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What's the attraction/Olive Garden

  • b

Attended a party at the Olive Garden in Peabody. the place had a 1/2hr wait at 12-why? The food is a "chain" quality, plates were hot because they are probably sitting under heat lites, bread tasted like flavored wonder bread, salad, is just salad, and I didn't think the prices were any bargin. glad I didn't have to pay. First and last time I'll be there

Olive Garden
8 Allstate Rd, Dorchester, MA 02125

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  1. I used to travel for work with a team of six or seven people. I made it my mission to hunt out local places. We would still end up at the "OG" once or twice. You have to understand everyone is not a Chowhound. I stuck to the Salad and bread sticks because the tour of Italy (which most ordered) is a calorie nightmare.

    1. One of the reasons why Chowhound exists is because even if people can understand why this is, they will never be able to identify with it.

      1. I have a number of friends who dine regularly at our local OG and absolutely love it. My best guess as to why is the predictability of the food and the large portions. As chris2269 noted, not everyone is a CH and what constitutes a great eating experience varies widely. I also think that one of the appeal of chains for people is that they know what they are getting from location to location. No surprises.

        I occasionally get dragged along for lunch and it isn't awful, IMO, it just isn't my preference. The AYCE soup and salad is a good value and I can always find something to eat.

        1. I have one rule about OG...never, ever wait for a table. (well, I feel that way about a lot of places, mostly cause when I'm hungry I can get cranky). I do like OG a bit. I've only been there twice in the last 10 years and I have to say, I enjoy it. The mushroom ravioli...and the lemon crunch cake...they're both pretty good. I think people like OG because it's predictable and reliable. Cheap, not so much but people take comfort in the familiar.

          1. OG is a good alternative to Italian.

            They don't have much in common.

            1. I grew up in Central Jersey, where there is A LOT of excellent Italian comfort food. My family and friends generally eschew this restaurant and go to great lengths to avoid it. However, I enjoyed going as a child with my family when it was "new" to the area. My high school friends and I would frequently eat there. Now, about once a year, my best friend and I will go just to get something sloppy and cheesy and carb-load up on the breadsticks. It's junk food, but sometimes it's fun. I don't actually consider it to be "Italian" food. (Maggiano's comes much closer imho)

              1. Soup, Salad & Breadstick lunch is pretty good for the price!

                Otherwise, I haven't eaten Olive Garden in years and probably wouldn't. But I would assume people like it because it's fairly cheap and the dishes seem to aim at "comfort food." Growing up, I think I went there a lot and probably thought it was pretty delicious. I guess it's just a slippery slope once you enter the realm of quality food. You just can't go back.

                6 Replies
                1. re: nutmeg0287

                  That comes across as a tad pretentious, nutmeg, It's all 'quality food'; just varying degrees. I enjoy food. period. I loved the 104 dollar double ribeye at Wynns and, equally, I can enjoy an ayce bowl of pasta for 9 dollars at OG.

                  1. re: mucho gordo

                    Actually what I meant by quality is fresh, real, not covered in sauce and salt.. etc.. I've in fact never eaten a meal that cost that much in my entire life and I probably never will. Has nothing to do with price. I could be talking about a plain old tomato (a fresh, quality tomato!) vs a piece of cheap chicken that has to be fried then covered in cheese and sauce to taste appealing.

                    I didn't mean to come off as pretentious, but I think we can all agree that some food is better than others and personally, I don't see a point in eating food that I know isn't good for me if it doesn't taste amazing.

                    1. re: nutmeg0287

                      Thanks for the clarification, nutmeg. Ordinarily I would never spend that much on a dinner either but, it was for a special occasion and the double was split between the 2 of us so, it's about 52+ each. I agree that, if the food makes you sick, obviously you wouldn't eat it. Are you saying that there are no 'fairly cheap' places serving 'comfort food' that you would eat at? If so. you are missing out on one of life's greatest pleasures.

                      1. re: mucho gordo

                        Abs-o-lutely not! And I love places like that! But I think those tend to be small and out of the way and not chains. The restaurant I worked at through high school was like that. Tiny Italian place, nothing more than $15. Amazing food. I miss it.

                    2. re: mucho gordo

                      I also did mention that there was a point in my life, where I though that Olive Garden... like, totally ruled.

                  2. I haven't ate at a OG in a couple years, due to the hour+ wait at all of them near me. However, from what I remember the food is not that bad. A lot of people are never shown "good quality food" ... There is no comparision from OG to a homemade pasta and sauce.

                    Nutmeg hit the nail on the head : I guess it's just a slippery slope once you enter the realm of quality food. You just can't go back.

                    As I get older and get to experience more items .. the more a dislike OG .. however at one point in my life .. I could NOT wait to go back for thier alfredo and chicken..

                    1. people go there because they don't know how to cook and think Stouffer's Lasagna is delicious. My coworker goes there for all of special occasions and it makes me nuts. *I* can make her better food! She also disliked the excellent Italian restaurant that I recommended to her because the bread was "too hard". Um... it was real semolina bread... not a stupid bread stick!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Njchicaa

                        Funny to open CH and find this thread since tonight I went to OG for only the second time in ten years. My kids (13 and 12) are at an age to be entranced by advertising, and both of them seemed to feel the VERY-advertised 'endless pasta' was something they wanted. We were busy & some distance from home tonight and I thought, "What the heck, how bad can it be?"
                        It was incredibly crowded, even on a Tuesday night, and I just do NOT get the appeal. I think the prices are awfully steep for pasta, and honestly, nothing was what you would call 'good'. We had a lovely waitress, and the salad was nice and crisp, but other than that...bleeech. My son got fettucini alfredo, which tasted pretty much like evaporated milk with nutmeg, my daughter bailed on the pasta and wanted the pizza, which was absolutely tasteless. And tiny. And twelve dollars. My daughter ordered an 'Italian soft drink' which she decided tasted just like a mixture of Sprite & GoGurt (she didn't drink it). The breadsticks are hot but they taste like styrofoam. I wimped out and ordered chicken & gnocchi soup, which tasted like (more) evaporated milk. Here is the good news...both kids declared that their dinner was 'kinda yuck' and that they felt duped by the commercials. Seriously, you can't pass up a chance to make a point like this with your kids...even if it means you have to eat at least one really lousy meal once in a while. I do not get the appeal. At. All. If I'm on a slippery slope, somebody find me a sled, because I'm heading downhill as fast as I can go.

                      2. It seems that more and more people that I talk to seem to be very happy with mediocre food. More and more of the restaurants that I have gone to seem to serve mediocre food. If it's not really good food I would just as well stay home and eat my own. OG is, in my opinion, one of those restaurants.

                        1. When I was in college 20 years ago, OG was an exotic, expensive luxury. Obviously I grew up on a farm nowhere near any large towns and had never been in another Italian restaurant. Perspective!

                          Now I think it's an overpriced, butter-and-alfredo-drenched disappointment much of the time, but sometimes find something I like.

                          My secret shame is that theirs is my favorite tiramisu of all.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: occula

                            Even in the most rigid, computer driven chain, the management and expertise of the kitchen can make a great difference. The Oive Garden in New Berlin, WI has always provided great salads, fresh soups, and good pasta for the money. The one here in Melbourne, FL is not on my list of go to places for a quick know what I am getting meal. We have great Sicilian, Adriatic, and Neapolitan restaurants in the area. And I have spent alot of time eating my way through the boot of Italy. There is a place for Olive Garden.

                            Of interest to me were the numerous complaints about the wait time for what they received. A lot of busted eateries in the area would be happy with that complaint. Great concepts and wonderful execution that were in the wrong market, or didn't have the pockets for advertising.

                          2. I went recently as my two good friends love going there. I had the soup, salad combo which for the price wasn't bad. And my friend had a gift card (her husband hates OG) so it was okay. But in all honesty, we only go about once a year for lunch. My husband and I don't like the food.

                            1. For people who grew up on Chef-Boy-Ardee, Olive Garden is like dying and going to heaven stocked with an all you can eat buffet of "Italian" food.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                I suspect there may well be some Chowhounders and other folks who, over time, changed their eating habits but who DID grow up on Chef Boyardee.

                              2. their entrees are bad but the appetizers and desserts oh and the drinks are good for the price. I hate their bread-sticks. A lot of people I know like it too. Ugh. If you are doing a chain Italian place at least go to Buca's:)

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: danionavenue

                                  Yeah, I'd have to say that my best friend and I make our "once-a-year" trip there for the apps and the desserts. We get whatever's drowning in cheese and cream sauce for the app and whatever's chocolate-y for the dessert.

                                  I have Italian friends and family (and heck, I'm pretty much Italian by osmosis, after growing up in central Jersey) and there's always been this general consensus that Olive Garden isn't really Italian, anymore than Taco Bell is really Mexican. It's just junk food that you shouldn't eat a lot of, but which makes for an enjoyable evening on occasion. We all hold much the same stance with Papa John's and Pizza Hut (though I haven't been to the latter in YEARS - lost my childhood affection for it). It should be noted though that in my hometown, the Pizza Hut has been limping along for years, and the Papa Johns that set up there closed after a year or two.

                                2. I haven't been in about a decade. I used to love the lunch specials in college...I was poor and wanted more than Taco Bell on occasion. I remember the salad being pretty decent...and I loved the rolls. Would I like them today? Who knows? I try to avoid chains....not solely because of quality, but because I prefer to support a mom and pop business and I give them all the help I can. Running a restaurant is hard work.