Local Houston Eats: Service and Food Review by @NowWithNicole

Review of the service and food of 4 Houston restaurants by Nicole Huffman Hollins. You can read more from Nicole at NowWithNicole.com.

Latest Houston Service & Food Reviews

Ever since an unfortunate experience with a local Houston steakhouse, you may read about it here, it was decided that a portion of the Now With Nicole blog and tweets would be dedicated to the service (and sometimes food) in local Houston restaurants. Besides, after seeing so many servers putting customers on blast with receipts showing less than the 15% tip they feel entitled to regardless of their behavior, we figured a little balance was in order. Today’s review covers the following restaurants: Carrabba’s, Little Maggiano’s, Grace’s Kitchen, and Olive Garden.

4 Houston Restaurants Service and Food Ratings

1.) Carrabba’s. Service Score- A+. Food Score- A+.

The original Carrabba’s on Kirby has some of the best service I have ever experienced. They are consistently on-point from their hostess to the actual servers. My husband and I went her for Valentine’s dinner. We were not disappointed. We were seated in a very private nook that appeared to be set-up for only 5 couples. Our server, Cesar, was outstanding. We will be requesting him when we return. The food was superb. The perfect, medium rare steak was delivered. I was a happy camper. Thanks, Carrabba’s for making Valentine’s Day 2015 a great one.

2.) Little Maggiano’s. Service Score- A+. Food Score- A+.

Located on Post Oak in the Galleria area, you will not regret giving this restaurant a try. The food was delicious. I had the Lemon Chicken Picatta and my husband ordered the lasagna. Both were terrific choices. The best part of the night, however, was Scott’s service. He is another one I will be asking for when- not if- we return to Little Maggiano’s.

Use some discretion when looking for a new gig on your current one.

3.) Grace’s Kitchen. Service Score- B-. Food Score- B.

Apart of the Carrabba’s family, my husband and I were looking forward to seeing what this restaurant had to offer. Located directly across from Carrabba’s on Kirby, Grace’s Kitchen had a very home feel as soon as we walked through the door. The decor was quite pretty and the hostess was very nice and- most importantly- professional. The service, though not close to bad, it was far from outstanding. It was not really anything to write home about; however, he did at least do his job. That is the reason he received what used to be our customary 20% before the unfortunate service incident mentioned above killed that for everyone. Our new tipping rule has us now starting at 0% and working our way up to what we feel you deserve instead of starting at 20% and working our way up or down based upon service.

The food was a solid B. The Chicken Fajita soup was fantastic. I gave it an A-, because it was good enough for me to get some to-go the next day. The roasted Brussel Sprouts were a B, Loaded Baked Potato Soup and Chips was a B, and my husband said the chili was a B, though the look on his face when he said it made me wonder if he was just being nice. All-in- all, I will return to Grace’s, but I would not put it at the top of my “must-do” list.

4.) Olive Garden. Service Score- C. Food Score- B-.

It’s Olive Garden, so truthfully, I did not expect much. The food was par for the course. It was typical Olive Garden fare- nothing fancy, nothing terrible. I went old school and had the Spaghetti, my son had the Chicken Sorrento, and I am unsure what my husband had. The spaghetti was fine, but it would have been better had I actually received the meatballs that I was supposed to receive. My son said that he enjoyed the chicken, but he felt it was a little dry. The server forgot to bring my husband his soup and me my salad, so we did not have the opportunity to taste those at the restaurant. This is one of the reasons that this server was the first to be affected by our new tipping rule.

A simple glance at our table would have clued her into the fact that we never received part of our meal. It is likely that she did not notice, however, because her head was not really into the game. Although she was very polite, more of her attention was on talking to the man at the table right next to us about going to his place of business and applying for a job. Not only did this take her focus away from her current job, this is a major “No” if you want to keep today’s position. You cannot be so obvious when seeking another opportunity. Use some discretion when looking for a new gig on your current one.

The other reason she only received 14% was because she either did not know the menu or she did not bother to ask us if we wanted the buy one, take one home special that came with the spaghetti. Either way, she had to cancel the previous request and ring it back up under the special pricing. This would not have occurred were she aware or- or paying attention to- what was on the menu. Despite the pleasant, but not very professional service, Olive Garden is generally our go-to place for soup and salad, and nothing happened that will stop us from returning whether it is to dine-in or grab something to-go.

You may follow Nicole on Twitter at NowWithNicole.

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