Friday, March 6, 2009

I have gazed into the bowels of hell and they eat Olive Garden

I learned an important lesson this past weekend. Just because something is free doesn’t mean you should actually take, or in this case, ingest it. If you were walking down the corridors of the mall and saw a kiosk that said “free kicks to the groin”, would you allow your nards to be pummeled simply because the service was gratis? If you saw a bin full of “Liberace Plays Barry Manilow” 8-track tapes at Wal-Mart with a red sign that said “FREE”, would you take one, even though you don’t own an 8-track player and any machine you borrowed would spontaneously melt and explode from embarrassment at having housed something so heinous?

We are in the throes of a brutal recession flirting with full depression status. I had a $25 gift card to Olive Garden that I “won” (a debatable term) at my company’s Christmas party. Sherri and I needed a night out. Friday night + babysitter + $25 for food = CHEAP DATE. I knowingly compromised my standards, bit the shotgun shell, took an imaginary shot of make-believe scotch, and departed for Olive Garden. We showed up around 7:00 and there was barely a place to stand. The hostess said the wait was 70 minutes. Are you bloody freaking kidding me?! People actually WAIT for this place? I quickly mastered my nerves and allowed my highly logical Pearson brain to take over, rationalizing the fact that 70 minutes in Restaurantland actually meant 30 minutes in the real world. 67 minutes later we were seated.

Next to the county fair and Wal-Mart on a Saturday, Olive Garden provides the best people-watching experience known to mankind. We saw squirrely-looking prom dates, jaded lesbians, hood-rat gangstas, and a woman whose obnoxious knockers were being contained by a polyester stretchy shirt four sizes too small. I swear if that behem’ho had twisted to one side at the wrong angle, one of those monsters would have sprung out with wicked force, knocking her (or any bystander within three feet) unconscious. Oddly enough, I don’t think the freak show waiting in the lobby would have even noticed. Just another night at Olive Garden for them.

Why my aversion to Olive Garden? Because it is trash. It is terrible food. Granted, I lived in Italy for two years and am a little pickier toward Italian cuisine, but not overly so. Their processed sauces and mushy pastas are just BAD. You will find better Italian food at Fazzolis, Pizza Hut, and in Chef Boyardee cans. Do these people not know there is a Macaroni Grill right across the freaking street that actually serves good Italian food for roughly the same price?!

By the time we were seated I was already angry. Angry that I had to wait 67 minutes for inevitably bad food. Angry that I had to watch knocker-lady bounce and flit around the freak show lobby. And angry that we were seated next to the family with the autistic redheaded heavy girl that yelled out “basagna classico!” every 90 seconds and continuously asked for crackers for her soup.

When the waitress asked us for our order I said, “I really don’t like this restaurant, but it’s been years since I’ve been here. What would you recommend that might change my opinion?” I don’t remember what she offered partially due to her bad answer, but mostly due to the high-pitched squeal of the steam pouring out of my ears. I knew my only hope was to order the most bizarre thing possible, with potent cheeses or sauces, hoping to mask the overall gnarliness of Olive Garden food. I went with the Steak Gorgonzola-Alfredo. And, naturally, I hated it. I ate the steak off the top and went Doberman on the salad and breadsticks.

The moral to this story is twofold. Free does not necessarily mean good. And, most importantly, Olive Garden sucks. That is all. Boom goes the dynamite.


Sister said...

This post made me yearn for Utah Olive Gardens, the people-watching is so much more enjoyable than it is here. I find that usually when we are at Olive Garden WE are the family being stared at like knocker lady and cracker girl. I wonder if there is a post about us somewhere...

Ben-Jammin' said...

Fact: If I found the "Liberace Plays Barry Manilow" 8-track at Wal-Mart for free, I would take it. I'd even grab it if it was in the $5 HOT DEALS bin. I'd then proceed to the closest Deseret Industries and buy the nicest 8-Track player there (you know they've all got more than one in stock). And then I would rock out to "Mandy" and "Copacabana" like never before.

But yes, Olive Garden does suck.

The Barker Family said...

Dude! You are freaking hilarous! I've never been an Olive Garden fan either, and have never been able to figure out why so many people are lovers of the place. Everytime I hear 'Olive Garden' now, I will think of this post and laugh. Good times.

Snyder-mom said...

I don't mean to gross you out or anything but I happen to love Olive Garden. Granted, I have never had "True" Italian food, but the dishes I order are really not too Italian anyway.
I love the soup, salad and bread sticks. To me, it's the perfect lunch combination.
I also can't help but order the chicken parmigiana every now and then.
Sorry, I really do hate to disappoint.


I totally just wet my pants...hilarious...and I am, as always, in utter amazement at what a freaking incredible writer you are. Seriously think you need to send this to MAcaroni Grill. Classic.