Funny that this thread would pop up. More often than not my wife and I avoid the chain restaurants, except on rare occasion where we'll stop at an Outback. We got a gift card to Olive Garden and took my in-laws (who are from Italy and are particular when it comes to eating at Italian restaurants). The food was exceptional ... perhaps because we went in w/low expectations ... but it didn't taste like a chain restaurant meal to us. We were happy with it. Maybe it depends on which one you go to. There are so many choices in my neck of the woods that if a restaurant isn't exceptional, most likely it will fail rather quickly.