Florida Guide > Dining
Eating at Applebee's
Applebee’s Neighbourhood Grill and Bar
On our last trip to Miami, following a visit to our villa in Orlando, we were pleased to discover an Applebee’s restaurant close to our hotel. There are two close to our villa in Orlando, one in Winter Haven, just south of us, down US Highway 27, and one in Buena Vista, on the Osceola Parkway. It is a family oriented restaurant, and visited by the locals, who enjoy its friendly atmosphere and good food, at a good price.
Applebee’s was founded in Atlanta, Georgia, and the first restaurant, which opened in 1980, had the most unusual name of ‘Applebee’s Restaurant for Edibles & Elixirs.’ Since then the name has changed to ‘Applebee’s Neighbourhood Grill and Bar,’ which reflects the atmosphere of a friendly neighbourhood establishment, which offers high quality food at a moderate price. Since then, the chain has grown enormously, so that now there are over 1800 restaurants. Inside, these restaurants are warm and welcoming, and have a décor which includes photographs and memorabilia. They also have a ‘Neighbourhood Wall’ which celebrates local life, such as local schools, heroes and the history of the area. In Miami, there are photographs of famous actors and actresses, including, of course, Marilyn Monroe, and it is fascinating to look around the restaurant while you wait for your meal to arrive, and see which famous stars you can name. It is very reminiscent of the Bennigan’s chain, with small bays seating 4 and a central bar area. Outside, you cannot miss the big red apple over the doorway, and the candy striped blinds over the windows.
There is a wide choice of food which is served quickly and efficiently. Interestingly, for those needing to watch their weight, they now have a range of Weigh Watchers menu items, such as Cajun Lime Tilapia, Teriyaki Steak n’ Shrimp Skewers, Tango Chicken Sandwich, or Confetti Chicken. Using ingredients such as fresh salsa, citrus and bbq sauce, they comply with the Weight Watcher’s concept, and this is a great addition to their menu.
Of course there are appetizers, such as Boneless Buffalo Tips, Onion Peels with a delicious horseradish dipping sauce, Chicken Quesadilla, Nachos and the new classic French Onion Soup and Tomato Basil Soup, and a selection of salads to suit all tastes. If you want to ensure that you have room for your entrée then why not order an appetizer sampler platter, for $10.99, for the whole family to share. But I have to admit to liking a steak, so their choice of sirloin, ribeye, steak and baby back rib all served with garlic mashed potatoes, is ideal for me. From the grill you can savour the delights of salmon, chicken, baby back ribs or riblets, and fajitas, all served with seasonal vegetables, mashed garlic potatoes with garlic bread. An interesting concept is their ‘Take Two’ menu, which allows you to choose 2 entrees for just $13.99. You can choose from sirloin, riblets, shrimp, chicken or salmon.
However, why not try their new ‘Steakhouse Inspirations’ which include such delights as Roasted Garlic Asiago Chicken, House Sirloin and Lump Crab Cakes, Ribeye Steak, or maybe just the Lump Crab Cakes on their own, served with a black bean corn salsa. But if all that sounds too much then there are roll ups, sandwiches and burgers to choose from.
Well, if you can manage all of that you may not have room for one of their delicious desserts. Our favourite has to be their Blue Ribbon Brownie, a huge plateful of brownies filled with lumps of dark chocolate and nuts, served with a hot fudge sauce and two, not one, scoops of vanilla ice cream – utterly wicked, but at least you can ask for 2 spoons and share. My husband’s favourite has to be the Sizzling Apple Pie, served on a red hot skillet and oozing with layers of apple, in a light flaky crust. As if this is not enough, it is topped with a walnut streusel, caramel butter sauce and ice cream. But it’s a difficult choice, as their Fudge Filled Chocolate Cake is a dream, with its chocolate fudge centre, topped with dark and white chocolate, a scoop of ice cream, and drizzled with hot chocolate fudge sauce. It will
However, if you are on a diet and cannot indulge in these calorific delights, then you can still enjoy a Weight Watchers dessert, and not feel too guilty. Berry Lemon Cheesecake has fresh strawberries and a crushed raspberry sauce, and is only 230 calories, and 5 ‘Points.’ However, as a chocoholic, I must admit that their Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake has to be my choice. It is covered in a light cream cheese glaze and is drizzled with a raspberry sauce, and is worth just 4 points! Go on, spoil yourself, you deserve it!
There is a children’s menu, of course, with the usual favourites of chicken fingers, macaroni cheese, cheeseburger or grilled chicken sandwich, all served with either broccoli, celery, applesauce or fries, and a complimentary drink comes with it.
Whether you are on your own, or with the family, you are sure to find something to suit everyone. So why not give it a try next time you see the big red apple?
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