Will 99 get 86’d?
THIS RESTAURANT IS BELIEVED CLOSED AS OF 2/28/2011.
Last Updated: 2/20/2010
Original Review: 04/16/2008
Ninety Nine Restaurants (99)
Menu: 99 Website
Meal: Lunch / 1pm / Weekday
Price: $35 (Does not include tip)
In the world of casual dining, there is a lot of competition. TGIFridays and Applebee’s dominate this space nationally, but 99, based in the New England region, is building a small army of stores on the east coast. The Deptford location appears to be the first in New Jersey. That’s terrific, because lord knows we really needed another place to eat around here. =)
As a new building, everything looks rather clean and attractive. It’s a bit more understated than TGIFridays and Applebee’s on the outside, and far less busy on the inside.
We’ve tried a couple of times for weekend dinners, but the place is absolutely mobbed and wait times were out of control. Nowdays, it’s a lot easier to find a seat. Autumn and I stopped by at just around 6 on a Friday night and we were seated within 5 minutes. One of the things we really like about 99 is that the waiting area is separate from the dining areas, so you dont have people milling around directly behind others that are eating (are you listening, Chili’s?).
The best way I can think of to describe the interior is modern with subtle western influences (hence the horseshoe in the company logo). I like the multi-tier design and it’s fun to walk up and down little steps just for the hell of it. Everything looked sparkling clean, but we’d expect that from a restaurant that is only a year or so old. The bathrooms were almost fully touchless (you still have to open the door) – with motion-sensored soap, water, and towel dispensers.
We didn’t get a chance to check out the other half of the store, but we were directed to very spacious wooden booths with minimal, but comfortable padding. You won’t get a bad seat. The booths are pretty comfortable both in the bar and dining area. There are several LCD TVs speckled throughout that should be visible to most everyone. We could do without the constant 99 advertisements (‘reasons’) all over the wall. If you’re already in a booth, what’s the point of all the ads? My buddy started with a grapefruit margarita. It came in a very large glass with a skewer of fresh fruit on top, and received good reviews. I passed on any alcohol, but was eager to order the soft fish tacos that instantly ‘caught’ my attention. Across the table, it would be a full rack of barbecue ribs. Since we both knew I was paying, I guess he decided to splurge. How nice of him. We both thought the waitress was super nice and very attentive, and ended up giving her a generous tip. Service times were good, but given the relative emptiness of the restaurant I hoped they’d be even snappier. It took well over an hour to finish everything up, which may not be a good choice if you’re on a tight lunch schedule.
This time around, we tried 99’s new 3-course menu. A soup or salad, entree, and small desert for $12.99. These kind of meals are becoming popular, but usually that means you sacrifice portion sizes. Thankfully, 99 doesnt cheat you at all. Our salad was fairly large for a starter, with terrific presentation on a cold plate. Both of our entrees, Autumn’s chicken and sausage al forno and my BBQ turkey tips, were significantly larger than we expected. Autumn wished her pasta dish had a bit more of the chicken and sausage, but it wasnt lacking that much that she didnt still enjoy it. My BBQ turkey tips dish, with my veggie selections of mashed cauliflower and steamed broccoli, was excellent. We really liked their BBQ sauce, which was tangy to taste but definitely hot while simmering in your mouth.
Our entrees came and everything looked very good, especially the ribs. They were described as a little on the lukewarm side, but had terrific flavor and very tender. They were served with coleslaw (which I ate), fries, and a biscuit. The french fries, for me, were way too overseasoned (salt and pepper) and really overpowered what were otherwise well-cooked and and well-cut fries. I have to note that my friend completely disagrees with me on this one, but if you’re just going to season them with salt and pepper, why not leave it up to the customer? The cole slaw was okay, but will easily be forgotten. The biscuit was stated to be ‘tasty as hell’. Touché.
My fish tacos were very good, but disappointedly small. They included a 1.5 inch small breaded fish stick sitting on top of some lettuce, tomatoes, and guacamole in a soft tortilla. The ends of the tortilla weren’t filled out (everything was kind of just jammed in the center) which made me wish they had just stuffed it with some more fillers. It was hard to really critique the fish because you don’t get a lot of it, and each one had the feel of a McDonald’s snack wrap or Quizno’s sammie. Moe’s used to have fish tacos for a while, and I’d love to find out if they gave you a bit more to eat. The included sour cream was a nice option for occasional dipping.
The pricing seemed on par with their competitors, and you’ll probably find the same swath of burgers, chicken dishes, salads, and desserts across the board. While not especially unique or innovative in terms of their menu or atmosphere, I thought they presented a quality effort. Since we really have no experience with their consistency or service other than one waitress and two meals, we’ll consider this an upgrade candidate based on user feedback.
– Clean, new building
– Spacious seating
– (Our) waitress was fantastic
– Good food
– Weekend crowds overwhelm seating
– Too fancy with some portion sizes
– Super congested location (across from Deptford Mall)
Average Score: 3.7 Chews
Subjective Review: A strong competitor to Fridays and Applebee’s
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