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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 2

    Menu Description: "Tender chunks of chicken with seasonings and vegetables."

    All the Marie Callender's restaurants try to maintain a homestyle ambiance, kind of like being at Grandma's house for dinner. The wallcoverings reflect styles of the thirties and forties and are complemented by dark mahogany-stained, wood-paneled walls and brass fixtures. You'll also find old-fashioned furnishings, many of them throwbacks to the forties, the time of this restaurant chain's founding fifty years ago.

    The menu, which features meatloaf, pot roast, and country fried steak, reflects a satisfying homestyle cuisine that today is all too rare. If you wondered whether a company that is known for its great dessert pies could make a great pot pie...it can.

    For this recipe, try to use small 16-ounce casserole dishes that measure 4 or 5 inches across at the top. Any casserole dishes that come close to this size will probably work; the yield will vary depending on what size dishes you decide to use.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    The website for Mimi’s Café features a recipe that claims to duplicate the buttermilk spice muffins that are so popular at the restaurant chain, but I found the recipe there to be slightly lacking. While the recipe produced very good muffins, I discovered the website formula required more sugar, more nutmeg and the addition of salt to produce muffins that could be considered clones of the popular version baked fresh every day in Mimi’s kitchens. To make this recipe work best use a large (Texas-size) muffin pan and line each cup with large paper muffin cups. You could also make the muffins in a smaller, standard-size muffin pan by reducing the baking times by 5 to 10 minutes, and adding only 1 teaspoon of topping on the batter in each cup rather than the 2 teaspoons described here. 

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    These 16-ounce desserts-in-a-cup are made with McDonald’s soft-serve ice cream and one of several crumbled sweet additives. Duplicating soft-serve ice cream at home comes easy using regular vanilla ice cream (not French vanilla), a little whole milk, and a frozen bowl to do the mixing. You might also want to freeze the glass that you plan to serve this in to ensure the ice cream is served up creamy yet firm, rather than melted and soupy.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes: Sodas, Smoothies, Spirits & Shakes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    Menu Description: "Lone Star fries smothered in Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheese, topped with bacon and served with ranch dressing." 

    Growth by this newcomer to the steakhouse segment has been phenomenal. So far, there are over 160 Lone Stars across the country, most of them in the East and Midwest. There are even four in Austrailia. The company is the fastest growing steakhouse chain in the country, and if you don't have one near you yet, you probably will soon.

    Amarillo Cheese Fries are made with thick-sliced potatoes. The recipe here is created from scratch, using freshly sliced potatoes. But, if this is one of those days when you just don't feel up to slicing and frying some russets, you can also use a bag of frozen steak fries. Just be aware that those will likely be made from peeled potatoes, unlike the restaurant fries which are unpeeled. I've also included a cool recipe for homemade ranch dressing to dip the fries in, if you decide you'd like to make yours from scratch.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur. 

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    Score: 4.75. Votes: 4

    This restaurant boasts a unique "Texas roadhouse" ambiance. When you walk into any Lone Star restaurant, the first thing you'll notice is the crackling peanut shells beneath your feet. When seated you'll get your own free bucket of peanuts to munch on, and feel free to toss the shells onto the wood plank floors. Western music plays over the speakers, and every hour or so the wait staff breaks into a honky tonk line dance next to your table.

    The spicy black bean soup is a popular item on the Lone Star menu. Here's a way to make a version of your own that can be served as an appetizer or as a meal in itself. It's great with a garnish of freshly diced red onion, jalapenos, and sour cream on top.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    The best selling menu items at the Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon are the mesquite grilled steaks. The USDA choice-graded steaks are hand-cut fresh daily and displayed in a glass meat counter that is visible from the dining area of each restaurant. Customers are encouraged to view the meat for themselves and personally select the steak they wish to eat.

    Here'e a hack for the great rice served on the side at the famous steakhouse chain.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Menu Description: "Fresh salmon filet, marinated and mesquite grilled." 

    It is said that Americans eat an estimated 63 pounds of beef per capita, and we get a lot of it in chain restaurants. But for those of you who want something other than beef, Lone Star has additional selections including the Sweet Bourbon Salmon.

    Don't worry if you can't mesquite grill your salmon, it's the sweet bourbon marinade that makes this dish so tasty. Not only is this marinade good on salmon, but on other fish and chicken as well. If you do happen to use a charcoal grill and have some mesquite smoking chips on hand, soak a handful of chips in water for a couple hours and then arrange them on the red-hot coals. This will give your salmon a taste even closer to the original.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 3

    The American restaurant business has been shaped by many entrepreneurs, so determined to realize their dreams of owning a hot dog cart or starting a restaurant that they sell everything they own to raise cash. Food lore is littered with these stores, and this one is no exception. This time the family car was sold to pay for one month's rent on a converted World War II army tent, an oven, refrigerator, rolling pin, and some hand tools. It was 1948, and that's all Marie Callender and her family needed to make enough pies to start delivering to restaurants in Long Beach, California.

    It was the pies that started the company, but soon the bakeries became restaurants and they started serving meals. One of my favorites is the Famous Golden Cornbread and whipped honey butter that comes with many of the entrees. What makes this cornbread so scrumptious is its cake-like quality. The recipe here requires more flour than traditional cornbread recipes, making the finished product soft and spongy just like Marie's.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 4

    In the 1970's, food conglomerate General Mills expanded its growing restaurant business. A research team was organized to study the market, and to conduct interviews with potential customers on what they want in a restaurant. Seven years later, in 1982, the first Olive Garden restaurant opened its doors in Orlando, Florida. Today it is the number one Italian restaurant chain in the country with over 470 stores.

    One of the all-time favorites at Olive Garden is the Italian salad dressing served on the bottomless house salad that comes with every meal. The dressing was so popular that the chain sells the dressing by the bottle "to go." You won't need to buy a bottle, though. With our Olive Garden Italian salad dressing recipe you can make your own version that tastes just like the original, and it's way cheaper. The secret to thickening this dressing is to use dry pectin, a natural ingredient often used to thicken jams and jellies. Pectin can be found in most stores in the aisle with baking and cooking supplies or near the canning items.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 3.00. Votes: 2

    Menu Description: "An Outback Ab-Original from Russell's Marina Bay."

    If you go to an Outback Steakhouse expecting exotic Aussie prairie food that someone like Crocodile Dundee would have enjoyed, you're gonna be a bit disappointed, mate. Except for a little Australia-themed paraphernalia on the walls, like boomerangs and pictures of kangaroos, the restaurant chain is about as "down under" as McDonald's is Scottish. The three founders, Tim Gannon, Chris Sullivan, and Bob Basham, are all U.S. boys. And the menu, which is about 60 percent beef, contains mainly American fare with cute Australian names like The Melbourne, Jackeroo Chops, and Chicken on the Barbie.

    The founders say they chose the Aussie themes because "Most Australians are fun-loving and gregarious people and very casual people. We thought that's exactly the kind of friendliness and atmosphere we want to have in our restaurants."

    In only six years, Outback Steakhouse has become the number one steakhouse chain—in part because of the Bloomin' Onion: a large, deep-fried onion sliced to look like a flower in bloom that was created by one of the restaurant's founders. What makes the appetizer so appealing besides its flowery appearance is the onion's crispy spiced coating, along with with the delicious dipping sauce, cleverly presented in the center of the onion.

    The restaurant uses a special device to make the slicing process easier, but you can make the incisions with a sharp knife. It just takes a steady hand and a bit of care. This is how they did it in the early days of the chain.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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