Just last week I had the pleasure of dining at an Olive Garden following a day of sightseeing with a very good friend of mine. Given that we chose to dine at the end of what we assumed would have been the height of lunch rush, we were able to find parking considerably easier than expected. Usually when deciding to dine out, parking is one of the top concerns for me, and if I find myself having to circle a parking lot more than once in hopes of finding a decent space, I will more often than not decide to patronize another establishment in the near vicinity. Little did I know this was just the first of many events that led to a lunch experience that I would not soon forget.
As many of you probably already know, waiting in the lobby for an open table while holding a disc that “buzzes” when you are ready to be seated at Olive Garden is par for the course. With this knowledge in mind, I wasn’t surprised when I myself was handed one of the disc-shaped objects and told that there would be an open table quite soon. What did surprise me was the hostess’s invitation to wait at the bar and enjoy a half priced glass of wine until our table was ready. Because I am quite the avid fan of a nice and crisp Moscato or Reisling, both my friend and I decided to take her up on the suggestion. The server at the bar offered both great conversation and knowledge of the available wines, even going so far as to suggest a nice Roscato after hearing my preferences. You can imagine my trepidation when a red wine was mentioned as opposed to the white wines that I have always enjoyed in moderation. Throwing caution to the wind, I accepted the offer while my friend decided to try a mixed berry sparkling water due to the fact that she was the one in charge of driving. I found the Roscato to be a sweet full bodied red that was far more pleasant than most reds that I’ve had the chance to sample.
I ordered a glass and almost directly after it had been poured our “buzzer” informed us that our table was ready. Considering it to be perfectly timed, we made our way towards the middle of the restaurant and once seated began to peruse the menu. Most of the dishes available were what I would refer to as “tried and true favorites”, although I did notice that their seafood selection had grown since the last time I dined at the restaurant.
Because I had come with a want for seafood, I was quite pleased by both the selection and reasonable prices. It wasn’t long before both of our orders had been placed and we had salad and breadsticks on the table. Personally I have always found their salad to be wonderful and wasn’t disappointed. This along with the wonderful wine and good conversation made the time fly by and in what seemed like no time at all, our salad dishes had been gracefully removed and our plates deftly put into the space that had just been occupied.
My friend ordered a Shrimp Scampi and I couldn’t help but to take note of the generous portions of both asparagus and shrimp. The placement and presentation of her dish was spot on and according to her, it tasted every bit as good as it looked. My own Seafood Lasagna Sautee looked equally as nice, and I rather enjoyed the color brought forth in the dish with the spinach and tomatoes against the contrast of the off white Alfredo sauce and scallops. The portion of shrimp on my own plate was equally as impressive and I enjoyed that the shrimp appeared to have been deveined. This was especially important to me because I find myself enjoying involving shrimp quite a bit less if this procedure has not taken place previous to serving.
Throughout the wonderful meal, our server made sure that we wanted for nothing and was quite attentive in terms of bringing fresh drinks, sparkling water for my friend and water for myself after the initial glass of Roscato, and packaging our meals for us when we could no longer continue eating, though not for lack of trying!
Our check was brought soon after with the promise of no rush, and we stayed for a while longer enjoying the relaxed atmosphere. When it came time to leave, we did so with smiles and general air of happiness. This was by far one of the best meals that we had been given the chance to have together, and we found ourselves excited both by the thought of a return trip and wonderful meal that was sure to be finished the following day! I would highly recommend stopping for a meal if you have the time and trying a glass of my new favorite wine Roscato!
Author: Jessica Kirk-Gregory