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Slashfood Goes to Applebee's
Monday, October 09, 2006 | posted by Mike

Applebee'sThe folks over at Slashfood cover everything under the sun when it comes to food-related content, and that occasionally includes forays into the realm food TV. Joe DiStefano – one of my favorite writers on the site – decided to take a spin over to his local Applebee’s for a sampling of Tyler Florence’s Huge Flavor menu. You can tell that DiStefano senses a bit of a credibility gap when it comes to the chain restaurant by the way he mentions The Ramones’ tenuous connection to Applebee’s, but he goes in with an honest attempt at objectivity, which is commendable. Plus, I know I’m in the mood for a big dinner every time I hear “Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue.”

Applebee’s has talked about an integrated marketing campaign that would include a strong Tyler presence in the restaurant itself, so the fact that there is “an overleaf with a larger-than-life image of Ty-Flo” should not be surprising. Also not surprising is the first-person voice of the menu, since the commercials and web site both use Tyler’s voice letting you know just how he put together the menu.

OK, but let’s get down to brass tacks…how did it taste?
After perusing the menu, I settled on the Penne Rosa with Sweet Italian Sausage. … I got a good laugh out of the barmaid when I told her to make sure that Tyler made it al dente.

Apparently he didn't listen, the penne was a tad overdone, but as a whole the dish wasn't bad. Perhaps it's out of some form of professional embarassment that the food review part of this piece comes at the end. But I have to admit, the tomatoes in the cream sauce did taste fresh. So what if the peas were frozen, the sausage wasn't grilled enough to make it crispy and the black pepper wasn't thoroughly mixed in. It's still probably one of the best things I'll ever eat at Applebee's. Ty-Flo has helped them discovered simple Italian pastas. Bravo!
All right – not a rave review, but not terrible, either. And, to go back to a point I made earlier, it sounds like the problems were in the execution rather than design, which means that at least their hearts were in the right place.

You’re right…Applebee’s “heart” is in it’s pocketbook and that’s why it’s doing this, but it makes me feel a bit better about Tyler’s involvement.

So, that is one opinion. Anyone out there give it a try? I went out for dinner this past Saturday, but the allure of Tortuga’s Mexican Village was just too great to resist.



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