Monthly Archives: August 2014

Steppin’ Out – Applebee’s for Weight Watchers® menu

Applebees_Logo_LowResSMgifMy friend Russ Salazar is a member of Weight Watchers (down 50 pounds since January). He called me a few weeks ago to say that Applebee’s had a few Weight Watchers endorsed dishes on the menu we should try. So, after he got back from a trip to New York City, we drove to the Applebee’s at 3281 Coach Lane, in Cameron Park, to check things out.

Now, Applebee’s has a lot of great things on their menu, like appetizers, steaks, entrees, burgers, sandwiches, salads and more, but we were there just to try the Weight Watchers meals.

Weight Watchers has instructions telling you what to choose when you dine out, but Applebee’s has three dishes that are endorsed by them on their “Under 550 Calories” menu: Roma Pepper Steak ( 13 points, 510 calories), Lemon Parmesan Shrimp (13 points, 510 calories) and Chicken Freshcado (11 points, 480 calories).
Russ was interested in finding out how they actually tasted and ordered all three for us to try, along with an extra plate.

About 10 minutes later all three dishes arrived and we started dividing them up. They didn’t look exactly like the picture on the menu (does any dish?), but they did look good and appetizing.

One thing that keeps the calories and points down is that Applebee’s uses a lot of mixed vegetables in the dishes. Some they leave fresh and some they gently saute, but only enough so that they keep their crispness or shape and really liven up the dishes.

I tried the Chicken Freshcado first. It was a fire-grilled chicken breast topped with a fresh avocado and pineapple relish and accompanied by white rice on which was a melange of vegetables, including peppers, onions, sliced zucchini, cucumbers and more.

Immediately I really liked this dish. The chicken was still moist and nicely seared, the avocado and pineapple accompanied it wonderfully and the vegetables added great flavor to the rice.

Salazar is not a chicken eater, but he too agreed it was an excellent dish. On his first bite he thought he tasted cilantro, which he does not like (to many people it tastes like soap or gym socks – it’s in their genes). He continued eating carefully, but did not find it beyond that.

He also commented that white rice was not on the preferred list of Weight Watchers foods, but since the dishes were approved, they must have accepted it in this case.

The Roma Pepper Steak consisted of their chunky Roma pepper relish piled over a 7 oz. sirloin, along with red potatoes and a Portobello (everyone spells this differently) mushroom cap stuffed with creamy artichoke cheese spread. We ordered the steak medium-rare and got exactly what we ordered (that’s a real plus).

It ended up being lowest on my list because I thought the steak was a bit chewy and the potatoes needed seasoning. However, the large, stuffed mushroom cap was delicious and the vegetable relish really helped flavor everything.

Salazar liked it from the first bite. He is more of a steak person than I am (and more tolerant in a lot of ways).

Salazar began his meal with the Lemon Parmesan Shrimp. The dish consisted of blackened shrimp, sauteed with tomatoes, onions and basil, served over rice with a rich lemon Parmesan cream sauce. He loved it and said I should try it immediately.

I tried it and at first thought it was so-so, until I tasted the cream sauce. It was rich and creamy, with a nice tang (spicy is good). I moved it into a first-place tie with the chicken.
Overall, everything was very good. I am not sure that one of the entrees by themselves would satisfy a hungry eater (remember, we each ate one and a half), but Salazar thought someone on Weight Watchers would be satisfied.

By the way, this was my first time at an Applebee’s. We were there a few minutes after one on a Friday, and it was very busy.

They have the little electronic units on each table that allow you to order, page your server, pay the bill by card, play games (99 cents) and more. You don’t have to use them, but they are handy. However, I really like to have them ask to see my ID when I use a credit card.

This Applebee’s is open Monday – Thursday from 11 a.m. until midnight; Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. until 1 a.m. and on Sunday from 11 a.m. until midnight.

For more information you can go online to or call (530) 677-8677. You can even order online for pick up.

There is a lot going on at Applebee’s. On that day our server, Crystal, was all dressed up for the car show that was happening later that afternoon. Check them out.

Steppin’ Out – Old Towne Deli

While driving along Main Street in Placerville a couple of weeks ago, I noticed a new restaurant – Old Towne Deli – on the northwest corner of Main and Clay Street. In the window was a lit sign that said “Boar’s Head.”

Boar’s Head is one of the highest quality meat companies in the United States and has been around since 1905. The sign made me curious, so last week I stopped by to check it out.

The new owner of the building, Igor Khavin, has really fixed the place up and he is also a partner with Sharon Neu in the deli business.
As I walked in I was nicely greeted by at least two people and handed a menu, which lists the bread, meats, cheeses, vegetables, condiments, sides and beverages that are available.

It is a “Build your own sandwich” deli and every sandwich is priced the same: $4.95 for a six inch sub with 4 ounces of meat and $8.95 for a twelve inch sub with 8 ounces of meat. You can also get a salad with your choice of meat for $4.95.

I looked over the meat list and asked about the pastrami. They quickly cut me a piece to try. “You’re going to like it, Doug” said a somewhat familiar voice from around the corner. It turned out to be co-owner Sharon Neu, who used to work at the Golden Poppy and several other places locally.

I liked it, but then I saw the Chipotle Chicken and couldn’t pass it up. I love spicy.

I ordered my sandwich and, at their recommendation, put it on a Dutch crunch roll. With mayo, brown deli mustard, spinach, tomato, black olives, cucumbers, peperoncini, artichoke hearts and pickles, it made a wonderful, and more than adequate, lunch.

I decided to pass on the salads (macaroni, potato, side salad) and chips, but ordered a fountain drink (only $1.25). I went to the dispenser and found it had the normal cola, lemonade and root beer, along with ginger ale. I love ginger ale!

All seating is outside on the porch and deck, so I took my drink and sandwich and went out to take a seat at one of the long counters they hand made from local wood.

The counters wrap around a huge shade tree. so even though it was in the 90s, in the shade with the normal Main Street breeze, is was delightful. And, you can watch the passing crowd.

As I was sitting there enjoying my delicious sandwich, Sharon Neu came out of the kitchen to sit beside me and introduced me to Igor Khavin.

Neu is a pastry chef, and, as I mentioned, has quite a background in the local restaurant industry. Khavin is recently from the Bay Area, but originally from the east coast. He has a lot of business sense.

“I came to Placerville and looked around for a really good deli sandwich,” said Khavin. “When I couldn’t find one, I decided it was time to open a deli. This building was available, and here we are.

“Boar’s Head meats are the best and the favorite on the east coast. Because we use the best meats, we also get the best breads from Truckee Sourdough Bakery and, every morning, Sharon goes shopping locally for the best vegetables.

“We charge the same price for all sandwiches so that when people come in they can order what they want and not worry that one sandwich costs more than the other. The price includes everything except avocado and bacon, which you can get for a bit more. If you check around you will find that is a really good price for what you get.” I had to agree.
I commented to Khavin about the ginger ale in the fountain machine and he smiled.

“Ginger ale is one of my favorites, so I decided we should serve it. Now if it was completely up to me, we would have a huge selection of root beers, my other favorite.

“This is a perfect location,” Khavin continued. “The Cosmic Café across the street for smoothies and vegetarian, Sweetie Pies next door for breakfast, and us, a great place for lunch or dinner. And, with public parking lots across the street and next door, parking is not a problem. We also have excellent freeway access.

The breads at Old Towne Deli include white, wheat, sourdough, Dutch crunch and sliced rye (six inch only); meats include oven Gold Turkey, London Broil Roast Beef, Black Forest Ham, Chipotle Chicken, Pastrami, Beef Bologna, Tuna Salad and hard Salame. The selection of cheeses includes Provolone, American, Cheddar, Havarti, Swiss, Pepper Jack and Gouda.

In addition to the normal condiments they also have Old Towne Deli Hot Pepper Spread, which goes great on their roast beef subs. It’s Khavin’s favorite sandwich and he told me it compliments the roast beef. He gave me a piece of roast beef and a sample of the spread to try. He was right, but I also found out that the roast beef by itself is wonderful. I’ll have that next time.

Old Town Deli is located at 589 Main Street and is open daily from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. They presently have a large selection of sodas, waters and more to accompany your food, but soon should have a beer and wine license.

Food is available to eat there or to go. And, they will deliver within a 3 mile radius for only $3, with a minimum $15 purchase.

You can also get meats or cheeses by the pound.