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Carrabba's Italian Grill


DonRocks
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There's a lot of over reaction and negative hyperbole on here that is unwarranted, I think, in many instances.

I've been to the original Carrabba's in Houston BEFORE Outback bought it. I honestly believe it was better than any Carrabba's I have been in since. Still, like Bonefish Grill which I mentioned above, overall Outback has done a good, mostly consistent job with the 15 or 20 Carrabba's I've stopped in around the country. (I've travelled over a 100 days a year on business for the past 25 or so years.) As I mentioned above there are some good dishes. But there are other dishes that sometimes can be killed with lemon butter and olive oil. Fish can also be overcooked. Both of these issues are the results of individual attention in he restaurant. Still, there are a number that are genuinely good for the kind of food it is.

I have also eaten at probably more Outback Steak Houses than anyone on any of these boards. Same meal every time: grilled fish of the day (usually fresh Mahi), double order of steamed veggies, salad with tomato viniagrette minus the croutons and cheese and two glasses of Greg Norman cab. Also, a spoonful or so of Remoulade sauce. Why? Because for me, for ten years, this has been a diet meal of sorts 30 or 40 times a year in 30 or 40 different Outbacks around the country. (I honestly think I've been in as many as 100 or more.)

Some Outbacks are better than others. But overall, for a chain, the consistency is very good. Carrabba's is similar as is Bonefish which I consider the star of the group. (I do not care for Roy's.) While a lot of restaurants draw lengthy lines with mediocre food or huge portions of what really is "glop" the Outback group, overall, is very good. Certainly better than many of the people in this thread give it credit for.

I must tell you that that Pappadeaux in Schaumberg has little in common with Houston. Pappas Bros. have an excellent product whether steak, Tex Mex, Cajun or hamburgers but they, too, have consistency problems. On another board I've also talked about Bahama Breeze which in their Orlando locations are very, very good (especilly Ahi tuna apps & entrees). In Chicago and Oklahoma City two weeks ago it didn't taste like the same chain. Point being that Outback does a very good overall job even when compared to several of the industry's most successful.

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Joe there is a huge difference between eating and dining. Eating when you are on the road is one thing. You have to eat... I ate at an Outback several months back and it was one of the top five owrst meals I have ever endured. Period. I tried a Carrabas the month after that and it forever cured me of dining at chains. I will go to a grocery store salad bar before I eat at one of those places again. The last experience was painful. Friends were taking us out so I was stuck. 2 hours for a table. Waiter (more like waitron) could have cared less we endured the wait. Do you like the schtick where they sit down or squat down to pretend they really care? They will receive nothing more from me... And probably could care less about it.

"I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully."

—George W. Bush in Saginaw, Mich., Sept. 29, 2000

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I stand by my comments: for $60 for diner for two with wine, Carrabba's is worthwhile. For some dishes it is quite good. As for comparing to a grocery store salad bar this is the hyperbole that I mentioned as an exaggeration. Let me ask you this: where in the D. C. area, with $60 to spend for two (app. for each, entree for each, two glasses of wine, tax and tip) where would you go for Italian? I really would like to know what you consider good in this price range? For mussels and pollo Santa Maria, for the fiorentina you're going to have an awfully hard time beating Carrabba's. You're also going to have a VERY difficult time convincing me otherwise. Again, I am talking ONLY about the Carrabba's in Reston.

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There's a lot of over reaction and negative hyperbole on here that is unwarranted, I think, in many instances.

Huh?

So the canola oil stuff that was supposed to be a flavourful, fruity olive oil for dipping hot, fresh, "rustic" bread and finding same dissatisfactory is over reaction or unwarranted? [somehow some corporate specs or standard operating procedures obviously were neglected if this is to be the finest olive oil that is imported from Catalonia, Spain].

The limited wine list?

The unremarkable pasta?

The indifferent and careless service staff?

BTW, they never offered to have my clothing cleaned at their expense, nor apologised despite the girl clearly saw what occurred and scurried off. And (!) you try getting olive oil stains out easily. :angry:

Please. Take evaluations of others' respective Carrabba dining experiences elsewhere. You were neither present during my dinner service nor are in any position to offer up any opinions or judgments of same.

If one enjoys their menu or the dining experience, just say so. At least that is something that earns respect. Because one may receive consistent, good service, do not assume that is the same for each and every guest and dining experience for all that patronise any establishment, all of the time.

I visited once. I have made the decision to spend my dining dollars elsewhere and not opt for any repeat performances. Thankfully I do reside in an area rich with Italian family operated indie groceries, bakeries and restaurants. :wub:

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I stand by my comments: for $60 for diner for two with wine, Carrabba's is worthwhile. For some dishes it is quite good. As for comparing to a grocery store salad bar this is the hyperbole that I mentioned as an exaggeration. Let me ask you this: where in the D. C. area, with $60 to spend for two (app. for each, entree for each, two glasses of wine, tax and tip) where would you go for Italian? I really would like to know what you consider good in this price range? For mussels and pollo Santa Maria, for the fiorentina you're going to have an awfully hard time beating Carrabba's. You're also going to have a VERY difficult time convincing me otherwise. Again, I am talking ONLY about the Carrabba's in Reston.

Monroe's?

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I stand by my comments: for $60 for diner for two with wine, Carrabba's is worthwhile. For some dishes it is quite good. As for comparing to a grocery store salad bar this is the hyperbole that I mentioned as an exaggeration. Let me ask you this: where in the D. C. area, with $60 to spend for two (app. for each, entree for each, two glasses of wine, tax and tip) where would you go for Italian? I really would like to know what you consider good in this price range? For mussels and pollo Santa Maria, for the fiorentina you're going to have an awfully hard time beating Carrabba's. You're also going to have a VERY difficult time convincing me otherwise. Again, I am talking ONLY about the Carrabba's in Reston.

Thats easy. Kuna on U Street would just fit under that $$ range and San Marco on 18th in Adams Morgan would be below. Both delightful family-owned restaurants.

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It is astonishing to me that this thread has gotten so heated.

As far as independent, good Italian for $30pp including wine and three courses? Il Pizzico in Maryland.

Not anymore. Prices have gone up and the past two times we've been the service was inattentive and the food mediocre.

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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How about Coppi's on U St? There's more than pizza -- though that's really quite good too -- on the menu now that they've closed the more-ambitious Vigorelli in Cleveland Park and are putting all their energy into the 14th St. place. Plus, with the Tour de France coming up, there's no more appropriate place to hang and check out the pictures of il campionissimo himself.

"Mine goes off like a rocket." -- Tom Sietsema, Washington Post, Feb. 16.

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How about Coppi's on U St? There's more than pizza -- though that's really quite good too -- on the menu now that they've closed the more-ambitious Vigorelli in Cleveland Park and are putting all their energy into the 14th St. place. Plus, with the Tour de France coming up, there's no more appropriate place to hang and check out the pictures of il campionissimo himself.

Well at least in here there's some correlation with the Italian biking theme.

".... Rollo is also an angry young clown and he'll be damned if he's gonna wear Lycra or care about what the metallurgical content of frame tubing is, or what kind of stinkin' rear derailleur is missing from his bike. Rollo is all about the bigger, scarier picture. If you think Rollo could be your buddy, then he might just be your next bike."

Not Afraid of Clown? Get Rollo!

...

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Beans, I don't know who you are but you're not going to tell me to go elsewhere when you are so clearly over reacting. Of course you could have had a bad meal, of course it could have been sloppy service. But it is a quantum leap to infer that all Carrabba's, all of their food and all of their service is similar to your one negative experience. THAT is what I am criticizing. I had a similarly bad experience in Centreville (minus the olive oil). As noted I also have had very good experiences many times over. I do think that there is a lot of overreaction and arrogance in several of these posts from people who want to trash chain restaurants in general. In general I don't really care for chains and also feel that they are slowly eliminating individual restaurants. Still, some of them are fairly good for what they are. Carrabba's is one of these. It does NOT warrant some of the across the board negative criticism that many in this thread want to level on it. For the reason that you bristle when I criticize you, I bristle when so many others thoughtlessly sweep away a restaurant that does a good overall job. If I hadn't entered this thread 400 or 500 people, having never been, would probably never go. While one bad experience may keep you away it shouldn't keep others from trying it.

Again, for $60 for two entrees, two appetizers, two glasses of wine with tax and tip this is a good value.

Anyway, you may have whatever words you now feel the need to express.

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Beans, I don't know who you are but you're not going to tell me to go elsewhere when you are so clearly over reacting.

Again, huh?

Who I am? I could care less if someone loves or hates a place. What I find surprising is one asserting that another's experience is unwarranted.

Of course you could have had a bad meal, of course it could have been sloppy service.  But it is a quantum leap to infer that all Carrabba's, all of their food and all of their service is similar to your one negative experience.

I never stated any sort of summarily dismissing, all encompassing statement that all Carrabba dining experiences are negative.

THAT is what I am criticizing.  I had a similarly bad experience in Centreville (minus the olive oil).  As noted I also have had very good experiences many times over.

Dude, you are preaching to the choir.

I do think that there is a lot of overreaction and arrogance in several of these posts from people who want to trash chain restaurants in general.

Hmmmm. I seem to believe that invalidating another's experience as quite arrogant indeed. Ironic you assert and point arrogance at others by their honest posts. I'm not sure that any of the above candour was in the viscious spirit for the sake of trashing a restaurant. Besides, isn't it against the eG User Agreement?

It does NOT warrant some of the across the board negative criticism that many in this thread want to level on it.  For the reason that you bristle when I criticize you, I bristle when so many others thoughtlessly sweep away a restaurant that does a good overall job.  If I hadn't entered this thread 400 or 500 people, having never been, would probably never go.  While one bad experience may keep you away it shouldn't keep others from trying it.

You are giving far too much credit. How could my or your opinion sway others from "trying it." :rolleyes:

I think the criticism has been fair and most probably accurate. Who cares if you don't like it? I don't care that you don't share my point of view by choosing not to return to a resto that I found to be less than enjoyable, but I do have interest in why it is you are compelled to discount my experience as, again, unwarranted.

Anyway, you may have whatever words you now feel the need to express.

Gee, thanks. :blink::hmmm: I'm glad you provided me with permission. :wink:

Edited by beans (log)
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Wow! Didn't expect to find such passionate writing here. I've been to Carrabba's once in NJ. Friends who had eaten at one in FL suggested we try it as they enjoyed it very much. My parents also enjoyed it in FL. We went with all of them and the reactions were mixed. Friends and parents liked the FL site better than NJ. They thought the food was better than what we had that evening. Nothing was considered to be bad, just not worth a return trip. I thought the quality of the food was not equal to the prices, although the portions were very large. Service was pleasant. We also did not have to wait for a table. I guess I am lucky to have "indies" in my neighborhood that can provide better food and lower or comparable prices without the large chain atmosphere. Places like Carrabba's serve a large audience and they will continue to prosper and multiply. It's good to have some feedback on them as you never know when you will end up without other dining alternatives - particularly when travelling.

Edited by birder53 (log)

KathyM

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4meanytime

QUOTE (bloviatrix @ Jun 17 2004, 02:04 PM)

--alporcini

Is that for real? Al, I appreciate your passionate defense, but I thought marsala chicken was made form marsala wine. Do these guys really source the grapes for the wine?

-----------

It has been my distinct good pleasure to spend time with the Lombardo family in Marsala, Sicily, who have been tending their vineyards for over three generations and make a marsala wine that meets the highest standards. Several years ago, during harvest time, Damian personally visited many of the local winemakers in the Marsala region, and decided that the Lombardos sense of familigia, dedication to the earth and its bounties, and commitment to quality were most simpatico with Carrabba’s core values. Today Lombardo is the only marsala wine used at Carrabba's... and if you haven't tried Carrabba's sirloin marsala, man, you're missing something...

I've also had the privilege to meet the Borges family, who Damian discovered in Lleida, Spain, and whose ancestors have been growing olives on the same land for hundreds of years... theirs is the only extra virgin olive oil used at Carrabba's....NO CANNOLA OIL HERE!!!!!

I've been up to Prince Edward Island to meet local fisherman Bob and Brian Fortune who farm raise their mussels for 18 months so they taste fresh and juicy and look like black diamonds...

I watched their faces when they tasted Carrabba's famous steamed mussels made for them courtesy of Johnny Carrabba... I never saw two happier folks.

More than anything, J&D know that great Italian food is based on fresh herbs... and Carrabba's gets their herbs in every day, and only buy enough for that day so that they have all there essential oils... until he passed away two years ago they got all their herbs from a retired geologist called Sol Meltzer -- being as affectionate as they are, even though he wasn't their uncle, Johnny and Damian called him Uncle Sol... it made him feel special...

Johnny and Damian have that same personalf relationship with every supplier, grower, and individual they do business with.They demand the best! It's amazing how many letters they get from people who --even though they know that it is-- are so impressed with the quality of the food and the ingredients at Carrabba's, they can't believe it's a chain.

Hey, I know nothing's always perfect.. there have been times when the alfredo sauce has been a little gloppy, and i've had chicken marsala that's too salty... but the way Carrabba's does business, you tell someone you have a problem and they'll go out of their way to take care of it for you. Joe H -- thanks for giving Carrabba's the benefit of the doubt... much more often than not you will be delighted when you eat there.

Beans, I'm truly sorry about your olive oil experience--- but you should have told somebody.Talked to the manager or proprietor-- those guys are in the restaurant almost every single night. I guarantee someone would have made it right. That's what this company is about... Johnny says it best when he says, "The best compliment we can get is when people walk out of the door happy."

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Frankly, it would be my hope that someone at Outback corporate would read this and do something about the lack of quality control and virtual prostitution of the franchise name in Centreville, VA.  It is THAT bad.

Scary

They really maybe probably don't care....

Well, I must say, I'm impressed. alporcini from

Tampa, eh?

The radio ads could be a little less annoying, no?

Edited by morela (log)

...

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Frankly, it would be my hope that someone at Outback corporate would read this and do something about the lack of quality control and virtual prostitution of the franchise name in Centreville, VA.  It is THAT bad.

Scary

They really maybe probably don't care....

Well, I must say, I'm impressed. alporcini from

Tampa, eh?

The radio ads could be a little less annoying, no?

Interesting, I did not know that Flemings was owned by Outback.

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In fairness, I have not given Carrabba's a second shot in another location. Perhaps in another location I will get my reserved table in a reasonable amount of time. Perhaps in another location I won't have to stand with my face in a stranger's armpit (I'm short) while waiting over an hour for that reserved table. Perhaps the calming beverage that I drink to distract me from said armpit won't get knocked out of my hand by a passing waitperson... not their fault, after all I, and about 50 other people, am in their way. Perhaps my seafood entree will come with a generous portion of seafood. I am not a patient person, but I am not an unreasonable person either. If I have a reservation, I expect a table in a reasonable amount of time... 20 minutes? I expect that if I do have to wait, that I can do so in a bar area where I don't have to fight for a seat or even a place to lean. I shouldn't have to feel like I have wandered into a mosh pit while someone is trying to pass me my glass of wine from the bar. I'm sure that the people that own Carrabba's/Outback are awesome people. I'm sure that they love food just as much as I do. All I'm saying is that chain dining has certain pitfalls that just aren't worth the mediocre food and utterly annoying atmosphere. That sangria was damn good... but not good enough.

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