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Work lunch at Olive Garden - HELP!!

My closest friend's last day at work is this week and of course she choose the Olive Garden for her going away lunch. I haven't eaten at their in over 3 years. For you that have to endure this place what's your fall back dish? I'm not a fan of their salad so the soup, salad, breadstick choice is out.

I've already bugged her that I'm going to b*tch and moan about her choice the rest of the week. haha j/k....well sort of...heehee

I NEED help here, people!!

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  1. Spaghetti & Meatballs. It's not as bad as it could be. Don't let the shinyness bother you.

    2 Replies
    1. re: BillyZoom

      "shinyness'?? Okay now you're scaring me :(

      1. re: livetocook

        I know!!! It doesn't really even look like food. But it actually tastes okay. Unlike the white sauce, which looks okay but takes like extra-salty wallpaper paste.

    2. Got stuck at OG for a funeral lunch a couple of years ago and had eggplant parm. It was tasty enough, although overly salty IMO.

      I think AYCE salad can be an option but depends on location...I've seen them with nasty brown iceberg, but also reasonably fresh mixed greens. People rave about the breadsticks but I think they're just doughy.

      1. Salad's out but what about just the soup or breadsticks? You can make a statement by going el cheapo and just getting something like a side of marinara to dip the breadsticks in.

        1. I'm not a huge fan of giving my money to the Darden machine, but her party-her pick, and there are far worse places you could end up at. I mean at least we aren't talking Applebee's.

          In my opinion, their red sauce is edible, if a bit dull, so I'd probably just go with either a pasta and red sauce option or the pick your own toppings pizza, and focus on the friendship instead of the food.

          1. Ask your server for a recommendation. Just to see what happens.

            Last time I ate at an Olive Garden was a family dinner around 3 or 4 years ago – I just got a long “uh” hesitation from the waitress and I ended up ordering something.

            I have no idea. Maybe lasagna? Chicken crampy?

            Good luck and be sure to report back! Still, remember to have fun and it’s really about celebrating your coworker than about the best food for you.

            3 Replies
              1. re: Emm

                really the picture's on their website were scaring and I'm fussy about pizza. I might consider it though.

                1. re: livetocook

                  The suggestion was to order it, not necessarily to eat it. Nobody's going to notice whether you actually eat or not.

            1. The chicken scampi and chicken con broccoli are good - a bit salty but I like it. I stay far far away from the red sauce

              1. Get whatever seems most recognizable as food, have a side salad with ranch and some leaden bread, and nurse your plate.
                If I'm reading you right, you are not a fan of overcooked pasta, limp iceberg salad, or gummy bread sticks. That's sorta tough to overcome at an OG.
                My rec would be chicken parmesan, if it's still offered. Ask them to go light on the sauce, though the probably won't.

                2 Replies
                1. re: gilintx

                  It won't be your worst meal and it will not be the best food you have had. Be sociable, say something nice, and enjoy the occasion.

                  1. re: gilintx

                    YES!! All you can eat pasta is a disaster, the lettuce is so limp in the salad, I just don't get it. And the breadstick are very gummy and hurt my tummy :P

                  2. I hope this is on the lunch menu, but my husband and I just went there to spend a gift card and I had the pork scallopini, which is (finally!) the best thing I think I've ever had at O.G. The tortellini alfredo mess that came with it was overcooked and blah, but I would definitely get it again and sub spaghetti marinara or something.
                    What a relief it was to discover that item, let me tell you.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: occula

                      Thank you I'll look into that one. I was also wondering about the steak gorgonzola-alfredo.

                      1. re: livetocook

                        That's what my husband always gets when we end up eating there; he likes it.

                        1. re: livetocook

                          I've had that one, actually, steak gorgonzola alfredo. There are worse things you could have there. ;-) I don't know if there are better things, probably depends upon what you're in the mood for and what you like. It's very heavy and filling as you might expect, so if there's a half order that's probably what you want.

                          An occasion comes up once every year or so it seems when I just have to roll with it and go to Olive Garden with family who wants to go. Oh well.

                          BTW, I don't think it usually matters whether something is on the lunch menu or not. I don't remember them running anything where they only made xyz after 4pm or something like that. If something you know exists is not listed on the lunch menu, and that's what you want, just ask.

                      2. I think the chicken marsala is edible (but nowhere near an authentic dish) and you can get it with all broccoli instead of the grody potatoes they usually serve with it. that's my pick.

                        1. I see you're in Edmonton. If forced to go to OG I get their mixed grill, which is decent, and per OG's locator it's served at lunch at both Edmonton locations.

                          1. Well had the lunch today. It started off with a 20min wait for our table. I don't know what was going on but, apparently it takes that long to push two tables together ?? Okay to be fair we found out later they were waiting for the servers to arrive. I never really heard of a shift for lunch starting at noon but, what do I know about running a restaurant.

                            Anyways, we sit down and order drinks, I asked what the have on tap or in the bottle. I love my beers but, everything they had for options were cheap water down crappy beer (bud light, coors, Canadian, Labatt's blue) I just don't care for, with the exception of Traditional Ale (made by Big Rock in Calgary), which is OK but, meh, I wasn't interested. So I got for the strawberry daiquiri. Drink comes and well, dear God, it was horrible. So yes, I jinxed myself earlier by saying, "they can't ruin the drinks there" It tasted like powdered koolaid. The after taste was kind of medicinal. I drank 1/4 of it and mentioned I couldn't drink it anymore. My friend tried it and gave the "WTF?" face. We laughed, I ordered water. I was soooo in the whatever mood.

                            And now on to the meal, I decided on the pork Milanese. I got the Pasta E fagioli (however you spell it) for starter. I ate about 1/4 of the soup which was surprisingly very good but, I needed to save room for the meal. The main arrived promptly but, sadly the pork was pounded and way overcooked. It was dry like leather. I ate one and had to dip it in the pasta sauce as I went. It was some sort of creamy, butter, garlic sauce. There was way too much sauce for the pasta but, maybe that was to disguise that they overcooked the tortellini to death. Or maybe there was so much sauce to drop the hint that you need to dip the dry leather in something to make it edible. I ate 4 pieces of the tortellini and had it packed up. (I'm normally a light eater at lunch and didn't want to make myself sick)

                            Overall the service was really poor but, the server was new by only a week and it was the first time she did a big table. I felt a bit bad for her b/c orders where getting missed, bread sticks where taking forever. She almost brought us drink without alcohol in them (that would have been a disaster!). At one point when she brought one of my co-worker's his pint of Traditional and she said to him, "here's your Keith's." I immediately piped up "you have Keith's (Alexander Keith's my fav!!, )." She stuttered, "oh umm, no. I mean Trad." And then she went on to comment she didn't really know what was all on tap. I kind of thought, "WTF" but, let if go.

                            By the end she messed up the on the bills of the few of us and we ended up getting two $10 gift cards. When I got back to work I handed it to my friend (the one leaving) and told her what happened. (She left when we were waiting for the bill fix.) She was excited about the gift card. So I was happy about that. :)

                            Yeah all in all, 2hrs for lunch. It was Brutal

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: livetocook

                              Having worked in a number of chains, sometimes they stagger start times if lunch is typically slow. The opening servers handle most of the early tables and then as people come in for their shifts,they take over the tables in their section as they are turned. But my guess is the servers were just late. It's a chronic problem and not much you can do about it. Sometimes people just no show/no call, sometimes they're late, and the opening servers can only handle so many tables.

                              1. re: livetocook

                                Thanks for the report back - I was hoping that might work out a little better but I know chain cocktails are usually overly sweet. Usually chain service is pretty good though. At least you had a laugh or two with your coworkers.

                                I remember I went to OG in another city for the first time in (around) 1993 or 1992 and was quite pleased with the place. Of course, I was much younger. It might have been better back then too.