The Olive Garden

Rusty and I had a brief discussion as to whether we should include the Olive Garden in this blog...after all, it's just a chain. But, I felt that not including the meal we had at the the Olive Garden the other night would violate the spirit of this blog, which is to talk about where we eat. It would be snobby not to talk about it.

Rusty's family and my family met at the Olive Garden by Mall 205 this past Friday night. I remember when the Olive Garden first came to the Portland area...it was the coolest thing around (I was ten, give me a break). The Olive Garden is certainly a chain restaurant, in that the food is the same from place to place. Our meals were tasty, but nothing too exceptional. Rusty had a pizza, his wife had the soup and salad, and my wife and I both had the five cheese ziti al forno. Our daughters (ages two and three respectively) shared a dish of spaghetti. As is always the case, they brought us plenty of salad and bread sticks.

The Olive Garden is not cheap. Meal prices range from $11 to $18.

I think what was great about this particular meal was the service. Our server was terrific! A word of caution, this server did come on the heels of two very atrocious servers. But I have found, over the years, that the Olive Garden tends to hire and employee well-trained people. As Rusty observed, in a city like Portland where there are so many places to eat, sometimes what makes or breaks a restaurant is the service. I guess that's why we waited 45 minutes to be seated in a very full restaurant. The Olive Garden may not be exceptional food, but it is a nice place to go and enjoy a warm meal with good service and friends.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi! I was just looking for a place to eat in Portland and I came across your blog.

I think its funny because I actually work at the Olive Garden- not the one in mall 205, but rather, the new one in Vancouver, WA that opened on Mill Plain.

I feel compelled to comment because working for the Olive Garden (only since October) I will say that Darden restaurants spends the most time and money, hands down, on training their servers. We undergo 8 days of 8hr/day training before we are even allowed to hit the floor, experience or not. We also learn that their recipes are created in the Riserva de Fizzano, which is an instute in Tuscany designed to train the OG chefs and create the OG menu. So while the portions are beefed up and the richness dulled down before it hits an American table, but the inspirations do directly come from Italy.

Now, I am actually Italian- meaning I was born in Italy, my family is Italian, and I served in Rome for a couple years before I came over to the states. With the economy being the way it is, I took the Olive Garden job, which was handed to me on a platter because of my experience and wine knowledge.

But I'd like to thank you for the compliment on the service at the OG. We do strive to provide everyone with exceptional service. The managers at OG take pride in their team, and its a well known fact among the staff that you will be fired if you have a poor attitude.

The OG is a corporate machine geared at pleasing the guests 100%. It can be tough for a server to work there as so many people take advantage of that ethic and tend to abuse the servers who are frankly, too terrified to do anything but please the guest.

I, myself, do not support chains, but in the midst of a financial crisis, it is nice to have a corporate umbrella over me to protect my job.

So I guess I'd like to say that even though you are like me, and like good food from original sources, freshness, and authenticity, you did take a chance on a chain and found it somewhat pleasurable.

And that happens to support people like me. :)

So thank you. Whether its for the Olive Garden or not, I take pride in my service, and those are the type of people OG chooses to hire.