Denny’s Rockstar Menu: PREVIEW

Last night, I was invited to preview the new Denny’s All Nighter menu, which includes its special RockStar Menu – a selection of new items that were created by bands asked to collaborate with the chefs of Denny’s.  The bands included All American Rejects, Plain White T’s, and Taking Back Sunday. 

If you’re reading this, though, you’re not here for me to discuss music, a subject I am entirely unqualified to discuss.  I am, however, qualified to tell you about the food I eat and what I like (or don’t like!) about it…

First, though, I want to express here that this event was well-organized and one of the better PR events I’ve been to (which hasn’t been that many, but enough to know what I like or don’t like).  There was plenty of food, and instead of everyone having to fight over scraps of tiny hors d’oeuvres, full size burgers were passed around, along with individual cones of… well, we’ll get to that, but what I’m saying is – there was plenty of food to go around, no one had to go hungry, and there was an open bar with a good selection of alcohol though I don’t believe Denny’s itself even serves liquor.  And we got fun goodie bags at the end of the event, including a Denny’s t-shirt and CDs with promotional material on it (like the above logo!), and an album from one of the bands Denny’s has adopted.  Overall – what a good event should be like.

Now, on to the food! 

***The lighting in there was horrible for my pictures; it was very rockstar-setting, red-tinted lights, etc. so I apologize in advance for the slightly odd-colored photos.

“Taking back the cheeseburger” I think this one was called… The above is the display platter.  It’s basically fries with all the toppings from a bacon cheeseburger – ketchup, mustard (which the rest of the country likes on its burgers; I’m pretty sure it’s a NY or northeast thing not to put mustard on your burger, and as such- I’m not a fan of mustard on my burgers most of the time!), bacon, cheese, pickles, tomato… no lettuce, though (which is fine by me!). 

They were passing out invidual cones of the fries for everyone to sample, which I thought was a great idea.  These were addictively good – I’d brought Ana with me, and at first we shyly decided to split a cone.  When the waiter came around again, we both unabashedly took one for ourselves, and munched on them until the cones were empty.  The combination of essentially a full bacon-cheeseburger crumbled and mixed over fries is ingenius, satisfying the urge to have a burger and fries neatly, removing the bun problem – at 4 in the morning, who wants to have to pick up a burger and make sure it doesn’t fall apart or into our laps???

The POTACHOS!  (Yes, that’s an amalgam of potatoes & nachos!)  I love nachos, I like potato skins… but this was somehow more wonderful than you’d think the two combined could be.  (Again, this was the display platter of which I took a photo.)

A waiter brought by trays with individually dressed potachos.  What makes these better than just potato slices with nacho toppings?  Well, for one, the potatoes are freshly kettle-cooked.  Obviously since ours were individually dressed, they were all better than just getting a giant plate where some might have more of one thing than another, but the combination was just… delicious.  Ana and I were chowing down on these whenever the guy came around (I’m telling you, there was so much food passing around, it was awesome).

Display of Plain White Shake (by the Plain White T’s of course).  Hey there Delilah… yes we’re in NYC… 😉

Our individual shot glasses that came around.  What’s in a Plain White Shake?  Vanilla ice cream, white chocolate syrup, CHEESECAKE, and white chocolate shavings atop a cloud of whipped cream.  Wow.  It tasted even better than it sounds.  I don’t like cheesecake, but the presence seemed to just serve to make it thicker as opposed to cloyingly sweet.  Yum.  Out of respect for everyone in the place, and my future fellow subway car riders, I refrained from having another since I’m a bit lactose intolerant.

(part of the late night menu’s front view, from the promo materials)

I don’t really know how this happened, but I didn’t get a picture of the burgers that I ate, and there didn’t appear to be a display platter.  The cheesy-four pack was the first thing I sampled – just one – a waiter was walking around carrying a tray of full sized sliders (as opposed to sliders the size of a quarter, hors d’oeuvres style!).  Ana and I each snagged one and after the first bite, unanimously declared they were a bit dry.  Perhaps because there weren’t that many people there yet, and maybe the waiter had been walking around for a while, but the bun was slightly hard around the edges, and was very disappointing.  I’m not sure if there was ketchup (OR mustard…) on the burger, so I was pretty MEH on it…

But later, the head of PR for Denny’s came over to chat, and she mentioned there was another style of burger floating around – the smokin’ Q burgers, which also had BBQ sauce on it.  I like BBQ sauce a lot, and I thought that would solve the dryness issue easily, so when those came around, I snagged one to share with Ana.  We both liked this one a lot better; the bread wasn’t dry (so that may really have been a case of just being a little old, since by this time, there were more people and presumably, turnover on the food was higher), and there was a tangy BBQ sauce on the burger, making it moist and tasty. 

Last but not least was this “Heart on a Plate” – heart shaped pancakes with strawberry sauce, chocolate drizzles, and white chocolate chips (the finishing touch is whipped cream, but I snapped this shot on the table without letting the guy put on the whipped cream).  These were being freshly made as you requested them, from two special tables on either side of the venue.  I’ve mentioned not really being a huge pancake fan before, and this was not much different.  The pancake we shared was gummy, like it was undercooked, and oversweet without any of the toppings, so with the toppings, it was unbearably sweet for me.  Ana, however, gladly finished the rest, telling me she couldn’t believe I liked the milkshake but not this.  I don’t know; my pancakes lend towards the savory and slightly sweet side – I put a lot of butter on them!  So this was definitely an “absolutely not” dish for me.

Overall, the new menu has some great items for everyone, I think – the items I didn’t like, I’m sure someone with more of a sweet tooth at 4 in the morning will love.  I’m just more a nachos and fries kind of girl, and those items rocked, totally perfect for satisfying that craving.

The only problem is – and I’m sure this question has been on your minds since you began reading this – WHEN WILL DENNY’S OPEN IN NYC??? 

… I did ask, and as I suspected all along, it’s just not a cost effective location for their business model.  BOO… I adore Denny’s, having gone there while I was in college, late nights, and as a kid, growing up, on road trips with parents who were wise about their pennies.  As an adult now going on my own road trips, I try to stop by Denny’s when I see one… I know what I’m getting and I know I’m getting it at a good price. 

I think this new menu will be a total hit, especially with college kids.  Sadly, I will probably never be at Denny’s during the time it’s served. 

(If you want more info on the whole music side, which I totally just ignored, check it out here.)

Don’t forget to enter my contest to win a cookbook!  Probably ending on Monday, so hurry on over for your chance to win!


  1. miss beancurd says

    Artery clogging goodness, I presume? Growing up in NY, I never got into Denny’s, and that may be a good thing. I may be 50 pounds heavier than I am now if I were….

  2. Swan says

    so odd that they invited you to check them out at a presumably close location (since you went on a weeknight), even though they don’t have any locations in the city.

  3. Sile says

    I’m in Rochester and I use mustard on my burgers. 😉

    But then again, I enjoy the HORROR that is a Nick Tahou garbage plate! 😉

  4. mike says

    I grew up in NJ but never went to Denny’s because there is always a diner serving similar and fresher food that is just as close if not closer.

    Plus my local Denny’s was always filled with high school stoners and overweight elderly who looked on the verge death.

    This new rockstar menu looks pretty awesome though.

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