Perkins Is Really Genuinely Concerned That Your French Dip Sandwich Sucked

Reader Stephanie’s brother recently started a blog dedicated to reviewing French Dip sandwiches. To that end, he ordered, and reviewed, a French Dip at a Perkins in Madison, WI. Unfortunately, his sandwich came on regular bread, instead of typical French Dip bread.

Stephanie says:

Mark (my brother) reviewed the sandwich at a Perkins in Madison Wisconsin. He was sorely disappointed when the sandwich looked completely different than the picture on the menu (they used regular grilled bread instead of the French baguette). He posted the negative review of the Perkins French Dip on his blog on November 1st. The next day, someone claiming to be a Perkins regional manager left a comment on the blog urging Mark to call him and let him fix the situation. He called the number and was quickly put in touch with Jon Sanborn, the Perkins regional manager. Jon investigated the bread situation, offered Mark a gift certificate, and invited him to come back and re-review the sandwich the next time he was in Madison. Equally impressive was that there was no mention of taking the review down or altering its contents.

I find it amazing that Perkins would seek out my brother and try to ascertain what went wrong with his dining experience, especially considering the blog currently has only 15 followers and I doubt a negative review would stop any of us from going to Perkins in the future.

Anyway, it turns out that the Perkins was out of the correct bread at the time and someone should have asked if regular bread was OK.

Here’s how our French Dip expert describes Perkins’ response:

Mr. Sanborn was apologetic for what had happened and wanted to make it up to me. So he told me that he would mail me a Perkins gift certificate! Please realize, Perkins found me out to make this situation right, I did not complain to them. If this indicative of how their franchise is run, all I can say is, “Thank you, Perkins, for putting the customer first.” About how to use my compensation, fret not faithful readers, this gift certificate will only go back into purchasing more French dips for ingestion and judging, as I wish not to profit from the deeds I undertake selflessly reviewing everyone’s favorite sandwiches of perfect harmony.

I informed Mr. Sanborn that in late January I would be in Madison again, and that I would love to review the same Perkins’ French dip again. He told me that he doesn’t really care what I do with my blog, just that he wants me to be happy.

Perkins Restaurant and Bakery at 5237 University Ave Madison, WI 53705 [The French Dip Review]
Update: The Perkins French Dip Review of November 1, 2009 and Jon Sanborn [The French Dip Review]


Edit Your Comment

  1. NancyCpants says:

    Hey maybe they could train their servers to actually refill a drink once in a while.

    • gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:

      @NancyCpants: while yes, i like it when they refill my drink when it gets empty, i run into 2 problems.
      1. unsweet tea – i have diabetes, so can’t drink sweet tea. i compensate by getting unsweet tea and adding splenda. but the servers always come and dop it off, screwing with the perfect sweetness ratio.
      2. fluid amounts – i tend to finish my drinks. This becomes a problem when a waiter comes by to fill my drink once every 2 minutes – last month, i was at a vietnamese restaurant, and i’m pretty sure they had 1 person on staff whose sole responsibility was to walk around and refill people’s water glasses (she only came by to refill our water, and the waiter is the one who refiled the sodas.)

  2. Brazell says:

    Am I the only person who loves this story JUST because somebody has a blog that focuses ONLY on reviewing French Dip Sandwiches?

    I hope I’m not.

  3. Digitizer says:

    There are so many families starving in third world countries that would gladly give a limb for regular bread alone. I call big-time spoiledness on this one. Tsk.. “regular bread”..tsk tsk tsk

    • Nytmare says:

      @Digitizer: He’s lucky he had a chair to sit on. There are children in remote Incan villages who can’t afford chairs.

    • thompson says:

      @Digitizer: Wait… what? Taken to its natural conclusion, we should shutdown Yelp for daring to post negative reviews of restaurants.

      If I ordered a pepperoni pizza and they gave me a mushroom pizza, because they were out of pepperoni, I would surely complain – this has nothing to do with the third world.

      There are certainly problems in the world, people go hungry, individuals lack healthcare. That doesn’t mean someone can’t register a complaint about a sandwich they received. I mean, I would assume based on your tone that you never eat out, and eat the least expensive possible options and donate the rest to the third world? I would hope you’re posting from a public library, as it would simply be unjust to have a cable internet connection when so many in the third world lack basic dial-up access to the internets.

    • rpm773 says:

      @Digitizer: There’s nothing here that states the OP *isn’t* from a third-world country and *didn’t* give a limb prior to receiving that sandwich.

      Quite frankly, I assumed the OP was, and did. And it didn’t make any difference – the sandwich sucked.

  4. winstonthorne says:

    I’ve been to one Perkins. Once. In Pennsylvania. It was like a cheaper, dirtier (!) Ruby Tuesday’s – with more old people. I would certainly not order a French Dip there.

    • invormation says:

      @winstonthorne: I think Perkins is more like Denny’s than Ruby Tuesday’s. At least Perkins and Denny’s acknowledges the quality of their food and prices accordingly :p

    • GMFish says:

      Now will @winstonthorne: “It was like a cheaper, dirtier…

      Big Boy, Shoney’s, Bob Evans, etc.

      • qcgallus says:

        @GMFish: Shoney’s! There used to be one in the small town I grew up in. Right across the highway from Bob Evans and in the same shopping center as Ponderosa.

        I tell people where I live now about these gems, and I get blank stares all around.

        • invormation says:

          @GMfish: My parents took us to a Shoney’s for Thanksgiving dinner while we were on vacation in the south, because we were short on cash (thanks, Disney) and it was down the street from where we were staying.

          It was the classiest Thanksgiving ever – turkey and stuffing from an all you can eat buffet, the first time I had ever eaten grits, and a view of a domestic disturbance in the parking lot complete with cops.

    • johnarlington says:


      ummm the Ruby Tuesdays that I’ve been may have been more expencive, but they were dirty and the food was ick. They served us a grilled cheese for the kids with large amounts of green mold all over the bread.

  5. aka_mich says:

    I’ve ate there a few times in my time living in Madison and I can vouch it’s not a bad place. At least from my experience they have a pretty decent french toast.

  6. JulesNoctambule says:

    This is one situation where I’d be thrilled that the actual sandwich didn’t match the picture — I’ll take grilled bread on a sandwich any day over what passes for a baguette in most of the U.S. Also, I have to admit that any time I see ‘with au jus’, my inner French schoolgirl twitches.

    • rpm773 says:

      @JulesNoctambule: any time I see ‘with au jus’, my inner French schoolgirl twitches.

      Perhaps a bowl of today’s soup du jour would make you feel better? :)

      But yeah, what the OP actually received looks more appetizing than the snapshot of the menu here. It must be an old menu.

  7. missdona says:

    I didn’t even know “French Dip” bread existed. Is it French Bread? Is it a dippable-roll of some sort? I’m confused.

  8. CyGuy says:

    The French Dip is the derivative bastard child of the one true beef sandwich – a Beef on Weck, Buffalo, NY’s true claim to food genius. It’s made with rare, hand-carved (nice thick slices, not shaved) steamship round of beef served on a Kimmelweck roll that has been dipped in au jus or brown gravy. On the side at least a tablespoon of grated horseradish, not horseradish sauce.

    Phillipe, who ‘invented’ the French Dip worked in Buffalo before moving to LA, and obviously brought the idea for the sandwich with him.

    • larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

      @CyGuy: Kimmelweck, also known as just plain weck, gave us the third W in the erstwhile name of Buffalo Wild Wings (“We’d fry the salad if we could!” TM). When they were a lot more regional, the full name was Buffalo Wild Wings and Weck, hence BW3.

      And now you know . . . . the rest of the story.

    • floraposte says:

      @CyGuy: There is a beef pantheon, rather than One True Beef, because you have failed to mention the Chicago bliss that is Italian Beef.

    • feckingmorons says:

      @CyGuy: Schwabl’s in West Seneca, NY has some of the best Beef of Weck in WNY.

  9. theblackdog says:

    Dammittohell Consumerist, stop posting about awesome food stuff. First it was steak, then chicken wings, now french dip. It’s a conspiracy!

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @theblackdog_FeelingRandom: I was waiting for today’s food discussion. I really was. Usually I wait for the Friday open thread in which we all discuss what we had for lunch, and then immediately regret not getting what someone else had, but I like food posts. What can I say, I like talking about food and cats. Cats are not food though.

  10. wickdchameleon says:

    He posted the negative review of the Perkins French Dip on his blog on November 1st. The next day, someone claiming to be a Perkins regional manager left a comment on the blog urging Mark to call him and let him fix the situation

    How the hell did the regional manager know about the blog in just 1 freaking day????. Was he realtime monitoring the interwebs for Perkins reviews?

  11. Dilbitz says:

    Perkins sucks. They don’t refill your drinks unless you pretty much tackle a server, the food is bland to appease the elderly people, and the place is dirtier than the back floor of my car after the kids got a hold of it. But I spent many hours there as a young adult since that was the only place to go after bar time. Blegh. We actually had to serve ourselves a few times since the servers were screwing in the managers office. Not kidding.

  12. AnxiousDemographic says:

    A giant corporation tracks down a small critic and asks to send the blogger a “gift certificate” and nobody sees why? TO ASSASSINATE HIM!

    All kidding aside, I eat at Perkins once in a while, and always found it yummy good value and pleasantly problem-free.

  13. tyg says:

    Perkins gave my 3-year old son food poisoning severe enough to required hospitalization. Just the thought of eating there makes me ill. All the gift certificates in the world wouldn’t make me go back there.

  14. lajoan says:

    I just want to say that I love that there is a blog about french dips. Almost as good actually eating a french dip.

  15. Phil Keeps It Real [Consumerist] says:

    I visited the only Perkins I know of in the 5 boroughs of nYc….it was out in Staten Island. This place made, AppleBee’s, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Sizzlers, OutBack, & whatever other crap establishments similar; seem like Morton’s or P.F. Changs, & Cheesecake Factory in retrospect.

    It’s like they use the same brand/quality food providers as the local elementary school does. All malarkey, all sub par.

    • trujunglist says:


      Perkins is not the same level as Applebees or Outback and the like, not sure why you thought that. It’s more on the level of Denny’s or Coco’s or something like that.

  16. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot says:

    Good on Perkins for wanting to make things right. I love the idea of a blog dedicated to French Dip – its my favorite sandwich and 9 times out of 10 when I go out for lunch or dinner, its what I order.

  17. FrankReality says:

    I love French Dip sandwiches, but gosh darn it, NOBODY in my area seems to know how to make a good one. I’ve seen some nasty abominations called French Dips.

    I can understand someone having a blog about them.

  18. danno5-0 says:

    What is the address of the “French Dip” blog?

  19. TheMonkeyKing says:

    Is it just me (really, I’m ok if it is just me) or have most internet-enabled people become passive-aggressive?

    Maybe this person wants to be the next Roger Ebert of French Dip? Whatever. It doesn’t matter because he reviews food from the service industry. And, he is not a secret shopper.

    My point in all this is that once he got the sandwich, he should have pointed out the discrepancy once he received the platter. Instead he blogs about it. If he had asked, maybe the manager could have responded to the issue right then and there instead of trying to damage control ON A GLOBAL SCALE.

    However, the Perkins Mgmt staff showed how well they handled the issue and the reviewer comes off as whiny, sheltered kid with a bread fetish.

    By the way, when you google keywords like French Dip + Blog + Perkins, the review site is not on the top three pages. Instead, Consumerist comes out on top.

  20. edcrowle says:

    perkins was my saving grace 24hr place to do homework/drink coffee/eat sub-par food in college — i’ve always had mediocre service and mediocre food there, but what do you really expect from a 24/7 joint paying next to nothing for help. kudos to this GM and his response.. i for one <3 perkins

  21. InThrees says:

    Some years ago, after repeatedly hearing from my mother how great Perkins was, I decided to go with three friends. We arrive and the place is pretty dead, which is usually a bonus – you’ll get decent service or better, the cook isn’t overloaded, etc. We order drinks (tea and soda etc), and two of the four glasses have a dried crust on them. We point this out, get those replaced. We order food, and I ask for extra ranch or something with mine. Or maybe I asked for ranch because mine didn’t come with ranch, but the point is I asked for ranch dressing for dipping.

    The food comes and most of the utensils can really only be described as ‘dirty’. The food is incredibly underwhelming, and the ranch dipping cup I get has a firm yellow crust on the top, like it’s been sitting in a walk in cooler uncovered for a few days.

    I call the manager over and point out all the problems with the meal (all 4 of us had something wrong, from dirty glasses to dirty utensils to poorly prepared food to crusty ranch dressing) and after a minute of him hemming and hawing and not wanting to do anything about it, he finally offers me a $5 gift certificate good for my next visit to Perkins.

    Really? That’s so cute that you think there is going to be a next time.

  22. Zatnikitelman says:

    My family and I on our travels have eaten at Perkins all across the country and can attest to their good service or at least their ability to make it right if they mess up. To top it off, they have good food at a reasonable price and a great selection (more than one picky eater in my family). I’m pleased to see this kind of response from any restaurant and wish more could be like Perkins (and wish a Perkins would open in my own town)