The Cuisine SceneBrenda Hill
Apple Annie's Restaurant & Bakery
Oak Glen, CA
As much as I tease about the food in Minnesota, I sometimes miss the miles of forests, the numerous lakes, and my little towns park sitting on the bank of the Pine River.
The river was alive with birds, ducks, and geese. One day they all took sudden flight and I wondered what caused them to panic. Then I saw ita bald eagle, wings spread majestically, cruising the river, flying low to snag dinner.
Southern California has some great qualities as well, and Im delighted to be near my son and his family. The bonus is all the available activities and of course, the restaurants. But sometimes I miss the quiet of a Minnesota forest, the smell of pines and the sound of a river. When that longing hits, I take a drive to Big Bear, or if I want to stay closer to home, Ill head to Oak Glen.
I havent explored everything Oak Glen has to offer, but when I saw Apple Annies restaurant, I thought of a wonderful rags-to-riches movie from the 60s, Pocketful of Miracles. Bette Davis, as Apple Annie, peddled apples on a street corner, and Glen Ford was a sympathetic mobster who changed her life.
Located in the Oak Tree Village section, Apple Annies reminded Roger and me of a rustic country kitchen with soft yellows and a wood-beamed ceiling, although spiced with a definite Western flair. Authentic Western pistols in cases are displayed on the walls, and Mel, their server for three years, wears a cowboy hat and a pistol on her hip for the staged robberies during apple season, she explained. A Johnny Cash recording played softly in the background.
Chef Dave Wedekind, who has cooked for sixteen years at various local restaurants including the former PGA Golf Club grill and Gabbianos in Yucaipa, said they prepare hearty food with large proportions. Printed on their menu is their motto, You will never go away hungry after eating all your food, because second helpings are on us. God bless you!
Although Roger and I enjoy breakfast, which is served all day, we chose dinner. They offer nine different entrees, ranging from meatloaf to steak and shrimp combo. Prices range from $12.95 to $22.95 and includes, homemade soup, salad, a platter of spaghetti, assorted breads and honey butter, and dessert.
Roger ordered the halibut with roasted new potatoes, and, altho tempted by their fried chicken made with their own secret recipe, I decided on pork chops.
First came our vegetable soup - veggies with cabbage in a tomato base served in an actual bowl instead of a cup. Then our salads arrived, a nice mixture of assorted greens with ranch dressing. While Roger and I favor blu cheese, we loved their ranch dressing, and Dave said they make it the old-fashioned way with buttermilk. Mel brought a side dish of large corn muffins with honey butter.
Dave was cooking some onion rings, so he sent a plate for Roger and me to try. Small and crisp, they actually seemed to melt in your mouth with no tough strings of onion. They quickly became favorites.
Then the spaghetti with a generous helping of marinara sauce arrived, so we tried that as well, altho neither of us wanted to get too full for dinner.
Im not one to ooh and ahh over fancy presentations, but when our dinners arrived, I was pleased. Included with Rogers halibut steak were new potatoes and vegetables. Mine included two breaded and fried pork chops, the vegetables and red potatoes.
The petite green beans sautéed with tiny tomatoes and almond slivers were delicious. Rogers halibut had grill marks and sat on slightly softened spinach leaves. He experimented and discovered the perfect bite of the delicately-seasoned halibut along with a cut of spinach.
Dessert is included, and we were offered ice cream with their special sauce or bread pudding. Instead, I chose one of their homemade cinnamon rolls with frosting, although another time when Im not so full, Ill try their signature pie, the 5lb mile-hi apple pie.
I took a quick look at their bakery with a case filled with pies, breads, and cookies, and discovered they do special occasions, such as a Valentines dinner with delicacies such as crème brulee and chocolate fondue.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner is served seven days a week, and theyre open all year long.
Along with the restaurant, the complex includes a candy shop, leatherworks, turquoise jewelry, and several other shops worth investigating. Dave talked about Oak Tree Village during apple season and said they have an animal park with a petting zoo and pony rides. Theyre having a chili cook-off March 14, all fun for the family in a fresh mountain atmosphere close to home.
Apple Annies Restaurant
38480 Oak Glen Rd.