CH and I went there yesterday at 5PM. We like all types of foods, and we like all types of restaurants. We want great food, great service and reasonably priced foods for what you get.
CH is a huge meat eater. I don't really eat much meat so we decided to let CH bask in meat heaven. Indeed, he was in heaven.
I really judge the service side in two parts. Many people indicate that they receive great service here but they don't really get into it. The gauchos (the guys that bring all the meats on the metal skewer things) give good service primarily b/c the concept of the restaurant revolves around them doing so. They see when your card is green-and come right up to you - "Excuse me, would you like to try X" - and then ask how you'd like your meat (med, med-rare, well done), etc. and give you a portion and then walk away. They are quick, to the point and then on to the next table.
Service outside of the gauchos-is actually pretty darn good. Server was prompt in explaining how it all worked, people bringing out the side dishes were quick, the food was hot, they topped off our wine glasses before we even noticed that we'd need them to be, manager came over half way into the meal...it was actually all pretty good. The "interruptions" at first, was hard to get used too-but CH would keep his card green-get about 4 things on his plate and then turn it to red so we could enjoy our meal together.
I only ordered the salad bar. Greens, limited fruit option, excellent proscuitto and italian salami, outstanding aged parm in chunks in a small barrel, marinated enoki mushrooms, roasted yellow and red peppers, a few non-worthy pasta salads, smoked salmon that was WAY oversalty for me compared to other smoked salmons, marinated artichokes, etc. The salad bar was enough for me-despite less carnivorous choices.
Final price tag-a bottle of mod-to-less expensive cab, one full meat dinner, one salad bar: $121.40 before tip.
Was the salad bar worth $24.50? No. It was maybe worth $15.00 for dinner and it did satisfy. The salad bar was superior in freshness and choices outside of a standard salad bar (think no goldfish crackers or cottage cheese). Does my CH think the $46.50 price tag was worth it? He actually did. He was able to try all different meats-and chose ones he liked to eat more than others (specially the tenderloin, dry-rub pork ribs and garlic-ancho rib eye) over say, the chicken. He was able to try the various beef choices in a variety of degrees (med, med-rare, well-done) when he's a standard medium guy. It was nice to try meats at different temperatures-when I'm in for a hefty steak at Manny's - you stick to what you're used too. I'm not comparing the two restaurants-just for the price, choice and variety was a nice addition.
Side dishes were ok-not excellent. Skip the fried banana; the mashed potatos were void of most flavor...but I did enjoy the polenta fries with parmesan. Not greasy. I also recommend the cheese biscuits. They have a taste of slight popover with parm inside-but they were not greasy at all.
I like the open space of the restaurant and the tall ceilings. I like that there were other couples, people sending their kids off to college, all women birthday party, etc.Hubby thought it would be fun to go with friends-but perhaps for a lunch (same deal-half the price). I myself, went once, enjoyed myself, was not overwhelmed but not unhappy - but most likely would not return....b/c I feel no need to.
For $121.00, I'd blow it at 112, Nicollet Island, Grand Cafe, etc.