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Restaurant offers good atmosphere, average food

BJ%27s+Restaurant+and+Brewhouse+lights+up+the+corner+of+Laguna+Boulevard+and+Laguna+Springs+Drive+on+Sept.+18.
BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse lights up the corner of Laguna Boulevard and Laguna Springs Drive on Sept. 18.

BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse lights up the corner of Laguna Boulevard and Laguna Springs Drive on Sept. 18.

Nick Valenzuela

Nick Valenzuela

BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse lights up the corner of Laguna Boulevard and Laguna Springs Drive on Sept. 18.

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Though I’ll admit that my expectations of BJ’s Brewhouse were fairly low because, generally speaking, I’m not much for restaurant chains and their uniform mediocrity.

When I decided to go to BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse for lunch in Elk Grove, I hoped I might have a dining experience that wasn’t just worth sharing, but worth my time as well. I’m glad to report BJ’s makes a worthwhile chicken fettuccine alfredo that shows why it has bloomed to 136 or so outlets around the United States. If you’re looking for a well-founded pasta meal you might want to try it.

BJ’s is designed to be the kind of restaurant you can grab a fast and reasonably affordable lunch at. It’s a friendly and bustling environment that’s a solid choice for watching a game or mingling while enjoying quality food.

The menu offers a wide range of choices, but I had my sights set on the pasta dish. It has a considerable amount of fettuccine noodles, all boiled to perfection –- the noodles neither being too soft nor too hard. I also found the creaminess of the topping on the noodles to be extremely enjoyable and delicious. In addition the meal also comes with sliced chicken breast, garlic bread sticks and either a salad or soup of your choosing.

The garlic breadsticks are worth a closer look. They have the sponginess of advertised breadsticks, but they’re more significant than you’d expect, which matches the texture of the noodles nicely. More than that, the slight toasting adds a pleasing chewiness that makes me wonder why more restaurants of this type aren’t using a similar breadstick for their pasta dishes.

The chicken breast, however, isn’t quite as pleasing. I wouldn’t go so far as to say the meat is weak—rather, it has nothing that sets it apart. It doesn’t have any memorable seasoning, juice or mineral meatiness. In its favor, it has a nice well done look about it and a slim shape, but it doesn’t jump out in the slightest.

The salad is fine, although nothing worth losing your mind over. The veggies are fresh, but they’re not full of the freshness that would warrant additional remarks. Perhaps the best part of the salad was the well seasoned croutons, they helped add some tang and crunch.

BJ’s offers a solid, if not particularly exhilarating version of a brew house with an interesting take on Italian cuisine. Theirs is a restaurant of straightforward aspirations: consistency, comfort and affordability. They deliver on these with their pasta and perhaps, at times, that’s more than enough.

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Restaurant offers good atmosphere, average food