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NOT FOOD PORN: A post I found on my SK3 but did not post, because when I wrote it up I was in one of the many, many areas around here where T-Mobile's service doesn't work right.

I couldn't remember, but checking the call log on my phone, it was Sunday the 20th of January that this sudden, entirely voluntary but morally mandatory dinner appointment took place. I had just been to Reedville Cafe the night before, for crab with friends.
Mom called as I was trying to get out of the house for church on the morning of the 20th.
My nephew Brandon was about to head off to become a trained Jarhead.

We went to the Olive Garden in Salem,Oregon, and this was what I wrote up on my phone, then forgot until just now when I came across it:

Not pornish at all!!!
Last night I went to Olive Garden, as part of a going-to-boot-camp thing for my nephew Brandon.
I chose the Beef Rib Braised in Chianti, served with Portobello Risotto and Garden Vegetables.
I did not get photos. However, if I had, the grainy, jittery camera-phone quality would have been all this mess deserved.

My mouth is still angry with me.
First, plating. On a brick-red patterned plate as large across as the steering wheel of my car, a similarly red-brown mass, with tiny brown lumps that were apparently arborio rice, hidden among them some sliced crimini (not anywhere near large enough to call portobello) and lain in a sort of band on top, a small serving of steamed french cut green beans and carrots. Spaced evenly along the edges of the mass of risotto were six or seven two-inch lumps of braised beef. In a ring around and across the risotto was the chianti sauce.

Except for the overall brown tinted with red and yellow but mostly brown color scheme, it looked ok. It smelled pretty good to a hungry diner who had waited a half-hour for them to serve their "all you can stand" salad.

However. The sauce was like a sweet and sour barbecue sauce that had no depth or character. If that sourness was due to the chianti then those grapes were sour, angry grapes, and the sweetness was not a fruity sweetness, though it smelled promising. The beef rib bits were somewhat dry and stringy, as if they wanted to be cut differently. The beef flavors weren't complemented well.

The risotto was bland. If they used parmesan in it, they got it from a green can, and that can wasn't even as good as Kraft's can. Thus, the risotto was crushed under the bad chianti sauce that had been drooled all over it. The parts which had no red sauce were ok, and the mushrooms were quite nice.

The vegetables were flavorless, the only thing differentiating carrot from string bean being the different squeak of the vegetable fiber against the teeth.

All in all my recommendation is Avoid This Entree' but that sort of goes along with "Olive Garden".


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 3rd, 2008 05:12 pm (UTC)
That would pretty much be the Olive Garden experience. They promise you abundance and deliciousness, but it takes them forever to get it to you. Meanwhile they give you a basket of those oily, salty bread-things to fill you up. When you run out of those, or soup or salad, expect another wait. Why is it so hard to get refills?

And, if you are waiting at the bar for someone and order a drink, it cannot be put onto your dinner tab. You have to pay for it separately. This drives me crazy.

Haven't been there in about three years and haven't missed it.
Feb. 3rd, 2008 09:27 pm (UTC)
We didn't wait at the bar, but we did have a five minute wait from when I got there. Mom and Mitch arrived about an hour before (I was running a bit late, and then hit some evil traffic, being Sunday night) and I got there at a reasonable time.
However, and as I commented below to another friend - it took bloody forever to get the food, but it was a full restaurant. The parking lot is actually a full block and it was FULL; I got the only non-handicapped parking space left in the lot. Mom and Mitch had been waiting there an hour when I got there.

I think the drink-vs-dining thing has to do with California liquor licensing, but I have to admit that I haven't tried to do that myself. I've never heard anyone mention it here.
Feb. 3rd, 2008 06:09 pm (UTC)
if this isn't food porn is it food horror?

in any case, my experience with olive garden has never been a bad one. call me lucky, but my times there have never been fraught with the perils others have had. my meals have always arrived in a reasonable amount of time, the service was courteous and not lacking, and the food was fair to good in quality. i mean, it's not like i go out of my way to eat at one (in fact, what times i've been to one in the last several years have actually been while out of state and, for the life of me, i can't recall if there's even one anywhere near boston) but i wouldn't turn it down.
Feb. 3rd, 2008 09:12 pm (UTC)
I've never had actually toxic food there before, but it's never been really GOOD.

The place is huge, and was full, which means the service was a bit edgy.
There was some Drama with the sister-in-law having her periodic increased-dumb and taking something teasing that Mom said as a profound personal affront. (1) she's married to my brother, if she can't handle some degree of sarcastic humor she married the wrong person, (2) at some point she's going to need to apologize for walking out rather than excusing herself first.

But that didn't really change the quality of the food. The service was good, but the salad was a bit old and tasted of nothing, except the prefab-tasting salad dressings, the breadsticks didn't smell much like anything.
The meal itself (arriving an hour after we were seated) actually smelled good from a distance.
Feb. 4th, 2008 10:34 pm (UTC)
i'm always rather mystified by that phenomenon of food smelling amazingly good but when you eat it, tasting ridiculously bland.
Feb. 5th, 2008 06:33 pm (UTC)
I could have handled bland, but flavors clashing and being so CLUMSY... uch.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )