God I love that place. I swear I am never disappointed when I go there. The food is always amazing, and exactly the same as it was the last time I was there, which is really important to me. If I'm going to patronize a restaurant multiple times, consistency is key. I'm coming there for great food, not surprises. Me no like surprises, especially ones that are going in my mouth.
Anywho, we got there around 7 and were expecting a good 20-30 minute wait, as it's always packed there on the weekends. Fortunately, I must have had some magic birthday forcefield around me, because the wait was exactly 0 minutes and 0 seconds. God, I love my birthday.
First up we ordered the appetizer sampler which we never do, but hell, it's my birthday!
Calamari- Delicious! The calamari are lightly seasoned and battered, so the fried crust doesn't overwhelm. We only had the marinara sauce, but I hear the lemon butter sauce is amazing, too!
Bruschette- Mind-blowingly good. The brushette is always chef's choice of toppings, so we rolled the dice and got a tomato/kalamata olive/basil combo with parmesan shavings. I generally don't like raw tomatoes or olives, but wow, this was amazing.
Mozzarella Sticks- Fortunately there were only a few on the plate, because fried cheese will kill you. They were good, but certainly the most bland appetizer of them all. They could have used a bit more seasoning.
Of course, there's always a salad or soup course between the appetizers and the entree. I believe I've ordered soup once. It was a tasty, but never has a soup or salad help a candle to Carrabba's Ceasar Salad:
Ceasar Salad: The lettuce is always green, fresh, and perfectly cold with just a few salty, garlicy croutons and a generous portion of grated parmesan. The star of the salad, however, is the ceasar dressing. So. Damn. Good. It's homemade, seasoned perfectly, and if you try really hard you can pick up a tiny hint of anchovy. It is insanely good. I could quite possibly eat this salad everyday.
Okay, okay, enough about salad. I suppose you want you hear about the entree. Whenever we go to Carrabba's I basically choose between two entrees. Hey, I like to stick to what I know. I either order the Spiedino Di Mare (crusted, seared shrimp and scallops) or the Chicken Trio (a 1/2 breast sampling of their three most popular chicken dishes). That night I just happened to go for the Chicken Trio:
Chicken Marsala: The chicken marsala is a seared chicken breast, seasoned to perfection, then covered in a marsala wine sauce with mushrooms, shallots, and prosciutto. Trust me, it's just as delicious as it sounds. If you're a fan of mushrooms, which I am, you'll absolutely love this dish.
Pollo Rosa Maria: So, so, sooo good. It's a chicken breast, butterflied and stuffed with prosciutto and fontina cheese (slightly sweet, unbelieveably creamy, melts amazingly) then seasoned and seared. Once cooked through, it's covered in a lemon basil sauce and topped with sauteed mushrooms. That damn lemon basil sauce it to die for. I highly, highly recommend.
Chicken Bryan: This dish should come with a warning. I'm thinking something to the tune of, "if you eat this, you could die". It's that good. I'm not even kidding. The chicken bryan is by far my favorite of the three, and they all get high marks, so that's saying a lot. Just like the others, it's a seasoned and seared chicken breast, but the bryan is topped with a goat cheese medallion (creamy, tangy, crazy good), fresh basil, and sundried tomatoes. I think I just drooled on my keyboard. Oh, and did I mention that it's also drizzled with the same mind-blowing lemon basil sauce from the rosa maria? Well, it is. All the flavors work so well together, it's like a party in your mouth.
We left Carraba's extremely satisfied with to-go boxes in hand (that was a lot of food!). And no, he didn't torture me with the in-restaurant birthday song, thankfully!
Do you have a go-to birthday restaurant? What is it? Have you ever experienced the Chicken Trio magic?
Next Up: Getting taking for a ride! (by a horse, of course)