Thursday, December 25, 2008

Applebee’s, Fairport, NY

Vegetarian Restaurant Review by Jennifer Kumar.

Meet and Greet

Entering on a Christmas Eve afternoon, we were immediately greeted and sat in the bar area.

Mise en Scène
This Applebee’s like any other Applebee’s we have visited was set up in a typical Applebee’s fashion. The bar flooring area is ‘sunken’ a few feet lower than general seating that surrounds three sides of the bar area. The bar area also generally has ‘high tables’ with tall chairs with additional seating at the bar. The seating encircling the bar is comprised of regular tables and chairs or booth seating. As usual, the seating area is spacious, clean and inviting.

**We did not have to use restrooms, so no comment on that ambiance!

Choosing a Veggie Treat

Actually, for vegetarians there are not many straight forward vegetarian options. Lunch time has a nice menu with combo choices of vegetarian soups (cream of mushroom or tomato basil) with salad or sandwich (only vegetarian sandwich is a BLT grilled cheese- without the “B” or bacon). Other than this, in the meal menu, there are pasta entries that are listed default with meat ingredients. Most of these possibly can be made without the meat, but have yet to try that order. We like the ‘burger’ choices here as the regular size burger sandwiches can all be substituted with veggie burgers. Keep this tip in mind as the burger options are interesting. On this trip we received the quesadilla burger (remember to ask to omit the bacon in the cheese spread) and the cowboy burger (without the bacon). We have had the quesadilla burger and find this to be a unique option, as we have not had this at any other restaurant. Though we are quite certain to have the quesadilla burger again, this is not so true with the cowboy burger. Though overall the taste of the cowboy burger was tempting, the bar-be-que sauce was very distracting, especially for us that don’t prefer the smoky smell or taste of bar-be-que. We did not get the bruschetta burger, though we have in the past and highly recommend this as it has a fresh and addicting taste.

We did order an appetizer, the potato skin sans bacon. The potato skins were good, but bland. Would have been nice to have it as a nachos dish, topped with jalapeños and beans or have something crunchy on top, like diced red onions.

They did not have hot sauce as a condiment, though did mix ‘wing sauce’ for us, which was tasty and fulfilled the spice requirement, but had a texture and smell that was a little odd for me as it did remind me of chicken wings so I did not eat much of it.

Additionally, as I occasionally enjoy a mixed drink, I did try the pomegranate margarita on this visit. It was very tasty as it was mixed with POM brand pomegranate juice. It was so tasty and fruity that we neither noticed the strong taste of the alcohol or the bitterness of pomegranate juice. They seemed to balance and ‘even each other’ out. I recommend this drink to anyone who likes margarita sans salt.

See Applebee’s Menu

Checking In

Our waiter was attentive and very friendly. Though it was quite busy, he attended to us timely and refilled our drinks as required.

See you later

No concerns here, bill was received by us and paid in a timely fashion.

Pay Scale

$16-20 per person (1 appetizer, 1 coffee, 1 mixed drink and 2 main meals)

Tips 10-15% I think we gave closer to 12-13%

Star System

Overall 3.5/5

Though we appreciate the flexibility of the menu to create vegetarian options out of non-vegetarian ones and the ability to omit meat ingredients to do the same, we often find it challenging to choose a menu item. We like to come to Applebee’s because of the appetizers, ambiance and service, but we always come in with a hesitation as we know, as vegetarians, that finding a tasty option is a little challenging.

To find/Contact

Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar

585 Moseley Rd
Fairport, NY 14450

(585) 425-4700‎

Get directions: To here - From here

Notes: I have also eaten at these locations with similar feedback: Pittsford Plaza, Penfield (Webster), Rochester (Irondequoit), Paddy Creek Circle (Rochester/ Greece), Cortland, NY

Notes: One reason we have tried so many locations is due to getting a ‘free’ gift card to Applebee’s when purchasing the special car wash coupon packet from Delta Sonic.

Review based on October 2008 visit.

Have you eaten at Applebee’s? If so, please share your thoughts below.

Thank you for reading!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Perlo’s Italian Grille, East Rochester, NY

Vegetarian Restaurant Review by Jennifer Kumar.

Meet and Greet
We initially had a hard time finding the building. Arriving from the south on North Washington Street, there was no clear signs or lighting to locate the building easily. Coming back around the block, we noticed Perlo’s on the corner of Walnut and North Washington. Visiting this place two days before Christmas, we were surprised to see the parking lot overflowing onto the side streets. It seemed impossible to find a parking spot. After locating one on the north side of the building, we noticed a Perlo’s sign board that could be spotted if driving from the north on North Washington. The entrance greets you in the bar lounge, which was just jam packed full of people. Though it appeared chaotic, and there did not seem to be a localized area where guests were greeted, a hostess found us within a few minutes and we were seated in one of the two tables open.

Mise en Scène
It was crowded, chaotic and a bit cramped inside. We were not sure if this was a typical weekday crowd or a holiday rush. Tables were clean and orderly, but tables were crowded into the space making it hard for wait staff and guests to maneuver in between.
**We did not have to use restrooms, so no comment on that ambiance!

Choosing a Veggie Treat
We decided to come here as I had found out about this place through a Google search a few months back. At that time, I noticed a unique dish called Baked Potato Chips with exotic cheese toppings. For our appetizers we did order the chips and the “East Rochester Stuffed Escarole” without the pancetta (a cured meat). For our main dish, we ordered the special of the night, stuffed rigatoni (without the meat) accompanied by a side salad.

Our thoughts on the menu items:
Complementary bread and butter: Nothing special about the bread. Either the bread could have been warmer or the butter, softer to make it easier to spread.

Side salad: It was impressive, not your typical side salad with a lot of lettuce, carrots and a piece of tomato. In fact, no carrots or tomato included! There was some lettuce, topped with diced red onions, blue cheese and a rich Italian dressing. It was one of the tastiest salads I have had in a long time. We liked the combination of the dressing and blue cheese, as they complemented each other well. We would have liked more onions, but other than that, we enjoyed it.

Baked Potato Chips: The only other place we have had a similar dish was at Chat-a-Whyle Family Restaurant, Bath, NY. We deduced though, that Perlo’s offering was more unique (due to the exotic cheese topping) and fresher than Chat-a-Whyle’s. Perlo’s freshness came from the use of super fresh oil. We definitely recommend this appetizer to any and all who visit.

Stuffed Escarole: We prefer to call this menu item, Italian Upma as the look, feel and texture was reminiscent of an Indian breakfast item we enjoy, Upma. When I read the description, I had thought it would be long leaves of escarole with the remainder of ingredients as a topping. When we got it though, it was more like porridge of ingredients. It seems it is the bread pieces, when cooked in, fluff up and give the dish a porridge look and feel, similar to the Upma dishes made in India with sooji (cream of wheat) or other similar ingredients. (I also make this dish with quinoa.)

Stuffed Rigatoni: Again an unexpected delight encountered us in this main menu specialty. When hearing the description, I thought the ingredients, would all be stuffed into the rigatoni. However, only ricotta cheese was stuffed in the rigatoni noodles and all other ingredients were in the tomato sauce smothered on top. I prefer this preparation style as it makes it easier to make this dish vegetarian. It was indeed not only a unique menu item, but full of fresh taste. The tomato sauce used had a nice texture and simple taste. It was the accompanying spinach and other toppings that added variety and interest.

Checking In
Maybe it was because it was so busy, or because our waiter was on his second day of the job, or maybe it was it was because it was super crowded inside, or maybe a combination of these and other factors that led to a leisurely wait time. We may have been inside for 1.5-2 hours total. Since it was the holidays and we were in a leisurely mood, we did not worry much. We were impressed by the individualized service- our menu items were made to order as two were ordered with (meat) ingredients omitted. We are delighted with the attention to menu details, but timeliness in receiving our orders (food and coffee) was below our normal expectation. Some establishments pride themselves on long wait times, leisurely service and friendly atmosphere. We are not sure if this is their normal course, or the holiday rush caused this lag. We’d have to come again to find that out. The one aspect of the service that was impressive was in addition to the waiter, there was a helper (not sure of correct title) who would come, clear off the plates and pack to-go boxes.

See you later
This part of the process did take a little longer than expected but no issues or concerns.

Pay Scale
$16-20 per person (Two appetizers, two coffees and 1 main dish split)
Tips 10-15%
Star System 2.5/5
Though Perlo’s offered a limited number of vegetarian options (2.5/5), the cook appeared flexible to omitting meat ingredients to accommodate us. That is a big plus as some Italian eateries we have been to are not this flexible. Our waiter was slow and our food came at a leisurely pace, the food was warm and tasty; made to our requirements. I have coupled the service with ambiance as I think in this instance they factor together. The environment was chaotic, noisy and crowded, because of this; I give 2.5/5 and wonder if my opinion would improve if we go outside holiday hours. In fact, some others may enjoy this environment for an outside dining experience, but our personal preference is more quiet, intimate and ‘homely.’ Because there were few unique menu options, food was made to our requirements and we had such healthy portions we have a meal for tomorrow, the value for money is descent (2.5/5).

To find/Contact
Perlo's Restaurant
202 N Washington St
East Rochester, NY 14445
(585) 248-5060
Get directions

Review based on December 2008 visit.

Have you eaten at Perlo’s? If so, please share your thoughts below.

Related Posts/Sites:

Perlo's Online Menu
Chat-a-Whyle Family Restaurant, Bath, NY

Quinoa Upma Recipe (aka Indian stuffed escarole variety!)

Thank you for reading!