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Jul 2, 2012 11:43 PM

The secret - Outstanding at Applebees

Many folks dismiss all chains. I've found what Applebee's does that is outstanding, but woefully publicized. Potatoes. The mashed potatoes are garlic mashed; definitely not from dehydrated potatoes. Some of the entrees come with fried red potatoes with nice blistered skins. These 2 potato sides are freshly prepared, better than I can make at home, and better than at 95% of the non chain restaurants I've been to. The secret is out.

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  1. I'm guessing you don't live in New England. I find that most NE restaurants do use fresh potatoes for their sides. I've found that most places out of NE (except perhaps the better "fine" dining places) seem to utilize instant (especially mashed) & frozen potato products. For that reason, I never order mashed at a chain without asking and always ask when eating outside of NE. I should probably also ask within NE (and sometimes do when I think about it), but rarely get caught surprised. I also avoid french fries for the same reason.

    For the record, does anyone really find instant potatoes anything other than resembling ground cardboard?

    1. Our Applebee's is horrible. Truly horrible. Once had soup, on Mother's Day. It came out like it was glop from a can, no added water, and cold. I sent it back and the server yelled at me.
      Tried it again another time, and got a sandwich. I opened the bun and there was barely any meat on it.
      Seriously bad. Awful, won't ever go back.
      How long have you worked there? ha!

      3 Replies
      1. re: wyogal

        I took my friend of high school age to applebees and he said the food at his school cafeteria was way better. And he hated that cafeteria food.
        Last friday I heard a guy trying to convince his friend to go to applebees for drinks. The friend said he didn't drink so the guy said he could always get the crapplebees wings.

        1. re: givemecarbs

          If the biggest selling point of Applebee's is "but their potatoes are really good," then I'm not buying. I'll admit to really enjoying a side dish of broccoli I once had at TGI Friday's but that isn't drawing me back in there either. Another time, in a depressive fit after my flight was unexpectedly cancelled at Newark Airport, I walked into Chili's and actually ordered the deep-fried mac & cheese and thereafter the depression was joined by self-loathing.

        2. re: wyogal

          I must have had the same soup you did, but mine was warm and my server didn't yell. But I have had that soup before and its Progresso.

        3. Dunno about the fried reds, but a coworker of mine, whose daughters inexplicably like Applebee's, decided to try their garlic mashed once and they came out frozen inside. Not cold, but frozen.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Rilke

            The OP says the potatoes are freshly prepared, but the "frozen inside" observation suggests otherwise. So perhaps different Applebee's restaurants do them differently?

            I find the texture of potatoes that have been frozen to be rather unpleasant, so I think I'll skip Applebee's.

            1. re: drongo

              You wouldn't want to go just for potatoes anyway, even if some locations make them fresh. The food is pretty awful, even for a chain. There is one salad that I can stomach when friends go and I don't have a choice -- it has shrimp and a bacon dressing, but it's just nothing I couldn't make at home for much cheaper and with higher quality ingredients.

              I'll stop because bashing Applebee's is beating a dead horse on CH.

              1. re: Rilke

                Right. To me, that is no saving grace. The last time I went to Applebee's, I tried their French Dip sliders. The roast beef had the taste and consistency of what you would get at Arby's. As someone who is not a fan of Arby's roast beef, it was another nail in the coffin for me at that place. Great potatoes or not (which i have had at plenty of restaurants, including chains, outside NE) it does not make up for the rest of the food.
                Applebee's is festive, they have decent appetizers and decent drink specials, especially when you sit at the bar. If you are a regular, you get treated very well. They do a good job at that.
                For me, that's not enough.

          2. Interesting that you also brought the garlic mashed potatoes up over six months ago. They really must have made an impression on you!


            1. I rank Applebees as the worst of their ilk. Have eaten there several times because my in-laws like it. They are not alone judging by the parking lots we go by from time to time.

              That said, I think most chains could be at least reasonably good if they had a competent manager and staff.

              Case in point, our local McDonald's is good. Yes, I hear all of you laughing and mentally preparing retorts. The fact is the owner owns this one store, he is in there every day from the time they open until the lunch rush is over. I believe this particular franchise is about as good as a McDonald's can be. That may not be good in your opinion but it is certainly way better than as bad as it can get.

              1 Reply
              1. re: kengk

                McDonald's is what it is. Reliable and, for the most part, consistent. It has no highfalutin's aspirations.