Friday, January 04, 2008

Olive Garden (of Eden). NOT!

Yesterday was a historic one indeed. Obama and Huckabee pulled off huge upsets and won the Iowas caucases. Of far greater importance, I disobeyed a lifelong tenet. I visited a restaurant that had been open only a week or so. I've often stressed the importance of waiting about a month before going to a newly opened restaurant for the initial visit. This way, they've worked out all the "kinks" with the food, service, etc.
Anyway, Jenn and I were at Walmart and decided to go for it. We arrived at the Olive Garden in the Highlands around 7:30pm. The place was packed and about a baker's dozen of people were waiting to be seated. It only took about 5 minutes for the giant blinking buzzer disc to start vibrating. I spotted Paigey in the distance, but I don't think she saw me.
We were seated in the back. Paigey was hustling about and briefly stopped to chit chat. Our waitress had a jarheadish, bleached-blond butchie kind of haircut. She was bit curt and abrupt. Jenn ordered coffee and water. I requested a Miller lite, but was quickly informed that they didn't have any Miller Lite products since New Years. Kind of a surprise that they wouldn't restock. I then opted for a Coors Light - none of that in stock either. Faced with the horrific prospect of Bud or Bud Light, I opted for a water with lemon. Our drinks came shortly thereafter. Jenn got an entire pitcher of coffee (nice touch) and I received my water (sans lemon).
Jenn ordered the eggplant parmesan and I selected the shrimp calabrese. Our militaristic waitress soon returned with the salad and breadsticks. She aggressively placed the bowls on the table and they made a distinctive clang. Jenn noticed all the other diners were offered freshly, grated cheese. We were denied this opportunity although I did see our waitress walking around with the mozzerella machine. Jenn quietly mentioned to me that she wanted cheese, more salad with up to 5 pepperoncinis and a surplus of black olives. I didn't think it would be a good idea to "rock the boat." Just in the nick of time, Paigey showed up and proceeded to solidify, or if you prefer "saladify", our order.
Our food was delivered by a young girl, making her first and only appearance of the night. I noticed something was wrong immediately. I didn't get the right order. But I glanced at Jenn's plate and she had the right one so I harkened back to my earlier thoughts. Don't rock the boat, Saf. I started eating and Paigey swung through and said, "Oh you got the seafood portifino, great choice. Mmmmm." Before I could respond, she was out my vocal range. I thought to myself, oh well, one out of two ain't bad. I'll just eat it and go with the flow. As Jenn, sliced into her eggplant parmesan, she was alarmed with the turgid nature of the eggplant. Alas, much to her dismay, it was not eggplant. It was chicken. Now I must admit, eggplant and chicken parmesan do look pretty similar. As we're discussing the fact that they gave us both the wrong food, here comes our stern waitress (with slightly lesbianic overtones). "Listen you guys. I'm really sorry. We gave you the wrong order." All the time, she must have been secretly thinking - how could these two idiots not know what they ordered. We admitted that we kind of figured it out, but we were just kind of "going with the flow." We thought about the other couple who probably would have been a little more disurbed - not everyone loves eggplant. And I must admit, I really would have preferred the garlic & tomato/olive oil base as opposed to the fettucini alfredo sauce. I've gained about 5 pounds over the winter and have made a genuine recent attempt to avoid eating a stick of butter with 3 cups of heavy whipping cream.
Our waitress continued a brief apology and even Paigey got involved. Are you absolutely sure you want to eat that?" "Yeah, that cool. Everything is fine." They subliminally placed the blame on the young server girl, which in all likelihood was the true source of the mix-up. No big deal though.
As our dining experience neared its conclusion, I pondered the thought - will she bill us for what we ordered or what we actually consumed. My shrimp calabrese would have been a few bucks more than that seafood thing. When our waitress returned with the "to-go boxes," she wished us a happy New Year and said the meal was on us. How cool is that. I kind of assumed they wouldn't have the audacity to charge us for the wrong order, but we were partially to blame too. I mean, what kind of bozos both eat the wrong meal. We tipped her a twenty which seemed appropriate since it was a kick-down meal.
As we exited, we bid Paigey a farewell. Amid the crying babies and the screaming children at the adjacent table, as well as the shrill sounds of the background Pavarotti knock-off over the sound system it all became apparent. When you go to the Olive Garden, YOU TRULY ARE FAMILY.