Good old Olive Garden. I know what I’m going to get before I even sit down…mediocre pseudo Italian American food that is lacking in flavor and originality. Chicken Parmesan, fettuccine alfredo, spaghetti and meatballs, and of course, the best salad and bread sticks in the WORLD!
“But BOR, how can you form your opinion about a restaurant that you haven’t been to?” asks the East Sider or transplant from the Midwest.
Because I’ve been to an Olive Garden a couple of times before, and in a couple different locations. They are all the same. You get the same exact experience no matter which one you go to. That is the way of the chain restaurant.
The much anticipated opening of the Olive Garden in Bend has kept the place slammed non stop. I tried a couple of times to visit while we were out in that direction but I refuse to wait for a table at a place like Olive Garden.
Finally the opportunity arrived and I was able to talk the Wife into going to the OG. It was an off hour for most restaurants but the Garden was still packed. Tables packed closely together and most of them filled with families containing young kids. They really packed the tables in. Many times the wait staff had to get uncomfortably close to the table while another passed behind them.
Looking over the menu of your typical “Italian” dishes that you find at almost all American Italian restaurants I couldn’t quite decide on what to get. Our waiter had already taken our drink orders (me – Stella Artois $4.65 / Wife – Lime Mint Fresco $7.25) and before those arrived, he had already asked us what we’d like to order. Water wasn’t even on the table but whatever. Turn and burn customer service IS hella fast.
When he came back with drinks and asked again if we were ready (I think we’d been at the table all of 4 minutes) we ordered an appetizer. I thought that would keep him at bay for a bit. It didn’t.
Twice more we said we needed more time to look over the menu. They must not be used to people that don’t know their entire catalog of dishes. Maybe they just assume we’re out for a super fast Soup, Salad and Breadsticks just for two:
We went ahead and ordered. He was back shortly with our appetizer but also with the world famous, and only thing anyone can say is good about the Olive Garden, the salad and bread sticks.
The point of ordering the appetizer was to get it before the salad and bread sticks. It turned out ok since the appetizer was a big disappointment. We went for the Create Your Own Sampler Italiano – “Choose from: calamari, stuffed mushrooms, fried zucchini, chicken fingers, fried mozzarella or toasted beef and pork ravioli.” I love fried anything (normally) so we went with mozzarella, toasted ravioli and calamari $10.95.
The plate was cleared away with most of the food still on there. The fried mozzarella was the only good part. The ravioli was way over cooked and very dry, and the calamari was incredibly under cooked. The breading was floury and almost doughy. It was weird.
For my entree I selected the Seafood Alfredo – $16.95 “Sautéed shrimp and scallops tossed with creamy fettuccine alfredo.”
I’ll wager anything that the shrimp was not sauteed at all. The shrimp and scallops seemed as if they were steamed or boiled. The fettucini was cooked well and there was tons of it. I ate to my fill, picked out the shrimp, left the scallops and was done with more than half left.
The Wife got the Tour of Italy but the photo didnt come out – $17.95 – “Homemade lasagna, lightly breaded chicken parmigiana and creamy fettuccine alfredo.” She gave me a taste of the lasagna and the chicken parm. The lasagna was ok. She says that she’d get it again if she had to go back. The chicken was overcooked.
The best part of the meal (of course) was the salad and bread sticks. The salad is just a simple iceberg salad with too much red onion, two olives (why only two OG, why?), a couple slices of tomato, peppercinis, and tons of croutons. The bread sticks are like sticks of buttery crack.
I showed the photo above to the Wife as I felt it came out really good. She said “Yup, that sums it up, the only good part as usual.” She also had a nice quote as we paid the bill. She said “Well, that’s exactly like I remembered it.”
63459 U.S. 97
Bend, OR 97701