Daily Archives: 2 February, 2013

Food Review – Macaroni Grill

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Yes, Macaroni Grill.  The US chain, known as “a casually elegant Italian restaurant serving handcrafted pastas, entrees, and a diverse wine list.”  Rarely seen as gourmet, or even really, really good.  Generally, we think of it as “upscale mall food”, not fast food, but not a dining experience, either.

We went last evening because there was a “buy one get one” voucher in our Entertainer book.  Our first choice had been the Outback Steakhouse at the Festival City Mall but they were closed for renovations.  We were there to shop at the ARTE Craft market –  Artisans of the Emirates –  being held at that mall.  There’s a particular vendor there that has the *most* wonderful handcrafted soaps, Firuza Wragg of Desert Rose Handmade Soaps.  Check out her shampoo bars – exquisite!

OK, back to the food.   TBG ordered the sampler platter, figuring it was pretty safe, and he had three chances to find something he’d like.  It promised chicken parmesan, lasagna bolognese, chicken & mushroom cannelloni.  I opted for the grilled salmon, but we splurged and asked to substitute the lobster mashed potato for the rice pilaf.  There are no “before” photos of our meal, because frankly, we didn’t have very high hopes that it would be outstanding in any way.  But let’s take a look at the “after photos”……

aerial view

Yes,  we ate every single bit of it.  Even the bread was delicious.

end of meal

It was good enough that when the Front of House Manager Mohammed came to ask how we’d enjoyed it, we told him to please give our compliments to the chef – everything was cooked well, served attractively and we loved it all.  He walked back to the kitchen, hollered “Chefs, please!”  and when he had their attention, told them what we’d said….. There were smiling faces and waves all around, then they went right back to work….

chefs

The restaurant wasn’t crowded, and our server was quite good – overall it was a much better experience than we were expecting, and we gave it a “We’ll be back” rating on the Trueblood scale of foods.

restaurant

“CarWash, sir?”

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There are carwash guys in mall parking lots.  And parking garages.  They wear uniforms, carry receipt books pre printed and are very efficient.

They’re all over, they push little carts with I’m not sure what inside them, but lemme tell you, they do a bang-up job of washing your car while you’re shopping!  Cheap too, around $6-8 USD if my conversions are right, and they do it year round!

Communicating with them can be an issue, though.  They seem to recognize a few phrases in English – “How much?” they can answer, and if you hold up fingers “How long?” they can answer.  Outside of that, you’ll hear “yes yes yes” which seems to be the standard service answer.  And it does not necessarily mean “yes” at all.

An SUV costs approximately AED25 ($8) and a sedan AED20 ($6) plus tip.

But it certainly is nice to get out of a dusty, dirty car in the parking garage, and when you return to it (not always as easy as it sounds, BTW!  These parking garages are HUGE, multi-story, multiple entrances to the malls, on multiple levels!) and return to something sparkling and shiny clean.  For cheap.