Penne Pasta with Shrimp @ Carnation Cafe

Price: $19.00

When: April 9, 2017, 12:50 PM

Reservations: Recommended

Verdict? Not recommended

I generally associate Carnation Cafe with hearty American fare: burgers, sandwiches, meatloaf, soups. And yet, there it is, smack-dab in the middle of their lunch & dinner menu: Penne Pasta with Shrimp. A bit of a non sequitur? Sure. But Carnation is generally terrific. I can’t wait to get their take on this.

I order. The friendly Cast Member asks if I’m OK with broccoli and mushroom. (Yep.) She smiles and vanishes.

The dish is delivered quickly. It’s about what you’d expect: tube pasta, coated in light cream sauce, served with five shrimp and a smattering of broccoli and mushroom chunks. Parmesan cheese has been sprinkled across the top. Looks good, smells good. Excellent.

I load my fork and take a bite.

First impression: this is mild. Like, very mild. There’s no oomph or push happening here.

The ingredients are reasonable. The pasta is out of a box, but cooked adequately. The broccoli florets have decent flavor and texture. The mushrooms, sadly, aren’t doing much. The shrimp is cooked perfectly. The cheese is mostly texture. And the cream sauce seems to be playing hide-and-go-seek with the tastebuds.

I reach for the salt.

Look, this isn’t terrible. But it’s not good, either. It’s a twilight dish. Not bad, not worth ordering. At nearly twenty bucks (and on a menu with kickass alternatives), it’s hard to see how this becomes someone’s top pick.

Not recommended.