It’s funny how life circles back around. Some 30 years ago I became friends with Judi. Our husbands worked together at Telenet and then Sprint and because we didn’t live too close together we only got together occasionally. Some years later we moved into the same neighborhood, had children that went to the same schools, were both stay-at-home moms and still had husbands that worked together. Often, when the hubbies were both working late, we would get together and pool resources to have dinner at one of our homes. The kiddos would play and we were able to have some grown-up time. It was awesome because one of the best things about being with Judi is all the laughter that goes on – she always has a funny story. Well, as time went on, the kids got more and more busy and we began working and our time together dwindled to nothing.
Over the last year, now that the kids are out on their own and successful in their lives Judi and I have rekindled our friendship by going to plays, parties and having dinners that have included our spouses. But last night, my husband had to work late and guess what, so did Judi’s! Well, cooking for two seemed silly so we went to Applebee’s to check out their new woodfired grilled menu items. In the car we discovered that neither of us had been to Applebees in years so we were hoping the new menu would be a welcome change. We were immediately greeted by a friendly, smiling hostess that seated immediately which got us off to a great start.
With our hubbies happily at work (ha!) we knew we had plenty of time so we started our evening with their Classic Combo appetizer that features mozzarella sticks, spinach and artichoke dip, chicken quesadillas, chips/salsa and, by our choice, Sweet Asian Chili chicken wings (other flavors available). While we liked everything in the combo, the wings were sweet and spicy, crunchy on the outside, moist on the inside and finger-licking good! YUM!
For dinner we decided that we would order two of the wood-fired entrees and share them so that we could try more food – yep, some things never change – we both still love to eat! We ordered the Sirloin with grilled vegetables (yellow squash, zucchini & red peppers) and Crispy Cheddar Bacon Potatoes. We were both happy to see that our steak was perfectly cooked to medium, and our palettes were excited when the tender, juicy, wood fire flavor hit our tongues. The grilled vegetables were cooked just enough to heat them through and add the grilled flavor while still leaving them slightly crunchy just the way I like them and OMG, the Crispy Cheddar Bacon Potatoes were really yummy. We both agreed that these dishes were delicious!
For our second choice we chose the Wood Fired Pork Chop with BBQ Spiced Fries and Garlicky Green Beans for the sides. The Pork Chop was cooked through, juicy and had a Cajun flavor similar to Old Bay. It was good, but it could not stand up to the steak in our opinion. The fries were hot and crispy on arrival just like all fries should be but we really could not taste the bbq spice on them which was a little disappointing since they sound so good. The garlicky green beans had a really great garlic flavor and once again were cooked lightly and not to mush. Three cheers for the Woodbridge Applebee’s chefs!
We may not have been eating at home, but we certainly were in a friendly environment. The manager on duty, Thomas Kingsbury, was friendly and obviously customer focused. He came around to the tables in our area throughout our dining experience to check to make sure that everyone was satisfied with their service and he took time to smile and laugh with us. Our waiter, Conner, was awesome! He was attentive, very friendly, kept our water glasses filled, and made great side dish recommendations. I would vote for him getting the good shifts.
Judi and I stayed and nibbled on the leftover appetizer (it was huge and we could not finish it) and chatted for quite a while – it was awesome and left me with a happy feeling. Nothing better than good food and good friends – thanks Applebees for bringing us full circle!