What do you get when you mix a Hooters ripoff with Applebees?
You get the Tilted Kilt. Just opened in Niskayuna, it’s a half-baked attempt to capitalize on Hooters’ unabashed glorification and playful mockery of Men’s primal desire to mingle with attractive women half their age, drink too much beer and eat fried foods.
I want to be clear, I am not disparaging Hooters, or the average Joe’s need to spend time with his buddies whilst ogling a cute waitress in a male-focused establishment. Rather, I am saddened that Tilted Kilt manages to water down the experience to the point of it being nothing more than bad chain food served by scantily clad women and men in skirts.
Hooters has been famously sued on more than one occasion because they refuse to hire men as waitstaff. Hooters argues that hiring only (young and attractive) women is a ‘bona fide occupational qualification’. In short, young, cute, female waitresses are essential to their business. (Hooters does hire men, but not as waitstaff or bartenders). And I agree with Hooters. It’s what makes them special. Trust me, no one is going to Hooters for the food (with the exception of the wings, which are quite good).
Tilted Kilt has male waitstaff and bartenders, in my opinion to their detriment. The whole male-focussed theme goes out the window when (like me on my visit) one is waited on by a kilt wearing, hairy legged dude.
I get why they hire men. They don’t want to deal with the negative publicity and lawsuits that Hooters has had to endure. That’s fine, but it makes them just another restaurant. Their raison d’être becomes null and void, and they’re in no way unique excepting men in skirts and half-naked waitresses.
The ambiance is ostensibly Irish pub, but it comes off as cheap hotel sports bar. Dark, grainy oak abounds. The oak chairs, tables, bar and wainscoting are all a step back in time—to the 80s. The walls are covered in a dark green wallpaper with a mossy pattern. 65″ TVs dominate, and any wall space that isn’t taken up by a TV is filled with old-timey photographs that attempt to belie you’re in a modern restaurant.
I was there for lunch on a Monday. It was packed. I expected the restaurant to be empty. Perhaps it was the novelty of a new joint that brought everyone in (I, after all, was there for exactly that reason). Or maybe the draw was the waitresses.
Speaking of the waitresses, they look ridiculous. Push up bras, bare midriff, and too short skirts, with knee high socks. It reminds of the 12-year-old that puts on too much makeup and perfume because she has no idea what she’s doing. Instead of looking sexy, the outfits are a parody. They look like they’re designed by a corporate marketing department full of balding 50-something men with no fashion sense. Hooters does it better. Hooters understands that it’s sexier to leave some things to the imagination.
Since this is a restaurant, I should mention the food. The food is as average as it gets. Nothing on the menu dares to step out from typical American chain fare. Creativity is limited to the juvenile names of some menu items. A buffalo chicken sandwich is goofily called the “Mother Clucker”. A four cheese cheeseburger is christened the “Big Arse Classic”.
I ordered the buffalo chicken sandwich, sorry, I mean, Mother Clucker. The chicken patty was drenched in an industrial tasting buffalo sauce and I think I got a suntan from its bright day-glo orange hue. It’s perched atop a too sweet brioche style bun, which of course is the ubiquitous bun of choice at chains these days. My “sidewinder” fries (Tilted Kilt’s take on curly fries), were surprisingly decent but hardly memorable.
The beer selection is about what one expects of a chain sports bar, but the drafts are served in 20 oz glasses, with no option for something smaller. If you dare have more than one, you’ll be tilting as you walk out the door.
What is Tilted Kilt? Is it an Irish pub? Is it a sports bar? Is it a Hooters clone? Is it a family friendly Applebee’s clone? I don’t know, and I don’t think Tilted Kilt knows either.