While visiting Utica, NY today for a quarterly checkup my wife suggested lunch nearby. She had a BOGO coupon that she had received for her birthday that was about to expire. Normally I jump at the chance to save money, but balked when she said it was for Applebee's. I have eaten at the Applebee's in Rome, NY several times and have never had a good experience. I like meat of any kind and always request mine rare due to a medical condition. In spite of asking special, the meat is always overcooked, and to me, completely inedible.
With a negative attitude, I reluctantly reached for the door to enter. Before I could grab it a smiling young lady opened it for us and in a very friendly voice welcomed us inside. As it was lunchtime there were already about twenty or so people seated and eating their meals. We were guided to a sunny booth and had our drinks within a couple of minutes. Looking around I was satisfied to see a well lit and very clean interior. In all fairness to Applebee's though, they are usually very clean.
Our waitress, Julie M., brought our menus and recited the specials for us. The moment of truth had arrived and I asked her if I could have my meat prepared any way I wanted it. She said all the meat dishes are fixed the same and that the rarest I could get was going to be only slightly pink or medium rare as she put it. She added that the corporate offices dictate that policy across the board. Seeing my disappointment she suggested that I try one of her personal favorites called California salad. It sounded OK and seeing as I was not going to have a juicy rare burger I ordered it. My wife ordered a Fiesta Chicken salad.
Our food came in a flash and I was pleasantly surprised to see two colorful and extremely fresh appearing salads. Mine was loaded with shrimp, boiled eggs, big chunks of avocado, and lots of onion, ripe olives and grape tomatoes. Everything was mixed with tender sweet Boston lettuce and perfectly covered with a wonderful cucumber dressing. The shrimp were perfectly cooked and the cucumber dressing complimented the salad 100%. I sampled the Fiesta Chicken salad as well. It was every bit as loaded with ingredients and almost as tasty as mine. I say almost because I can honestly say that mine was probably the best salad I have ever been served in a "chain" restaurant. I would not hesitate to order it again or to recommend it to anyone. If you eat here you must try it.
To top off the wonderful salads we decided to order Apple Chimi Cheescake for dessert. It was another of Julies suggestions. We were not disappointed at all. It was a large slice of apple cheesecake wrapped inside a crispy tortilla coated with granulated cinnamon sugar and served with a scope of tangy apple filling and another scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream. The entire creation was drizzled with thick caramel sauce. MMMMMMM! Mom's apple pie has nothing up on this.
If you stop in be sure to ask for Julie M. She is friendly, attentive, and is a true asset to the staff here at Applebee's. Thank you Julie for being there for me today.
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