Dude Food: Olive Garden

Olive Garden
639 N. Cockrell Hill Road, Duncanville

Dude Factor: 3, or Roseanne (waitress/proprieter of loose meat sandwich specialty diner The Lanford Lunch Box), on a scale of 1 (Zach Braff in Garden State) to 10 (Jonah Hill in Forgetting Sarah Marshall)

Last Saturday my lady and I--with tired bones, no pressing social commitments and a burning desire to do as little as possible--were in the mood for some easy Italiano. At first we thought we'd make due with a frozen Bertolli Chicken Parmesan dinner, until we finally read the instructions and discovered the 45 minute cooking time (prep times like that are why I never once cracked open the oven of my college apartment).

Having just discovered an Olive Garden while exploring the far corners of our new hood, we decided to get dressed and head out for a little Hospitaliano. Now, neither of us really expected much from the experience, though we both hold a special place in our hearts for the chain-talian mainstay--she was once a hostess there in college (she threw out the uniform long before we met, much to my dismay), where she presided over two-hour Saturday night waits, while I went there far too often as a child, stuck with a family who apparently didn't mind waiting two hours to eat at Olive Garden. It was also a foil-lined to-go bag of Olive Garden breadsticks that taught the 13-year-old me why you shouldn't put metal in the microwave.

Arriving around 9 p.m., we found ourselves subjected to a five-minute wait as suburban families finished their birthday and graduation soirees, but were finally seated in a half-empty section next to a table complete with three screaming children.

Our waiter took his sweet time showing up, only to greet us with a weak, mumbled, "You guys want something to drink?" before immediately following up with, "Are you ready to order?" Hospitaliano, indeed. We explained that we needed a moment or two to read the menu, but humored him by ordering a Create A Sampler Italiano of calamari and fried mozzarella, quite possibly one of the most perfect foods mankind has ever invented.

When he returned, I decided on Chicken Parmesan while the lady went for soup and salad, a combination I have never really understood. Apparently, our waiter has the same problem, as he was unable to coordinate the arrival of both components in a timely manner, leaving me to watch my girlfriend eat her freshly-prepared salad some 20 minutes after she watched me eat my substandard Chicken Parmesan.

He also totally failed to bring a requested marinara sauce to accompany our apps earlier in the meal, opting instead to take part in a little waiter party over at the serving station, where the staff was trying to reach the quota necessary for a spirited run-through of the Olive Garden Birthday Song.

All that being said, I hardily admired his complete lack of enthusiasm, the mark of a true Dude Food brother. After all, he works at an Olive Garden. In Duncanville. One can only hope he will continue to suck, lest he attain the even more depressing title of Olive Garden Manager.  

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