I have reviewed many restaurants in the last decade. I have seldom, however, gone to a restaurant as bad as the Applebee's in Vancouver, Washington (visited in November 2008). I can only think of three local restaurants (Banchero's, Buffet Fortuna and the Cherry Pit) that I would put in the same category, and I think I ate more of my dinners there than I did at Applebee's. Indeed, my burger was so awful that I couldn't eat half of it, much less finish it.
There were signs that the food was not going to be good early in the evening. Mike's frozen margarita ($6.25) was horrible. It barely had any alcohol to speak of, and a bad combination of ingredients; he just didn't enjoy drinking it. My coke ($2.40), at least, was fine.
Applebee's was running a promotion of two items from a select menu plus one appetizer for $20 - and as what I wanted was a burger, that's what we decided on. Boy, did I make a mistake. Far from the juicy, thick burger I had imagined, my burger was thin and dry, served on what seemed to be day old bread, with no juice whatsoever. The soggy bacon was equally awful. I think I took two bites of it before giving up, it was very likely the worst burger I've ever had since eating at the school cafeteria. My waitress seemed very little surprised at my reaction, she carefully avoid asking how the meal was all evening - and tried to make herself as scarce as possible, lest we tell her.
Mike had the riblet basket and he was happier with it than I, though to a limited extent. Riblets are strange things to begin with (I'm not sure what they are), he was surprised to find the meat to be so bony and difficult to eat. The bbq sauce in which it came, at least, was OK.
Before the entrees we shared an appetizer of onion rings, which were fine. I didn't like the gritty breading (which I'd encountered days before at Black Angus for the first time), and it could have been more flavorful, but Mike was fond of the accompanying sauce.
As I mentioned, service was neglectful. As for atmosphere, Applebee's has a wanna be upscale sports bar look, which is fine enough for me. It is what it is.
It will come to no surprise to anyone reading this review that there is no way in hell I'm returning to Applebee's for a meal. Even Fatty Patty, with its pre-cooked/microwaved heated burgers seems more appealing.
13006 NE Hwy 99