Dishin’: Applebee’s Bland “Huge Flavors”

Last time out, we succumbed to the power of the unappealing Entertainment Book. Could things get worse?

Apparently so. Elsewhere in the car we found a soon-to-expire gift certificate for Applebee’s. In case you don’t know, Applebee’s is a growing chain of nearly 2,000 restaurants in 49 states (Hawaii is the holdout) and 16 countries. Seattle (so far) is blessed to be without one – in the city proper, at least. Business trips, though, take us to places where we witness the sorry state of food affairs when Applebee’s is the common answer to the question, “What’s the best restaurant in your town?” And reminiscent of the Wal-Marting of America, Applebee’s seems to be the only restaurant in town in some parts of the country.

This “Eatin’ Good in the Neighborhood” bar and grill recently brought in one of the less testosterone-driven Food Network celeb chefs, Tyler Florence, to spice up its menu with his “huge flavors.” In a press release, New York-based Tyler says “to ask everyone to come to me is a bit limiting, but to actually bring my food to the American people – I’m really excited about it.”

So when we found ourselves driving through Marysville one day (all the Applebee’s are the same, though), we pulled in and tried his $8.59 Bruscetta Burger, advertised as “juicy, robust and like no other… a new classic.” Huge flavors? Not really. The “bruscetta mix” had bland tomatoes, and the “zesty pesto sauce” wasn’t what we’d call zesty. And simply too much mozzarella; we had to pull it apart by hand (allaying fears about choking on it, but making us realize why so many Americans are so overweight). Oh… and what’s with the fries in a ramekin? Fries shouldn’t be fancy; they should simply be thrown on a plate.

Tyler seems like a nice enough guy. But even Paul Bocuse wouldn’t help salvage a Subway, and we’ll take a vow to never eat at Applebee’s again. Unless we have no choice, that is (as we begin to lament our upcoming trip to South Dakota).

Posted on Seattlest (where “we” = me) on April 13, 2007. Fairuz is the restaurant referenced at the beginning of the post. It is now closed. Applebee’s, unfortunately, remains open.

Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar (Factoria) on Urbanspoon

Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar (Bothell) on Urbanspoon

Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar (Bellevue) on Urbanspoon

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