So I have to go to Olive Garden
- CatherineC in NYC
I hate to ask about a Dreaded Chain, but I have to go to an Olive Garden to meet some members of my guy's family (This is their choice and it would be inappropriate for me to try to recommend a different place).
I've never been to an OG before, but from things I've read here, I gather that I am not in for a culinary delight. Without getting into anything about chains per se, can anyone recommend something from their menu that won't be too disappointing?
soup, salad, and breadsticks are (usually) palatable - you can always claim you're eating light due to the heat. og isn't horrid, it's just americanized - too much cheese, too much fat & salt, run o' the mill ingredients (fried calimari would probably be a culinary stretch for them). it's no gastronmic delight, but you'll at least get enough to eat.
I feel your pain.. i have to eat at the olive garden once of twice a year. it is my grandmother's favorite place.
the olive garden isn't that bad... it just really isn't very good. especially for the price... but if someone else is picking up the tab, at least you can say you didnt' have to pay for the meal.
FWIW... avoid the pasta... it is usually gummy, sauces bland and gloppy... particularly their "endless pasta" option. however, the last time I went there I ordered one of their "heart healthy" chicken/orreciette pasta (sp?) w/ oregano/parmesan sauce. it wasn't great, but wasn't too bad either. it was tossed with a variety of veggies which weren't mushy, but I suspect had been flash frozen previously.
most of the chicken dishes are o.k. just avoid the ones that are covered in cheese. the cheese congeals rather quickly. I really hate their marinara sauce.. it is too sweet and bland. I'd stick with a salad if one appeals to you.. or the my personal standby of soup, salad and breadsticks. the soups are too salty, the breadsticks clearly frozen dough, dressing tastes bottled. but it is a passable lunch or dinner. the portions are huge, it is a good excuse to beg off dessert. none of which are worth the calories to eat.
Soup, salad and breadsticks.
The fried calamari doesn't totally suck.
Avoid anything with pasta in it.
Their version of the cappelini pomodoro isn't half bad. I mean - even they can't ruin pasta with tomatoes, garlic and basil. I'd go for that - it's a safe bet.
And, they do have good desserts. I recall the white chocolate raspberry cheesecake being really good.
The sausage and peppers rustica wasn't all that bad the last time I went. Avoid the ravioli and any thin pasta like capellini (they overcook it).
You can see their menus online - it changes regionally.