|A newfangled teabag|
|The confusing sweetener options|
Anyway, I chose to start with soup instead of salad because I was cold! Soup sounded warming and comforting.
|Chicken & Gnocchi Soup|
We also received a basket of the breadsticks:
|Appetizer Platter, we chose 3 appetizers: Calamari with Mustard Sauce, Fried Mozzarella with Marinara, and Stuffed Mushrooms|
The fried mozzarella was OK and the marinara was OK.
|Grilled Shrimp Caprese|
|Ravioli di Portobello|
I know I am just as guilty as other food bloggers in being a bit 'snobby' towards chain restaurants. The fact of the matter is, not all chains are horrible. Yes, most of the food is pre-made and all they have to do is cook it. They aren't whipping up a marinade from scratch or baking their own bread or making fresh pasta. And that's OK. This was a perfectly decent, tasty lunch, and we had leftovers for another lunch.
My issue is that, for instance, SP's Shrimp Caprese was $16, and for $16 we could get a fresher, completely homemade, tastier pasta dish at Piccolo Forno or Osteria 2350. Even my ravioli was $12, and given a choice, I'd rather pay another $2-$4 more for homemade ravioli at one of the above mentioned places.
If we hadn't had the gift card and a coupon, we probably would have just hit the mall food court for a Subway or a soft pretzel. This was a nice lunch date, especially since we had separate plans for the evening, and it was nice to relax and be out of the hustle and bustle of the mall. Our server was very friendly. She kept SP's iced tea filled. She asked if we wanted our soup or appetizer first, informing us that the appetizer could take up to 10 minutes to come out because of cooking/broiling the mushroom caps. A manager was walking around, checking on customers, too, and I thought that was nice.
And chains certainly are good locations for families with small children. They are less formal and more spacious than some of the places at which we dine in Lawrenceville or East Liberty, places that would not be good for children.
All in all, a good lunch.