Sunday, December 30, 2007

Two Nights at Two Restaurants. How'd we do?

The tried and true worked again. Ruffino's and Mi Cocina's.

For many years our family has gone out for dinner on Christmas eve. It started when the children were young, because, we thought, getting them out of the house, fed and maybe a little tired would help later getting them to bed and to sleep. And also for the simple reason that everyone had been busy preparing for the holidays, especially mom. It's also a nice lead up to midnight mass nowadays and gets everyone in a calm, more Christmas-like frame of mind (the Cabernet doesn't hurt either).

For the last 10 years we have gone to the Macaroni Grill on University because it was open and no one else was. This year we arrived around 7:30 and found a waiting list of 45 minutes. My daughter loves Ruffino's so we changed plans and drove south and east about a mile to Forest Park. The food was great, as usual. The restaurant was busy but well staffed. Our table and its setting were perfect. Four of us ordered the Roasted Chicken Tagliatelle, a breast of chicken with pasta in a creamy mushroom sauce -- and served very hot. Ruffino's is a good restaurant in a dining atmosphere and everything is done well . . . except the rolls, which taste like a store bought variety. They lack flavor, texture and temperature -- bad idea at an Italian restaurant. Total tab after tip, about $165, including a beer or two, one glass of wine and no dessert. A much better choice than Macaroni Grill and well worth the extra expense.

Second restaurant -- 5 days later, at Mi Cocina's downtown. 6 adults, 1 child. Friday night, 15 minute wait. Great food, great service. Good price. Mi Cocina's is a good restaurant, too. Not great, but good. They know who they are and what their patrons want: hot tasty Mexican food, fresh corn chips, good salsa. The server was perfect and the other staff make it a great evening eating out. A little less expensive at $130 with tip, including a few bottles of beer and a Mojito ... (one guess who had that).

I love trying new restaurants but during the Christmas holidays, I stay with what I know everyone will enjoy.

The picture is Trastevere in Rome (across the Tiber), a great place for restaurants in Italy.


Andrew said...

One comment about Ruffino's: they need to change the decor. The circa-1991 hotel decorations don't help create the desired Italian Bistro feel.

Francis Shivone said...