During our times in the suburbs of New Jersey (don’t hate), the American restaurant chain Applebee’s was always a friendly place for meals with family and late night gatherings with friends. All of those nostalgic feelings came rushing back as Shanghaiist read some rumors on the internets about the opening of the chain’s first outlet in China. With our curiosity peaked, we decided to go check it out.
As Shanghaiist and accompanying guest entered the rather spacey, week-old, and almost empty restaurant, we were pleasantly greeted by two smiling waitresses and an equally friendly waiter, all donning earpieces. Compared to its American counterparts, the menu at the Shanghai location is quite sparse, featuring about one third of the items on a typical Applebee’s menu in America (no half-price appetizers after 9pm either…damn it).
We started the meal with two nicely blended smoothies, perfect for a nice hot and sunny day (which it was). My friend chose a Banana Berry smoothie (香蕉树莓果昔), while we chose a Mango Banana smoothie (芒果香蕉奶昔) for 26RMB and 22RMB respectively. For the main course, we chose a modest portion of Beef and Asparagus Rollup (牛肉芦笋卷) for 35RMB. Our friend ordered the more ambitious BBQ Chicken Sandwich (炭烤鸡肉三明治) for 39RMB, consisting of a grilled piece of chicken smothered with BBQ sauce, topped with cheese and two strips of bacon. Both main courses came with well-seasoned french fries in a fairly small bowl, far short of the American-sized portion, but the taste more than made up for it.
The overall enjoyable eating experience made us wonder, with so many American food joints in Shanghai, where does Applebee’s fit in? After all, let’s not beat around the bush, this is the opening of yet another place to get a burger and fries. However there are two qualities that set Applebee’s apart from Blue Frog, Moon River Diner, Hooters, among others – the price and the service. After having a similar meal (two burgers, two drinks, and dessert) at Blue Frog recently that ran us almost 300RMB, our meal at Applebee’s set us back 151RMB. And for the drunks and winos, all alcoholic drinks (with the exception of some of the wines) we saw on the menu were all under 40RMB per glass.
Also, and more importantly, it was refreshing to be greeted with an enthusiastic and genuine “Welcome to Applebee’s!”, with some casual conversation to boot, rather than having a menu shoved into our faces (*cough* Eddy’s *cough*). Our waitress, Bonnie, was especially attentive and energetic, and informed us that Applebee’s will be offering a delivery menu soon. Rumor has it that the waitstaff were trained for weeks by a training team brought in from America.
Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar (苹果蜂餐厅)
Basement of Novel City, Xujiahui (永新地下一层18号商铺, 徐家汇)
131 Tianyaoqiao Road (天钥桥路131号)
Tel: 3368-6010, www.applebees.cn