Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Neglect officially over and Carrabbas

July and the first part of August was a whirlwind. Between traveling for work, deadlines for work, and a beach vacation, I just had to let this site slide a bit. But I'm back and will be posting recipes regularly again now.

I took our busy schedules + a defunct kitchen due to new counter top installations to use a gift certificate we had lying around. Like my fellow Nashville food blogger, Lannae, Carrabba's offered me a $50 gift card to go, try their restaurant, and write about it. When I got their email, I was rather hesitant, because I felt like maybe I was "selling out" but B knocked some sense into me reminding me that we are poor scientists and who were we to pass up free food. Touche.

So off we went deep into suburbia (Cool Springs location) to Carrabbas. What I knew about Carrabbas previously was that it was a chain Italian restaurant and that they sponsor a 10K in Raleigh every year, to which I say yeah to them. Funny thing is, I am REALLY anti-chain, so I thought it was sort of funny that they sent me, of all people, this gift card. We arrived late-ish (for me) around 7:30, and had about a 10-15 minute wait. I was surprised that it was so crowded on a Tuesday night, especially considering the place is huge.

So onto the food, we started with calamari, which was actually solid. It wasn't chewy, and it wasn't greasy, so kudos to them on their frying skills. I thought it was under-seasoned, B thought it was over-seasoned, so we came to the conclusion that the seasoning was unequally distributed. And, the portion was kind of ridiculous...not an appetizer for two people, probably intended for more like 4-6 people. We each had a salad. I had a house salad, which was a major disappointment: not very good romain lettuce, canned black olives, some under-ripe tomatoes, some dried cheese sprinkles, and bottled dressing. Bleh. B had a Ceasar salad, which was unremarkable. Then onto main courses. Due to the size of the appetizer, we feared the size of our entres, which proved to be more reasonable. I had manicotti, which was decent, but not spectacular. But then again, it's cheese, it's noodles, it's tomato sauce. How can you go wrong. B had a baked pasta florentine, which was similar to manicotti, but stuffed with chicken, spinach, and cheese. He preferred my dish.

In conclusion, Carrabbas was pretty much what I expected. It was decent, but unspectacular food that was not extraordinarily expensive, but not a bargain either. The service was good and the ambiance contrived, but fun for little ones. B and I would not spend our own money there. BUT, the restaurant was decent, and seems like it would be kid friendly, so if that is your stage in life, then it wouldn't be a bad choice.

5 comments:

Nicole said...

Nice review. I'll keep it in mind if I ever have kids.

VanderbiltWife said...

What is really good at Carrabba's are the grilled dishes. Their pastas are so-so but the grilled dishes, especially the Chicken Bryan, are tasty!

cook eat FRET said...

i run screaming from the mere mention of carrabbas...

Natalie said...

Yeah...it was free...and we're broke...though it probably wasn't worth the caloric debt. Hope I haven't ruined my foodie "street cred" by eating there :-)

Lannae said...

Hey, good for you for taking the free food! We took the free food too! It is a free $50 of food, and I too was a poor grad school student in a lab, and on more occasions than I care to say, free food (art gallery opening food or free happy hour food) was "it" until the next stipend ck. The reality for me about Carrabbas is that I get sent to some "food voids" of the USA for work, and there are only chains. I see a Carrabbas and I know I can get a decent meal that is better than the rest. Is it great, like Italy or the North End of Boston, no, but it is a decent hot meal when there are few other choices.