Applebee's: Is this your neighborhood grill?

I have this long relationship with Applebee's.  In college, we would go there all time!  If you go at certain hours of the day, your appetizers are half price.  As a college student, this made it a lot easier and slightly cheaper to go out.  Applebee's has a full bar, and yet, you don't have to be 21 years of age to get in.  This attracts a lot of college students, especially that want to gather with different ages of friends. Since I was a music major, a lot of times, after evening concerts, students would all congregate at the Applebee's down the street from our school, and many of the professors would join us. 
Since I finished college, I haven't really been as interested with Applebee's.  I don't know if it was the advertising or if the food wasn't as good as it used to be. Something just turned me off from eating there.  They've changed their menu to include healthier items, which even have the Weight Watchers Point totals on them.  I've tried to eat a few of those meals, and have not been impressed.  I tried to get one a couple months ago that was a steak and a gigantic Portobello mushroom.  I was still hungry when the meal was gone. I've decided to go ahead and get whatever I want as my main course at Applebee's, or I'm not going to be satisfied when my dinner is done.
One of the deals that Applebee's has running right now, and it has been running for a while is, get one appetizer and two main courses for $20.  This is a pretty good price for two people to go out and eat on a budget. This is what Ian and I did.

Spinach Artichoke Dip
There are only a few appetizers to choose from on the deal for $20.  We started with the Spinach Artichoke Dip appetizer. This comes with the Spinach Artichoke Dip, Salsa, and Tortilla Chips.  The dip has  a good creamy texture.  The creaminess adds to the taste. There's quite a bit of spinach in it, but I would love some more artichoke to balance it out.  I really prefer my own Spinach Artichoke Dip to eating the dip out, but this appetizer is probably one of the best choices from the few on the $20 menu.

Ian and his Cajun Shrimp Pasta
Ian got the Cajun Shrimp Pasta for his meal.  Since the menu update last month, this may not be available any more.  Ian said it tasted really good.  It had a good amount of spiciness to it.  It comes with a fair amount of shrimp on the dish.  It comes with a bread stick, which was pretty soft and chewy.  The bread stick had a good garlic glaze on it. 

Oriental Chicken Salad
For my main course, I ordered the Oriental Chicken Salad. I love this salad!  It's also one of the worse things you can get on the Applbee's menu! It's an O.K. dish if you, A. Skip the dressing, and B. get grilled chicken.  My favorite things about this salad are the dressing and the fried chicken.  This is the whole, I told myself I can get whatever I want at Applebee's issue I wrote about earlier.  This dish is a day's worth of calories for me all at once, and that's before the appetizer that comes with it.  It's just so tasty though. It's hard for me to resist.  I should learn how to make this dish at home, and make it a much healthier version.
The server that evening was nice and kept are drinks filled.  I had gotten the Strawberry tea, and she even offered to let me try a different flavor if I wanted at no extra cost. She did a nice job.
Applebee's does try to bring a home town atmosphere into it's locations by including jerseys of local athletic teams and high school teams. While we were there, a Notre Dame football game was on. When it ended, people were cheering all over the restaurant.  That made the atmosphere a little more fun! Applebee's is a chain.  You can go to almost any one of their restaurants and order the same dish, and it will come out looking and tasting the same.
The commercials and advertising they have right now, saying that their food is made by real Chefs are starting to annoy me a little bit.  I can tell they are trying to jab at their competition, like Olive Garden and Red Lobster.
I'm giving Applebee's two and a half pizza pies out of four.  I'll probably end up going there again, but it's not usually the first place on my mind when trying to pick a restaurant for dinner.


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