A couple of Fridays ago, The Boyfriend and I decided to go chain–as in, chain restaurant. As a rule, I don’t like chains unless I need a crappy fast food fix. But, we decided to stay local in Manchester and wanted something we don’t usually go for: enter Carrabba’s.
The experience started out decently enough. Our server, a salesman by day, was friendly and, if anything, much too talkative. He tried several times to upsell us to some fried balls of something as an appetizer–even going so far as to say “So, I’ll put in an order for you…”. No, don’t do that. We said we didn’t want any. Then he proceeded to tell us about his foot problems which, to be honest, the last thing I want to think about when I’m about to eat is a stranger’s feet. At least he was trying to be conversational.
In the end, we ordered a cup of the Mama Mandola’s Sicilian Chicken Soup to share. I decided on the Chicken Bryan which had goat cheese and sundried tomatoes with a basil lemon butter sauce. Looking at the website, it apparently comes in regular and smaller portions, but we were only given the option of the normal size. The Boyfriend ordered the Chicken Trio which included the Chicken Bryan, as well as Pollo Rosa Maria (fontina, prosciutto, and mushrooms) and Chicken Marsala. We both decided on cavatappi amacitriana for the side which our server made sound like a fabulous pasta dish…after saying the name about 12 times.
After that, all service fell into a black hole from some other galaxy. Our server was nowhere to be seen after bringing us water. No bread, no refill on said water, and my margarita was nonexistent (which, after the week I had, was desperately needed). This went on for almost 35 minutes. No other server came to bring us anything either. Suddenly, there was Overtalkative apologizing about how something went wrong with the computer. Totally understandable; I want to throw my work computer out the window every day. But, if suddenly I was having computer problems and couldn’t get something done, I’d pick up the phone or walk my ass down the hall and let someone know that I’d be getting it to them ASAP. I might even bring them some damn bread or more water.
We tried to be understanding, and about 10 minutes later our salads and the soup arrived, as well as my drink. And about 2 minutes after that, our dinners. Seriously? This isn’t the Olive Garden…nor is it Olive Garden prices, which makes me expect more. So, our table was piled with food plates (full) and we tried to wolf down our salads and soup before the chicken got cold. Not a pleasant dining experience. At all. The offered remedy? To take the dinners back to the kitchen for a few minutes…presumably to sit under a heater. Awesome, but no thanks.
Our server offered to comp our soup…the $4 cup. Then he offered us dessert, which, after having to speed eat, was the last thing I wanted. After having a customer wait 45 minutes for food, and then have everything piled on at once for an unpleasant experience, most restaurants would try to compensate with something else if a dessert was not wanted…like maybe take off one of the meals, the drink…something. Instead, we had two take home desserts forced on us–one of which was never finished and was thrown out (two tiramisus only stay good for so long…and I love tiramisu more than life usually).
The dinner itself was decent–although the side dish of pasta that our server touted was little more than a cheesed up pasta and sauce. However, for the price of the meal, it was not worth all that hassle and unpleasantness (my stomach hurt for the rest of the night). So thanks, Carrabba’s, but no thanks. I have somewhere where you can shove your tiramisu…
One salt shaker because good food is good food, but it can easily be ruined by poor service and presentation. Oh, and they still charged us for the $4 soup after offering to take it off.