#15: Olive Garden

It’s been a crazy couple weeks with Halloween, birthdays and such, but it’s time to get back to business.  Dinner at Olive Garden is how we will resume.  This was my first visit in many years.

When I walked in my party was being seated at a booth in the bar area.  We were greeted by a server with an overly bubbly personality.  We were still waiting on one last person so we just ordered drinks.  I was undecided at first and waited until two glasses of wine were delivered.  I then asked about the beer taps I could see at the bar.  I could see a Blue Moon tap and asked what was behind it.  She looked over at it and said it was Sierra Nevada.  I decided to go with the Blue Moon.

Some long period of time went by, the last party member arrived and she ordered a wine off their promotional menu that comes wrapped around the normal menu.  Our server came back at least 2 times to look at the menu again and see what the wine was, she wasn’t familiar with it and was having a very difficult time finding it.  The manager stopped by to see how everything was going and we let her know about the mystery wine.  She made an expression that conveyed “ah, I know exactly where that is and will take care of it”.  She did, and it arrived shortly after.  At some point during all this my beer was served, except it was the Sierra Nevada.  Our server’s presence was scarce and I eventually just took it to the bar directly and had it swapped out with the correct one.

Around this time we were finally served breadsticks, also an appetizer of Stuffed Mushrooms (Parmesan, romano and mozzarella cheese, clams and herb breadcrumbs baked in mushroom caps) which I had ordered.  The breadsticks had oil or butter brushed on them.  Unfortunately they were pretty boring.  I think I was the only one to finish one.  The Mushrooms were pretty good.  The parmesan, herb breadcrumbs and the mushrooms themselves were the dominating flavors.  I couldn’t taste any clams at all, in fact I didn’t even realize there were clams in it until I reread the menu while typing this.

The salad arrived as we finished the mushrooms.  I can’t recall if someone ordered it or if it is normally served like the bread.  Fresh parmesan was applied and we all dug in.  It’s a simple but good, fresh salad.

We were about halfway into the salad when our entrées arrived.  I had ordered the Shrimp & Crab Tortelli Romana (Shrimp, crab and smoked mozzarella-filled ravioli, topped with sautéed shrimp in a three cheese and sun-dried tomato sauce).  It was served in a large shallow bowl and smelled amazing.  The sun-dried tomato sauce was very rich and creamy, the shrimp plentiful, and the ravioli well stuffed and excellent.  I was very happy with this dish and would absolutely order it again.

The process of finishing the meal and getting out was pretty long and drawn out.  Or server took insane amounts of time between checking on us, bringing boxes for leftovers (that part alone took something like 3 separate visits over about 20 minutes), bringing the check, splitting it, fixing incorrectly split checks, and finally running the actual cards.  This was a common theme during this visit which I think I already mentioned earlier in this post.  The whole experience took about an hour longer than it should have and was frustrating.  Like I said before, she had a great personality for customer service, but her speed and attention to detail left a LOT to be desired.

I feel like I should give this 2 separate ratings – The first based purely on the food and the second factoring in the service.  I don’t think a single bad experience with a server should taint the restaurant as a whole.

The food was great overall.  I do think the breadsticks could be changed up to something a more tasty, probably just slices with butter would be a good improvement.  Actually as I re-read their menu right now I see you can order dipping sauces for the breadsticks for $3.75.  They must know their breadsticks need a little something, this should just be included as a standard.  Based on the food only I would give it a 4 out of 5.

When factoring in the service side of things I would downgrade it to 2 out of 5.  I’m sure the pace of the service might appeal to some, but it just got irritating after the first few long absences.  In my opinion, the manager should have kept a closer eye on the server after the wine issue to see that everything else went smoothly, but I never saw her after that.


Website: http://www.olivegarden.com/italian-restaurant/CA/Roseville/1574/

One thought on “#15: Olive Garden

  1. It is a shame to hear of your experience with Olive Garden breadsticks, as they are typically “divine” and extremely flavorful. They are actually supposed to be Garlic breadsticks and should taste very buttery with a healthy presence of garlic. When served hot, fresh, and made correctly, I would happily go an entire day surviving on an entire platter of nothing but Olive Garden breadsticks. Having eaten at Olive Garden in several states and cities around the country, I unfortunately have to bestow the honor of worst breadsticks to a an Olive Garden in Citrus Heights… it’s depressing to hear of bland breadsticks in Roseville as well. Trust me though, when made right, you shouldn’t really need any dipping sauce – it’s that good. I generally have heard nothing but good comments about Olive Garden breadsticks.

    I have had the Shrimp & Crab Tortelli Romana in the past as well and must say that it is one of my favorite dishes on the menu – and that is a pretty difficult honor to bestow with so many great tasting plates on the menu.

    Very depressing to hear of your server experience – not only does she sound new, but manager followups really should have been a “must” following the wine fiasco (sounds like a noob moment to me, personally).

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