On a recent Tuesday night, the wait for a table at chef Laurent Tourondel"s latest eatery was 45 minutes (no, they don"t take reservations). What made us more uncomfortable was the mounted steer head that stared us down and the newsprint wallpaper displaying cowcentric stories--both reminders of the source of our beef. But this is not a political arena; it"s an Applebee"s for the downtown set. Starters include hot wings and an acidic chicken salad that was just a few steps up from a McDonald"s Chicken Salad Oriental. You want fries with that? Choose the crisp shoestrings over the greasy Vidalia onion rings. Then there were the burgers. It was hard to tell which was supposed to be best: the Classic, the signature BLT, the fancy $16 American or the $62 Japanese kobes (not to mention the tuna, lamb, veggie and turkey varieties). The overcooked BLT we got, with chewy bacon and two patties on a shiny white bun, left an unsightly slick of liquid on the paper-lined plate. The American kobe burger was infinitely better: soft, almost sweet meat, begging to be bitten into over and over again. Ultimately, there is something cynical in this attempt at insta-Americana--the wood-paneled booths, retro-rock soundtrack, cow-themed everything. It"ll probably be a big success.