We studied the menu. We sipped our water. When all was said and done, we both ordered the Chicken Oriental Salad we remembered at Applebee’s.

I was lunching with Merrilee Brown (MB), and we talked about the salad. It is one of those things you remember.

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The salad is described as “fresh Asian greens tossed in a tasty Oriental vinaigrette and topped with crispy noodles, toasted almonds and golden fried chicken.” You can get a half size version for $8.59. The regular size is $9.99, but you don’t need that.

The salad is a signature item.

Applebee’s seems well established as a popular place for casual lunch. Later in the day, it features drinks, appetizers and dinner. The restaurant has seating for 242 in booths, at tables all around the perimeter as well as in the lounge area.

There are steaks, seafood and chicken on the menu. There are pasta, salad and sandwich choices. Regular customers know how to order two full sized entrees and one appetizer to share. Arlene Gunderson, who walked by our table, knows the menu and said she loves the choices at Applebee’s.

There is a legend on the menu explaining how a small apple designates less than 550 calories in the item. A red pepper indicates the item is spicy, and a blue marker shows an endorsement by Weight Watchers. They help make the menu seem friendly.

And the menu changes four times a year with adaptations for the seasons.

Servers at Applebee’s are mostly UND students. They don’t come around asking if everything is all right. Instead, one of the managers said they are encouraged to show their own personalities. None of this, “Hi, I’m Nick, and I will be your server.”

MB and I enjoyed the friendly and relaxed manner of our server, Miguela. She was there when we needed her. She did not intrude.

Most days, there is a welcome at the door from a long-time employee, Mary Lou Kurtyka. She fits the neighborhood theme promoted by the restaurant.

Applebee’s is a place where customers tend to linger and chat. And study the dessert menu. MB and I decided we could do without the Blue Ribbon Brownies ($5.49). But we couldn’t pass up sharing one of the small gooey, chocolate desserts on the menu. They’re called Dessert Shooters and are $1.99.

Just right.

Telephone: (701) 795-6588

General Manager: Greg Remz

Hours: Opens daily at 11 a.m.; closes midnight Sunday through Thursday and 1 a.m. after Friday and Saturday night business

Average check: $16

Report card: Seating usually is quick in booths or at tables with windows all around. Service is good. Menu is extensive and takes study if you are not a regular here. Rest rooms are good.