.
The 99 Restaurant on Home Depot Drive in Plymouth is an outstanding example of just how good a chain restaurant can be when it is run by an intelligent and disciplined local manager. Other 99 franchises (East Wareham MA and North Conway NH come immediately to mind) can be quite disappointing in quality of food and service, but the Plymouth franchise, while having the same menu and ambience as any other 99, provides an extremely high quality of food and service at a very moderate price point that is truly amazing.
I have sampled a good number of the menu items over the past few years and found them all to be outstanding in preparation, freshness, and flavor. The prime rib, served only on weekends, can hold its own with any other white tablecloth restaurants charging double the price. Another good example is their fish and chips, something it would never have occurred to me to try in a chain restaurant, given unpleasant memories of horrible frozen generic fish fillets of indeterminate origin. Their version is light years better than that served by any of the myriad other local seafood restaurants and clam shacks in the area. The cod is ocean-fresh and not at all gamey, the fries are made from real whole potatoes, not frozen processed crap, and the slaw is perfectly balanced and seasoned. Who knew -- or could have even guessed -- that a chain restaurant could outdo locally-owned seafood joints at their own game?
And then there is the excellent service. The young women who serve as hostesses and waitresses are all friendly, efficient, and personable. Clearly management does an excellent job of filtering applicants and hiring only the best, most intelligent, and motivated candidates. The kitchen usually gets the food prepared promptly, although there can be a bit of a wait on busy weekend evenings. The quality of preparation is consistently excellent, and I have never been served anything that I thought needed greater care or improvement in the recipe. This place hits a home run every time. If you despise chain family restaurants and usually avoid them like the plague, you owe it to yourself to try this 99 Restaurant location. You won't be disappointed.
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