Saturday, January 19, 2008

Italian Grille

This restaurant is now closed. The Toasted Yolk is now in that location.

Restaurant: Italian Grille
Type: Italian
Address/phone/web address:

View Larger Map
2129C W Davis St, Conroe, TX
(936) 539-3839

Price range: Mid-range for lunch; slightly expensive for dinner
Local establishment or chain: local
Exterior Cleanliness: 10
Interior Cleanliness: 10
Service:
Hostess: 10
Waitstaff: 10
Food rating: 10
Overall rating: 10
You should order: I’ve never had anything bad
You should stay away from: The desserts

So I’ve waited a week to review Italian Grille, and that is a mistake. I won’t be waiting that long again. Also, I was more interested in socializing with my co-workers and friends than on what I was going to write in this review. My memory of the experience is a bit sketchy, so I’ll keep it short and sweet.

If you want some excellent Italian food in Conroe, this is the place to go. The bread and olive oil dipping goo is excellent. Make sure everyone at the table eats some because the garlic is really strong. I pity the fool who has to hang out with a bunch of people with garlic breath!

I actually visited Italian Grille twice in one day. It was our work-day for teachers in Conroe ISD, and any chance we get, we teachers like to go out in the free world for lunch. Oh, how I can’t wait to eat lunch every day in the real world, but that’s another blog. I don’t think they were expecting the crowd, but the service was still very good. Now to the important part: the food. I had the Tuscan Chicken Sandwich. It was a darn good sandwich. I think I want another right now. It had some really creamy cheesy stuff spread on flat bread that blended well with the chicken and red peppers. I will definitely order that again.

For dinner, I met up with a couple of friends, Jess and Karen. Karen brought along Tori, and it was very nice meeting her, too. I had the Chicken Marsala. It was good, too, but not as good as that sandwich. The marsala sauce was a bit thin, but it had a good flavor. It came with a whole side of spaghetti and marinara which I took home. But I swear, since I’ve turned 30, my memory is starting to go. I left it in my car overnight and had to throw it away. I’m sure it would have tasted very good because my dog wolfed it down in about 3 seconds. Oh, he just told me to tell you it was the best he’d eaten.

The only reason I say to stay away from the desserts is because they seem a bit Sysco-ish. I don’t think they are made on the premises, so they’re nothing special. They’re certainly not bad, but they’ve been open and established long enough where they could start making some improvements in that area. A crème brulee or a better tiramisu would be super and make this the perfect Italian eatery.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Bing's Asian Bistro

Restaurant: Bing’s Asian Bistro

Type: uhh—Asian

Address/phone/web address:

View Larger Map
13731 W FM 1097
Willis, Texas 77318
Phone: 936-890-8868
Fax: 936-890-8818

Price range: Upper mid-range for dinner/ lower mid-range for lunch

Local establishment or chain: Local

Exterior Cleanliness: 10

Interior Cleanliness: 10

Service:
Hostess: 7
Waitstaff: 9

Food rating: 9.5

Overall rating: 9.1

You should order: Honey Crispy Chicken; Orange Peel Chicken; Orange Peel Beef; steamed dumplings

You should stay away from: Hot and Sour Soup; eggrolls

What can I say? I love Bing’s! I’ve never seen a health department report in The Courier, but I have a feeling it would be a good rating. Once again, Jason and I used a gift certificate we won at the Hydrate Hope fundraiser back in November. No, you are not experiencing dejavu. You’ve read that sentence before. I’ve visited Bing’s several times before, and have enjoyed it each time.

We ordered some steamed dumplings for an appetizer. The steamed dumplings take a while, but they are worth the wait. They are seasoned very well, and I love the sauce it’s served with.

This time, I ordered the Orange Peel Beef as my entrée choice. It was good, but the Orange Peel Chicken is better. It’s a little more tangy than Sweet and Sour dishes, and that’s why I like it. The batter also seems to be a little different. I was also excited when the waiter asked if I wanted white or brown rice. If you read Chewing and Reviewing regularly, you know I don’t like white rice, so I was delighted to have brown.

A manager (owner?) visited our table several times and was very friendly and accommodating. Our table had a slight wobble and he fixed it on the spot. Our drinks were refilled promptly and with a smile. If you like Chinese food, you need to head out to Willis and give it a try.

Macaroni Grill

Restaurant: Macaroni Grill

Type: Italian

Address/phone/web address:

View Larger Map
1155 Lake Woodlands Dr.The Woodlands, TX 77380281-367-3773
http://www.macaronigrill.com/

Price range: Mid-range; prices are in line with quality

Local establishment or chain: Chain owned by Brinker International based in Dallas

Exterior Cleanliness: 9

Interior Cleanliness: 9

Service:
Hostess: 8
Waitstaff: 9

Food rating: 7

Overall rating: 8.4

You should order: Vodka Rustica; Pollo Magro “skinny chicken”

You should stay away from: the bathroom

Well, it was time to use another gift card we won at the Hydrate Hope fundraiser in November. We had a gift card from Chili’s (not my favorite), but the card could be used at any of the “sister” restaurants, with Macaroni Grill being one of them. We decided to go there after signing our lease for our Learning Rx franchise.

First of all, don’t go to the bathroom in this place unless it’s an emergency. They play some stupid “How to Speak Italian” tape so loudly you want to cry. I couldn’t get out of there quick enough. It’s horrible. However, that’s pretty much the only thing I don’t like about Macaroni Grill. Well, the bread ain’t so great either.

I started off with a Caesar Salad. The lettuce was fresh and crisp. It satisfied my craving for a good Caesar Salad. Now the bread is another story. There is some spice in there that I don’t care for. The olive oil for dipping needs some garlic in it. It’s kinda plain. I prefer the bread and dipping sauce at Italian Grille in Conroe (I’ll review that one soon).

I have enjoyed all the entrees I’ve ordered there. The Pollo Magro is very good if you are looking for something on the “light” side. The balsamic glaze is tangy and has lots of flavor. This time I threw caution to the wind ordered the Vodka Rustica—something I’ve never had before. I love the Gnocchi with Vodka Sauce at Maggiano’s (also owned by Brinker), so I figured the vodka cream sauce here would be pretty good. And it was. I also had whole wheat pasta instead of the regular stuff. Hey—I was trying to be a little more healthy. The portions were very large, so I had enough for lunch the next day.

Since I was going to write a review for this place, I decided to order some dessert. Isn’t that a great excuse for eating sweets? It’s for the people, man! I ordered the Dessert Ravioli. It was like a melted Snickers bar stuffed into ravioli and fried. Pretty good, but I’m not sure if I’d order it again. I think I’d rather have the Snickers.

So basically, when you go to Macaroni Grill, skip the bathroom, bread, and dessert and stick to the salad and entrees.