I also have been doing a series of posts titled Bad Chains, where I eat at a bottom of the barrel chain restaurant and write down my thoughts about the experience.
Those especially are a lot of fun. As much as I want to keep the content on the blog positive, (excusing a rant or two) sometimes I really enjoy reveling in just how bad the food at some of these chains are. I know, it's weird, but I'm fascinated not only by food, but by food culture in general, both good and bad.
Applebee's has launched a new burger menu. I haven't seen any since, but during the summer, Applebee's flooded TV with commercials about their new burgers. Applebee's has been on my crap list for some time, as the food there is not good. They are ubiquitous though, and according to Wikipedia they have more than 2,000 restaurants in the US. So it's likely most everyone has eaten there at least once.
Their spin on burgers is "seared in". Apparently they cook add-ins into the patty itself. I'll be honest, these burgers look tasty, but as we all know, marketing magic has little to do with reality. Plus as a self professed burger snob, shockingly, I like ground beef, and don't need a ton of stuff piled on top of (and in this case also seared in) the burger to enjoy it.
Have a gander at the commercial, it's only 15 seconds:
I love the handcafted and genuine lines. A chain restaurant with over 2000 locations is making handcrafted food. And I'm supposed to believe something created in a food lab, by food scientists is 'genuine'.
Of course I'm skeptical.
I think management at Applebee's realizes they have a problem. The issue with Applebee's is the food is all highly processed. The American palate is finally waking up, and demanding fresher, more wholesome food, and sales at Applebee's are suffering as a result. The marketing, whether it's genuine or not, pardon the pun, is attempting to change minds on that proposition.
I ordered the Blazin' Texan. First, take a look at what I was served, vs the photo on the website.
This had to be one of the ugliest burgers I've even eaten. But despite getting hit by the ugly stick, the burger wasn't terrible, in fact it was better than I expected.
There were no jalapenos seared in, only onion was cooked into the burger. The brisket tasted only of sweet BBQ sauce. I couldn't taste the cheese, it was bland. The signature grill sauce tasted the same as the too sweet BBQ sauce the brisket was doused in.
But that's where the bad news ends.
I was ok with the bun, it was sweet, but thin and squishy, which is what I like. And lightly toasted.
The beef patty itself was quite good. I was asked if I wanted "pink or no pink" and I chose pink. About three quarters of the burger was pink, it was tender, and I thought the patty was of decent quality overall, and it had a pleasant beefy flavor. The only complaint I have is the patty could've used more seasoning, and only one side had a crust, the flip side had none (both minor quibbles).
Applebee's to my surprise is selling a decent burger. But they're hiding a good beef patty under too many toppings. Toppings that are just ok and detract from the beef patty instead of enhancing it.
Will I go to Applebee's if I'm craving a burger? No. But if a friend dragged me there, I would be ok with it. I'd just make sure to minimize the low quality toppings so I could enjoy the beef.