Let’s face it. Among all of our desert cities, Rancho Mirage ranks nearly at the top—if not AT the top—when it comes to the eminence of its one-off restaurants. I’m thinking of Wally’s Desert Turtle, Omni Rancho Las Palmas’ bluEmber, and Shame on the Moon, to name a few. But let’s not forget the many chain eateries within our city’s borders—Five Guys Burgers and Fries, The Cheesecake Factory, Roy’s—which are wonderful. There’s nothing like the consistent quality of a beloved brand, as I was reminded when my old college bud Bobby bobbed into town for a day, begging to lunch at Applebee’s on Highway 111.
I hadn’t been to an Applebee’s in the Coachella Valley—or anywhere else, for that matter—in quite some time. But after we were greeted promptly and genially by the hostess, met our skilled server, and perused the extensive menu—which has, for the record, more than 150 separate items on it when appetizers, entrees, and desserts for breakfast, lunch, and dinner are factored in—I was quite happy Bobby suggested this as the meeting place at which we would break bread, and fries, and a Triple Chocolate Meltdown.
Suddenly unable to overcome the urge to bite into a burger, I succumbed to the Classic, with cheddar and a side of mayo (for said fries). Meanwhile, Bobby’s appetite was pulled in every direction by the offerings, especially since about 20 of the aforementioned 150 items were branded with a big lime green “New.” He finally settled on the Cedar Grilled Lemon Chicken, which came garnished with Granny Smith apple relish and topped with a lemon olive oil vinaigrette over a blend of cranberries, rice, honey-glazed pecans, and quinoa. Those 570 calories left room on his daily allotment for the sharing of that chocolate heaven to which I referred in the previous paragraph. One thing we didn’t take advantage of is the full bar, but isn’t always good to know that liquor is available if/when it’s needed? That our lunch was delish goes without saying. Applebee’s just rocks!
Being a big tech gadget junkie, one of the most fun aspects of this latest visit was TED—or the Table Entertainment Device. Similar to an iPad, TED sits on a stand at each table. With the press of a button, diners may order, play games, get info, view their bill, call their server, or order drink refills (if you see your server taking an order at a nearby table, someone will nonetheless get the call for more iced tea, soda, or lemonade and deliver it pronto). Rolled out brand-wide beginning in January, TED will soon enable patrons to even pay their bill at the table, without having to call out, “Garçon, l’addition s’il vous plait!”
Last but not least, let none of us forget that Applebee’s is the de facto room service provider for the adjacent Holiday Inn Express, that wonderfully thrifty chain hotel that—along with the nearby Hilton Garden Inn—is so popular with families and corporate road warriors who desire to dwell in Rancho Mirage but don’t need the added luxuries of our esteemed resorts.
But back to Applebee’s. Simply put, that’s where I’ll be: Back to Applebee’s. With or without dear old Bobby. www.applebees.com