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Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Comedians are Wrong About Olive Garden

Mmmmmm, Ravioli de Portebello
Ever once in a while some sitcom makes a joke about the Olive Garden as though the food there isn't the real deal. It amazes me how liberal comedians and writers who purport to be such friends of "the people" can be such utter snobs and elitists.

Yes, it's true. The Olive Garden is a chain. You go there, you know what you're going to get and there are few surprises. Go there a few times and you know what your like and what you don't like.  The food is good. It's well presented and you can eat till you're full. 

Yes, I know that they are a chain.

I know they aren't some pretentious mafia hang out on New York's lower east side. I like that about them. It's unlikely a mobster would ever be caught dead in there. Which is a good thing to my way of thinking. After all, who wants blood and little bits of cannoli sprayed all over your lasagna?

Also, I suspect Italians probably don't put a tiny little bit of pasta on an enormous oddly shaped  plate drizzle a little unidentifiable sauce over it and the two pieces of asparagus and a slice of some kind of exotic squash next to it and call it "cuisine".

My wife and I recently went to the Olive Garden because she had a yen for their Ravioli de Portebello with the smoky sun-dried tomato sauce.  It was a lovely meal. The waitress was a sweetie - very professional and attentive without being intrusive.

It does cost a little more than some other middle-class restaurants, but I don't mind so much. Sometimes you go to a restaurant to feed your soul.  The OG is close so I don't have to wander around some huge city looking for somebody's idea of an "authentic" Italian place.

When your get to the OG, you can rely on them to bring you good food. If you're a salad snob, they'll bring it without tossing it in the dressing.  They'll even put it in a bowl so you can have it "on the side" and enjoy the illusion that you prefer your salad fresh and that you're not going to dip the heck out of every bite and lick the dressing bowl.

Don't get me wrong, I love discovering these wonderful little Mom and Pop restaurants where the food is great and the place run by lovely people in the same way I love restaurants in general - as a treat from home-cooking. The truth is, home-cooking around our place is pretty danged tasty. The prime attraction of a restaurant is not having to cook the meal or clean up afterward and the reduction of stress you get from having a waitress or water running back and forth to fill your glass for you.

So I want to be sure I'm going to enjoy the food.  The OG and places like that are a sure thing. They're consistently good.  I know some things can go wrong even at well known restaurant chains, but it's far less likely to.  I have a few favorite places to go for my favorite dishes.  My top ten favorite purveyors of middle class haute cuisine are listed here. In the meantime, it's Sunday. Treat yourself to a nice lunch  at your favorite middle class fancy restaurant after church or before the baseball game.  You deserve a treat.  Enjoy!

Just one man's opinion.

Tom King

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