by Bran Y. on
Once upon a time, a much less rounder Bran was planning her budget wedding in big D. Plan: avoid the typical wedding where 3/4 of the $$ is spent on how things look while guests are forced to contemplate cannibalism after waiting 1-2 hours for the wedding party to show up at the reception, only to be faced with near congealed buffets of dehydrated stuffed mushrooms and chicken marsala jerky. Seriously people, if someone can show up lugging a mixer, wearing heels AND pantyhose for you, you can't feed them well? So tasty food was going to be the focus, and lots of it. Enter Maggianos. It was the place younger, lighter income us went to pretend like we were spiffing it up but for less than $35. They had a lovely ballroom upstairs, and massive amounts of food for a low looooow price. Result: our guests didn't leave the reception, they roolllllled out of the reception. Ten years later, people still bring up the food (really, not even one mention about the flowers? Hey, I was one of the first to do CD favors! Hello?? Ok, ok, I made my choices.) Now this was just a few years into Brinkers take-over of Maggianos. Less tinkering had been done: better bread, less mass production, some lovely dishes that are no longer with us today. *sniff* and that wonderful Black Currant tea *sigh* But I have to say that today, after all this time, the heart is still there and we still have a soft place in the growling portion of our stomach for Maggianos. We've eaten at about 5 locations of Maggianos, and the Domain is holding up okay, though it's still earning its bones. Little rough around the edges service wise, but they try hard. I will have to admit that apart from my wedding, I've never eaten any entree at Maggianos other than the Rigatoni D. I know, I know, how about rounding out the palate there Bran? But it's just THAT good. Light cream sauce, fresh plump mushrooms and caramelized onions slightly sweetened from the Marsala wine, and freshly roasted chicken (note the absence of chicken strips that looked like they've been cloned from a master strip). So you know what...for all I know Maggianos may have some really suckage entrees. But not this one, oh no...not this one. We also always order the large caesar, with its huge shavings of parmesan and lighter dressing. I finally branched out recently to their chopped salad and oh yes, oh my, just as good. Appetizer wise, we usually skip b/c we really want to be able to breathe at the end of dinner. But whenever by Dallas family visits Magg's, it's not impossible that someone is going to get stabbed one day trying to take the last of the Calamari. Finally, I will go out on a ledge here and say I have never had better Tiramisu than at Maggianos. I hate to beat that drum again, but yes, it used to be a little better, fresher tasting so many years back. Oh but this version still whips the ass of the many other overly-soaked, mushy, weak Tiramisus around. Though to be fair, I do have a sick, sick fascination with mascarpone, of which this has an abundance. But the annoying thing is that their cheesecake is just as good -- velvety, tangy, HUGE. Oh decisions! I honestly can only think of one or two places that can touch the cheesecake (certainly not that wretched Cheesecake Factory). And the best part of this is portions are ginormous. DH and I can go in, split the large salad, split the pasta (with some leftover to take home), split a dessert and spend only about $30, but still be stuffed to our gills. In short, is this authentic little grandmother slaving over a hot pot Italian? Oh duh...why would you think it would be? But it's just darn good, it's a nice dining experience overall, and it's affordable. Maggianos manages to do what it's competitors like Olive Garden, Carinos and Bucca (ack, ptooey, glue pasta!) can't come close to doing: be a chain without feeling like a chain.
by Libby Lundburg on
After three days of Thanksgiving gluttony, I found myself back at home with my sister, her boyfriend, my fiance, and a bunch of leftovers in the fridge. Despite the deliciousness of said leftovers, as dinner time approached, we were all a little wary of eating roast beef and/or turkey AGAIN. So, we decided to go out and try Top Flr. We were led upstairs to the "Top Flr" and sis and I decided to start with an insanely reasonable $6/glass cava. The boys ordered beers--well, they tried to, but sadly the bar was out of their first two choices. Disappointing, as they had less than a dozen (if I remember correctly) on the menu. For appetizers, we chose the white bean hummus and the lamb skewers. The former was a large portion with good grilled pita and some grilled, marinated artichokes, and it was tasty, though a bit undersalted. The latter consisted of three skewers of tender lamb with an INSANELY good yogurt sauce and some very flavorful couscous. In both cases, I think the prices were very reasonable, given the ingredients and the amount of food. We tried both of the salads on the menu, and we immediately noticed differences between the menu descriptions and the ingredients on the plates; there were blackberries instead of figs, and there were raw pears instead of peaches. The salads were fresh and delicious--the honey lavender dressing with the chevre was a delightfully sweet treat, and the arugula had a great bite to it. However, if you're going to change key elements based on seasonal availability, you should probably spend the time and money to update your menus. For "entrees," we ordered some main-esque dishes and a few sides that piqued our collective interests. The duck confit pizza was well-received by the whole table, but I preferred the one with chorizo. Both had ample toppings and tasty flatbread crusts. We tried a pasta with sauteed shrimp, preserved lemon, chevre ravioli, and fennel, and while I found it to be WAY too heavy on the fennel, the rest of the table loved it and really enjoyed the way the lemon brought out the flavors of the shrimp and the cheese. Sides of purple potato hash and Mac 'n cheese were quite good, though I wish the potatoes in the hash had been more...well...hash-like (they were cubed instead of shredded, so they weren't all crispy). Sadly, desserts were not as successful as the rest of the meal. My filo-wrapped chocolate dumplings were drowning in an overpowering orange brandy sauce, and my sister's s'more featured non-melted chocolate and a marshmallow so burned that it was nearly impossible to chew (we did complain about that dish, so it was taken off our bill). The winner of the bunch was a moist pumpkin ginger pound cake served with maple ice cream. Coffee was good, and after-dinner drinks were reasonably priced. Service was friendly and knowledgeable, though a bit slow at times. After all of the food and drinks, and with a nice tip, the total worked out to be about $100-$110 per couple. You could definitely eat well for less, as we probably ordered more food than we should have. Given the enjoyable experience and how close it is to my place, I will definitely return to Top Flr.
by Steeeeeeeve H. on
A: "So is there anything going on tonight?" B: "Hmph, none that I know of..." A: "Wanna go to Park?" B: "Hollah." Being one of the few places where I frequent regularly, Park has proved from time to time that it is a fun venue to just kick back and relax. The venue is enormous with outdoor seating for low-key lounging and an upstair terrace for those willing to get down and dirty. Best of all, there is no cover. Catch this place on a bumping night and you just might see something scandalous happening in the hot tub on the terrace. The only reason Park did not receive five stars is because of the crowded bar. Despite the fact that there are three separate bars, it is still at times frustrating to get a drink.