An informal surprise party was thrown when she turned 80. Surrounded by friends and family (she has 8 living grandchildren, 1 great grand-daughter at the time and was predeceased by one grandson) and was overwhelmed and brought to tears when she took it all in. Don't tell her, but I'm hoping we can hold a smaller but upgraded version for her 85th - some place nice perhaps on the Hudson River.
Meanwhile, for 83 I suggested the Mr. and I take her out for dinner. The gathering grew to include the Mr.'s sister and her family. Initially, I named a locally owned lobster restaurant, but my MIL was mildly confused and thought I meant the lobster restaurant chain and said, "I have a coupon." Ok, we can do that instead.
On the evening of her birthday, one granddaughter bought a beautiful corsage which the birthday girl wore with pride.
We were seated fairly quickly and 2 servers were provided to take care of our party of 9 which later grew to 10 when my younger son finsihed work for the evening. We ordered 2 appetizers, one lobster pizza and one warm artichoke dip with nacho chips.
Next were salads. Yes, about 99% of the time I ask for my salad without dressing. This has nothing to do with fats or calories, but everything to do with taste. I want to taste the vegetables in my salad, not a big glop of dressing. I notice the chain has fancied up their salads by dicing ingredients fairly small. Neither like nor dislike - just an observation.
My meal. Yes, it is a horrendous, heaping portion I will never finish in one sitting. However, it also came at a fairly peak price for a chain dining meal. This was no $9.95 special.
One family member ordered fish en papillion - fish prepared in parchment paper. While it appears pretty, she was not happy with the scorched paper or many of the soggy vegetables.
Notice the change in portion size in the salmon dish below. While yes, this was less expensive than the first two dishes, it seems a bit less carefully plated and a lot less filling. What about balance?
Many of the rest of the family ordered mix and match meals commonly referred to as Feasts. Sort of the same idea as old school Chinese restaurants, selecting one dish from column a and one from b. The portion size was a bit more fair and consistent. Have to admit, I had a few of my son's fries.
Did we laugh, yes. Were we happy to celebrate the Grand Dame's birthday? Yes. Did the server's come over with candle lit slice of cake and sing the obligatory song? Yes. Did our server take a group photo for me with my phone? Yes.
However, when the bill came, it did not seem to match the quality and amount of food we received. This is a restaurant that nationally advertises to families and stresses their value. Not every restaurant deserves a glowing recommendation on the blog and in kindness I will not name them in case ours was a unique bad experience. We had a lovely time and felt Fed Well, but I for us we see value differently.