Being an immigrant, there are a lot of chain restaurants and fast food joints that I've never been to. Wendy's, for example; also Dairy Queen, Denny's and Bonefish Grill. Tonight, though, I got to strike one off the list: Olive Garden.
My husband and I went out to see Les Mis today. I like the movie far, far more than the musical; I understand all the little nuances so much better and the movie made quite a few changes in terms of both musical delivery and characterization that I think make so much more narrative sense.
After the movie finished, we snuffled all the way across the street to the Olive Garden. The boy has been wigging out about Olive Garden breadsticks for years, and yet we just never got around to going. I admit that this is partly because I see it as a whitebread restaurant and have been more interested in going to more authentic joints, but today I relented and said I wanted to go and try the breadsticks.
They were, in fact, divine. I ate them Bugs Bunny style, nom nom nom. I had about six with my meal, that's how good they were.
We had the set menu, at $25 for two people. It came with unlimited salad (we finished off a big bowl between us, complete with lettuce, red cabbage, onion, olives, tomatoes and carrots with plenty of grated romano) and unlimited breadsticks (which we took full advantage of), and then we each had an entree, and split a dessert. I ordered ravioli bolognese and my husband had chicken with smoked mozzarella. Honestly, given that it referred to the bolognese as "meat sauce", it was actually incredibly good. It definitely wasn't the same as authentic Italian food, but I wouldn't really say it was worse, just different. Of course, it might well depend on the dish (I have a sneaking suspicion that their pizzas would probably be all-American, for example), but for the food we ordered? It was damn tasty. For dessert we got zeppoli which were a little more ehrzatz, but still seriously delicious in their own right.
What really impressed me, though, was the wine I ordered. I have been trying to find a red that my husband would like for about as long as he's been trying to get me to eat at Olive Garden. I ordered a carafe of house red, which was officially 9oz, but the waiter gave me close to 10 or 11oz because he was a huge sweetheart (seriously, we had the most bubbly, excitable, attentive waiter I've ever known and it made the meal so much fun), so I gave a little to my husband. As it turned out, it was very smooth, and very light, and my husband actually liked it. We ended up sharing the carafe pretty evenly because he enjoyed drinking it.
I asked about it. Turns out it's made just for the Olive Garden. If I want more, I have to go there, buy a fucking bottle with my meal and take it home! And the bottles are really expensive! I'm so furious, but I guess it just means we'll have to go to the Olive Garden more often so I can enjoy watching my honey drink red wine.
All in all, it was a perfect date and a great restaurant. All the food was yummy and I would absolutely go back there any time to eat. So begins the Americanization of Sofia!