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…
Enjoy the (Easter Bunny Bit Us) Heat!
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