Swing and a miss! Just got back after a 2 hour adventure at the local Olive Garden. Thirty minute wait to be seated and about 1 hour 15 min to get food. Not a good showing.
We gave it a chance. We held off on going until now. New location. New staff. Etc. The kids wanted pasta so I decided to take them to Olive Garden. Lee’s Summit opened this location about 3 weeks ago. I figured they have worked out the kinks with their service as many new restaurants do. Didn’t matter… or they needed more time.
The 30 minute wait to be seated is not so bad and I can live with it. You get that at many places. The kids are another story.
I hadn’t been to an Olive Garden for 15 years. I think the last one I patronized was over by the old Bannister Mall (it became a chinese buffet after that, which I probably frequented more). I digress.
The Olive Garden TV commercials are so inviting. It shows young, diverse, fit, smiling couples with nice teeth bubbling with excitement to eat pasta and bread sticks. They look like they are having so much fun. I want to have that kind of fun. I can have that kind of fun. Olive Garden should be full of vivacious people like this.
Here is where reality smacks you in the face. It starts outside the front entrance where people are smoking. Quite a few people. (You have seen these power smokers… the older lady who smokes the Virgina Slim and her hand never leaves her face and the cigarette stays 1 inch away from her lips between drags.) As they take years off their lives, the smell of cigarettes wafts into the foyer where everyone else is waiting. Very unpleasant and the kids made mention of it more than once.
There were a number of people who left their table, exited, smoked, and returned (looking back, I know now this was related to the long wait for food). How did we know they were the smokers? They smelled like ashtrays. It was gross.
I never did see any of those young, diverse, fit, smiling people with nice teeth. Quite the opposite. It WAS diverse for sure. The diversity consisted of the elderly, Nascar fans and possibly an overeaters anonymous meeting. The bottomless pasta bowl and free bread sticks were the sirens calling them in. Where else can you get a sit down dinner of 1200 calories for $10 or less?
Let’s begin with salad. “Salad” in the academic sense. It had lettuce and was coated with some sort of oily substance. Too much onion. The only saving grace was the cameo appearance by the tangy banana pepper. The bread sticks were good. Kids loved them. Not my thing, but I will offer a small gold star.
My glass sat empty for too long between replenishment in the 1 hour 15 minutes we sat at our table. Another mark in the bad column.
The kids ordered normal kid fare. Spaghetti with red sauce and chicken fingers (the boy loves his chicken fingers like Hugh Hefner likes blondes).
I ordered something lighter (The Venetian Apricot Chicken). Sounded tasty right?
[tick, tick, tick]
[montage of me with a gray beard, kids with their graduation caps and diplomas]
Here comes the food. You might have thought they make the pasta in house as long as it took. Chicken fingers are your normal crap. The spaghetti with red sauce left me unimpressed but I didn’t have high expectations from the kids menu.
My chicken dish was the equivalent of a high end frozen dinner. The chicken breasts were flat (I prefer mine busty and full. These were more like Goldie Hawn). The broccoli, asparagus, and tomatoes were limp and bland. The “citris” part of the dish must have been orange marmalade slathered on top. Trust me when I tell you that the picture below did not resemble my dish. (well, maybe the Goldie Hawn part)
Olive Garden: Venetian Apricot Chicken
To the server’s credit, at the 40 minute mark she recognized terrible service and was doing as much as she could. Her tea replenishment picked up as soon as she caught on.
Will I go back? Maybe, but I will give this place some more time. I hope they get more microwaves in their kitchen to keep up with the demand.
PS. Ron Best is listed as the General Manager. I am not throwing him under the bus, but he needs to be informed. They win as a team and lose as a team.