1/15/13

Arrivaderci Macaroni Grill...?

Monday was a well deserved rest day off of the bike and away from the weights.  I kept on task in terms of my diet with my breakfast and lunch.  However, due to having to pick up my Honda Element from Smart Honda before 6 p.m. and our rehearsal at 7 p.m. - Tara and I were sort of stuck in Des Moines for dinner.  Just down the street from Smart Honda was the Macaroni Grill.

How was it?


Hmmmm.......okay.  Here goes.

I hate to give nasty - nay rant - review, but it ranked as a pretty bad experience service and food wise.  We ordered a glass of wine.  15+ minutes later it finally arrived.  I really don't know where the server was in those 15 minutes or why somebody else didn't brink the drinks out to us?  Bar tender, other server, manager - somebody?  Needless to say, warm chardonnay is not too tasty.  The warm bread they bring out at Macaroni Grill used to be a real treat.  Dipped in olive oil with fresh cracked black pepper is a nice appetizer.  Last night, it had morphed from what they used to serve into a fluffy square brick that is so coarse on top from all of the salt that they literally shake on it I didn't know what to think.  What's up with all of that salt?

My dinner salad was filled with salt as well.  And the dressing overwhelmed the salad because way too much was tossed into the salad.  In terms of the salt, that's fine if I choose to add salt at the table based on how it tastes, but forcing me to eat so much is not the way to go.  From there, the dining experience went from bad to worse.

I guess I should know better when ordering sea food in a land locked state in the Midwest, but I ordered the sole because I love fish.  Big mistake.  What does herb crusted sole mean at Macaroni Grill in Des Moines, IA?  It means they take a frozen chunk of fish out of the deep freeze and try to pass it off as fresh fish that has been breaded, pan seared and served to your delight.  The simple idea of serving fresh fish would have been nice, but no - it was not.  Other restaurants in Des Moines are able to do this quite well, but not Macaroni Grill.  The result was a portion of sole that was overly salty, tough, and disappointing.  That's not what brings customers back when the competitors are out there doing it fresh.  When I walked in I saw the wood burning pizza oven in full roar.  I should have just gone with a pizza as I know they can do that right.

Back to my plate and the presentation....

The rice actually looked quite good on the plate.  Colorful.  Distinct.  The presentation was good, but unfortunately it was not cooked completely.  There's nothing like eating raw rice.  This entrée arrived 35 minutes after I had ordered it.  35 minutes?!!!  You've got to be kidding me.  Must have taken that long to defrost the frozen fish....

We weren't in a huge hurry, but we did have a window of time to get from picking up the car to our rehearsal.  It's not that the restaurant was busy on a Monday night.  Maybe a dozen people in the restaurant while we were there and ordered.  I didn't mention the service outside of our wine not being delivered and order taking so long, but suffice it to say the evening meal experience was rather disappointing.  This was the 3rd disappointment in a row from our visit to the Des Moines Macaroni Grill.  Those last 3 visits were spaced out with many months between, but enough to draw the obvious conclusion that we will probably not be back.  And that is after many years of having very nice dining experiences there - especially with the kids.

macaronigrill

Arrivaderci Macaroni Grill?  Could be.  Fool me once.  Fool me twice.  Well - you get the picture.  Too bad.  MG used to be a half way decent place to go for us to dine between 2003 - 2009, but things have gone south the last few years.  The background music used to be really good - Italian, classical, opera, fun stuff.  No longer.  Some rock was playing last night.  Not that I don't like rock, but the unique music that MG was always known for was missing on Monday night.  The wait staff used to be experienced, fun, pleasant and they really knew the menu.  No longer (at least on Monday night with our server).  The food used to be pretty good for what it was - a mid-budget Italian eatery.  No longer (based on our last 3 dining experiences there).  The decor/ambiance (except Monday's music) is still clean and nice, but all hat and no cattle doesn't cut it when it comes to serving a good meal.

I think it would be easy to boost the service and experience back to what it used to be at the Macaroni Grill in Des Moines, but there is some good competition that continually knocks the ball out of the park.   I guess I will have to wait to hear from other's dining experiences at Macaroni Grill to see if my last 3 visits were an anomaly, or more the norm.  Sound off in the comments if you've got an opinion...

We did make it to rehearsal on time.

All that was simply to say the evening meal with the loads of salt on it sort of blew my daily nutrition.  I bounced back to a Tuesday with well chosen food.  I drank plenty of water throughout the day to clean out all of the salt ingested the night before at dinner.  After work, I was able to get 60 minutes of Zone 2 on the bike, 2 x 10 reps of upper body weights and following a shower, we had wonderful fennel bulbs mixed with our roasted vegetables and organic chicken for dinner.

After eating wisely all day, I do feel better this evening as I type this.   Sorry for the Macaroni Grill rant, but it was a pity to see the place go downhill food wise.  If it was a one off, I'd let it pass.  As I said, this was my 3rd in a row poor dining experience there spaced out over the last 24 months.  I sense it was not a coincidence.  That combined with too much viewing of Food Network, our own cooking skills in the kitchen, and my years waiting tables way back when all provide me with plenty of fodder to opine on a poor dining experience.



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