The last time I ate at Applebee's it was really awful food. I was traveling and stopped because it was the only option in the middle of nowhere somewhere in Pennsylvania. At the time I thought that it was a shame because a company as large as they are, with all their resources ought to be able to do better.
As I get around to restaurants to see what's available, so that we can add it to Dr. Gourmet meal suggestions, I was interested to see that Applebee's is now offering a Weight Watchers section on their menu. Now, Weight Watchers food is often inconsistent, but some of it is pretty good, so I had higher hopes for this visit to the restaurant I said I would never go back to.
The Tortilla Chicken Melt quesadillas were actually pretty darn good. They are listed as an appetizer but make a great meal on their own. They have moist chicken with a good grilled flavor tucked inside a whole wheat tortilla. This is also filled with low-fat cheese and a lot of fresh veggies, including broccoli, red peppers and even crimini mushrooms. There's a little creamy lime dressing drizzled over the top and a very small side salad. The salsa rounds out this whole meal (which is NOT a appetizer) nicely at 480 calories and 6 grams of fiber.
There's a great Chili-Lime Chicken Salad, a spinach salad with a brightly flavored lime dressing. This is topped with grilled chicken, roasted red peppers, fresh red onion and shredded cheese. I can safely say this is good and good for you.
I was surprised at how good the Cajun Lime Tilapia was. One taster called this "just right," being crispy and blackened on the outside, with a spicy Cajun flavor, but still light and fresh tasting just as fish should be cooked. It was paired with a lackluster rice dish though (it would have been nice if this was brown rice). The broccoli were just slightly overdone but not bad.
The Italian Chicken and Portobello Sandwich barely makes the Eat list. The whole wheat bun was a bit soft and sweet but the grilled chicken and Portobello light and juicy. Definitely put the marinara sauce on this one -- it needs the flavor. The fresh fruit that comes with this was amazingly fresh and they should offer this as a dessert with all their meals. Not bad at 360 calories and it does have 11 grams of fiber.
The Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake was so-so. For the amount of calories (230) not too bad. A kind of gummy chocolate cake it had the taste of a Hostess chocolate cupcake but without the cream filling. The sticky raspberry sauce did little to help it.
There's little in between at Applebee's. This is what struck me about their food before - there's not any food that's just OK. This holds true with the Steak & Portobellos. Ugh! This is, quite simply, inedible. You'd be better off staying home and having frozen Salisbury Steak dinner. The steak is bad, the mushrooms are bad and the sauce is thin and flavorless.
The other bad choice? Almost as bad. The Garlic Herb Chicken is bland, flavorless and tough (there simply was no garlic or herb flavor). Like the steak, it comes with sides of potatoes and broccoli. You'd be better off asking them to simply bring a big plate of the side dishes.
Just don't order these.
The worst of all was the Onion Soup au Gratin. I didn't expect much but ordered it because it was on the Weight Watchers menu. (The nice waitress, Lauren, was a little surprised when we ordered one of everything on the menu.) It tasted like old dishwater with bits of tired onion in it. The crouton had a little tiny bit of cheese on it. This was utterly dismal and I think that it is the worst bowl of soup I have ever had in a restaurant.
All in all I was surprised. I wouldn't personally go to Applebee's because I don't generally eat out all that much at chain restaurants, but I won't dread going if there's no other alternative.