I have never been to Olive Garden prior to today. My own knowledge of the North American chain is based on what I have heard from others. So when my friend suggested that we check out their only BC location, in Langley; and that she is willing to drive us there, I had no reason not to give them a try.
Walking in, they are your generic Italian themed restaurant, mocked up to look like a house and home with curtains over windows, a mock balcony railing, creep greenery, and wood accents.
Their menu is pretty hefty, with a selection that promises to offer at least one thing your most pickiest diner would like. But we didn’t look through any of it. We were here on a mission, here to take advantage of the unlimited soup and breadsticks combo.
Having been before, my guest knew what to inquire over, when she didn’t see the $7.99 offer for unlimited bowls of any of their four varieties of in house made soups, and baked to order breadsticks. Although sadly the server had not known and mistakenly said that only the $14.99 combo of unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks exist now. And that we were probably referencing a promotion that only exists in the States, where “everything is cheaper”. So not knowing any better I order a soup, the salad, and a basket of breadsticks to share to start. Only to not like the salad (or any leafy salad for that matter), to not finish it and then be charged for it. Whereas my dining companion knew that she does not like their salad, so refrained from ordering it and stuck to a bowl of soup and our shared breadsticks. And lucky her, because advertised or not, any bowl of soup is $7.99, it comes with as many refills as you like. Or you can try any of the other three varieties of soup instead. And all the breadsticks are complimentary. So to summarize, she basically got what she wanted, despite the restaurant cleverly not recommending or advertising it on the menu.
The above made me upset, I only ordered the salad because I thought only the $14.99 deal existed, and I figured that I might as well maximize my order. One, to try it for the very first time. Two, to review it for this blog. And three, to maximize my monies worth. Although after a forkful, I felt like I did not. Here is the math: If $7.99 gets you as much soup as you want, and breadsticks are free, it means you are paying $7.00 for all the salad you want. And without any other options, you are only getting a giant bowl of shredded lettuce with a couple of tomato slices, a lot more red onion segments, a few olives, and a small handful of crouton cubes. The saving grace was the unlimited amount of mozzarella cheese you can have your server shred over your salad or soup. Basically your own personal shame is the only thing stopping you from enjoying a whole brick of cheese over top your otherwise unremarkable salad. In summary, the salad isn’t worth it and just go for the soup instead.
From my least to most enjoyed soup. The “Zuppa Toscana” was good, but compared to the others, it ended up being the one I liked the least. However, this spicy Italian sausage, kale and potato in a cream broth was my guest’s favourites soup. Enough so that she had it customized with more and larger leaves of kale, and stuck with only it throughout our dinner. Ending in 2 bowls cleared.
Once again, the second soup I liked the least is only in comparison to the flavours of all the other soups. I found the “Minestrone” with fresh vegetable, beans, and pasta in a light tomato sauce on the blander side. It drank thin and watery whereas I wanted a more rich soup, ideal for dipping the chewy breadsticks in.
Richness was what I got from the “Chicken and Gnocchi”. This was a creamy soup made from roasted chicken, Italian dumplings and spinach. It ate somewhat like a meal with the starch and amount of meat present. This was a great one to dip the warm and toasty breadsticks into.
However, my favourite soup was the “Pasta e Fagioli”, ironically only after I removed all the red and white beans from my servicing. Ironic, because the word Fagioli means, “bean”. Only then did the soup eat more like a runnier lasagna with quality ground beef, tender pasta rounds, and plenty of cheese I added on top.
The total of this meal came to under $30. A great deal of savings if you are only looking to drink yourself full. And as a bonus you get a lovely mint chocolate to end on, and can pack up any of the soup or breadsticks before you, that you don’t finish.
Olive Garden Italian Restaurant
20080 Langley Bypass, Langley City, BC V3A 9J7