The York Dispatch restaurant reviewers Hanna and Betty took a crew along to check out the new Quaker Steak & Lube, 1411 Kenneth Road, West Manchester Township (767-9464 or thelube.com/locations/pennsylvania/york).
Hanna: Betty suggested we try this place, and I agreed. We are not big fans of chain restaurants, but every time I drove by, the parking lot was packed, so how could we not check it out? I figured it was just a hamburger and beer joint. Peter joined us, as did two of Betty's kids.
I ordered the soft pretzels with a cheese and beer dip for an appetizer. The soft pretzels tasted exactly like the frozen Super Pretzels you can buy at the grocery store. They were covered in grease (butter?) and salt, but they weren't bad. A little chewy, but I was hungry, so I had two after I wiped the grease and salt off.
Since Betty won't let me order the same thing she gets (she's mean like that), I skipped the burgers and ordered the "biker salad." This was a salad on romaine lettuce with grilled chicken, fresh fruit (strawberries, pineapple, oranges), feta cheese, red onion, dried cranberries, pecans and a sweet "Wildberry" dressing.
I gotta tell you, the salad was by far one of the best salads I have ever had at a restaurant. The lettuce was very fresh, crispy and green with no brown spots. The fruit also was fresh, although the pineapple was from a can. I asked for no onion, and it came with no onion. A chain steak joint might seem like a place where they wouldn't do salad well, but they did a nice job.
Peter ordered a cheeseburger, which he was not happy with. He said it tasted like a cheeseburger from his old high school cafeteria. I had a few of his fries, which were not bad.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the decor. A Camaro and Harley hung from the ceiling, and a Corvette with television sets in the roof and hood hung sideways on the wall. A Camaro owner myself, I was disappointed we didn't sit underneath it.
The place was crowded and noisy; the service was fast given the crowd and our waitress was friendly. If I went back, I would order the salad again.
Betty: We broke our self-imposed no chain restaurants rule deciding to review Quaker Steak and Lube because this place seemed like a pretty big deal in York: steak and cars, two of York's favorite things.
This place is cramped and very, very loud. You're sitting on top of the folks next to you at many tables, and there is so much kitsch around the room that everyone is looking all around and kind of in your face. I did not want to sit under the full-size motorcycle rotating from the ceiling. That's just tempting fate.
Super Secret Reviewers M and A came with me. We started with the handmade potato chips and queso, which we all agreed was awesome, and we happily washed them down with Diet Pepsi.
I had the Mac and Cheeseburger with fries. I wouldn't normally put macaroni and cheese on my burger, but I was feeling rebellious. It. Was. Awesome!
Reviewer A ordered her usual, chicken fingers, and while she said she enjoyed them at the time, she got unwell a little while later and now swears she won't go back. She wants you to know, though, that the barbecue sauce was delicious.
Reviewer M had heard about Quaker Steak's legendary wings and gave those a shot. The smallest serving size was six, so he had half a dozen barbecue wings. He declared them amazing and way better than the wings at Buffalo Wild Wings. M is kind of a mini foodie extraordinaire, so when he says they're good you can believe they're really good.
We finished off by sharing two desserts — a brownie sundae that was delicious once you got past the weirdly textured brownie, and the cinnamon apple nachos, which M declared OK but not something he would order again.
What we did we learn? Quaker Steak and Lube is very much like all of the other chain restaurants in town. The food is hit or miss, the atmosphere will appeal to some but not all and the service is about the same as most chains. I think after this foray into chain restaurant reviews, Hanna and I will happily go back to finding hidden, local gems with great food and atmosphere.
— Hanna and Betty are the alter egos of two York County women who love dining out. Want to recommend a restaurant for review? Email food editor Mel Barber at firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestion.