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Thread: Olive Garden versus local fare?

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  1. #1
    Member Spitball's Avatar
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    Olive Garden versus local fare?

    My wife and I were in Fort Myers, Florida, the week before last. There were lots of people from the New England area visiting. Despite the fact there are lots of nice restaurants in that town, there were some people that week who ate regularly at the Olive Garden there.

    Tonight, my wife is in Hot Springs, Arkansas, at a conference. There are lots of cool restaurants in that town. Yet, the crowd she is with voted to go to Olive Garden.

    Now, I like Olive Garden. It is a fine place to eat...but when I'm on the road, I don't choose a national chain if I can help it. I can always eat at Olive Garden when I am at home. When on the road, I want to sample the local fare.

    I like to get on the internet and see what is getting good reviews and try it out. I have experienced some great eateries in several different locals.

    What do you people do when you are on the road? Olive Garden/other national chains or sample the local flavors?
    Last edited by Spitball; 04-04-2011 at 09:06 PM.
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  2. #2
    We Need Our Myths reds1869's Avatar
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    Re: Olive Garden versus local fare?

    Local flavor guy here, both at home and away. I avoid most national chains unless someone else insists on going.

  3. #3
    Miami Redhawks Redhook's Avatar
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    Re: Olive Garden versus local fare?

    Easy, get out of the box and sample. You never know when you'll have one of the best meals of your life. And I guarantee that you'll never think that after dining at the Olive Garden....as much as I do enjoy the place.
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    The Lineups stink. KronoRed's Avatar
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    Re: Olive Garden versus local fare?

    Depends on the look of the local places, but I do avoid Olive Garden.
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  5. #5
    Member cumberlandreds's Avatar
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    Re: Olive Garden versus local fare?

    Quote Originally Posted by KronoRed View Post
    Depends on the look of the local places, but I do avoid Olive Garden.
    I do too. IMO they are overrated and way overpriced. I only go there when my wife insists on going.
    I like to try local fare when away. As long as it looks like a decent enough place to go into. You will almost always find the food better at local places than national chains.
    Reds Fan Since 1971

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    Re: Olive Garden versus local fare?

    Quote Originally Posted by KronoRed View Post
    Depends on the look of the local places, but I do avoid Olive Garden.
    Hear! Hear!

  7. #7
    THAT'S A FACT JACK!! GAC's Avatar
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    Re: Olive Garden versus local fare?

    Quote Originally Posted by KronoRed View Post
    Depends on the look of the local places, but I do avoid Olive Garden.
    That's because it doesn't have a drive-thru window!
    "panic" only comes from having real expectations

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    Re: Olive Garden versus local fare?

    It's definitely a personality thing. Some folks really get antsy at the idea of anything new or unfamiliar, going to a new restaurant, going to a different movie theater than they are used to, etc etc. Olive Garden, McDonalds, KFC- they offer a bit of comfort when folks are already reeling at being in a new town/state.

    My mother was that way- any unexpected changes to plans or eating out at a place she has never been made her really uncomfortable.

  9. #9
    I hate the Cubs LoganBuck's Avatar
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    Re: Olive Garden versus local fare?

    Olive Garden is ok, not a big fan of microwave "italian". I avoid chain restaurants unless, I see no "safe" options. The only time I ever walk into an Applebees is if all other options are unavailable.
    The Sox traded Bullfrog the only player they've got for Shottenhoffen. Four-eyes Shottenhoffen a utility infielder. They've got a whole team of utility infielders.

  10. #10
    Member Spazzrico's Avatar
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    Re: Olive Garden versus local fare?

    Quote Originally Posted by LoganBuck View Post
    Olive Garden is ok, not a big fan of microwave "italian". I avoid chain restaurants unless, I see no "safe" options. The only time I ever walk into an Applebees is if all other options are unavailable.
    I call them restaurants of last.

    "I looked around for something cool, but I gave up and went to Chili's (Friday's, Applebees, etc...)

    *Side note, I worked at both types of restaurants in HS/College. The Friday's in Kenwood (Cincy) was where I worked in particular. I'll never eat at that evil place again. One of the worst jobs I've ever had. I'm still somewhat nostalgic for the other one though.

  11. #11
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    Re: Olive Garden versus local fare?

    When I'm on the road I almost always eat at local restaurants. Even in places like Modesto or Bakersfield I've found some terrific restaurants. Of course, I've been on the same circuit for so many years that I've become familiar with many of the local places.

    I read up on local reviews, if I have time, before I hit the road. I also belong to a program that awards either cash back or airline milage at their member restaurants. That way, if I try a new place and it's terrible (and you can get a terrible meal just about anyplace), I get something out of it. Over the years I've gotten hundreds of thousands of FF miles that have allowed me to upgrade a flight or even do something silly like flying to the Bay Area for a cheeseburger. National chains are very rarely part of their program however.

    About the only time I eat at a national chain is if it's late and/or I'm pressed for time. The good side of national chains is that you pretty much know what you're going to get when you go in. Usually it's pretty mediocre but at least that's a known.

    Rem

  12. #12
    Titanic Struggles Caveat Emperor's Avatar
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    Re: Olive Garden versus local fare?

    Most of the time, if I'm someplace I don't know, I'll ask around (hotel front desk, friends, even just googling on the iphone) and do whatever I can to avoid eating at a chain. There are usually at least 4-5 places quality places you can find just by poking around.

    Sampling local places is one of my favorite parts of traveling.
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  13. #13
    Churlish Johnny Footstool's Avatar
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    Re: Olive Garden versus local fare?

    Nothing worse that being stuck with a group of "acquaintances" for dinner.
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  14. #14
    First Time Caller SunDeck's Avatar
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    Re: Olive Garden versus local fare?

    Local fare, always. Olive Garden is particularly terrible, IMO.
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    Re: Olive Garden versus local fare?

    Quote Originally Posted by SunDeck View Post
    Local fare, always. Olive Garden is particularly terrible, IMO.
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/2011041...fullworldyahoo

    An anonymous poster on Reddit claims that she has been a manager for the popular Italian restaurant chain, and that the "cooking school" where chefs allegedly go to learn the secrets of of mastering Italian food isn't quite as advertised.

    She writes that Olive Garden does not own the place and that, when she went there in 2007, they just booked the whole rustic hotel for the Olive Garden management and chefs. The visitors "could use the restaurant (closed to the public-again off season) as a classroom for maybe an hour here or there and talk about spices or fresh produce for a minute before going sightseeing all day," she wrote. "The only time we saw the 'chef" was when she made a bolognese sauce while taking pictures with each of us to send to our local newspapers."


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