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Thread: Olive Garden versus local fare?

  1. #16
    Member NJReds's Avatar
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    Re: Olive Garden versus local fare?

    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.
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  3. #17
    Waitin til next year bucksfan2's Avatar
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    Re: Olive Garden versus local fare?

    I despise the Olive Garden. The place is always crowded, the food is average, and it is particularly pricey. Local Italian is better but I even think "chain" types like Carabas and Brio's is much better. I have never really understood why that place is always packed.

  4. #18
    My clutch is broken RichRed's Avatar
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    Re: Olive Garden versus local fare?

    A big "no thanks" to the chains for me.
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  5. #19
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    Re: Olive Garden versus local fare?

    Quote Originally Posted by 919191 View Post
    I don't like the chains/franchises, but they are about all that there is here. I don't get the constant knock on Applebee's. Yeah, I agree with what is said, but is it really any different than a TGIFridays or Chilis? I mean, why is it the targeted restaurant?
    The Applebees where I live is just plain bad. They have terrible service and we never eat there. Since they have been around a while and are all over I'm guessing the others aren't nearly as bad as the one in Sterling,Va.
    You are right,TGI Fridays, Ruby Tuesday, Chile's etc.... are all about the same restaurant. They just have different name attached.
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  6. #20
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    Re: Olive Garden versus local fare?

    I always get a kick out of the "I stay away from chain restaurants at all costs" crowd. I'd had just as many bad meals at "local" places as I have at large national or regional chains. I fully agree w/ the avoid chains and eat local idea when on vacation; why get something in florida that I can have at home any day of the week. However, when it comes to Olive Garden in this particular case, I've never had a bad salad or bowl of soup there. Most, though certainly not all, meals are above average. I'll never call The Olive Garden the greatest restaurant in the world, and if I was really, really hankering for Italian, I'll head up to a local place, Mama DiSalvo's, but I know when I hit The Olive Garden it will be reasonable priced, the food will generally be good, and the service will generally be quick.

    Of course then again, when it comes to steak, I'm a food snob myself. I don't even bother to order steak at The Outback, preferring their fish instead. Seems a large national chain with stores on every block rarely does a steak right. So perhaps we just all have our own built in predjudices when it comes to the food we like, or are at least willing to eat.
    Last edited by medford; 04-05-2011 at 09:36 AM.

  7. #21
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    Re: Olive Garden versus local fare?

    On vacations we consider dining at local restaurants as much a part of the vacation experience as everything else. I really enjoy that part of travel

  8. #22
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    Re: Olive Garden versus local fare?

    On vacations we consider dining at local restaurants as much a part of the vacation experience as everything else. I really enjoy that part of travel

  9. #23
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    Re: Olive Garden versus local fare?

    Olive Garden invented an extra large seat for it's most overweight patrons, it's called "The Larry"

    I never eat at chains, mostly because I'm a vegetarian and a picky eater.

    But I'd choose the OG over 95% of the other corporate food mausoleums.

  10. #24
    RaisorZone Raisor's Avatar
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    Re: Olive Garden versus local fare?

    I like Oliver Garden. Large portions fairly cheep. It's hard to screw up spaghetti.
    "But I do know Joey's sister indirectly (or foster sister) and I have heard stories of Joey being into shopping, designer wear, fancy coffees, and pedicures."

  11. #25
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    Re: Olive Garden versus local fare?

    Quote Originally Posted by medford View Post
    I always get a kick out of the "I stay away from chain restaurants at all costs" crowd. I'd had just as many bad meals at "local" places as I have at large national or regional chains. I fully agree w/ the avoid chains and eat local idea when on vacation; why get something in florida that I can have at home any day of the week. However, when it comes to Olive Garden in this particular case, I've never had a bad salad or bowl of soup there. Most, though certainly not all, meals are above average. I'll never call The Olive Garden the greatest restaurant in the world, and if I was really, really hankering for Italian, I'll head up to a local place, Mama DiSalvo's, but I know when I hit The Olive Garden it will be reasonable priced, the food will generally be good, and the service will generally be quick.
    I think for me and many other people who are also in the crowd, it isn't necessarily the food that is bad. For example, I love me some Red Robin Banzai Burger. It is really the angst at looking at what has become of America. In many regards we've lost the sense of place that made individual towns so unique. Now unless you live in an area with a certain critical mass of people, that isn't right off of an interstate or near a shopping corridor wherever you live is just like everywhere else, and that is a shame. And when cities announce a new development project, often it is coupled with an announcement that a new famous upscale restaurant (made famous in another place) will be coming to town. As if your town will capture some of that big city magic. So for me it is about placelessness, but then again, I'm a geographer so I think about this crap a lot.

  12. #26
    Member medford's Avatar
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    Re: Olive Garden versus local fare?

    Quote Originally Posted by Spazzrico View Post
    I think for me and many other people who are also in the crowd, it isn't necessarily the food that is bad. For example, I love me some Red Robin Banzai Burger. It is really the angst at looking at what has become of America. In many regards we've lost the sense of place that made individual towns so unique. Now unless you live in an area with a certain critical mass of people, that isn't right off of an interstate or near a shopping corridor wherever you live is just like everywhere else, and that is a shame. And when cities announce a new development project, often it is coupled with an announcement that a new famous upscale restaurant (made famous in another place) will be coming to town. As if your town will capture some of that big city magic. So for me it is about placelessness, but then again, I'm a geographer so I think about this crap a lot.
    I understand that, wanting to support the local restaurant.

    My guess, is that the restaurant business is so tough to succeed in, that when you get a winning formula, its easy to market it to other areas and raise the capital needed to build that restaurant. However, when it comes to the actual food, I can find something pretty good at just about any chain. As you said, Red Robin has several solid burgers that I like, I'll get the Fiesta Lime Chicken at Applebees, even though I don't I'm not a fan of most of their food, I usually find that pretty good. Max & Erma's has great Tortilla soup, Carrabbas has good steamed muscles, and so and and so forth. Chains may not always give you the best bang for your buck, but there is usually something worthwhile on their menu, something you can get there, but not many other places.

  13. #27
    Titanic Struggles Caveat Emperor's Avatar
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    Re: Olive Garden versus local fare?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raisor View Post
    I like Oliver Garden. Large portions fairly cheep. It's hard to screw up spaghetti.
    If I'm going chain Italian, I'll choose Brio/Bravo or Maggianos over Olive Garden 100 times out of 100 -- better meals at both those places IMO.
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  14. #28
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    Re: Olive Garden versus local fare?

    The only chain I eat at with any sort of regularity is Cheesecake Factory. Outside of that there aren't a lot of chains in the area of LA that I live in. I have to go out of my way usually to eat at one and I'm not going to do that. I do like BW3 and one of those opened about 15 miles from here and I'll go every once in a while, but that's more because it's sort of an "Ohio-thing".

  15. #29
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    Re: Olive Garden versus local fare?

    Quote Originally Posted by BuckeyeRed27 View Post
    I do like BW3 and one of those opened about 15 miles from here and I'll go every once in a while, but that's more because it's sort of an "Ohio-thing".
    Really? Huh, didn't know that.

    I'm not much of a corporate traveler, but if I were, that's where I'd see a use for eating at a sit down chain restaurant. Where I'm in a situation where I want some consistency, but also fairly cheap, and fairly easy.

    As others have said, if I'm going for a vacation, I specifically want something I can only eat at that location.
    If I'm home, then I want to actively search out and find the restaurants that make my hometown unique.

    That said, I do like Red Robin, but I'm not a fan of Olive Garden or Chilis or Uno or Applebees.
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  16. #30
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    Re: Olive Garden versus local fare?

    There has been a trend for a number of years now for corporate restaurant chains to specialize in huge amounts of mediocre food. Big plate of 'average food' sells big in America. It's one of the reasons why so many Americans are overweight. Personally, I'd rather have a smaller meal that tastes better than average.

    The one 'chain restaurant' that I do go to sometimes is Outback---but not for their steaks. They have a nice ahi tuna as an appetizer that makes a fine 'light lunch'. If you don't have to cook it and you buy good fish, it's tough to screw it up.

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