Dining Out: For comfort food, Blueberry’s is right address

Blueberry's house salad is a mix of iceberg and romaine lettuce tossed with fresh strawberries, dried cranberries, sweet pecans and bleu cheese crumbles.

Photo by KELLI STANKO // Buy this photo

Blueberry's house salad is a mix of iceberg and romaine lettuce tossed with fresh strawberries, dried cranberries, sweet pecans and bleu cheese crumbles.

Blueberry's Restaurant

3350 Tamiami Trail N., Naples, FL

3350 U.S. 41 N., Naples

430-0700

Hours: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

Cuisine: American, with breakfast from 7 to 11 a.m. and lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dinner starts at 3 p.m.

Atmosphere: Formerly a Denny’s, the décor is minimal

Service: Attentive in the beginning, not so much by the end of the meal

Prices: Very reasonable; all appetizers are less than $8, with most from $5.49 to $6.49; dinners range from $6.49 to $12.99, sandwiches and burgers are $5.49 to $7.49

Recommended dishes: Boneless Buffalo wings appetizer, $5.99; Asian glazed chicken salad, $7.49, grilled salmon, $12.99, baby back ribs ($10.99) and blueberry pie ($2.99 slice; $16.99 whole pie)

— Second time’s a charm — at least for Blueberry’s.

My first trip to Blueberry’s was average. The food was good, but just “good” versus a “wow” good. However, a second visit and a taste of other entrees says Blueberry’s doesn’t deserve the curse of being called average. Better yet, Blueberry’s should top your list of restaurants where you won’t go bankrupt, where consistency is king and comfort-food eating is just fine.

Blueberry’s started out as a breakfast eatery and recently added an extensive dinner menu, serving up what I’d classify as food my grandma makes — food that sticks to your ribs and makes for a hearty meal, like roasted turkey breast dinner ($9.99), chicken pot pie ($10.99) and liver and onions ($8.99).

Despite chicken dominating the menu, the variety is impressive at Blueberry’s. Classified under chef’s favorites, there is the oreganato ($9.99), a half chicken in a lemon-and-olive-oil marinade served with fresh seasonal vegetables and oven-roasted potatoes. A chicken piccata with broccoli ($10.99) consists of a sautéed chicken breast smothered with mushrooms and lemon-caper butter sauce and served with rice or mashed potatoes. The lemon sauce was mild and the chicken was juicy; the dish was a little bland, so keep the salt and pepper shakers handy, but it was an oversized serving and came with a choice of side salad or soup.

Maybe the thought of eating poultry ruffles your feathers. If so, order the salmon ($12.99), which comes blackened or grilled and served with rice or mashed potatoes. The blackened salmon came out looking more like grilled salmon with a lighter seasoning. But it wasn’t disappointing; the salmon was a huge piece and each bite was tender and flavorful.

Another option worthy of sampling is the baby back ribs ($10.99). The large slab nearly hung off the plate’s edges and the meat was fall-off-the-bones tender. Don’t worry about the semi-sweet, sticky barbecue sauce ending up on your clothes; the entrée comes with wet wipes for cleaning up. It is served with fries and you can order a Caesar salad over a house side salad, which had been unimpressive on a previous visit.

Mom’s meatloaf ($9.99) isn’t the kind my mom makes, but for those who prefer a mushroom gravy to other alternatives, the dish will appeal. Served with mashed potatoes, gravy and fresh seasonal vegetables, the portion was a nice size. The dish had a flavor and aroma reminiscent of beef bouillon; an upgrade to a higher quality of meat would earn this dish an A.

Our server suggested the char-grilled pork chops ($8.99), which the menu describes as a center-cut pork chop marinated in a blend of citrus-infused olive oil, honey, soy and spices and served with a special apple sauce (not the kind Musselman makes, but a topping for the pork). The two chops came sliced thin and slightly too charred for my personal liking, but the sauce added moisture, reviving the dish.

Blueberry’s also has several salads: a Greek salad ($6.49), raspberry char-grilled chicken salad ($7.99) and a Waldorf salad ($7.49). But it was the Asian glazed chicken salad ($7.49) that got my mouth watering. With crisp needle rice, cilantro, julienne vegetables, mixed greens, grilled chicken and a ginger sesame dressing, the combination was just the right amount of crunchiness and semi-sweetness from the dressing.

Other options that were a hit were the classic Reuben ($8.99), navy bean soup and the chili (both were $2.49, cup; $3.49 bowl).

Parents take note: Blueberry’s is very kid-friendly. The kid’s menu really impressed this parent. For either $2.99 or $3.99 respectively, the choices include five options for breakfast fare and seven options for dinner. My daughter tried the eggs and bacon, which was a big enough serving to satisfy any adult. My son opted for chicken fingers and fries. Since the restaurant prides itself on battering all fried foods in-house, it was the outer coating that changed the chicken fingers from mediocre to magnificent.

To cap off the experience was an irresistible offering of blueberry pie ($2.99). It comes with a sugar cookie-type crust and stuffed with blueberries, but the sweetness wasn’t extreme as it is in some pies. For a satisfying summer dessert it can be topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Formerly a Denny’s on the U.S. 41 North, the restaurant has an open layout with large booths and some four-top tables.

Blueberry’s isn’t a fancy Fifth Avenue South restaurant. It is, however, a dining spot that offers consistent, good food. And you’ll leave with some greenbacks tucked away in your wallet.

Connect with Leigh Tahirovic at www.naplesnews.com/staff/Leigh-Tahirovic

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