Hi. My name's Carol, and I love food. No, you don't understand. I love food. If I were on the Titanic, I'd be in the galley (kitchen) eating up the chocolate pudding and the roasted quail. I go to most events, activities and parties just for the food. The company and the conversation are secondary. Here, I'll try to document everything that goes into my mouth. Aren't we excited? Oh, hey, are you gonna eat that?
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Not hungry at Olive Garden
Happy Mother's Day! I know it's not Mother's Day today, but who cares what you think?! Have you seen the crowds on Mother's Day Sunday? Then, you'll understand why me and my son went out to celebrate at an Olive Garden a few days early.
James has been bugging me to go ever since he went for the first time last week with his friend and tried their pasta shells in a creamy cheese sauce, aka the next best thing since Kraft mac 'n cheese. Both me and his father were surprised he'd even try something new. He usually grills the servers to make sure his mac 'n cheese is the familiar Kraft version. But he tried it, liked it, and now can't get enough.
At first I thought about making a reservation for Sunday. I know, I know. I'm insane. Some Olive Gardens accept reservations. The one I called did not. The Olive Garden worker on the other line discouraged me from coming by making a huge deal of the crowds that hit them from the moment they open until the moment they close. I guess if a restaurant is super-busy all the time they don't really need my business, right? I mean, they can get by on their own without my extra money. Stupid.
Anyway, I then went creative. Who says we had to celebrate Mother's Day when the whole world does? I'm not caught up in the whole following thing. So there we were earlier today, around 4:45-5 p.m., just me and my son at an Olive Garden farther up north, where a lot of people don't go for some reason (maybe they don't know it exists).
Sure enough, NOBODY was there. We had an excellent server who took really good care of us. An excellent server can make up for the worst of food. She was extremely attentive, repeatedly came back to refill our chocolate milk and colas, and basically made it so I never had to ask for a thing. And, she was kind. Not the fake I want your money in big tips kind, but genuinely kind and engaging. She singlehandedly encouraged me--by her outstanding service alone--to return again and again.
It's just too bad I wasn't very hungry. I hadn't eaten anything other than a zucchini muffin. So it was strange. I gamely had a bowl of minestrone (awesome and vegetarian, according to the menu) with two bread sticks, which were already seasoned well. I seriously think I could just live on these bread sticks (aren't they never-ending?), the salad and this bowl of soup, and call it good.
While James dove into his precious creamy shells 'n cheese like a man in a desert oasis, I took a few bites of my Chicken Marsala--something I'd picked out from the restaurant chain's online menu from the night before. There weren't enough mushrooms to suit my taste and the marsala made it a tad too sweet (I've had savory Chicken Marsala before). Still, even though it was odd to not have pasta in an Italian restaurant with my main course, the potatoes were decently crisped up, if not in need of some seasoning.
The piece de resistance was the Zeppoli, Italian donuts served here with a small container of warm chocolate sauce. The donuts were dense so they definitely needed the added sweet oomph of the chocolate. They looked like New Orleans beignets, but weren't as crisp or as light as I would've liked. But they were the first time I had Zeppoli, and I wasn't about to let that opportunity go passing me by.
All in all, this was the kind of Mother's Day I prefer. A quiet day with the love of my life, talking about the day, laughing about dad's tendency to forget things, and seeing my son's eyes light up as the plates of food lit up on the table.
I'm not much for the Olive Garden/Red Lobster phenomenon. The chains tend to serve food that's a little generic and Americanized for my liking. But they're consistent, they're filling, and they're not that bad flavor-wise. Plus, my son loves them. Good enough for me.