Of Silk Purses and Sow's Ears

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Occasionally we here at Bites get taken to task by (usually anonymous) commenters who say we write only about good meals. While it's an open question whether it's fair for this fairly public forum to bash an establishment on the basis of one bad experience, it's also true that we don't necessarily eat great food every day. So here I go...

I had a really crappy chicken sandwich last week at Apollo's Grill in Peabody Corner downtown. It was overcooked to the point of being leathery and tasted like charcoal lighter. But you know what? I ate it and didn't complain because of the extenuating circumstances.

Peabody Corner is basically a small food court situated at the corner of Peabody and Fourth Avenue South. I know that the entrepreneurs who invested in this piece of property a couple of years ago are trying to make it much more than just a place to wolf down a Quizno's sandwich.

They have created an attractive space filled with plants and local art, with a dedication to rising above the typical fast food plastic box building. Flat-screen televisions play ESPN at appropriate sound levels, and they maintain a library of more than 100 magazines, from Architectural Digest to US Weekly, to help you while away your lunch hour. As someone who often eats alone while running errands during the middle of the day, I really appreciated this touch.

The parking lot was easily accessible and free, which makes it a heckuva deal compared with most lots downtown. Nobody had a problem with me leaving my car there an extra 20 minutes while I ran down to the Sommet Center to buy some hockey tickets, so that saved me at least five bucks and 10 minutes looking for parking.

So was a bad chicken sandwich, fries and a Coke for $7 a bad deal? Not when you consider the amenities I took advantage of. Maybe next time they'll get my chicken off the grill a minute earlier and it'll be fine. I'm sure willing to give them another try.

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