How awesome would it be if you could go to a restaurant and know exactly how many calories were in the meal you’d chosen to order?
I’m not much of a calorie counter myself, but as a Nutrition Educator I see value in the public knowing what’s in their meals when eating out.
Lucky for us; and to my surprise, Applebee’s publishes the calorie count of many of their menu items and has even gone as far as creating an entire menu dedicated to meals under 550 calories.
When Applebee’s contacted me to see if I’d be interested in stopping by their Calgary location to check out their under 550 calorie menu, I jumped at the chance. It’s not every day I get invited to try out free food with a group of friends! And better yet, potentially find a health conscious restaurant that I could recommend to my clients.
After a bit of planning and coordinating, Kevin and I headed out to the restaurant this past Sunday with our neighbors; Shane and Shawna.
The atmosphere is very similar to Swiss Chalet, with a bit more of a neighborhood, home style feeling. The staff weren’t rushed or stressed and there was a positive vibe throughout the place.
We arrived at 5pm, were seated immediately and presented with a rather large menu. Had I not had a goal in mind – order from the under 550 calorie menu, I think I would have been a bit overwhelmed at all the choices.
Just for fun, I perused the menu for some vegan options and came up quite short. While you could get any of the salads without chicken, you may be left a bit hungry afterward.
Alicia; our waitress, pointed out which of the items on the menu were gluten and dairy-free. It didn’t take long for me to decide what I wanted…
French onion soup! It’s rare that I get to enjoy gluten-free soup at a restaurant, let alone gluten-free French onion soup (my absolute favorite). Although my version had no bread or cheese, I didn’t mind one little bit.
Kevin’s was without cheese, and Shane and Shawna had a normal order, cheese and all. It looked so gooey and perfect.
I was very happy with my bowl of soup. It had the perfect amount of salt and sweet onions, served up in a cute little ramekin. While not on the 550 calorie menu, everyone agreed it was a great starter.
About 15 minutes after our soup bowls had been cleared, our dinner arrived.
I immediately noticed that the meals were very similar to something I’d enjoy at my parents house. If you’re looking for a home cooked spot away from home, with more than reasonable prices, this is your place. The ingredients are simple, presented with basic plating and not too much pizazz, but delicious nonetheless.
Shane ordered the signature sirloin with garlic herb shrimp, a 7 oz. sirloin topped with shrimp and cream sauce. It was love at first bite, he explained after he’d cleared his plate. The brocolli was steamed to perfection, the steak was cooked just the way he’d asked for it, and the cream sauce was great with the shrimp.
Shawna and I both ordered the grilled dijon chicken and portobellos. The chicken was topped with roasted onions, red peppers and portobello slices with a creamy dijon sauce. The sauce had a sour cream base so I had mine without and am very happy I did. I wouldn’t have wanted to mask the taste of the roasted onions, they were spectacular.
Although Shawna said she enjoyed the tangy sauce, halfway through her meal she found it a bit too over powering and wish she’d ordered her meal without it.
Kevin went for the roasted garlic sirloin, a 7 oz. sirloin topped with sautéed onions which we learned later is their most popular menu item!
Kevin is pretty particular about his steak. He’s the guy at the table that could spend up to 30 minutes cutting around the edges of the steak ensuring all remnants of fat have been removed. He usually pushes the pieces to the side of his plate for me to snack on (I know, it’s gross… but I LOVE steak fat) but when I looked over at his plate halfway through the meal, I was surprised to see absolutely no fat on his plate. Now that’s a lean steak!
We were all given a side of herbed potatoes with our meal but I wasn’t a big fan of them. I found them too mushy and tasteless, but everyone liked them. I guess you could say I’m picky about my potatoes! Next time, I do the coleslaw.
All in all, we had a great time and plan on a second visit in the future.
Have you ever been to Applebees?
Does your favorite restaurant post the nutrition facts in their menu? If so, I’d love to know who they are!