When we learned Olive Garden was coming out with a burger, we were intrigued.
As lifelong patrons of the Italian chain (and fans of the breadsticks), we still weren’t sure what to expect. Burgers are uncharted territory at Olive Garden, a place known for cheesy pasta dishes.
We visited the Olive Garden in the Flatiron district of Manhattan, armed with a $US25 giftcard from the company.
Despite the fact that the burger just came out this week, Olive Garden didn’t do much to highlight it on the menu. We found it under “Sandwiches.”
Here’s how the menu describes it:
We asked the waiter for his opinion. He responded by saying “I like it” and shrugging. We also asked whether the item was popular, and he said some people had ordered it.
We ordered two burgers. The sandwich comes with your choice of soup or salad. The waiter also brought breadsticks to our table.
After snacking on some salad and breadsticks, it was time for the main event:
Our initial impression upon first bite was that the burger was bland. The meat itself did not seem to have any seasoning. As we continued to eat, we began to taste the garlic aioli, which had the consistency of olive oil rather than mayonnaise.
The prosciutto provided the burger with a nice crunch, but lacked the saltiness that usually makes the cured meat so enjoyable. Here’s what the toppings looked like:
The bread had the consistency of ciabatta, with a hint of herb. The consistency was fine, but something about the bread didn’t taste fresh. It also broke apart and became soggy.
To be fair, this problem is fairly normal for huge restaurant burgers.
The burger was just too bland for us. We were left wishing it had more condiments, like a balsamic dressing or a sun-dried tomato spread.
As for the fries, they reminded us a lot of McDonald’s. The only difference was a dusting of garlic Parmesan:
Overall, the Olive Garden burger wasn’t bad. But we don’t think it’s good enough to threaten competitors like T.G.I. Friday’s, Red Robin, and Applebee’s.
Burger fans will probably continue to frequent more traditional burger joints. Meanwhile, Olive Garden fans can come for the breadsticks.
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