Applebee's: Contributing to the downfall of a nation
Oct 13, 2000
Pros: Fifty types of chicken!
Cons: Bland, wretched cuisine designed to hasten the downfall of Western civ.
Oddly, the Applebee's web site offers more damnation of its restaurants than I ever could. From a section touting its children's menu: This is your restaurant. No brussels sprouts or lima beans. We don't even try to sell liver. Kids love the yummy food on their own special menu at Applebee's. Your tummy will love it, too. We've got the best meal of all, our famous chicken fingers basket with french fries. And all the hungry-mungries will want to chow down on our hamburgers, cheeseburgers, grilled cheese sandwiches and macaroni and cheese.
Vegetables are icky. Fried, pig-out (sorry, "hungry-mungry") meals are the order of the day. Feeding children frighteningly unhealthy and fattening food is, of course, best done while you are a little bit tipsy yourself; like T.G.I. Friday's and other similar purveyors of bad food, irritating servers and garage-sale decor, Applebee's prides itself not on finely-made classic beverages [*] but "Bahama Mamas" and the like.
I'm given to understand that this is a chain with some wild variations between franchise locations. Fine. My experiences with various Applebee's have been uniformly abysmal. I don't see any excuse for this place: it is not good food, it is not deeply discounted, the atmosphere is nothing appealing, and so on. It seems to survive on two groups:
* those desperate for food, viz: people on road trips et al who must pull off at the next exit no matter what it is because they're starving (me)
* people who simply like a lot of bland, fatty food served in an environs that does not require them to change out of their pyjama-like "casual" clothes
Vegetarians should just try and live off the crackers in the back of the car, mind. I have only witnessed two vegetarian entrees on Applebee's menus: the obligatory Gardenburger (not great), and a steamed vegetable plate, cheese on top optional. I've only actually managed to order the latter once; they specialize in running out of it, presumably because it is the only dish that requires vegetables. At any rate, "steamed" meant "dripping in low-quality butter," and somebody in the kitchen (or, more likely, corporate HQ) labours under the belief that all vegetables need the same cooking time, leaving you with crisp potatoes and shrunken carrots. I ordered it with (cheap, unsavoury) cheese on top, and was amazed to see just how fat and disgusting something so simple as steamed vegetables could become in the hands of Applebee's: floating in bad butter, poorly cooked, and topped with blah cheese!
The various entrees (also not high on the vegetarian concept) are not that bad, but this does not redeem a restaurant: good onion rings are a dime a dozen on the American road.
The remainder of the menu is just "fifty ways to destroy low-quality chicken." Curiously, few items escape from Applebee's without chicken. The salad menu:
GRILLED CHICKEN CAESAR SALAD BLACKENED CHICKEN SALAD FRIED CHICKEN SALAD SANTA FE CHICKEN SALAD ORIENTAL CHICKEN SALAD
At this point the place starts to look more like a parody than a restaurant, and it is. (Admittedly, there is one house salad that has escaped unscathed and chicken-free. It comes with bacon. Special orders do upset them, so don't try anything foolish like asking for a dish without the meat.) Entrees are more about greed ("over a pound!") and co-branding ("with Boboli bread") than anything else.
Save yourself. Save your health, save your society, and eat elsewhere. McDonald's is less of a cultural blight; at least it does not make any pretensions at being a "proper" restaurant.
[*] About that drink thing: in 90% of these lower-tier chain restaurants, just don't bother. I once tried to order a regular margarita in a place that went rather heavy on the advertising for Slurpees with tequila. "Just with ice, please." This got me one very, very confused waitress: could they be made that way? She'd never heard of such a thing. I offered (may or may not be true) that margaritas had been around longer than blenders. Her face brightened, but I still ended up with a remarkably crummy drink. Note that the beverages offered by these purveyors of bad taste are flavoured beyond all reason, like cheap olive oil sold at a premium as "garlic-infused!", where garlic has been used to mask the taste of the cheap oil. Asking for a little less sugar means asking for ethanol, mostly.
Service:This has been oddly and uniformly wretched, and needs some additional tsk-tsking. I have frequently been irritated by the inability to get a simple meal and get out in under an hour and a half. Any sort of special request will be ignored. Drink refills are absurdly hard to come by. Side dishes ("with Boboli bread!") will be forgotten without apology.
Despite all this, Applebee's servers are trained in every unctuous, low-brow tip-me technique in the book. They will crouch down to your level, use first names, and every other irritating practice that is said to extract more dimes from the hoi polloi. One veers between trying to get service, and trying to dismiss the service when it actually makes an appearance.
A friend and I went here for lunch one day for a "girls day out." It was the first time I'd been there so I wasn't sure what to order. I went ahead and ordered he Chicken Penne. And it was fabulous! The ticket came to just over $10 a person so it's pretty cheap to eat there. This is now my favorite restaurant in town! I love the staff, always so friendly and helpful. And their food is really nice. Service was quick and the waitress even stopped for some … more
In general and if they're an option local places do it better then Applebees. This goes for all the chain eateries. As a former employee (cook) of both chains (Applebees) and local spots, small businesses seem to put more 'love' into their food.
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Applebee’s International, Inc. is a United States company which develops, franchises, and operates the Applebee's Neighborhood Grill and Bar restaurant chain. As of November 25, 2007, there were 1,965 restaurants operating system-wide in all 50 states, 17 countries, and one U.S. territory.
The Applebee's concept focuses on casual dining with mainstream American dishes such as salads, shrimp, chicken, pasta, and "riblets" (which is considered Applebee's signature item). All Applebee's restaurants feature a bar area and serve alcoholic beverages (except where prohibited by law).
In November 2007, IHOP announced that it had completed a $1.9 billion purchase of the Applebee's chain.