Last week, my friend Pam and I went to (by Invitation) a rollout of the new Carrabba's First Taste menu -- it was a cold night, and we were really looking forward to the trip to Macon for the event. I love this restaurant -- I've eaten there a lot since I've become gluten-free -- they can adapt an enormous about the menu to suite a gluten-free diner. I'm especially fond of the staff at this restaurant -- and after spending an evening with managers Ryan Holmes, Melissa Wood and John Gray and wait staff Lester Gilbert, we both found good reasons to eat there again. While we did pay for our meal, we did tip generously.
Here is the menu, which was also served to Carrabba's Friend's Club *see
www.carrabas.com for more information.
As Pam and I tasted our way through the menu, I discussed the gluten-free adaptations needed for someone like me to enjoy this tasting menu with manager Melissa Wood. She said Carrabba's is always working to adapt a menu for a gluten-free diner, and encouraged diners to speak with a manager as he or she orders.
I had a delicious portion of the Mahi Wulfe, which is covered with an artichoke heart, red pepper and and sundried tomato sauce with a butter--lemon-basil sauce. I was served a portion that was large enough for two diners to share with other plates, and I thought it was delicious. The sauce was slightly spicy but very bright and fresh. It really is a spring dish.
I also tasted a portion of Proscuitto-wrapped Pork Tenderloin, which I'd have to say would be a great dinner for me with a side of Carrabba's delicious and gluten-free garlic mashed potatoes. The tender pork tenderloin coins were cooked perfectly, wrapped with crispy prosciutto. The sauce was a fruit-lovers dream -- a deep, fig and port wine sauce. I love that.
The new classic dessert is a Cannoli, which I have to say I love (I'm Italian. What can I say....) Instead of having the shell, I asked for a portion of the filling (gluten-free) and the pistachio topping. It reminded me of a bakery I love in Newington, Ct., where my Auntie Jean used to purchase that treat when we finished. The folks at Carrabba's were happy to give me a serving. If you plan to do this, bring a couple of gluten-free cookies (I'm thinking of a Glow Gluten-Free Gingersnap}. Yum.
As I looked at the remaining dished on the entire menu, there are a few other items that could easily be adapted to gluten-free dining. My Carrabba's (and its manager Ryan Holmes) will take the time to prepare a gluten-free pasta if you bring along your favorite pasta. As he told be that night (and on another occasion, when I put him to the test), this is something Carrabba's is glad to do. He noted that the Middle Georgia GIG meets at that location at 3915 River Place Drive in Macon on a regular basis.
OOOH -- and there were two new signature drinks made with house-made Lemoncello. Pam liked the one with raspberry syrup. I loved the one made with Gin, rosemary, and of course, Lemoncello. Since I've only recently started drinking lately, I really cozied up to the Gin-based drink. I'll order that again. It's very Italian.
My friend Pam, who is not gluten-free, enjoyed Rigatoni Martino and the Conghigli al Formaggion. She thought both were tasty. She also liked the pork. The arancini was not available for testing.
I think this new menu is filled with some exciting offerings, and I hope the roll out goes very well. I can't wait to take Randy and Jeffrey there soon.
I hope you'll try the First Taste Menu, maybe share a couple of plates with your friends at the table. I thought it was spot on.