May I vent?
Fellow Eggers, I have sinned. A family member's hospitalization yesterday meant that I missed lunch and dinner. Heading home around 10:30 I realized as much and that I had few choices left for dinner out. With a sense of foreboding I enter the only restaurant I can find with table service at this hour: Applebee's.
Because I am dining alone, I'm seated at a two-top near the front door, so I get blasted with cold air whenever anybody enters or leaves. This is also adjacent to the bar, so my technically non-smoking seat is well-infused with smoke. All of the surrounding tables are filled with single moms with screaming infants in tow. At 10:30 PM. Apparently I missed the memo on Girls' Night Out.
I order onion soup for starter, then a medium rare "Bourbon St. Steak" that is described as Cajun spices with mushrooms and onions. Standard sides are a "California medley" of vegetables and a baked potato on the side. Server insists on my showing a driver's license to order one ale despite my not having appeared under 21 for decades.
I am on my third sip of my onion soup when a sizzling fajita-style platter is dropped in front of me with a plate of broccoli and carrots and a third plate with an oversized baked potato.
By the time I finish the soup, the steak has more than stopped sizzling (in fact, it's room temperature [must be those Arctic blasts from the front door] and greasy). The steak might once have been a sirloin but at this point in its afterlife only a CSI: Charleston forensic DNA test could tell. It's a zombie steak, an echo of a shadow of sirloin that would not die despite multiple freezings and unspeakable abuse. Thickness varies from 1/4 inch to 3/4 inch. Doneness is medium well, except for the line of gristle running transversely that seems quite raw indeed. Texture is pretty much wet cardboard. Taste is burnt chemical with burnt garlic and burnt pepper gurgling atop an underlying taste river of burnt. The mushrooms and onions are fresh, so I would give points for that--except that they're not cooked. Broccoli and carrots taste like garlic and grease. Potato is both underdone and overly dry; the syntho-butter poured over it and the miserly dollop of genuine imitation sour cream can't hide the mealy texture any better than the loud music hides the sound of crying, tired children who should be home in bed or the sound of servers bickering with the floor manager about tip policy.
Including tip, $25...and I drive home wondering what I could have cooked on my Egg for that.