I am posting pseudonymously since my posts here are usually related to the finer dining spots in the area and I fear lowering my stock value on this board. Having said that, I recently was persuaded by outside forces to try the Macaroni Grill. Friends who used to live in Italy (but who are NOT chowhounds, I hasten to add) said that they had the best arrabbiata sauce outside of Italy there, and urged us to give it a try. So, since the pickings where I live are mostly of the chain variety, and 99 44/100% of them are lousy, we thought we'd give MG a try. To my surprise, our meal was actually not too bad. Of course, I should not have been surprised that the waitron did not know what I meant when I asked what vintage the Ruffino Chianti Classico was (turned out to be the '98, which I am not that fond of), but the bruschetta (of which the waitron tried to 'correct' my pronunciation) was pretty good, and so was my veal saltimbocca (though the spinach served with the veal was practically swimming in a butter sauce that I could have done without). All in all, not a bad experience, and one that I would repeat when I cannot be bothered to cook or travel too far afield.
I, too, am an immense (do not take me literally, I have a reputation, you know!) snob when it comes to certain foods of the Baked Goods category. As a Food Professional (notice the caps) I can slice a crummy cake (with mere words) down to size.
I have grudgingly accompanied faux friends to fast food eateries. I have turned down dates with meal morons. But lucky me! I met my low-class, macho, peanut butter on white bread (ugh) eating husband. We compromise to save our marriage. I am not confessing to liking all his (ugh) eateries, but I have been occasionally surprised with a not-too-bad meal served by a sweet but knowledgeless waitperson who is only there for the money, which is not a bad thing if rent is due.
I once ate in a Macaroni Grill. It was okay, but I specifically requested NOT to have the mussels sitting on top of the pasta. Everything else can be pasta placed, but "No Mussels, Please." I despise the taste of mussels. It was, unfortunately, served with many mussels. I returned it, but all they did was pick off the mussels, leaving the now-flavored pasta. By the time we had finished dish-dancing, my buddies were done eating and I never did get my meal. When we got the check, they charged me for salad and bread, as if I had ordered them a la carte. The manager was less than gracious, insinuating that I was a troublemaker. Which I suppose I was, to him...
I definitely hear you about the non-foodie spouse; I have the same, which is how we came to be at MG in the first place. And I also hear you about the mussels on the pasta, since a similar thing happened to me with a salad at Sweetwater Tavern, where I asked for it with chevre rather than blue cheese; when it came with the wrong cheese I sent it back, but the new salad was veritably SWIMMING in dressing, which was worse to my taste than the wrong cheese, so back IT went, with a request for dressing on the side. Since all we were having were salads, by the time mine came my friends were finished eating, and had to sit and watch me, making me rush and making it impossible to enjoy the (lackluster) salad.
I thought I read that somewhere. I never liked the American Cafe chain & felt the entrees were over-priced for what you got...