Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Planet Olive Garden of Eatin'

Michigan City, Indiana is blessed with an impressive array of fine local dining options. I often wonder how restaurant chains make it here at all, really, given how incredible the local restaurants are. But tonight we went to Olive Garden on a whim, and wound up going to infinity and beyond satisfied.

Basically, it's like this: we experienced perfect alignment of planets that consisted of our server, Sara S., the never ending pasta bowl, and the wine.

Was it the best pasta or wine we've ever had? Probably not. But we weren't expecting the very best. We were admittedly expecting chain restaurant food. But the cuisine rocketed beyond the escape velocity of our expectations.

The never ending pasta bowl comes with soup or salad, and we both opted for salad, knowing that the Olive Garden salad is a classic in its own right.

The irresistible bread sticks haunted me from the get go, though I won the battle this time, knowing I'd have my digestive work cut out for me due to the words "never ending". But we most definitely brought them home for less challenging eating settings - one small step for man from the freezer to the microwave, one giant leap for mankind snacking.

For our never ending selection, my partner went with the linguini with a creamy sauce that included sun-dried tomatoes and bits of bacon. I realize that bacon is often considered "cheating" because there's no way to lose with bacon. But it was tastefully present, well-balanced against the tomatoes and sauce spices.

I went with the five cheese marinara over angel hair. And, yes, I did leave this world and end up in a better one for the duration of my gesticulation. Very, very good. And that's coming from a Wisconsin boy who knows a thing or ten about cheese.

We both made it to our second bowl, but I must say it was barely, partially so we'd have something to bring home for leftovers, but mostly because the serving sizes were such that breathing would clearly be an issue on the way home. I guess I'll just have to wait a couple days to say hello to that belt notch again.

But the gravity holding all these heavenly concoctions together was our incomparable server, Sara S. I know I've had high praise for servers before. But Sara S. raised the bar to high heaven, and we'd want to return if for no other reason other than to feel the way she made us feel - like travelers who deserved the extra mile of service and value. Sara S., we hope your commanding officers are listening, because you deserve a shot at no less than the final frontier in the Olive Garden hierarchy. You really get it.

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