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Can A U. S. Chain Restaurant Have A Dish Worthy Of Bologna?


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Can A U. S. Chain Restaurant Have A Dish Worthy Of Bologna?

Joe H. | Mar 31, 2002 08:46 PM

Now that I've broken down the barriers and actually confessed to eating frozen food that I like I've decided to go one step further. There's a national chain restaurant that has a dish worthy of a two or three star in Italy.

I'm serious.

Carraba's opened this past week in Reston and is owned by the Outback Steakhouse group. There are two locations in D. C. and, I believe, several in the Baltimore area. Among the more interesting features of this cloned vanilla dinner house are the trees and shrubs growing out of the roof.
Sitting at the bar my wife and I were graciously offered several slices of their brick oven pizza. It was awful. Sixty minutes into the wait I thought that I was seriously beginning to long for Olive Garden or the Macaroni Grill. People around me were being served dishes that looked like they could have been prepared in either of these.
After being seated we found our waiter to be very enthusiastic. He'd been brought over from their Germantown store to help with the opening. His enthusiasm helped and I ordered what the menu called "Chicken Brian."
After a mediocre casesar salad and some "o.k." bread a runner delivered the Chicken Brian. It looked interesting, actually not quite what I expected. Sort of like it might have been at home in an upscale southern Italian restaurant where someone's grandmother was in the kitchen, assuming she could cook.
I took my first bite and, my God, it was delicious. I mean really seriously unbelievably embarassingly good.
The second bite was even better.
My wife noted that I was moaning eating this and asked if she could have a bite. Afteer she swallowed I noted that her eyes rolled back in her head!
Chicken Brian are boneless, skinless chicken breasts grilled with a 1/3 inch thick rectangle of goat cheese melted on top along with sundried tomatoes and coated with a sauce of butter and lemon. It is such a simple dish that it seems that someone, somewhere must have made a fortune having discovered it.
But I've never had anything like this before.
I don't know much about the rest of the menu but the place feels like an Italian Outback. The wine is o.k. and the Chicken Brian is something like $14 or 15.00 which seemed to me a bargain for an orgasmically good entree in a place where I never expected it.

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