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Jan 24, 2012 02:30 PM

Olive Garden [moved from Greater Seattle board]

We got some gift certificates for Olive Garden. Normally wouldn't be caught dead in this kind of place. But, we have $75 worth of certificates.

Would someone with experience there please share it so we can maximize our pleasure. (Our closest OG is in Totem Lake.)

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  1. Give them to your kid's school. The teachers might appreciate them.

    1. I was going to suggest donating them to a charity silent auction. Restaurant gift certificates were a huge hit at the Seattle Animal Shelter auction I volunteered at a few months ago. Some people do genuinely love the place, but if you don't why waste your time?

      1. If you've already decided you hate the place or the idea of going there, it's unlikely you'll enjoy it very much. If you sit in the bar you could blow most of the GC on alcohol -- their wine list isn't bad -- and not have to worry much about the food -- maybe just some apps or something.

        But I'm not among the OG haters. I think it's the Denny's of Italian food -- and not in a bad way. It's cheap and reliable and decent if you don't expect too much and order stuff that's in their wheelhouse.

        I usually stick with the soups and salad -- the Pasta e Fagioli and Minestrone are pretty good (although I usually dump a little of the marinara sauce that's invariably on the table into the minestrone to make it more tomatoey). The calamari and mussels apps are pretty good and reliable as it all comes in frozen.

        My kids love the Fett Alfredo (although it is an unconventional prep to say the least) and my MIL adores the Eggplant Parm. If I go for an entree I might get something off the Carne menu, like the Steak Toscano or the Short Ribs or the Mixed Grill.

        As noted in a recent article, they do not do the pasta "al dente" because they are under the impression that most Americans do not like it that way. Seems strange but I suppose they could be right. But the flavors are decent in a sort of Midwestern Italian-American way.

        Totem Lake is our closest location too. Unless you want to eat really late, be prepared for an unconscionably long wait for a table.

        1. Sorry you lost the contest and got stuck with the consolation prize.

          What was the first place prize, a free order of McNuggets?

          1. There's a Bahama Breeze in Tukwila. I'd consider going there instead, if it were me, although sometimes whether this is better could vary by location. It might be too far for you though. The cards should work there just as well unless it's some kind of weirdo certificate/promo. The other Darden shop you presumably have there is Red Lobster, although that is not necessarily an improvement. No Longhorn out there.

            Otherwise, yeah, donate, or make the best of it. I go there occasionally when someone else insists upon that (older people in my family, perhaps, sometimes). I just pick something and don't expect to be wowed; I don't go there often enough to have a standard go-to item, nor do I find that there's anything in particular that I insist upon avoiding. It's just a so-so meal in a corporate atmosphere. The killer is that it seems to be so popular that the wait is always forever, sometimes even on weeknights.