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Easter Sunday Dinner: A Poor Experience at a Usually Reliable Locale

This entry is part of a series, Austin Scene»

Bruschetta

The Clan gathered from all the corners of the Civilized World (that is, Texas) for a traditional Easter Sunday dinner after church. With three generations present, from the Matriarch Herself down to Little Miss Too Cute and the latest anklebiter addition, Master Dimples (he’s threatening to walk, the little runt!), we needed a place that could seat nearly a couple dozen hungry diners.

Our chosen victim, er dining house was Romano’s Macaroni Grill. In particular, their location at the corner of Stassney and Interstate 35 South.

We arrived for the late lunch seating, and there was nobody waiting outside. We had reservations, so we expected a short wait at worst. >We were disappointed, though, as it took a solid half hour to get a table ready for us. Okay, a large party, that can happen. As we paraded into the dining area, I scanned the tables to see who was paying proper attention to us how the lunch crowd looked. I was a bit dismayed to see the place more than half empty! >So why did it take a half hour, I thought? I began to get a bad feeling about the coming dining experience.

The clan was in a festive mood, though, so I kept my doubts to myself.

The first indication that there would be real trouble came about five minutes in. One poor waiter was assigned to our crew. And we weren’t his only table. Just getting drinks ordered and served took longer than it should have We ordered several appetizers: Bruschetta, olives and more. The bruschetta was excellent. Lightly toasted ciabatta bread, basil and paper-thin shaved Parmigiana cheese, with a bowl of diced tomatoes so each diner could build their own snack. The tomatoes had a nice mix of onion, garlic and basil. Them was good eats! Paired with the Mediterranean olives, it was a satisfying start. Maybe I was simply being paranoid.

The folks down-table said their appetizers were good too. Service was slow, though, and our waiter wasn’t getting any help at all. With a group this large, orders ranged all over the place. One of the boys had spaghetti and meatballs, a standard meal for him. A pepperoni pizza was ordered. Of course, Fettuccine Alfredo (with chicken) got ordered several places. A couple different salads, some Chicken Marsala and my Lasagna al Forno completed the feast. Then we waited. And waited. Which is quite unusual for Macaroni Grill, even when they’re busy. Which this place certainly wasn’t, by this time; mid-afternoon, actually. The entrées came out piecemeal. Again, no help for our waiter, who was beginning to look harried and was certainly having a tough time keeping a smile on. The pizza arrived cool, approaching cold. The spaghetti arrived without meatballs. One person at the other end of the hall (okay, our table was a tad long) said he’d had better frozen dinners at home.

In short, it wasn’t a good dining experience.

We talked over the gratuity situation. Most places, and with a smaller group, we’d usually provide 15% for good service and good food. Here, of course, they added 18%. Large group, you see. Most of us simply shrugged. The whole thing reminded me of a recent T-Mobile advertisement, where AT&T says something like “sometimes you just have pay more to go slower.” Somehow, American diners have been conditioned to pay more for poorer service in restaurants if they’re a big party. How’d we ever let that happen? Oh well.

We still had fun, but the dining experience wasn’t what we’d hoped for. Blame it on large party if you want, or the fact that it was Easter (when I bet many restaurants are short-staffed), but we won’t be back to this location for a good long while…

Romano's Macaroni Grill on Urbanspoon

Enjoy the (Easter Bunny Bit Us) Heat!

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Entries in this series:
  1. Cool River Café and Southwestern Poblano Soup
  2. Restaurant Review: Gumbo's Louisiana Style Café
  3. Restaurant Review: Chola Indian Restaurant
  4. Restaurant Review: Fujian Grand China Buffet, Austin
  5. Restaurant Review: Casa Garcia's Tex-Mex Restaurant
  6. Review: Mesa Rosa Mexican Restaurant
  7. Restaurant Review: Truluck's Seafood, Steak and Crab House
  8. Restaurant Review Update: Fujian Grand China Buffet Restaurant
  9. Restaurant Review: Pho Viet Restaurant
  10. Sunday Brunch Anniversary Celebration: Moonshine Restaurant Patio Bar and Grill
  11. Late-Lunch Steaks at the Blue Oak Grill
  12. Mama Roux: So Good There's A Song About It, Sort Of...
  13. Phil's Ice House, an Austin-Weird Place for Great Burgers
  14. Easter Sunday Dinner: A Poor Experience at a Usually Reliable Locale
  15. A Sedate Spring Lunch at Zed’s
  16. Looking for a Taste of Germany? Well, We Tried…
  17. Fresh and Tasty Tex-Mex, Prepared by a Grandma
  18. The HomeField (Grill) Advantage
  19. Dinner for One: Sometimes the Good Stuff is Right Under Your Nose
  20. Smoky Heaven in Round Rock: Johnny T’s BBQ
  21. Tex-Mex, Better’n Sex (Says So on the Menu)
  22. The Quest Begins Anew (Just Pho Me): Mai Lien Bistro
  23. A Little Bit of the French Quarter, Here in Central Texas
  24. Quick Bites: El Caribe Tex-Mex
  25. It’s Good, It’s Italian, and You Don’t Have to Go to Europe to Get It
  26. Casa G’s for Lunch (Hint: It’s Awesome)
  27. Chola Indian Restaurant: A Good Indian Eatery Gets Better
  28. Tacos are Brain Food, and Brainiacs Eat at El Taquito…
  29. Get Your Indian Food Fix the Easy Way: Tärkă Indian Kitchen
  30. Late Lunch at Mandola’s Italian Market; Worth the Wait…
  31. I Didn’t Know Sichuan, China Included Round Rock
  32. Sunday Brunch at Pecan Street Station; Good Choice…
  33. Does Kung Fu Buffet Lives Up to Its Name? My Sample Says…
  34. The Underground Visits Ethiopia for Dinner (and Has a Wonderful Time)
  35. Pho Lee Vietnamese, It’s Total-Lee Pho (and Very Good)
  36. A Taste of Jalisco in North Austin
  37. The Great Pho Quest Continues: Pho Thaison in Allandale
  38. From New Pho to Old: Lunch at a (Nearly) Forgotten Friend, Tan My
  39. Z’Tejas, a Wonderful Place for Brunch and Clan Revelry
  40. Dickey’s Barbecue Pit in Round Rock: Great Meat; As For the Rest…
  41. LongHorn Steakhouse Round Rock: A New Family Favorite
  42. Salt Lick BBQ in Round Rock: More Than Finger-Licking Good
  43. Drinks and Snacks on the Deck at McCormick & Schmick’s
  44. Going Back Pho More at a Local Favorite
  45. Swagat Indian: A Disappointment With a Few Bright Spots
  46. Branch BBQ in Wells Branch: A Local Secret?
  47. Karrrazy, Man: Kublai Khan Crazy Mongolian Stir Fry
  48. VooDoo BBQ & Grill: Their HooDoo’s Pretty Good, Actually
  49. My Fit Foods: Tasty, Healthy Food, Ready in a Flash
  50. Chang Thai, Our Family’s New Favorite
  51. A Quick Trip to Agra, Without Leaving Home
  52. Playing With Your Food (and Your Mom Would Approve): Shabu Hot Pot & Noodle Bar
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