Tuscany Grill Irvine
Failure at Multiple Levels: A Case Study
By day, restaurants located in office buildings can fill a niche for quick lunches. You may be too busy talking about TPS reports to really appreciate the restaurant’s eccentricities. By night, the true seedy nature of office park restaurants becomes obvious. I just experienced this moment when I visited Tuscany Grill Irvine in the Main Business Plaza.
I was taken aback by the décor. At first, I was charmed by thy light fixture by the entrance, and then I realized that the entire restaurant is adorned with such decorations. From the artwork to the crystal chandeliers, Tuscany Grill Irvine felt like I was visiting and eccentric Grandmother’s house.
The overuse of crystal chandeliers cast a moody yellow hue over the faux finish walls. Images of Napoleon Dynamite on an awkward first date came to mind. After we were sat, my wife and I gave each other an awkward stare and immediately started giggling. I understand that many people may enjoy this style of decor, but I consider it to be out of date and scares away the younger crowd. I found it to be humorous. Dear restaurants, you do not want your decor to induce laughter from your customers. Update your interior if it looks dated. Although according to their website, the restaurant was recently updated! Yikes!
I attempted to get a hold of myself and give the restaurant a fair chance, but when I looked up on the wall I saw the most interesting oil painting set up. The oil painting was mounted on an ornate frame and illuminated with a brass picture light. Although when I saw the fake doves on the top of the picture frame, I instinctively I covered my water glass. I burst into laughter and my wife kicked me under the table before she started laughing. Again, if this style of decor is your thing, then Tuscany Grill is your place.
Sticky Tacky Menus
Another bit of the restaurant’s charm came through from their menus. When I was handed my menu, it was sticky… ewwwhhh. The plastic covered menus had successive layers of other people’s meals and beverages ingrained into the plastic. This is on the top of my restaurant pet peeves. I went to the bathroom and washed my hands. This time I opened up my menu with a napkin, only to discover the inside was also splotched with another guest’s food. :/ In all fairness, my wife’s menu as not as sticky as mine.
Another restaurant taboo was broken that night. They crossed out prices and hand wrote a higher price! Really? Come one, print out a new menu! Even worse is that the menus were not consistent with pricing. My wife had a different menu pricing than mine. If you have to raise prices by hand writing them, at least do it for ALL the menus. Please let your tackiness be consistent!
I was willing to put my issues behind, if the food knocked my socks off. Unfortunately, Tuscany Grill failed at the food as well. When the Caesar salad came out, I could tell the lettuce looked past its prime and it was swimming in dressing. The fact that the salad was a little above room temperature was the key fail point. For me, a salad should be served cool for maximum enjoyment. I think they left this on a hot table or heat lamp. This salad was an omen for the rest of the food.
Perhaps this was the best dish I had the entire night was the Lentil Soup. This creamy version of lentil soup was perfectly seasoned and had a wonderful texture. It was obvious that the soup was made in-house; I wish they would put the same pride and love into their other dishes.
The Spinach Fettuccine wasdisappointing. This dish could have been executed so much better, with just a little more work. This dish tasted like it was just thrown together. The shrimp and spinach fettuccine tasted good, by themselves. But the dish just did not come together. The sauce was bland and there was not a unifying flavor. I could easily have made this dish at home with leftovers in my fridge.
Would you be surprised if I told you that my wife’s gnocchi tasted dense , like hard packed dough? They tasted like frozen gnocchi that I would pick up at any grocery store. The sauce was actually good, made with tomato cream sauce and brandy. Too bad they messed up on the central ingredient. I could have easily gone to Trader Joes and picked up their frozen gnocchi for $4 and gotten a better meal. Sorry to be rough, but this was missed opportunity.
My Final Thoughts
I encourage my readers to make their own decisions on Tuscany Grill. Perhaps I visited Tuscany Grill on an off night. Although based on my experience, I do not recommend this restaurant. If you already purchased a GroupOn or AmazonLocal Deal, please report back and let me know how your experience went. I very rarely write bad reviews, unless the restaurant really takes advantage of their customers, gets me sick or has stopped caring about what they do. The disengagement at Tuscany Grill is obvious. Perhaps they are making enough money from distracted business luncheons to get by with subpar food and dirty menus.
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