We went to Maggiano's in Bellevue for dinner last night. I had been there once for a corporate event, but that is not the same as the actual dining room experience. We were seated right away and greeted promptly by our very energetic waitress (this was in contrast to our experience at a different establishment on Saturday when we were ignored for ten minutes, after which we went and talked to the manager and finally got some service). The perky gal asked us if we had ever been there before and when we said no, she said that she would get something special for us. This I found confusing, and kind of dismissed, until the executive chef herself came out from the kitchen with a complimentary appetizer and thanked us for coming in and thanked our waitress for introducing us.
I love it when restaurants take that extra step. They could have just provided good food and prompt service and it would have been fine. But taking the time to make a personal gesture went a long way. It also seemed to be a corporate culture-the front of the house manager also stopped by to ask us how our evening was going.
The food was excellent by the way-some of the best manicotti I have ever tasted (the chicken was so tender, it was almost like crab) and Jer's butternut squash ravioli was fabulous. And they had a great program where you could choose two half-portions of pasta, eating one at the table and having the other packaged and ready at the end of the meal. So you paid a normal entree price, but ate a reasonable amount, and had leftovers ready for you. Much healthier portions and a smart way to create value for the customer.
The dessert wasn't spectacular (I'm really not a fan of dry cake) but the wine and coffee were good and the entire experience was enjoyable. So if you find yourself over at Lincoln Square one evening and want a really great Italian food experience, try out Maggiano's.
Since we are talking about food, I should share that we have the menu set for our reception. Jer's chef friends Aaron H and Jamie K collaborated on the menu and Aaron will be cooking up the goods. We wanted a tapas-style setup-with an afternoon reception and a huge guest list we didn't want a full sit-down meal. Somehow through the discussion of our food likes and dislikes and their amazing creativity they came up with this fabulous list of tastiness:
-Moroccan Seared Beef
-Roasted Portabella Mushrooms with Lemon zest and truffle oil
-Sweet Grilled Butternut squash with Coriander
-Molasses roasted pears
-Mediterranean spiced risotto
-Muhumarra with walnut oil and Pomegranate Molasses
-Hummus with Roasted garlic and cumin
-Grilled flat bread with fig jam and olive oil
-Fresh Spinach with Garlic, roasted red pepper and lemon
I love the Mediterranean theme (it's kind of an unconscious nod to my Syrian heritage), as well as the inclusion of figs, since that is my animal/vegetable/mineral alter ego (if this confuses you, talk to my roommate Bethany). And really, these are some of my favorite foods: mushrooms, squash, red pepper, pears, hummus, spinach. I am very excited to have these tastes and smells at my reception. I only hope I get to eat a bite of everything in the midst of the celebration!