Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Olive Garden Attempts to Rebrand Itself With New Menu

Olive Garden has more than 800 locations. Its pretty well known across the United States, and its in trouble. American dining habits have been shifting gradually across the country. Restaurants like McDonalds, Red Lobster and TGIF are all suffering stagnating sales. Olive Garden is one of these restaurants. Mention Olive Garden to a foodie and they will give you a look of disgust. Not too long ago a older lady wrote a review of a new Olive Garden for her local paper that blew up (because who reviews Olive Garden.)
Which leads to how Eating Around So Cal ended up at a Olive Garden. Olive Garden promised a new fresh menu with lower calories and dishes not drenched in alfredo sauce.  And it looks like they have taken some lessons to heart. While most dishes are covered in red sauce there is a serious absence of alfredo covered dishes. Some of the plating options struck me as odd. Like slicing a sandwich into quarters and sticking it in a pool or marinara sauce. It felt like a housewife trying to make dishes she knows fancy for a big guest coming over for dinner.  A big issue may be the fact that the Olive Garden kitchens may not be set up for a more labor intensive hands on menu. Funny enough my favorite dishes their rice balls and fried artichokes were probably the unhealthiest items they offer. For a common mans perspective I brought along with me a friend who has no food background to try the dishes himself and he was happy with everything and was impressed by the plating. Hes planning to return soon. So there may be a future for Olive Garden with their changes. 

rice balls 

Strawberry panna cotta 

Chicken Abruzzi 

Garlic rosemary chicken 

Sausage meatballs 

Smashed chicken meatball sandwich 

Shrimp and polenta 

Fried artichoke hearts 

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