Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Uno Is Open in Oaks

The sign was lit on Monday night announcing the opening of Uno/Chicago Grill in Oaks.

All the lights were installed and working and the exterior of the building looked like a cross between a diner and any national chain restaurant.

I stopped by on Tuesday, their second day open, for lunch.  I was greeted at the door by three employees. Each welcomed me. Each waited for my acknowledgement. A bit much for me. One, even two would have been sufficient. I was led to a table. A menu was placed on my table and I was wished well. I removed my jacket and hat (it was snowing) and sat down to read the menu.

I arrived after 2:20pm and I was afraid I might have missed the lunch specials. I scanned each page like a pubescent boy looking for salacious words in Mandingo. I flipped through the multi-paged menu several times, back and forth, looking for the lunch specials and the time lunch stopped being served.  It seemed I was scanning and searching for a long time. Too long. I was pondering leaving and stopping for an Italian shorty at Wawa in Audubon.

I looked up from the menu and was finally greeted by my server. She introduced herself and asked if I wanted to start with a drink. I, figuratively, threw my cards on the table. I stated I was on lunch and had only thirty minutes remaining to be served and eat. I asked where the lunch specials could be found. She directed me to the specials listed on the reverse of the menu. The only place I neglected to look. She advised me that any lunch special ordered was guaranteed to be served in 10 minutes. Great! That would leave me 20 minutes to eat.

Not letting my server leave, I ordered a $7.99 lunched size Classic Cobb Salad and All-You-Can Eat Soup. I chose Chili. I added an unsweetened iced tea and my server was off to place the order.

Within a ten minute span I received my lunch, as ordered. Served with a side of Cobb Salad Avocado Ranch dressing.

I began with the chili soup. The soup included tortilla chips of both yellow and blue corn, onions, cheese and two types of beans. There was a whiff of vinegar that probably came from the hot sauce they used to add some heat. Very little heat, I must add. I should have brought my own Sriracha sauce. Overall, the chili was just one level above that of a canned chili available in any grocery store. I wasn't satisfied with the soup.

The salad was much better. Fresh ingredients of greens, chicken, avocado, tomato(nothing like home grown tomatoes), gorgonzola cheese and bacon. The creamy avocado ranch dressing was perfect for this salad. One teaspoon more dressing would have been the icing on the cake. Included was a bread stick seasoned with coarse salt. The salad was good. No, better than good. Whoever made the salad did a great job.

I ate everything and I was sated.

As for the atmosphere, the room was hard. The floor, oak and stone walls, furniture, everything was hard. I can only imagine the sound level when the room is full. Visually contrasting was a gas fueled fireplace with a raging fire. There were several large screen TVs in the room I dined. Two in the back and one mid-room, over the fireplace. Three too many TVs for me.

Overall I liked my lunch and the price. The staff was obviously newly trained and it showed. I will definitely return for lunch. I will choose a different soup next time but I will return. I will eat at the bar, next time. I felt uncomfortable by myself at a table for four in the middle of the floor. The bar will be more comfortable. Although, I won't like those big screen TVs directly in front of me. Silent bright visual distractions that hinder conversation. Even with strangers. Especially if your not interested in sports, as am I.

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved

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