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Pop Eats: Applebee’s

pop-break’s food blog returns, as brent johnson talks about his love for Applebee’s and his plea to bring a vital part of his culinary world back to the menu …

Once, when I was in college, two of my good friends forgot my birthday. But instead of presenting me with an envelope of money to apologize, or a trip to Miami, or a singing telegram, they bought me …

A gift certificate to Applebee’s.

See: For the longest time, I have adored Applebee’s. Foodies and menu snobs probably cringe at that statement. After all, it’s the McDonald’s of family restaurants. My father even once told me a fact: That of the family restaurants that dot the U.S., Applebee’s has double the number of locations than its closest competitor.

The food isn’t sterling or unique. The decor is kind of hokey. But it’s homey. It’s friendly. The menu is sturdy.

And it serves my single favorite chain-restaurant meal in the universe: a fried chicken salad with diced eggs and shredded cheese. Instead of the suggested honey mustard, I top it with French dressing. Kind of sweet, and always delicious.

But recently, in my area of New Jersey, Applebee’s stopped serving French dressing. Only one in my general vicinity — in Bridgewater — still carries the stuff. And it’s thrown off the consistency of my world — which usually involves eating out a dozen times a week.

Actually, consistency is what has long made Applebee’s so appealing. But lately, it’s been dripping away. First, they got rid of their Chimi Cheesecake dessert — fried cones of cheesecake with caramel sauce and ice cream. Then, they did away with its interesting thick-noodled chicken soup. Now, it’s French dressing getting bid farewell.

It’s kind of like a long-loved significant other suddenly losing their shine. You want shake them back to the way they used to be.

And it’s kind of ridiculous that a chain restaurant — where the customer is always right and never looking for anything exotic — should stop serving one of the most-common, least-threatening salad dressings known to man. It’s a chain restaurant’s job to serve French dressing.

Of course, the chicken strips are still great at Applebee’s. As is the Oriental chicken salad. As is the fact that the menu has Weight-Watchers items for the trim-conscious.

But I will make this plea to Applebee’s: Please bring back French dressing. It’s the least America’s top chain restaurant can do.



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