Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Big Apple Cafe, Buena

Sitting in a standalone lot on Route 40 (528 N. Harding Highway) in quiet Buena Township (in Atlantic County, just outside of Vineland), passersby will see a bright white sign on the roadside announcing The Big Apple Cafe, as well as a message board featuring upcoming performers. It's a popular go-to spot in this sparsely inhabited area of South Jersey in the middle of scattered farmlands. And it's a decent place to eat.

Inside the white and green building, patrons will find a large seating area with booths and tables, as well as a long, broad bar with several TVs. A recently added porch provides a spot for smokers as well as outdoor eating. And a multi-page menu has a full slate of dishes-- though keep in mind the food is very much "diner-style" and is generally not worth bragging about. You will, however, be fed a large portion and the prices are generally reasonable. The servers are rather friendly and attentive and many regulars filter in throughout the day. Lunchtime specials are available and occasional live music can be enjoyed on various evenings.

The overall ambience is a bit of a gray area, as the restaurant attempts to combine elements of a sports bar, diner, cafe, and hopes-of-being a nicer, semi-upscale restaurant. I'd say a "sports diner" might be the best description.

If you're in the area and looking for a decent meal, it's a great spot to go, especially considering the next closest similar competitor would be, well, several miles away. At the same time, venturing out of your way to dine there is probably not recommended. Just some thoughts for you!

The Big Apple Cafe is located between Piney Hollow (Brewster) Road and Central Avenue and can be reached at 856-697-5500.


J said...

Mother's Day, May 9, 2010
We have always enjoyed this place but today it was terrible!!
I made our reservations, for 1 PM, a week ago. This year our party was much smaller, thank goodness!! We usually have 12-15 people but this time it was just my mom, son husband and me. We arrived about 10 of one. Four wait staff asked us if they could help us. I said we had reservation and gave our name. I took 10 minutes to be seated. We were one of 5 tables in the whole place, with the largest table having 8 people at it. Ridiculous!

It took 15 minutes for the waitress to come to our table, introduce herself and give us menus. This was their everyday menu. Ten minutes or so later, she returned and asked if we wanted drinks, I asked about a Mother's Day special and was told there was none.....yet when I called to reserve, was told they would have a special menu. Mom and me ordered soda, son ordered a Alabama Slammer and Hubby ordered a Bloody Mary - nothing hard about that right? It took close to fifteen minutes to return with drinks. Our glasses had more ice then soda, Alabama Slammer was missing orange juice and the Bloody Mary had no garnishes nor a rim of salt. Even they were loaded with ice!! The slammer was returned and asked to be taken off the bill.

We placed our order at 1:20, two salads and two crab soups, two appetizers and four entrees. The soup/salad arrived at 1:45. Salad consist of lettuce, few shred of carrots, one cherry tomato and a WHOLE white onion diced. Crab soup wasn't any better it was so salty it needed a chaser of water to get it down. At 2:05 the appetizers arrived; the crab stuffed mushrooms were too salty (surprise surprise!), they consisted of 4 very small mushrooms and about a teaspoon of crab melted butter to dip, no bed of toast, no pretty arrangement or other garnishing.

At quarter after 2 hubby asked to see the owner. We had not even gotten our entrees yet and we were already very unhappy. The place had not filled up with customers, it was still only about 5-6 tables and the large party of 8 had just left. What was the problem? Owner apologized and made excuses about short of help, new cook, etc.

Finally at 2:30 our meals came out. My veal marsala was horrible!! Four very small pieces of veal (supposedly veal) that was crispy fried in a jell of brown something. Okay, not appetizing to look at, but what the heck, everyone cooks it differently. It was T H E most saltiest tasting I've ever had!! One bite made me choke and needed to swallow half glass of water! My son got veal oscar that was terrible. Needless to say, both entrees were sent back and asked to be removed from the bill. Hubby got crabmeat over pasta that was overly chopped up crabmeat, rubbery hard sun dried tomatoes and uncooked asparagus sitting in a bowl of pasta and water. No flavor at all.

Owner was called to table again and he tasted the veal marsala and said it was a bit salty, he offered something else in exchange but I said was already quarter to 3. We've been here for almost 2 hours! I was not waiting anymore. We were hungry, we had other places to go to and we were already so disappointed and frustrated. He made some adjustments to the bill and gave us a $25 gift certificate for another visit.
Unfortunately, we were so dissatisfied that I would never go back there again.

ajlounyinjurylaw said...

I've been there, and it's a place to experience at least once. Try it out.