As We See It

In defense of the Heart Attack Grill

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The quadruple bypass burger, available at the Heart Attack Grill.
Ken Epstein

The Heart Attack Grill is open for business. It’s a fast-food joint where the burgers have a billion calories, the fries are cooked in lard, and waitresses dress up as sexy nurses. The media’s loving this one. Everybody’s saying the Heart Attack Grill epitomizes everything that’s wrong with the American restaurant. But everybody is wrong.

The Heart Attack Grill is a novelty. People eat there once. The restaurants making nearly 75 percent of Americans overweight or obese? It’s not McDonald’s, Burger King or Taco Bell. No, the real problem is TGI Fridays, CPK, Macaroni Grill and The Cheesecake Factory—restaurants that seem somewhat healthy, restaurants where you can down an entire day’s worth of calories in 20 minutes flat without even realizing.

With McDonald’s, Burger King and Taco Bell, you know what you’re getting. (Plus, all three of those places have been quietly improving their menus.) But who would think that a chicken salad or a plate of pasta could have 2,500 calories in it? That’s why we order appetizers, too. With the Heart Attack Grill, you know where you stand. So you’ll probably eat fewer calories there than you would at the Cheesecake Factory.

I’m not saying it’s anything to brag to Michelle Obama about; I’m just saying it epitomizes nothing.

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