kid friendliness: high chairs available, crayons offered
I just reread my review of Diamond Tony's and it reminded me of how much better Macaroni Grill is. Macaroni Grill is reliable, pleasant and tasty with a good selection of appetizers, pastas and deserts that you would find very similar to what you would eat in LA. Some people would want to be surprised, for me, I like the fact that I can count on going to dinner there knowing what to expect every time because I usually reorder what I like.
It's hard to find a good salad in Taipei, in my opinion, but Macaroni Grill doesn't disappoint with large share-friendly portions. Their Caesar is a nice twist on the original, with chopped tomatoes and raw mushrooms. I also like their other salads which are spinach based- one features pine nuts and orzo rice and the other one includes arugula and strawberries.
I love mushrooms, so I really like their Chicken Marsala which comes with the slightly sweet and salty sauce, a 3-4 pieces of thin chicken, and side of pasta, topped with lots of slices of shitake mushroom. I prefer this over the honey balsamic chicken because that sauce is too sweet and tangy for me. The pasta for the honey balsamic chicken also comes with sundried tomatoes. Their steak with the mashed potatoes is also quite good.
honey balsamic chicken
The pizza choices at not as wide as CPK, but has the standard favorites BBQ chicken, Pepperoni and one called Four Seasons which has four different sections of one topping- mushroom, pepperoni, bruschetta and canadian ham. The first time I tried it, the canadian ham was way too salty for me, so they've been accomodating to let me have "three seasons" instead and replace the ham with more of the other flavors. The crust is chewy and crispy at the same time and it's a good sized pie for the price that you pay. The sauce is not too salty and it's the right portion of cheese and toppings. The bruschetta and mushroom toppings are a refreshing choice. It's probably the best deal and best crust of all the places I've had.
three seasons pizza
I've had most of their pastas- the lasagna, the spaghetti and meatballs, the seafood creme pasta, the shrimp angel hair. The portions are huge- usually shared family style- so you sometimes have enough to take home as leftovers. The lasagna that day was a bit too salty for me. The angel hair was a little too fine and dry for me, tasted almost like a chinese rice noodle- I'd probably order the spaghetti and lasagna over the angel hair.
Like Chili's, the atmosphere is boisterous, booth and table style seating where families, business lunches and birthday celebrations are all happening at the same time. They have separate Chinese and English menus, upon request. It's pretty crowded, so you should make advance reservations if you have a large group and want to be seated right away. The waiters are usually pretty good about the service and understand if you order in English.
The desserts include tiramisu, chocolate cake, panna cotta, berries with creme and a chocolate swirled cheesecake. My favorite is probably the cheesecake with the oreo cookie crust and the creamy richness of the cheesecake. Big enough to share, but you can eat one yourself if you really have a sweet tooth. I would eat the warm chocolate cake at Chili's over the Mac Grill chocolate cake which is denser and fudgier, but the tiramisu is a not too sweet good choice as well.