Bob Evans Summer Menu Review

12 05 2009
Yep, it's hard to be me!

Yep, it's hard to be me!

Last night, I was one of the lucky few to be invited to preview the summer menu at Bob Evans, which I was excited about because the chain is making major changes to keep up with the times – including the use of social media in its marketing strategies, which is how I came to be invited.

Bob Evans has undergone major changes – from redecorating the dining rooms to revamping the menu. When asked why these changes were necessary, Executive Chef, Restaurant Division, Brian Murphy told me that the core deomographic of the typical Bob Evans customer is shifting and they are trying to appeal to a younger customer who doesn’t want to “trade down.”

When I think of Bob Evans, I think of the hokey experience I have had there my entire life – overly country decor and servers who are likely to say “howdy” at least once during my time in the store. However, the newer, hipper Bob Evans was a welcome change – smaller, more intimate dining areas painted in soft colors complete with brushed nickel pendant lights, wall-mounted flatscreen TV’s, and contemporary artwork. The menu itself reflects a more contemporary feeling, too – “homestyle” dishes with a contemporary flair. The restaurants now offer free wifi and the chain can be found on both twitter and facebook.

So, without getting overly gushy, here are the highlights of the new summer menu. Mark your calendar – it hits stores May 14th.

Blue Ribbon Apple Pie Fries ($3.99) These remind me of what I remember McDonald’s apple pies tasting like years ago, and I mean that in the best possible way. I probably wouldn’t order these as an appetizers, but I’d definitely order them for dessert.

Loaded Baked Potato Bites ($4.99) These are the ultimate in comfort food. Lightly breaded and fried potato bites with cheddar cheese and bacon, and served with a side of ranch dressing.

Itsy Bitsy Sandwiches ($6.99) This is a trio of slider-like sandwiches (pot roast, pulled pork, and sausage), served atop a pile of fries. Of the three sandwiches, the sausage one was my favorite – mild sausage, topped with American cheese and a pickle. I could eat these for breakfast and be a very happy girl, indeed.

Bob-B-Q is back, baby!

Oven-Roasted Chicken ($9.99) This is the juciest barbecued chicken I have ever had. Just one complaint: as good as the sauce is, I wish it has a little more “oomph!” to it. The sauce is a perfect blend of spicy and sweet, but something named “Wildfire” deserves to have a little ore kick.

Baby Back Ribs ($11.99) Topped with Bob Evans award-winning Wildfire Sauce, these slow-roasted ribs literally fall off the bone.

Just Desserts

Red, White, and Blueberry Supreme Pie
hits stores in mid-June and is a luscious blend of creamy cheesecake-like filling, strawberries, blueberries, and whipped cream.

Two minor complaints
I was lukewarm about the pulled pork sandwich (Itsy Bitsy Sandwiches) because the pork was slightly on the mushy side and the hamburger bun it was served on didn’t help things, plus, I didn’t think the American cheese and pickle slice worked with it. If I were to build this sandwich, I would put it on brioche and top it with coleslaw.

Also, the menu design itself is a tad generic and doesn’t fit with the brand’s redesign. Also, there was no nutritional information to be found, so do your homework ahead of time if you need to know which entrees are low-cal, etc, because Bob is not about to share that bit of info with you.

Overall grade: A-