Save room for the dessert.
UNO Chicago Grill – Deptford, NJ
Menu: UNO Website
Price: $53.00 (For Two – Excludes Tip)
Meal: Dinner / Weekday / 9pm
Located in an interesting spot on the backside of the busy Deptford shopping megaplex on Hurffville Road, UNO Chicago Grill shares most of its home with a Residence Inn hotel chain. With design and decor a bit more authentic and ‘cool’ than a competitive TGI Fridays or Applebees, UNO’s signature deep dish pizza is what you typically hear the most about. On this occasion, though, we threw tradition out the window and didn’t try the pizza at all. Would the rest of UNO’s menu secure a ‘number one’ spot? (oh, don’t roll your eyes..)
UNO on a weekend can be a little dicey. Parking is shared with an adjacent hotel and there can be a decent amount of traffic coming and going from the Route42 exits which are very close to the restaurant. Fortunate for us, we went late on a weekday so it was hardly an adventure to get there. I like the oversize doors and handles on the outside of the building. The rug in the mini-lobby was pretty beat up, but not of great importance to me. The inside of the restaurant has nice polished wooden features, along with industrial-like accents of iron. You can choose a high-back booth or a slightly nicer table setting if you have more than a duo. We kept it comfortable in a booth. On the left side of the restaurant is a good-sized bar that was well populated. Although there were about a half dozen LCD TVs mounted on the walls showing the Phillies game throughout the restaurant, I didnt get the feel that UNO was especially slanted towards the sports bar crowd. The walls are decorated with interesting Chicago-era artifacts, and the back wall has a pretty cool ‘market’ theme with baskets of vegetables, flour, oils, and all sorts of other good stuff.
We began with some drinks, and stuck to our usual tastes; Autumn got a malibu and diet coke, and I tried their ‘Towering Tea’ (allegedly a better, larger long island iced tea). Before we ordered, Autumn was mistakenly delivered a regular diet coke with a promise of her alcohol to follow. When we explained that she ordered a drink that contained both diet coke and malibu rum, in the same glass, the waitress looked a little puzzled before her mistake hit her. Strangely, she took back the diet coke even though they obviously weren’t going to serve that to anyone else and couldn’t really add any alcohol to it because it would overflow with the slightest amount. She brought back the right drink, which Autumn liked, with my Towering Tea, which I considered a fraud. It was a tall pilsner glass filled sky-high with ice and a so-so ‘LIT’ mixture. It was too much sweet and I very much doubted the quantity of the ‘top shelf liquors’ that was purportedly put in there. For $8, I didn’t feel I got my money’s worth at all.
For our meals, Autumn tried the shrimp scampi and I went for the Mahi-Mahi with mango salsa. We took advantage of the ‘half price’ side salad that came with them, and generally thought the salad was good with a nice mixture of greens and a great little breadstick. Because of the tomato-salmonella scare, none were to be found in any entrees at UNO. After a typical wait of about 15 minutes, everything arrived as ordered without any mistakes. The fish was a shade on the dry side, and I wished they had been a little more generous with the mango salsa on top. The cut of the fish was fair for the price, and otherwise tasted very good. The brown rice and the craisins (cranberry raisin things) were an interesting side which added a lot of flavor to the place. The roasted vegetables I ordered were also very good. I tried Autumn’s scampi and liked it; the shrimp had a good flavor and I liked their scampi sauce. Autumn thought the pasta was a little ‘al dente’ for her tastes, but having explained how cooking the pasta longer actually makes the carbohydrates worse for you, she backed off her objections slightly. =)
Throughout, our waitress was polite but I didn’t find her completely believable. Maybe the kind of person that smiles at you and then makes a snide remark later on. Still, she faked her way to a decent tip. After the disappointment with the (hardly) Towering Tea, we tried a raspberry colada creation that was much better. With a great blend of raspberry and coconut rum with a heap of whipped cream on top in a large glass, it was a much better value than the other alcohol we had ordered. Sure, with these frozen drinks it’s almost impossible to know just how much alcohol you got, but with the ice blended in already, you had a large glass that’s full of plenty of ‘volume’. Even with both of us taking frequent ‘samples’ through the straw, it lasted fairly long.
To further punish our cholesterol levels and checking accounts, we closed the evening with a peanut butter cup dessert. It was a huge cup topped with vanilla ice cream, chocolate, and peanut butter sauces – easily enough for two to enjoy. In a word – wow. Autumn said it was the best dessert she’s ever had, and though I won’t make that claim (out of sheer forgetfulness of all the other empty-calories I’ve consumed over my life), I will agree that it was damn delicious. The price for the entire meal was reasonable considering there were 3 drinks in that $53.00.
– All-around good quality food
– Better atmosphere than similar competitors
– Good online ordering/pickup system
– Really cheat on some alcohol
Guru’s Score: 4.0 Chews
Subjective rating: Recommended.
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