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Aug 19, 2007 06:15 PM

Tree House Italian Grill

Has anyone had other atrociously bad experiences at this place? The bread tasted like the pre-made HEB kind that has been sitting in those slightly perforated plastic bags that I bought in college, while the calamari, which is typically best when it's flash-fried, with a light, airy batter, was too densely coated (to see how this is done properly, I urge you to go to Asti, and for the same price, no less)--almost like Top Notch's onion rings (not a shot at Top Notch, of course). The 5 dollar dinner salads which arrived at the same time as the onion rings, were middling, with iceberg, carrot shavings, and a bland vinaigrette--that's right, NO tomatoes, bell peppers, etc. The service was shockingly bad. Our meal arrived 50 minutes after the appetizers, and while I understand the discomfort for the waitstaff to return to the table repeatedly to effusively apologize for the delay, we maybe saw her once during this span. I had veal romano and, I believe, the volume of sauce probably outweighed the cut of meat. The meat was flavorless-something hard to do with veal. The culinary technique seemed to be inspired by the wizards at Olive Garden or Applebees, where everything is drenched in a hastily thrown together sauce to mask the blandness of the main course.

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  1. My family and I visited this place once. The food was absolutely horrendous.

    The pasta dish I had was totally tasteless. My family members found their dishes to be comparably atrocious as well.

    I will never visit this place again - even if Tree House gave me a free meal voucher.

    1. I've only been here once and had a very similar experience. Won't be going again.

      1 Reply
      1. re: netsean02

        Ditto, but/and that was several years ago. Pity cuz the patio is so inviting.

      2. I don't understand how this place stays in business. My book club met here once by accident. The host didn't realize that it was on par with the Olive Garden. The patio was nice, but the music was way too loud, we had to be moved inside. The food was absolutely awful. It tasted what I vaguely remember spaghettio's tasting like.

        2 Replies
        1. re: foodiegal71

          I'd honestly give Olive garden the easy edge over Tree House Italian Grill. Back when I had no clue about the truly good food that existed in Austin, I visited Olive Garden from time to time. And, frankly speaking, my Olive Garden meals were much better than what I experienced at Tree House Italian Grill.

          1. re: dcx1287

            Not to state the obvious, but Olive Garden soup and salad for a quick lunch is great... not chowhoundish, however. Thanks for the heads up on the Tree House! I've been considering it... it seems it just won't go away!

        2. I have to disagree with you. If you're expecting high gourmet, of course the treehouse is not the place. I found this unpretentious restaurant to be just what it claims to be- a rustic Italian restaurant, the likes of the Olive Garden or Macaroni Grill. Its main draw is the atmosphere- live bands and an awesome patio, with decent service. The food is nothing to write home about, but I found some of it to be quite good (have you tried the veal cannelloni? The red snapper?). I really like this place, and I have taken several of my friends and family members there, and they all loved it. I think you either caught them on a bad night or went in with your expectations set too high.
          I thought their calamari was pretty standard for an Italian restaurant, but then again you did go a year before I did, and they may have changed it.
          On the other hand, you were right about the bread. I little too much like store-bought for me, especially when fresh bread is not really that hard to come by.
          In short- set reasonable expectations. If you are looking for imaginative, gourmet Italian food, Treehouse is not the place to find it. If, on the other hand, you want a place with a great atmosphere and a decent menu of standard Italian dishes, give them a try.

          1 Reply
          1. re: expat84

            i went there once. had the spaghetti w/meatballs. horrible. friend had chick parm. aweful.