During EMS Week last month, I was lucky enough to win a trivia contest and receive a prize in the form of a $100 gift card to Mona Lisa's. I had never been there before so wasn't sure what the food was like or when I was going to use the gift card but I was pretty sure that $100 would buy one heck of a nice meal; I just wasn't sure when I would have occasion to use it. It dawned on me that perhaps Amanda's birthday would warrant the perfect occasion to make use of that particular windfall but when I broached the subject to Amanda and Darci after getting home from work on her birthday neither of them wanted to go! Apparently they had feasted on chicken fingers and fries just before I got home and they just weren't hungry. Oh ...
Still, better late than never as far as birthday celebrations go and we decided to go Thursday evening instead. The girls were told with ample time to plan ahead so as not fill up on anything else and after a brief stop at the Yantic Cemetery so I could take some cloud pictures (yes, more cloud pictures!) we got to the restaurant with plenty of time to beat the dinner rush.
After we were seated and had menus in hand, I told Amanda and Darci that they could order whatever they wanted including an appetizer or two. Amanda's eyes grew big as that's not generally something she hears from me - usually it's more like, "don't go overboard because I'm not made of money! " Given carte blanche with the menu, she was free to choose something she really liked but might not normally get the chance to have. Unfortunately they didn't have her all-time favorite - fried shrimp - on the menu but Amanda loves all sorts of seafood so she decided on the Broiled Seafood Platter. Darci chose one of the evening's specials, Chicken Kiev, and I decided to treat myself to the Surf and Turf with a 12-oz New York strip steak and broiled swordfish - which is one of my all-time favorites!
When the mozzarella sticks and stuffed potato skin appetizers the girls had chosen arrived at the table they immediately dug in but I had to interrupt and tell them to hold up, I needed to take pictures! Darci looked at me a little funny but Amanda, who has been the daughter of a blogger long enough to realize that everything gets photographed, told her that it was okay, it was "a blogging thing and just go with it." In that respect, I believe I have taught her well!
We had a lovely dinner - the food was quite excellent and the portions were more than ample, the waitress was very attentive and offered free refills (take note of that, Mr. Gus!) of our drinks, and the girls really seemed to have a good time even though we weren't at Burger King or the local Chinese buffet or wherever else it is that teenagers like to go!
All in all, it was a lovely evening and I wouldn't hesitate to go back to Mona Lisa's again should the occasion warrant it. Of course, I probably won't have the benefit of a gift card at my disposal the next time but it would be worth paying out of my own pocket! I'd be more than happy to recommend the restaurant to anyone who might be in the Norwich area, too - I'm sure Mona Lisa's could make anyone smile!