Three pounds. No, that's not how much you'll gain when you eat at the recently opened Claim Jumper - we think you'll probably gain more if you clean your plates.
Three pounds is how much one slice of the Chocolate Motherlode Cake weighs.
One slice; 3 pounds.
That's a lot of poundage for a piece of cake.
Size does matter at Claim Jumper, and the home office of the Irvine, Calif.-based chain restaurant clearly feels that bigger is better.
So, that cake. And the sweet buttermilk biscuits, flaky and luscious and the size of a flattened bowling ball. Almost, anyway.
And the dinners. And lunches. And especially the Widow Maker Burger ($10.95).
We knew it was trouble when it came to the table one lunchtime visit. There was no way to pick this baby up to eat it. So we took out the onion rings. Still too big. Then the avocado. Too big. The tomato. Nope. Finally, we resorted to eating the juicy burger - also loaded down with cheddar, smoky bacon, lettuce and relish all on a toasted bun - with a knife and fork.
We're glad we did, mind you, but whew!
Ditto the sea bass lunch ($13.95). A thick chunk of sea bass cooked to moist perfection was sauteéd then braised in a not-too-spicy tomato broth. It was hard to imagine eating this and then doing anything but taking a nap.
Starchy excess is also the Claim Jumper way. The slightly overdone rotisserie chicken lunch ($10.95) came with creamy mashed potatoes and pretty blah garlic cheese toast.
The fried chicken dinner ($14.95) is served on a biscuit, with another on the side, mashed potatoes and cream gravy. A little artery clogging, anyone? The chicken - boneless breasts - was moist with a crisp but bland crust. That gravy was bland, too - it needed lots of salt and pepper. But frankly, we've become such fans of the biscuits we forgave them.
Comfort food is big at Claim Jumper. In addition to the fried chicken, there are items such as spaghetti and meatballs; liver and bacon (hey, that's comfort food to some people); and meatloaf.
That meatloaf ($13.95), served with potatoes mashed with their skins still on (we like that) and - yup - a biscuit, was underseasoned.
And that's perhaps the biggest problem with Claim Jumper. In an effort to please most or all of the more than 500 folks who can pack into this restaurant at one time, food is underseasoned. Bland. It's not bad food. Just not exciting food. OK, except for the biscuits.
Claim Jumper has high ceilings, an impressive antler chandelier, lights that echo lanterns carried in mines, and lots and lots of seats. Which means lots and lots of noise.
It also almost always has a long line loaded with people carrying little beepers waiting to get the signals that their tables are ready. They wait and wait and wait.
They must have heard about the buttermilk biscuits.
And the Chocolate Motherlode Cake ($7.95). Dense and moist, it's dotted with walnuts and topped with a fudgy, gooey frosting. And oh, yes - did we mention it was 3 pounds?