Wednesday, September 21, 2016


673 Gravois Bluffs Blvd.
Fenton, Mo.
On the web.

We had options. Gravois Bluffs is a shopping area, I've mentioned it several times before. Along the row in front of the big box stores on the south side of highway 141, is a long line of restaurants, a dozen or more. Most, if not all, chain restaurants you've heard of.
Our actual destination was on the north side of the road, even more stores and restaurants there. We were on a quest. We had decided that we needed new dinnerware. Like many working families, our plates and bowls are mismatched, chipped and diminishing in numbers. Angel had been thinking about it and decided that we should just go ahead and replace the war-weary collection. A store that once had nice dinnerware, Gordman's was on the north side of the highway, in the shadow of the bluffs. Angel recalled that there was an Applebee's in that same shopping center.
She's recovering from foot surgery but can now get around for short periods in her 'boot' without crutches or the now-abandoned knee scooter. Driving long distances is problematic for her since the boot is so bulky that once in place under the dashboard, there's very little wiggle room, her leg and foot stiffen up. So I drove her in her Trailblazer.  I commute in a little VW Jetta. I like my small, reliable, efficient little car. Her SUV feels massive in comparison. I rarely drive it. But I soldiered up and offered to drive. She stretched out on the passenger side, an ideal position to complain about my
overly cautious and timid driving style. She didn't nag, but I could hear the frequent sighs.
The Place:
The shopping center is very busy, but Applebee's didn't seem crowded. I cautiously and timidly parked the battleship near the door. A member of the wait staff opened the door for us as we approached. They seated us in the central dining area, near the bar, at a bistro style table.
Asked for drinks, Angel asked for sweet tea, I grumbled and settled for the un-sweet version.
I'd really like to find something else to drink on these trips, tea is almost always a disappointment at restaurants.
I looked around, typical, ubiquitous, 80's chain sports bar. TV's playing sports on every wall, thankfully muted. The overhead music came through scratchy, distributed (100 volt) institutional ceiling speakers. Those things are fine for low volume 'Muzak' but lousy for contemporary, bass-heavy pop or rock. I could explain why this is, but will spare you for the time being.
The Food:
I'd scanned the online menu earlier in the day so I'd already narrowed it down a short list of possible choices. Angel didn't seem to have any problem deciding either. I sipped on the tea, which was surprisingly good. Clear, bright, fresh. It could have been a little stronger, but for restaurant tea this was quite good.
I'd briefly considered the fish and chips, until I remembered a 'note to self': If fish and chips is not featured prominently on the menu, skip it, just walk away. Nobody seems to get the fish right at all the places I've ordered it in the past. Applebee's had it buried well down in the 'yeah we have this stuff too, if you insist' section.
The gentleman who would be our server asked for our orders, Angel took the lead.
Shrimp 'n Parmesan  Sirloin with grilled veggies and garlic mashed potatoes.
Me: Grilled Onion Sirloin and Stout Gravy with crispy red potatoes. (from the 'Lighter Fare' page)
As we waited I noticed that two of the muted TV's were not showing actual sports, they were instead showing a guy talking. I assume about sports, but for a half hour or more it was just this guy talking, on a muted TV, with no closed captioning. Not surprisingly, I could
find no one watching those 2
TVs. Frankly, it didn't appear that anyone was watching the football game on the other TV's either. I wish these places would tune at least one or two TV's to something else other than sports.
The wait was not especially long, another server brought out our plates.
Mine looked exactly like the photo in the menu. A six ounce steak, which, to me, is the perfect size for a steak, and a generous spread of crispy red potatoes. The 'Stout gravy' was an unknown. It was pretty though, the color of molasses, just not quite as thick, sweet and disgusting.
Angel's steak was a little bigger and topped with shrimp. It looked pretty good. The mixed veggies were off-putting though, one word: squash.
Yes I have tried squash, lots of kinds, lots of ways. No, just no. I cannot un-remember that distinctive, sickening taste. Go ahead and enjoy it if you like, but for me, it's just no.
The server demanded we cut into our steaks to check that the done-ness was as desired. I went medium this night, sometimes I'll go a bit pinker, but was in the mood for just a little more firmness this time around. Neither of us had any complaints. The server asked if we wanted steak sauce, I gave her my standard reply. "Not if you did the steak right."
We didn't need any sauce.
I cautiously dipped a red tater into the dark brown gravy and gave it a shot.
I was not disappointed. I savored it. I could detect meat drippings, au jus, and something, something. . . .oh yeah 'Stout' as in beer. It wasn't all beer-y, it had been cooked down quite a bit. It was heavenly. It had a deep, dare I say manly flavor. Steak drippings and beer on top of steak and potatoes. . . oh yeah.
Angel was going to town on hers as well. Then something quite remarkable happened. We both openly expressed how pleased we were with or meals. Not just a little, but quite pleased indeed!
I almost hated to admit it. We really, really liked the food.
I had managed expectations about Applebee's, it has disappointed before. I can't say much about the service, it could have been a little more attentive  and consistent, but no one was rude, nor did they botch the order.
On the table was a touch pad terminal. I'm not a gadget-guy, so it didn't interest me much. Angel poked on it a little. You could pay to play a game, pay your bill, order stuff, things like that. Of course Angel can play games on her own phone for no charge, no need to fork over $1.69 or whatever it was. The original server brought us the check, but Angel wanted to pay on the terminal. It knew what this table had ordered and it asked if we wanted to split the ticket. I guess that's cool, settle that fight with your co-workers while everyone's still sitting there.
She didn't split our check though, since we're in love and married and stuff. It's how we roll. The bill came to $41.25, a very respectable price for a fantastic meal.

Applebee's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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