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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

East Side Sario's...I mean Mario's

This is a picture of the Chicken Marsala I had last night at East Side Marios in Lakewood, CA, to be called East Side Sario's in our house from now on. It appears that I have eaten half my chicken before taking the picture, appearances can be deceiving however since this was taken right after it was set in front of me. I had to put my fork in the picture for a size reference to how small the serving of the "tender boneless chicken breast seasoned with cracked black peppercorns, sauteed with mushrooms and Marsala wine" actually was. For $14.79 one would expect a whole chicken breast for a dinner entree, instead I received what amounted to a half breast, and a small one at that; or at least have the accompanying side dish not be two to three times the size of the protein. The Marsala based sauce tasted like canned gravy and overall the dish was not good. Our server asked how the meal was after service and I pointed to the piece of chicken and said, "I am disappointed in the size of the portion of chicken, is this the regular serving?" To which she replied, "Yes that is the normal least you have a lot of potatoes."

Leslie and I went to East Side Sario's because we had been given a gift certificate for $50.00 and decided to use if for our date night. We had a beer in the bar, great value of a large Stella Artois at $4.49 Happy Hour prices, then moved to the dining area--which was dark and cold. We shared a pizza (New York Classic) which was good, but for the price I would rather spend a few more bucks and get Catalano's (Carson and Orange in Bixby Knolls section of Long Beach). Then had our entrees.

The entrees came with a pretty good salad, Leslie really liked it, I was a bit luke warm as they had a considerable amount of crunchy noodles on top. Then our entrees arrived. Leslie had the Sizzling Chianti Steak which is billed as tri-tip but was not that cut and it was over cooked for her order. Tasted okay but again not worth the price ($15.99--note my pennies may be off on the prices but pretty close).

Will we go back to East Side Sario's again? Probably not, if we do it would be for a beer before eating somewhere else, or if we do eat there maybe try one of the pastas. On the plus side, after $11 for the beers in the bar and the $64 for the dinner with the kindness of the gift card it only cost $25 to discover a place to stay away from in the future. Note that East Side Mario's is a brand of the Marie Callender's chains, further disappointing me given the quality I have experienced at every Marie Callender's I have visited.

UPDATE: Not one to hit and run I did make a comment on the ESM/MarieC's website and the General Manager of the East Side Mario's store did contact me, asked about my experience and offered a free Sunday brunch or dinner for two. I told him I did not make the comments merely to get a free meal, but he insisted and sent us a dinner for two. I admire that he took the time to call and see what the situation was, however it seems he was more upset with the server's comments than that the portions of chicken in the entree are miniscule. Today the letter arrived for 2 free entrees--I don't think we will use the freebies as 1) it feels like I contacted them just to get a free meal and 2) frankly not sure what there is to eat there I would want to go back for--except the cheap Stella's at Happy Hour and friend Julie H. indicates a better deal at Curley's in Signal Hill for Stella!

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