Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Bennigan's - Canton

Last night I visited Bennigan's Restaurant at 4926 Dressler Road in Canton. It is a national chain with an Irish theme and serves American food.

I, along with 4 friends, arrived at Bennigan's around 7:30. The restaurant's main dining room was empty but there were quite a few people in the bar area. I am sure that this was because of the college football national championship game on the big TV behind the bar.

We had chosen Bennigan's for dinner because we had coupons for $4.99 burgers, Turkey O'Toole (TOT) sandwiches, or Monte Cristo sandwiches. Everyone at the table ordered either the Monte Cristo or the TOT. Each sandwich came with french fries and free refills on the fries were offered. The TOT is my favorite thing at Bennigans. It is a hot turkey sandwich, with melted cheese and a honey mustard sauce, on a pretzel bun. The one I had last night was piled high with plenty of turkey. I thought that my fries were a little over-seasoned. I like pepper but I felt like they were overpowered with the pepper on this visit. My friends that had the Monte Cristo sandwiches also enjoyed their meals. The Monte Cristo has ham, turkey, and two kinds of cheese on wheat bread. It is then battered and deep fried, dusted with powdered sugar and served with a raspberry dipping sauce. It is actually two sandwiches, so it is plenty of food to share or to take home and have for another meal.

The service last night was much better than I have had on other visits to various Bennigan's restaurants. I am not sure if this was because of the particular server we had or the fact that we were the only customers in the dining room. At any rate, our server was very pleasant and made sure we had plenty of drink refills.

The restaurant seemed clean, which was also a change from previous visits. Again, I am not sure if the slow night had something to do with that, or if they are just keeping it cleaner than they did in the past.

Overall, I would give this visit to Bennigan's 4 out of 5 forks. The price was great because of our coupons, the food was good, the service was nice, and the restaurant was clean. The fifth fork is not given because nothing was extra special. A solidly good meal and experience, but not more than I would expect from a casual dining chain restaurant.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Carrabba's Italian Grill - North Canton

Last night I visited Carrabba's Italian Grill. It is located at 6560 Strip Ave NW in North Canton. It is a national chain restaurant featuring pasta and "wood fired" meats and pizzas.

I arrived at around 4:30 pm with a friend. We were quoted a 10-20 minute wait, but only waited about 5 minutes to be seated. Two other friends joined us.

The server was pleasant, but not overly friendly. He made sure our drinks were always refilled and checked on us several times, but did not become a nuisance. He did ask us if we had any questions about the menu and fulfilled all requests for "extras" such as extra salad dressing or a different side item than is offered on the menu.

All four of us enjoyed the food. Every one's dishes came out hot and prepared as we had asked. Two members of my party had the Chicken Trio. This is not an item listed on the menu, but you can ask for it. It is a half portion of each of the three chicken dishes - the Chicken Marsala, Pollo Rosa Maria, and Chicken Bryan. It comes with a pasta or potato side and salad or soup for a total of $19.49. I ordered the Pollo Rosa Maria. It is chicken stuffed with fontina cheese and prosciutto and topped with a butter lemon sauce and mushrooms. It also comes with a choice of side item and salad or soup for a total of $15.99. I thought that my chicken was cooked perfectly, done but still moist. My fettuccine alfredo was also cooked nicely - al dente and covered, but not dripping, in sauce. My salad was fine - the creamy parmesan dressing is always good and the lettuce was fresh and crisp. The bread that is brought to the table was excellent - warm from the oven, crispy outer crust with a soft interior. I also enjoy the olive oil and seasonings to dip it in although my friends all order extra creamy parmesan dressing as a bread topping. The fourth member of my party had the Sirloin Marsala for $17.49. She said the the steak was wonderful, very tender and smooth. She also said that the quality of the steak was better than that of steaks she has had at several steak restaurants lately.

The restaurant, although very busy, was clean. Our table and booth seats were clean and dry when we sat down. All the plates and silverware were clean and the cloth napkins were nice and white. The atmosphere of Carrabba's is generally nice, with low lighting and soft music. On this particular visit, it was rather noisy, but that was the fault of other customers and is addressed below in my rant section.

Overall, I would give this visit to Carrabba's Italian Grill 5 out of 5 forks. We received everything we asked for, just as we asked for it. I feel that the price is fair, as we had a filling portion of our entree and side, plus salad or soup, and all the bread we could eat. The server was very good and the restaurant was clean.

As an addition to this post, I would like to write about something that has nothing to do with Carrabba's itself, more to do with the lack of common courtesy of other customers of the restaurant. As anyone who has gone to the Strip shopping area on a weekend knows, Carrabba's becomes a very busy place at dinner time. As I mentioned earlier, we arrived well before the true dinner rush and had a short wait. By the time we left (around 5:30) the lobby and waiting area were packed. We were seated in a row of booths directly behind the hostess stand. I was on the inside seat of the booth, right by the half wall separating the booths from the bar/entrance area. There were people who were standing on the other side of this wall while waiting for their table. There were also three men standing in the dining room area of the restaurant, because the waiting area was so full. This made it hard for servers and customers to walk through these areas. It also made it hard for me to enjoy the conversation at my own table when I had two women talking right over my head. If you are waiting for a table and there is no room in the lobby or waiting area of a restaurant, please have some common courtesy for the people who are already seated and for the servers who need to go from the bar or kitchen to their customers. It was not that cold last night, people could have gone outside. Also, I know that Carrabba's offers call-ahead seating. Call an hour before, do some shopping, and then come over and have a short wait. I know that this may mean a small inconvenience to you, but wouldn't you want to eat your meal in a quieter, more relaxing atmosphere?

Saturday, January 6, 2007


Every time I visit a restaurant and have wonderful or horrible food and/or service I wish that there was a place to share this information with other people. With more and more families and individuals eating out on a regular basis, many restaurants are busy - even on weeknights.

This blog is dedicated to reviewing and discussing restaurants in the Canton, Ohio and surrounding areas (At times when I am travelling, I may also add restaurants from places other than Northeast Ohio). I hope to visit one to two restaurants per week and post a review of them here. I will cover all aspects of my dining experience, from the food, to how clean the floor was, to the service I received. After each post I hope that people from the area will comment and respond to my reviews, adding their own experiences with that particular establishment.

This blog will not be limited to a particular price range or style of restaurant. I will post about wherever I happen to eat. It may be fast food, casual dining places (national chains or locals) or fine dining. Also, I would love suggestions from readers on new places to try. Please post a comment on this introductory post if you have a favorite eatery in the area.

The first blog should be posted later tonight...I am going out for dinner!