Posted by: Sean Carter | June 15, 2013

#135: Claim Jumper

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Tonight I finally tackled Claim Jumper. This restaurant is located on North Harding  right near Lead Hill.  I probably should have removed this one from my list as it’s a pretty big chain, much bigger than I thought.  I always knew they had a Vegas and Tahoe location, but then they also have about 35+ more.  Oh well, it’s done.  I used to come here a lot but stopped for no reason in particular.  It’s been at least a few years since the last visit.

My grandma joined me for dinner this evening.  We met up at about 5:30 and the place was packed.  That didn’t surprise me since they almost always seem to be busy, especially on Friday/Saturday nights.  The place is built to feel like a huge log cabin.  Warm lighting and lots of wood everywhere.  The entryway and waiting area is large, as is everything else.  There’s a ton of places to sit and wait, both inside and out.  Inside they have a table with wooden pieces for checkers, also a fireplace.  From here you can go left or right.  The bar is to the left.  In here there is a ton of seating that easily rivals most small restaurants.  There’s one big screen TV (though in this room it feels pretty small) over a fireplace.  There’s a least one smaller TV off to the side and maybe one more opposite of it.  The bar itself is long and fully stocked.

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Despite the restaurant being busy we were seated immediately.  Others in the front were probably larger parties waiting for big tables (of which they have many).  We wound through the huge dining room past booths and tables, almost to the very back, where we were seated at a 4-person table.  Behind me and to my left were two long tables, one of them very long, seating over a dozen people each.  There wasn’t much space behind my chair once everyone was seated, and I found myself moving here and there to let people in and out.  I would have moved the table a bit to make some more room but I think it was bolted to the wall.  We were left with menus and it was a few minutes before our server came by to introduce herself and get our drink orders.  My grandma ordered a glass of wine.  I looked over the beer list but nothing was really striking my fancy tonight so I went with a Mr. Pibb.  The drought list is fairly small though they do have a bigger bottle list than I expected.

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The menu is massive and daunting.  Not only is the list of items long, each one is fairly unique.  You can’t just go reading the title of a section and move along so easily.  I had a very difficult time figuring out what I wanted.  Nothing was really jumping out at me in particular.  When I used to frequent Claim Jumper years ago I would almost always get the sourdough bread bowl of clam chowder.  I wanted to do something different, but decided I did want to do a cup of it at the very least because it’s one of my favorite clam chowders.  Finally I was down to two options: a steak or the Widow Maker Burger, a massive burger that I often see mentioned when I read anything about Claim Jumper.  My grandma said she was going to try something she’s never had before, so I figured I’d do the same and go with the Widow Maker Burger since I’ve had steaks here (which were all very good).  With just the two of us I decided to skip on appetizers which, again, there are a lot to choose from.

Despite how busy they were, they were well staffed and it seemed like there was always a figure dressed in black quickly moving past our table with plates or drinks in hand. Just a couple minutes after ordering, a different server brought out my cup of clam chowder and a little bag of oyster crackers.  Keeping with the theme of everything being huge, this “cup” was much closer to a full sized bowl.  It’s a very flavorful and creamy clam chowder.  The clams and potatoes aren’t very big, but I like it that way.  I inhaled this pretty quickly.  I was surprised at how quickly our food came after that.  It might have been 10 minutes at the most from when we ordered.  Earlier, while I was working on the clam chowder, a little plate with condiments (for my burger, I assume) was delivered.

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My grandma had ordered the Jamaican Jerk Chicken Sweet Potato (slow roasted sweet potato stuffed with shredded chicken, green onions, red peppers, cilantro, papaya relish, lemon and a drizzle of honey $12.99).  She’s not into spicy food that much so our server suggested to just do grilled chicken in place of the jerk chicken.  This was an interesting dish that I’ve never heard of before.  I took a bite of it and the sweet/savory combination was fantastic.

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My Widow Maker Burger (smoked bacon,hand-battered onion rings, avocado, double-thick cheddar, mayo and red relish $12.99) was indeed a massive burger that seemed to live up to it’s name.  It was a tower of beef, bacon, cheese and onion rings.  Most of the avocado was tucked into the onion ring, which was nice because it kept it from falling out as I handled it.  I removed the lettuce and two slices of tomato in an effort to make it a more manageable size.  I was barely able to get a bite out of the entire thing after that.  It had some weight to it and felt very dense.  The burgers here come cooked medium-well unless otherwise specified.  I had figured I’d drop it to medium.  I think I could have easily gone medium-rare.  It was fairly well-done for my tastes, brown throughout.  The most flavorful parts to this burger were the avocado, bacon and particularly the red relish which was quite sweet, but it worked.  The rest was unfortunately pretty bland.  I didn’t really taste the cheddar at all and the beef seemed unseasoned and plain.  My baked potato with everything was fine.  “Everything” consisted butter, sour cream and chives.  Would have been nice to have a little bacon over it, especially for the extra couple bucks they charge to upgrade the standard fries to it.  I mean, it’s the exact same thing but with (arguably) less preparation.

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I was stuffed so I skipped the massive desserts (both in selection and portion size).  I have to say I was somewhat disappointed in this visit, mostly due to the burger.  I really expected a lot more from it both because of it’s reputation and because I’ve generally always had very good food here.  That said, the clam chowder was still very good and my grandma said she’s definitely order the Jamaican jerk chicken sweet potato again.

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