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Published August 07, 2012, 11:56 PM

The Eatbeat: Applebee's menu is loaded with options

GRAND FORKS - “See you tomorrow,” said hostess Sue Prowse as I left Applebee’s after having lunch there the other day.

By: Marilyn Hagerty, Grand Forks Herald , INFORUM

GRAND FORKS - “See you tomorrow,” said hostess Sue Prowse as I left Applebee’s after having lunch there the other day.

I was somewhat startled — wondering if I was forgetting something. Then she grinned and explained that is just the Applebee’s way of ushering customers out. “See you tomorrow,” is what they use as a promotion.

And after a lunch there with Lisa Jahns (LJ), I am looking forward to another meal at Applebee’s.

We started out by studying the changing menu featuring flavors in season.

And we had the Welcome Back menu with the lineup of foods customers can expect all the time at Applebee’s.

After all was said and done, I ordered the same thing I have ordered on previous visits to Applebee’s — the Oriental Chicken Salad. It features Asian greens tossed with an Oriental vinaigrette and topped with crispy noodles, toasted almonds and fried chicken tenders. I think asking for the crunchy chicken was my best decision.

The half-size salad for $7.99 was ample. And it’s $2 less than the regular size.

The salad was refreshing and pleasantly crunchy. The vinaigrette dressing seemed just right.

Meanwhile, LJ opted for a grilled jalapeno lime shrimp salad, which is one of the items on the menu endorsed by Weight Watchers. She liked the hot pepper and cilantro. The lime wedge brought the flavors together. The shrimp were plentiful, not overcooked.

But as we figured, she was plenty hungry by 5 p.m. That was in spite of the fact we couldn’t resist the suggestion from our server that we might enjoy a “Brownie Bite” for 99 cents. And we did enjoy it.

The small scoop of ice cream laced with a chocolate stripe with a mini-brownie was just right to finish off a salad lunch.

Lunching over salads is good. For me, it is hard to eat soup and talk. Our conversation strayed from food to calories and Weight Watcher, since LJ is a dietitian and researcher. She was impressed by the information available at Applebee’s about the food served.

When all is said and done, people could mix up the same salads at home for lower cost. But some would rather go out and relax, and they keep places like Applebee’s afloat.

One of the biggest draws at Applebee’s, according to general manager Greg Remz, is the two for $20 or two for $24 specials. This gives two people a chance to share an appetizer and choose their main course. And they know what their total cost will be.

Applebee’s is a friendly place where you get a welcome at the door. The menu is full of choices that can be overwhelming unless you go there often.

The restaurant opened on Columbia road in 1988 and has been a popular place over the years. The original decor with Tiffany-style lamps has been changed with new murals of Grand Forks attractions. The ambience is cheery with a bar and screens for viewing sports in the center. Booths and tables are on a level higher.

Car-side service is available and makes up about 8 percent of the business.

The average check at Applebee’s is $13.75.