Amy and Joanne write:
Happy New Year from Joanne and Amy!
For our first excursion of the new year, we chose Uno's Chicago Grill, or what used to be known as "Pizzeria Uno," or even simply, "Uno's." This evening we went to the one located in Manchester to see a man about a coupon. We all know that January, or what we like to call "Holiday Rehab," is a good time for a great deal, which is what we got via email from UCG: Buy one entree and get a free 6-oz. sirloin steak meal. Works for us.
Even though we were sans coupon, we mentioned the "Insiders" deal to the bartender who quickly produced a reasonable facsimile. Upon questioning, she touted the virtues of the new steak deal and suggested we order it medium or medium-rare (apparently to reduce shrinkage...). We got comfortable, started shelling the pre-appetizer peanuts, ordered our wine and gave the bartender the particulars of our entrees.
Today was not a day to restrict red meat intake, so we both chose the 6 oz. sirloin dinner, with a choice of two sides. We both chose to start with salads; to accompany our steaks, I ordered roasted vegetables, Amy ordered steamed.
The salads were mediocre at best. Think bagged lettuce complete with dry shredded carrots. Add one red onion ring, a couple coins of cucumber, a quarter wintry-pale tomato and croutons made from leftover bread that could have used another 5 minutes on 350 degrees, and there you have it. Unfortunately, the blue cheese dressing (oh, yeah, no skimping on salad dressing today either--midterms are coming up and we have a professional development workshop to sit through tomorrow afternoon!) was not able to redeem the salad. There was little authentic blue cheese flavor so the tanginess was out of place-- more likely from buttermilk than blue cheese. The blue cheese hurt my tongue.
The vegetables were weak, too. Roasted or steamed (we each ordered one kind), they both included bell peppers which overtook the flavor of all the other vegetables present. In fact, when our plates were placed in front of us, that was the predominant aroma: bell peppers.
Fortunately, the steak, which was the main attraction, delivered. Though there was little difference between mine (medium) and Amy's (medium rare), they were both juicy and tender and tasty, seasoned well. We enjoyed our steaks as well as the freshly baked Parmesan-dusted bread sticks that filled any leftover space in our stomachs not filled by those veggies.
Sitting at the bar, by definition, means your server will be the bartender, and today, she was one who recognized us from previous happy hours. She was attentive without hovering, familiar without creepiness, and honest without condescension. While complimenting our accessories, she smiled often and made us feel welcome. She enthusiastically recommended the steaks and willingly over poured our wines. The "minus" attached to the "A" comes from the fact that she left us without silverware, took a stress-inducing phone call in front of us, and at one point, left the bar (and our empty wine glasses!) unattended for several minutes. We have high standards!
Our server came closer to meeting our standards than the food did. The 6 ounce piece of meat was okay, but steak dinner was disappointing--definitely not as good as one served at one of our similarly priced restaurant favorites. But given that we were at what used to be a pizza joint, it definitely gets passing grades. And let's not forget, we had a coupon.
Bottom line: print a coupon and we will come.