First taste: Mia's Table features American comfort food with free ice cream &the Carrabba's touch
From the outside, the new location for Mia's Table looks like someone picked up a Hill Country mansion and deposited it just off of Kirby Drive. The restaurant has a stately but homey vibe, with limestone walls, wainscoting, plenty of windows and a wrap-around patio deck.
One of three new concepts planned around the original Carrabba's, Mia's is the first Carrabba's concept to switch to American comfort food — think burgers, baskets of fried food, ribs and more. It's also the first time that owner Johnny Carrabbas has ventured into a fast-casual counter service.
Mia's Table is marketed as family-friendly — it's on the logo, the signage, everywhere. So I guess it's no surprise that my first reaction on walking inside was that the restaurant was incredibly loud, largely with sounds from the enormous open kitchen. Once we placed our order and made our way into the dining room, things calmed down a bit.
One of three new concepts planned around the original Carrabba's, Mia's is the first Carrabba's concept to switch to American comfort food — think burgers, baskets of fried food, ribs and more.
The main interior dining space is a couple large rooms with vinyl checkerboard tablecloths on tables that were frequently pushed together to hold large groups and families. We thought about heading for one of the shaded patio tables to insulate ourselves from the fountain of youth, but just before the door we found a small room tucked in the back corner. With a flat screen on one wall and a (real?) fireplace on the other, we dubbed it the adult room.
To be clear, I'm not one of those childless assholes who can't stand to be in the presence of anyone under the driving age, or who thinks parents with their kids should be banished from the world at large until all their offspring can recite the multiplication tables as well as the collected works of Emily Post. I don't mind noise, as it takes the pressure off me not to be the loudest talker in the room. As long as kids stay away from my chair they can run wherever they want, though I do reserve the right to snicker a little if they fall or get yelled at.
I try to create a kid-free zone around me when I'm eating, but it's only because I'm trying to be polite to parents. Around them I try not to curse, tell drinking stories or talk about sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll, or cable television dramas, but those are pretty much my only topics of conversation and I know I'm gonna slip.
Anyways, I should also mention that there was food. The unceasingly friendly Mia's employees take your name when you order and bring the food to your table, which is less practical but more personal than taking a table tent with a number.
One thing that gives me pause about Mia's Table is that our bill for two people was almost $40. For counter service and food served in baskets.
I decided on a basket of chicken fingers at the last minute because there's just something about fried food and cream gravy to heal a hangover. The quartet of beers on draft was tempting, but I got a Blue Bell vanilla milkshake instead. This was perfectly tasty (as all Blue Bell shakes are) but still a huge mistake, as Mia's Table offers free soft-serve ice cream (with cake cones!) from a dispenser near the exit. So while I'm watching everyone enjoy a free ice cream treat, I'm the only rube actually paying for mine.
The chicken fingers had a very light, peppery batter than managed to be thin and light but still crispy and satisfying. The onion rings I subbed on the side showed off the batter to an even greater degree, with a mild flavor that I associate more with chicken fried steak. The cream gravy had a strong jalapeño flavor minus the heat, which I thought was a somewhat unusual choice. Nice combined with the onion rings, less so on the Texas toast.
Rather than try a traditional hamburger, my friend ordered the Italian sausage burger. With melty, stringy mozzarella and "ketchup-y" sauce, the sausage was shaped like a patty but still had a pleasantly dense texture, though the portion of peppers and particularly onions was a little too high for me. My friend didn't understand how I could chomp away on onion rings while dubbing his sandwich too onion-y, but what he doesn't know is that there are good onions and bad onions, and the good ones are fried.
I was excited over the prospect of Mia's hand-cut crinkle fries, but in this basket the fries were stick straight and slighter thicker than average, with a firm crispness on the outside and a mushy interior. Not as good as crinkle cut, but close.
One thing that gives me pause about Mia's Table is that our bill for two people was almost $40. For counter service and food served in baskets. Kid's menus are a little cheaper, but a family of five would have a hard time spending less than $60. Then again, there's free ice cream.