I got quite a few e-mails about last month's debut of the Sherlock Zone feature. Sherlock's assignment was to search for clues on Zone-favorable meals at Bertucci's. I ended the piece by asking: Do you have a menu from a favorite restaurant that leaves you clueless? Let us know. We'll put Sherlock Zone on the case. Lot's of people sent in suggestions. This month Sherlock was sent to the scene at Chili's and Applebee's, two restaurant requests e-mailed by Cathy.
There are several salads at Chili's that were to Sherlock's liking. The Chicken Fajita Salad comes with bacon, black beans, corn, pico de gallo, green onions, bell peppers, creamy cilantro dressing and tortilla strips. Go easy on the tortilla chips. The Grilled Caribbean Salad contains marinated chicken, pico de gallo, pineapple, mandarin oranges, tortilla strips and honey lime dressing. The Crispy Chicken salad has crispy chicken breast, mandarin oranges, water chestnuts, green onions, toasted almonds, ginger sesame dressing and rice noodles. Go easy on the rice noodles. Other salads Sherlock investigated included Southeastern Cobb Salad and Grilled Chicken Caesar.
A number of Chili's grill items also passed inspection. Citrus Fire Chicken and Shrimp is grilled chicken topped with spicy garlic and lime shrimp and served with rice, grilled fresh veggies and pico de gallo. Tell your wait person to hold the rice and serve you extra vegetables. Most restaurants are happy to comply with this request. The same rule applies to the Margarita Grilled Chicken, Margarita Grilled Tuna and Monterey Chicken.
The biggest disappointment at Chili's was the kids' menu, that has fries as a major part of every tiny entree. The best bet for kids is to order them mozzarella sticks (an appetizer) and give them some of your meal. Remember, a person's protein portion shouldn't be bigger than the size and depth of his or her palm of the hand. There will probably be enough protein served for both an adult and a child with enough left over for lunch the next day.
The menu items at Applebee's are similar to Chili's. Good choices are Oriental Chicken Salad (go easy on the crunchy rice noodles), Santa Fe Chicken Salad (go easy on the tortilla strips), Grilled Italian Caesar Salad, and Garlic Crusted Shrimp Caesar salad. For both of these salads, go easy on the garlic croutons and garlic bread.
Applebee's Fajitas come with chicken, sautéed onions, peppers, pico de gallo, sour cream tomatoes and cheddar cheese. Eat one tortilla with the toppings and then eat the rest of the toppings by themselves or atop a small garden salad. Pass on the rice and go easy on the sour cream.
Another choice might be Honey Grilled Salmon, served with almond rice pilaf, seasonal vegetables and toasted garlic bread on the side. Substitute extra veggies for the rice and limit yourself to one small piece of garlic bread.
Applebee's has the same dismal children's menu that Chili's has, but it also gives parents the option to select smaller portions of Applebee's adult-sized meals.
Do you have a menu from a favorite restaurant that leaves you clueless? Let us know. We'll put Sherlock Zone on the case.