Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Insert Cute Panini Title Here

Ahhhh. Lovely day off with the hubs. The original plan was to take the dogs to Laguna for breakfast at Madison Square and a walk on the beach, but my older dog was sick again. :(  Disappointed, we sat around for an hour or two, and then decided a glorious day off should include lunch and a movie. We had never been to the Panini Cafe, which not-so-recently had moved into the space formerly occupied by Pomodoro, but we had always discussed trying it out. Today seemed like the day!

When we arrived, we were greeted quickly at the host stand, and since it was such a lovely day, we opted to sit outside. H wanted to sit in the shade, and I wanted to sit in the sun, which wasn't an issue at all because they allowed us to pick our own table. We were quickly brought our iced teas - delish. Yummy peach flavored iced tea with no sweetener! I love fruity iced tea that isn't sweet, and H was able to sweeten his to his personal taste, so we were both happy.

I love my husband, because he is always game to share dishes, especially at new restaurants, which allows us to try more than one item! We went the "Highly Recommended" route with the #8 Chicken Panini - Grilled chicken breast, sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, fontina cheese and pesto on grilled filone bread with couscous, and I couldn't resist the Date Salad. I wanted to try something new and different, something you can't just get anywhere. The Date Salad is organic mixed greens, fresh berries, walnuts, dates, dried cranberries and Gorgonzola cheese in a pomegranate vinaigrette.

The sandwich was huge! I thought it was good, while my hubs thought the chicken was dry. I don't think it was the chicken, but rather that the bread was only lightly grilled and the cheese hadn't quite melted, which gave the whole sandwich a bit of dryness. Regardless, it had great flavor! Now that I know that the "panini's" aren't really panini's, my next sandwich from them will be on their multi-grain bread, which is served deli style rather than grilled. The couscous was lovely though - almost like a cold couscous salad, with raisins, parsley and mint. Refreshing, delicious and different.

The salad was also huge and very good. The sweetness of dried cranberries, dates, the vinaigrette and fresh strawberries and blackberries paired well with the savory saltiness of the Gorgonzola and bitterness of the walnuts. Since I'm such a carb whore, the fact that it was served with lightly grilled flatbread made the meal for me.

The service was attentive and friendly, and the food came out quickly. I also spied some awesome looking kabob plates. The prices are average, and the portions are generous. Oh, did I mention free wi-fi? That always makes this non-smart phone toting chick happy - iPod Touch's unite! We will definitely be back.

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