The experience

Picasso'sIf you recall, we tried to go to Picasso’s Pizza and Grill over the weekend, but Ogre’s GI illness prevented us from trying it out.  It’s probably a good thing that we decided to just skip it entirely because Ogre would have been excessively sorry had he missed this meal!  Ogre has been wanting to take us to Picasso’s.  He’s eaten here once before and it’s also been suggested by one of our readers (thanks again, Liz G.!). I’ve never eaten here and I am always really excited about a restaurant when it’s one that a reader has suggested.  I was with the kids at my parents’ house (yes, I spend a lot of time over there), so Ogre came over to pick us up and we headed out.  It’s becoming a mundane and expected part of “the experience,” but Benji fell asleep after about 5 minutes.  That being the case, I had us detour up the hospital where I worked last night as I forgot by overnight bag.  Benji stayed asleep until we got to the restaurant, he stirred for a bit when I pulled him out of his car seat, but settled back into slumber as we walked in.

Mina was immediately impressed by the wall waterfall when you step inside.  She had to take a picture.

Waterfall

The hostess intitally had plans to seat us at a table, but we asked if we could get a booth instead and she obliged without hesitation.  Ogre thought I might lay him down, but when he saw me just sitting there with him, he said, “Not going to risk it, huh?”  No, not after last night’s fiasco!

Benji sleeping

 

We put in our drink orders and looked at the appetizers. Our waiter made some suggestions and told us that the Spinach Artichoke Dip was his favorite -he also mentioned that it was very cheesy and that the kids shouldn’t mind the spinach or artichoke in it.  He thought of all the appetizers, that one was one of the more kid friendly choices.  We were sold and put that order in.  I also threw in a order of Cheese Toast after making him explain the difference between the Cheese Bread, the Cheese Toast, and Garlic Bread.  I had Benji in mind when making this order.   We also put in Mina’s order of Mac and Cheese.  We ordered a side of fruit also for her and Benji.

Our appetizers, which were huge, came out pretty quickly and Ogre served up some of the dip to Mina for her vegetable.  Looked like Mina was going to have a great attitude tonight at dinner.  This time I’m being serious and not sarcastic.  Seems like the conversation we had at Offshore’s Nextdoor sunk in.  She told us that she was going to eat up the artichoke dip first so she wouldn’t have to “worry about it” when her food comes out.  After she took a bite she told it “wasn’t that bad” and really did procede to eat it without too much prodding.  The cheese bread was ridiculously good.  Poor Benji was covered in bread crumbs!

Mmmmm Cheese Bread

 

We put in our dinner order, finally.  It took us awhile to decide if we were going to order a custom pizza or a specialty pizza.  All of the gourmet toppings looked so good,  but they were pretty pricey at $2.25 a topping!  The salads also looked so good!  Cha-ching! Cha-ching!  In the end, we decided to split a starter salad (the Grape and Goat Cheese Salad) and I ordered a custom pizza with goat cheese, sun dried tomatoes and proscuitto.  Ogre ordered the True Italian (one of the specialty pizza) on the calzone crust. 

Mina was feverishly working on her “book”: Mina’s Great Adventure.  She kept asking us how to spell stuff.  Benjamin was still sleeping soundly in my arms.  He got lots of kisses for looking so angelic!

Mina found a strawberry heartNext out came the salad and Mina’s dinner.  Benji was still asleep at this point.  The waiter brought out an extra plate for the salad knowing we were sharing it.  We put Mina’s pasta aside because it was flaming hot!! Mina continued on with her artichoke dip and Cheese Bread.  Ogre and I both enjoyed the salad a lot.  We offered Mina a pecan, but she refused.  (She actually does like pecans, she said she didn’t want it because it looked salty, we told her it was sugar, but she still shook her head no).

Benji just woke upWhen the entrees came out, the waiter asked us if we wanted a glass of wine.  He and the manager came over to discuss the wine selections and, unfortunately, this conversation woke up my sleeping angel.  He was a little disoriented when he awoke and I tried to excite him with the food.  At first, he fussed a little, but once he got some grapes and “dip dip” in him, he did just fine.  I also had to keep him in my lap.  So, I was eating above his head…

Mommy dropped some food on Benji's head

Pizza toppings on Benji and my face looks like that because Mina almost knocked something over

The rest of dinner went along quite smoothly.  Mina finished the Spinach Artichoke Dip without a fight, Benjamin was content to eat his dinner, and Ogre and I both thought our pizzas were excellent.  We talked about what a great day Mina was having (her apple stayed on the tree today).  Mina told us that our “waitress was handsome” she later corrected herself and said she meant “waiter.”  I told this to the waiter who informed us we were raising a daughter with good taste!

Next came the dessert decision.  They have a nice array of desserts, as well.  Mina initially wanted the flan because there’s a picture on the menu of a heart shaped flan, but when I asked the waiter about it, he said they don’t make them heart shaped any longer because they tended to break easily coming out of the mold and they didn’t want to be serving broken hearts!

Mina changed her mind and decided she wanted to go to the ice cream store, but Ogre had already had in his mind dessert here.  So we ordered dessert for ourselves.  Benjamin decided to crawl out of the booth (we didn’t have his chair tonight)  and was walking around looking for “Dun Der Dee.”  (AC/DC’s Dirty Deeds (Done Dirt Cheap)).  I guess he didn’t like the tunes playing overhead.

Where's Done Dirt Cheap?

"Dun Der Dee??" (Where's Done Dirt Cheap?)

When dessert arrived, you’d never seen a toddler move so fast.  He was right back in the booth ready to dig in.  Mina ate the strawberry garnish and Benjamin ate everything else!  We finally had to distract him to get him to stop eating it.  The waiter offered some wet wipes and I wiped Benjamin down before we settled the tab.

 

The food

Cheese BreadSpinach Artichoke DipJust about everything was excellent today.  Our Spinach Artichoke Dip was above average, Ogre thought that it was comparable to the dish at Houston’s, but not quite as good.  It had a good cheesy flavor and nice consistency.  The Cheese Bread was very good, the bread was soft, yet crisp and it didn’t taste or feel greasy.  The marinara sauce it is served with was excellent.  It had a nice sweet tomatoey flavor.

Grape and Goat Cheese SaladIf you like a sweet and tangy salad and you like goat cheese as much as I do, you should definitely try this salad.  It’s the Grapes and Goat Cheese salad.  The salad is field greens that were fresh with cut grapes and goat cheese with a tangy dijon vinaigrette.

Grace's Special PizzaTrue Italian PizzaMy pizza was good, but I did order the custom made pizza, so it had all my favorite flavors.  I ordered the thin crust pizza, which was nicely done -again, crisp, but not hard.  Ogre ordered the True Italian Pizza off the menu and we were both impressed at how meaty it was.  Ogre wondered aloud how it could be so “juicy” yet not soggy.  I wondered that, too, actually.  It was a very well done pizza.

Baked Mac and CheeseMina’s Mac and Cheese was also a nice surprise.  It wasn’t the Kraft brand you get a Chili’s or BJs.  They used Ziti noodles and a variety of cheeses and bake it.  Ogre and I thought it was very good – a more mature Mac and Cheese, if you will!  It was also nice that the grapes were cut in half in Mina’s fruit cup, although, my personal bias is to quarter them!

Chocolate VolcanoThe dessert was good, but probably my least favorite part of the evening.  I will mention though that I’m not a die hard chocolate fan.  We ordered the Chocolate Volcano.  Perhaps it was cooked a little too long, but the middle was gooey, but not oozing.  I’m going to toot my own horn here, I make a killer molten lava cake and I think mine is better!  The ice cream scoop was pretty dinky, as well.  Benjamin pretty much ate all of it!

The kids menu has 11 items on it including a salad.  They also have American Grill fare, typical Italian kids menu choices and a quesadilla for $4.25-4.99.  The Grill choices are served with fries, which can be substituted for steamed broccoli, applesauce or fresh fruit.  They also offer milk or apple juice for an additional $1.49. 

 

The service

The service part of the blog is usually short and sweet when the service is average.  It’s one extreme or the other if I decide to wax on.  This is going to be a long one…

From the moment we walked in, the service was excellent.  The hostess patiently waited while Mina took a picture of the indoor water feature, accomodated our request for a booth, and gave Mina her paper right away to color on.  Our server, though, was almost unbelievably excellent.  When we asked him to help us choose an appetizer, he took the kid factor in to account when telling us his favorite (the spinach dip) without us even bringing it up.  He gave us his honest opinions about various menu selections and was on the ball throughout dinner.  He always checked to make sure everything was coming out okay and tasting good. 

He kept the drinks refilled, and, Ogre was very impressed by the fact that he even asked him if he’d like more ice in his glass.  I thought it was a weird question, but Ogre loves “nugget” or “crushed” ice.   He had lots of suggestions for us, such as did we want a glass of wine after he brought out the main course.  And when we said yes, he and one of the manager came over to discuss the wine offerings.

Actually, earlier during dinner (maybe after we got the appetizers), the manager came over to makes sure things were going well. 

He was very attentive, but not suffocating, and kept the table clear of dirty dishes and clutter.  (I LOVE THAT!)  He even offered to go boxes during the course of dinner to get things out of the way.  As we finished up dessert, he offered to go cups for drinks, again, a little weird to me, but Ogre jumped all over it!  And last, but not least, when I told him that I was going to send Ogre to the bathroom with Benj to wash him off, he told me he was going to grab some wet wipes for us. 

And the check was given to us with those little Andes chocolate mints.

 The handsome waiter

 

The kids

This is a super kid friendly place.  It’s casual, it’s loud, and it’s fun!  There is a pencil holder full of crayons and they get a nice huge blank piece of paper to draw to their heart’s content.  Their kids menu choices is one of the more expansive ones we’ve seen with appropriate for this restaurant choices at a price that won’t break the bank and they even have salad as a choice!

Admittedly, it’s on the pricier side, but well worth it (as compared to Fireside Pies)

The total: 86.26 (includes 2 glasses of wine)

What did Guidelive say?

Mina's Great Adventure

Mina's Great Adventure

 

Rants, Ravings and Ramblings

First, a rave: Mina.  I bought Mina a Kindergarten level “Math” activity book full of activities for writing, counting, and simple math (Mina is in kindergarten at a private school because she is too young for public school).  I gave it to her at 3:45 this afternoon.  When she got to page 25, I told her that she should take a break, work on it tomorrow.  She refused and I took a nap.  She woke me up at 5:30 telling me she had finished the book.  Aside from a few numbers written backwards now and again (3, 5, and 7 in particular), everything was done correctly.  I promised her ice cream after dinner.  She had her heart set on ice cream with strawberries and marshmallows.  She certainly deserves it!

Now, a rant: ice makers.  Ogre loves the nugget ice (the really small nuggets).  When we built our house, we considered having  an ice maker installed.  Dusty’s dad actually has one that makes this small nugget ice at their ranch house.  How much did the ice maker cost?  $2000!!  (no, that is not a typo).  AN ICE MAKER!!  All it does is change the composition of water into a smaller nugget sized piece of ice, is that so difficult?  Does it require special technology??  Enlighten me, someone, please!  Needless to say, we didn’t buy it.

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