A Food Critic Tried Olive Garden's "New" Menu

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After John Oliver dissected
the much-publicized Olive Garden shareholders meeting last year, the one that mentioned serving “a mushy, unappealing product” that can be “barely edible,” the ubiquitous suburban-friendly "Italian" chain went back to the drawing board in efforts to make their food less mushy, more appealing and more edible.



Our sister paper up in Detroit got an invite to try out the new menu items this week. They couldn't pass up the chance, naturally, to return to the Olive Garden for the first time in a couple of decades to see what those masters of cuisine came up with in Italy, or wherever the test kitchens are. The full account is here. Below, a snippet.

Salmon bruschetta was the best dish, but that’s not saying very much. Bruschetta, as we all know, is a simple preparation of tomatoes, pesto, salt and pepper atop a sturdy piece of grilled toast. It’s a snack, something that would go well with a bottle of wine on a sunny day. It’s a great way to sample the flavors of fresh olive oil, and its simplicity doesn’t just shout authentic Italian, it roars it from the rooftops.

But can you take that preparation of tomatoes and basil pesto and perch it on top of a brick of food service salmon and call that “bruschetta”? Can you then set it on a bed of gummy rice, gooey sauce, and a half-dozen shrimp and call that foundation “seafood risotto”? Risotto should be a gentle dish, in which the individual bits of rice cohere just enough to stand together on a fork. This risotto looked as though it were adhered to the plate, and would probably stay on if the dish even if it were blasted out of a skeet-shooting target thrower.

The menu says the dish was “inspired by journeys through Italy.” If so, the journey must have been at very high speed and on powerful hallucinogens, and does through airspace count as through?
When you're there, you're family. Really, really hated family.


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