This was an experience from start to finish. First, we arrived at 5:15 pm, because from all the reviews we believed that if we didn't have a reservation, it's best to get there right at opening. Turns out, on a Wednesday night, we would have been okay even if we had showed up a bit later. Nevertheless, we waited with half a dozen others for the doors to open, and when they did, we were greeted by the entire wait staff! There they were, standing in a row with smiles on their faces. It was such a warm greeting and really set the tone for the meal. My friend and I ordered five different appetizers and shared them all. They were all excellent! The stand outs were the mushroom bisque, lasagna and crabmeat gratin. Amazing! When we finished one of the best meals of our lives, we were escorted out by another smiling face who held the door open for us as we left. Wonderful.
What really gets me about this place was how welcome we felt. It was our first time there, but we were greeted like family. The waiter engaged us in interesting conversation and made some great suggestions from the menu, like the lasagna. Also, it's not like we were ordering the most expensive dishes on the menu and a bottle of their best wine. No. We got appetizers and a coke. We were definitely a small ticket table, but we were treated with such grace. I remember this place called Calzone's in Little Italy in SF, near where I live. I went there one night with my friend when we were 19 years old and broke. We ordered water and shared the cheesy garlic bread between the two of us and that was all we ordered. Still, Calzone's treated us like we had ordered the most expensive items on the menu. I always remembered that treatment, and that's why now as a 39-year-old when I have more than a few coins to rub together I come back to Calzone's time and again. I hope to do the same with Irene's for the next 20 years too. Thank you!
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