Olive Garden in Brandon, FL

Olive Garden, Brandon, Florida

Olive Garden in Brandon, FL

Recently, my family and I went to the Olive Garden in Brandon, FL.  It has been quite a while since we last ate at Olive Garden.  While I cannot put my finger on exactly what we didn’t like the last time we were at the Killeen, TX I do know that we’ve not been back since. Needless to say, in a different state we thought perhaps we would give it another chance. After all, Olive Garden is one of Ron’s favorite restaurants.

Because we had Mexican food for lunch, Ron and I thought Italian would be good for dinner.  Ron and I arrived at the restaurant just before 8 PM.  While we walked in and stood before two hostesses, neither of them felt obliged to even say hello.  We continued to stand there for several minutes. While it felt like 10 minutes, I’m certain it wasn’t really that long. I looked at my husband and quietly said, apparently we have our invisibility cloaks on. The staff none the wiser, we continued to be unnoticed.

Should I Stay or Should I go?

At this point I would normally walk out. After all, no one wants to stand there and not be acknowledged. However, Ron and I do not see his kids a lot because they are in Florida and we are in Texas. I didn’t want to cause a commotion and leave due to the fact that we were waiting for my step daughter’s boyfriend to arrive.  Finally we were sat. I did inquire about sitting at a booth, but that was met with opposition as well. I relented, despite the fact that the wood seats hurt Ron’s hips.  The hostess was not interested and simply wanted us to sit down and not bother her.

Once seated the waitress did say hello within a few minutes, but it took her five or more minutes to even get our drink order.  Heck, it could have been longer. After all, Madison (my step-daughter) did give us each a Christmas gift while we waited. This went on and on. I’m going to have to guess at the time span of each portion of this meal, but I do know this, we were in the restaurant two hours before we finished our meals. Meals honestly, we barely ate.

I would love to report that our drinks came back immediately, but they didn’t. Who knows how long it was, but it felt like an eternity. By the time she returned I asked her for breadsticks. Breadsticks that didn’t come for probably 20 minutes. After passing several times, she finally brought the bread. Sure, the restaurant was busy. But I’ve been in busy restaurants before and it has NEVER taken two hours to compete a meal.

Can we Finally Get the Bread Already?

Once she brought the bread we finally ordered. After being told Olive Garden no longer has Caesar Salad, I decided to go with regular salad. Dressing on the side. Seemed simple enough.  Madison ordered her salad with house dressing AND Ranch. Again, seemed simple enough. Oh how I wish that was the end. My salad came covered with so much Ranch I could hardly see the lettuce. There I sat digging for lettuce that wasn’t covered in sauce. Once at the bottom of the bowl I found some. One or two pieces from the top and I tossed it on my plate.

The second salad came without the Ranch. By the look on the waitresses face I can only assume she had no clue Madison ordered it with both dressings. I told the waitress they could have the rest of mine because I wasn’t about to eat it. These salads appeared to be kryptonite to the waitress. She just stood there incapable of saying or doing anything.

Is it so Hard to Just Say Sorry?

I know what you think. You think she apologized for the misunderstanding. And oh how I wish you were right. But, no. She looked at us like we had three heads and walked away. Sure I could have complained at this point. Call me crazy here but I’m not a fan of spit in my food. Ron told me to complain but of course I didn’t want to because I’ve worked in a restaurant. All the stories are true.

The really bad thing here, by the time the food finally arrived, everyone was stuffed. The entire family had been drinking soda for nearly two hours.  Everyone’s meal, except one, went home in a to-go box. Boxes I had to ask for myself despite the fact we were all sitting there pushed away from the table. The real kicker is that the food was fabulous. Albeit a bit cold. Apparently it was under the warmer for some time. Needless to say, judging on food alone it was good. BUT family dinners are never about the food. It’s about the people you are with and your ability to enjoy the time you share together.

I did tell Ron when we sat down that I wanted dessert. I don’t remember the name of it, but it’s these little square deep fat fried yummy things you dip in syrup.  However, by the time we ate I was too angry to even order it to go, which I’ve done several times. Ultimately, Olive Garden lost a sale and we left unhappy.  The next day at the hospital my mom mentioned Outback Steakhouse. OOOHHH am I angry at myself. I wish I would have thought of that in the first place. Here I sit two days later dreaming of Outback Steakhouse.  

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