Optimistically Cautious

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Another Chain, Another Disappointment: Applebee's Neighbourhood Grill & Bar

It was a sad Thursday indeed when Bettina and I couldn't come up with any more inspiring southside eateries than Applebee's (10390 51 Avenue). But as we both hadn't been there before, it wasn't a total loss, as we are always up to try new restaurants.

This particular building has a history of failed establishments attached to it - changing hands from The Cheesecake Cafe to Maxwell Taylor's to EMW and now to its current tenant. I hadn't been to EMW, so I'm not sure how much of the interior remains from the previous design, but for a "neighbourhood grill & bar" (a tagline suspiciously similar to Kelsey's might I add), the decor is quite sleek - dark wood, large vases, spot lighting. I hate to say it, but it's almost nicer than the menu allows at face value.

Like Kelsey's and Ricki's, the casual, family-friendly menu at Applebee's boasts an unsurprising variety of sandwiches, burgers, and pastas. I had to laugh at our over-eager server (who was probably not more than 13 years old), who introduced, with karate-chop flare, their featured "Irresist-A-Bowls." Though tempting, I bypassed the specials and chose the Three Cheese Penne (mozzarella, provolone and parmesan cheeses top off a rich mix of penne pasta, Italian-seasoned grilled chicken, diced tomatoes, fresh basil and Alfredo sauce), while Bettina ordered a Chicken Sandwich.

The wait wasn't unbearable, but by the time our food had been delivered, most of the patrons had cleared out - at this rate, I wondered if we would be seeing another "For Lease" sign soon. As for our entrees, the portion sizes were unforgivably small. Perhaps it was my oversight to order pasta, but I couldn't help but think that for a mere $2 more at Olive Garden, I would have had access to unlimited salad and breadsticks; or at Denny's, for $4 less, I'd receive twice as much food. Applebee's might offer "healthy" portion sizes, but somehow that seems like the optimistic point of view.

In my quest to try as many restaurants as possible, I can't just overlook the chains. That said, these generic, no-concept chains haven't had a good track record so far.



Three Cheese Penne

Chicken Sandwich

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