Iconic luxury hotel brand brings personalised service

Iconic luxury hotel brand brings personalised service

> Iconic luxury hotel brand brings personalised service Iconic luxury hotel brand brings personalised service Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi Iconic luxury hotel brand brings personalised service
Hilton’s (NYSE: HLT) luxury brand, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, will soon welcome guests to the heart of the South Malé Atoll with the highly-anticipated opening of Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi. Set to debut on July 1st, the all-villa resort spans across three private islands, providing secluded enclaves and a tranquil escape for discerning travellers complete with a plethora of activities for guests of all generations.
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi will offer a sophisticated and serene retreat just 30-minutes from Malé International Airport via the resort’s private yacht. An escape or families and couples in search of space and exclusivity, the resort boasts 122 luxuriously appointed villas, each equipped with a pool and uninterrupted views of the Indian Ocean in its own private enclave. Each reef, beach and overwater villa will open onto an indoor and outdoor deck featuring a swinging daybed, dining gazebo, an infinity pool, in-water lounge and an outdoor shower.
“We are thrilled to bring this unforgettable property and best-in-class experience to the Maldives,” said Dino Michael, global head, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts. “The resort’s inspirational environment, refined culinary offerings, and thoughtfully designed family options, combined with the brand’s unparalleled commitment to personal service, will give every guest the freedom to create memories that last a lifetime.”
In line with Waldorf Astoria’s legacy of culinary expertise, Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi will offer 11 exceptional, specialty-dining venues. Each venue will deliver distinctive, immersive dining experiences – the variety of which is a first in the Maldives. Guests can enjoy an elevated treetop-dining concept at Terra, featuring spectacular views of the ocean and horizon, as well as exquisite food and wine pairings in a tranquil setting seemingly chiselled out of the face of a boulder at The Rock. Yasmeen will boast authentic Middle Eastern flatbreads and mezzes, impeccably prepared crispy Peking duck fresh out of the first wood-fired oven in the Maldives, and embracing the garden-to-table concept, Glow will serve healthy and holistic cuisine made from the freshest ingredients harvested from the resort’s herb garden. To further elevate Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi’s culinary offerings, the hotel will be announcing a partnership with a world-renowned chef and restaurant in the coming weeks.
“As the fifth Waldorf Astoria to open in the region, Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi represents a significant milestone in the brand’s continued growth in Asia Pacific following the successful opening of Waldorf Astoria Bangkok last year,” said Daniel Welk, vice president, Luxury and Lifestyle Group, Asia Pacific, Hilton. “We are extremely proud to bring the brand to a destination as synonymous with luxury as the Maldives, and we look forward to delivering unforgettable experiences that reflect Waldorf Astotia’s unique sense of place and iconic service standards.”
For those seeking the ultimate in exclusivity, the Ithaafushi Private Island features a two-bedroom overwater villa as well as a three-bedroom beach villa. The 32,000 square foot island sanctuary – accessible by yacht – comes complete with a dedicated chef and personal concierge team, as well as its own spa, gym, five swimming pools, entertainment centre and pristine beaches. Two Stella Maris Ocean Villas, inspired by a celestial charm – accessible only by boat – will also allow discerning guests to enjoy unrivalled privacy. Floor-to-ceiling windows, chef service, a jacuzzi and direct ocean access will make for an unforgettable and memorable escape.
“We are delighted to bring the illustrious brand heritage and the world-renowned True Waldorf Service to the Maldives,” said Etienne Dalançon, general manager, Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi. “Our brand has redefined the hospitality experience for the modern, luxury traveller in landmark locations around the world, and we look forward to transforming the Maldives experience for our guests.”
For additional pampering, guests can visit the Waldorf Astoria Spa, comprised of ten idyllic overwater or garden treatment villas, which will offer an extensive menu of treatments and Asian-inspired therapies focusing on relaxation and rebalance. The Waldorf Astoria Young Discovery Park, a water park for young guests, and the Lagoon Pool, are ideal for families looking to enjoy a variety of activities with ease. Other facilities include the beachfront, 40-meter Mirror Pool; the Ocean Pavilion, which will host a range of wellness activities; a fully-equipped fitness centre; and a combined water sport and PADI dive centre.
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi is part of Hilton Honors, the award-winning guest-loyalty program for Hilton’s 17 distinct hotel brands. Members who book directly through preferred Hilton channels have access to instant benefits, including a flexible payment slider that allows members to choose nearly any combination of Points and money to book a stay, an exclusive member discount, and free standard Wi-Fi.
To celebrate the hotel’s opening, Hilton Honors members will earn an additional 5,000 Points per minimum stay of three nights, for bookings from July to September 2019, when booking directly with Hilton.
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi will be begin taking bookings from July 1, 2019 and is located at Ithaafushi Island, South Male Atoll, Republic of Maldives. For more information or to make reservations, please visit www.waldorfastoriamaldives.com or call +960-4-000300. For more information on Waldorf Astoria, visit news.waldorfastoria.com . Source = Hilton

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Cobra Beer reveals new brand identity

Arora Group welcomes GM for new Heathrow T2 hotel Cobra Beer reveals new brand identity Cobra Beer has launched a comprehensive new brand identity, including all of its product packaging, glassware and dispensers across the UK. A new-look bottle and can packaging will be on the shelf from this month across the Cobra Beer range: Cobra Premium Beer, Cobra Gluten Free and King Cobra, along with new glassware and point-of-sale in thousands of bars and restaurants where Cobra Beer is stocked. The new visual brand identity is part of a £1.2m investment into the re-alignment of the brand as a world-leading beer brewed smooth to be the ideal accompaniment to a host of different cuisine types. The new VBI packaging will include: >Bottles embossed with designs inspired by Cobra Beer’s unique brewing process, an innovative, complex recipe and unique . >An entire new packaging design reflecting Cobra Beer’s transition into a leading World Beer brand, exported from the UK to over 40 countries worldwide. >New glass designs which represent the use of Cobra’s finest ingredients and new dispense equipment including a new font, plaque and handle –driving stand out on the bar.Today Cobra Beer is a world leading beer brand and it continues to stay true to its origins. The new branding reflects its journey from humble beginnings into a household name and a drink of choice for all food types. Cobra Beer was originally brewed in Bangalore, India and imported and distributed to restaurants in the UK by its Founder, Lord Bilimoria shortly after he graduated from the University of Cambridge as an international student with £20,000 in student debt. He set out on a mission to create a beer which would be the perfect accompaniment to any meal. Lord Bilimoria, Founder and Chairman of Cobra Beer, said, “Long before the revival of British real ales and the rise of craft beer, I wanted to create a lager that was less gassy than most and more drinkable than most real ales – a beer with the smoothness of an ale and the refreshment of a larger – in other words, a beer that could accompany all kinds of food. “This is the first full rebrand of Cobra Beer, after 15 years, during which time Cobra Beer has grown at an enormous pace, becoming a joint venture with Molson Coors, one of the largest brewers in the world ten years ago. Cobra Beer is now stocked in thousands of supermarkets and off-licences around the world, as well as pubs and restaurants of all kinds, including Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Turkish and Lebanese restaurants.” Jo McCarthy, Marketing Manager, Cobra Beer, said, “Cobra Beer will invest £2 million in social and digital marketing, PR and events in 2019 to reach a new market of gastropub diners and food lovers looking for a beer that accompanies new flavours and experimental fusions from around the world. “Consumers have a fast-growing appetite for vegan-friendly and free-from products, and the new visual brand identity reflects the great steps Cobra Beer has made to become the beer of choice for a huge range of new food lovers and develop innovative new products like our Gluten Free beer. Cobra Beer can become the first choice for conscious consumers.’ Cobra Beer’s entire product range is constantly innovating and improving to ensure that they are the perfect accompaniment to all food. Earlier this year the products were approved as vegan-friendly, following accreditation by The Vegetarian Society. Cobra Beer won seven medals won at last year’s prestigious Monde Selection Awards for fine quality and taste bring Cobra Beer’s total number of gold medals from the prestigious Monde Selection Awards up to 101. Cobra Gluten Free has also been shortlisted for the Free From Food Awards in the Down the Pub and Bar category. The new VBI packaging showcases the beer’s award winning status on all touchpoints.

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Iconic Luxury Hotel Brand Brings Personalized Service And Iconic Environments To The Maldives With Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi
Hilton ‘s (NYSE: HLT) luxury brand, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts , will soon welcome guests to the heart of the South Malé Atoll with the highly-anticipated opening of Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi . Set to debut on July 1 st , the all-villa resort spans across three private islands, providing secluded enclaves and a tranquil escape for discerning travelers complete with a plethora of activities for guests of all generations.
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi will offer a sophisticated and serene retreat just 30-minutes from Malé International Airport via the resort’s private yacht. An escape or families and couples in search of space and exclusivity, the resort boasts 122 luxuriously appointed villas, each equipped with a pool and uninterrupted views of the Indian Ocean in its own private enclave. Each reef, beach and overwater villa will open onto an indoor and outdoor deck featuring a swinging daybed, dining gazebo, an infinity pool, in-water lounge and an outdoor shower.
In line with Waldorf Astoria’s legacy of culinary expertise, Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi will offer 11 exceptional, specialty-dining venues. Each venue will deliver distinctive, immersive dining experiences – the variety of which is a first in the Maldives. Guests can enjoy an elevated treetop-dining concept at Terra, featuring spectacular views of the ocean and horizon, as well as exquisite food and wine pairings in a tranquil setting seemingly chiselled out of the face of a boulder at The Rock. Yasmeen will boast authentic Middle Eastern flatbreads and mezzes, impeccably prepared crispy Peking duck fresh out of the first wood-fired oven in the Maldives, and embracing the garden-to-table concept, Glow will serve healthy and holistic cuisine made from the freshest ingredients harvested from the resort’s herb garden. To further elevate Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi’s culinary offerings, the hotel will be announcing a partnership with a world-renowned chef and restaurant in the coming weeks.
For those seeking the ultimate in exclusivity, the Ithaafushi Private Island features a two-bedroom overwater villa as well as a three-bedroom beach villa. The 32,000 square foot island sanctuary – accessible by yacht – comes complete with a dedicated chef and personal concierge team, as well as its own spa, gym, five swimming pools, entertainment center and pristine beaches. Two Stella Maris Ocean Villas, inspired by a celestial charm – accessible only by boat – will also allow discerning guests to enjoy unrivalled privacy. Floor-to-ceiling windows, chef service, a jacuzzi and direct ocean access will make for an unforgettable and memorable escape.
For additional pampering, guests can visit the Waldorf Astoria Spa, comprised of ten idyllic overwater or garden treatment villas, which will offer an extensive menu of treatments and Asian-inspired therapies focusing on relaxation and rebalance. The Waldorf Astoria Young Discovery Park, a water park for young guests, and the Lagoon Pool, are ideal for families looking to enjoy a variety of activities with ease. Other facilities include the beachfront, 40-meter Mirror Pool; the Ocean Pavilion, which will host a range of wellness activities; a fully-equipped fitness center; and a combined water sport and PADI dive center.

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South Indian & Sri Lankan Fine Dining: Nadodi KL Meets Demands Despite Mounting Pressure

Nadodi & Trèsind Studio Throw A 4-Hands Dinner At Dubai Food Festival On March 6-7, 2019 Duo. Photo: Nadodi KL
With the denser Duo , Sricharan takes two Indian snacks—one from Tamil Nadu, the other from Kerala—and turns them into something else with faint semblance. Served with smoked scarmoza, an Italian cheese more limber than my yoga instructor, the chicken kheema paniyaram bears semblance to arancini. Similarly, the masala kappa could be likened to a spicy tater tot. I realise this is like saying, “Grandfather has my cheekbones,” even though it was his frame first. A humbling experience through and through, a meal at Nadodi will do that to you — grapple with your limited vocabulary, dig into the recesses of your memory, and if all else fails, simply give in to reverie. View this post on Instagram The Artsy Adolescent
Sricharan doesn’t just know whereof he comes from; he makes us love it too. Tapping into the universal emotion that is nostalgia, Bakery Memories serves as a time machine that takes the customer back to childhood — only it’s not ours. The breakfast tray presents a bilateral view of the chef as an adolescent and a full-grown artist, bringing a quote by Guru Nanak to mind: The truth is, the Creator is contained in the creation.
Introverted but intelligent beyond his years, the twenty-seven-year-old composed a bit of prose to accompany the hot egg puff, a thimbleful of calamansi soda, and ‘ketchup’ made from rasam. Neptune’s Fruits Lobster Ribbon. Photo: Nadodi KL
Making up most of the mains are ocean bounty.
Because noodles are virtually non-existent in Indian cuisine (the closest thing would be idiyappam , putu mayam or string hoppers), I am most looking forward to the Lobster Ribbons spun out of 100% lobster flesh (save for some in-house stabilisers). But the flourless tagliatelle flounders beneath a stream of pumpkin sauce. When one has lobster, one should taste lobster.
Au contraire, the red snapper boasts a nice acidity while producing a strange numbing sensation. Puliogare is to South India as otak-otak is to Johor — a staple and a speciality but not ‘luxurious’ per se. “This is a meal that was packed in brass carriers back in the day,” explains Sricharan. “We’ve infused the barley with tamarind to transmit some umami qualities.”
A play on Jaffna-style crab curry, the Nadodi Globe reawakens my desire to dine at Ministry of Crab in Sri Lanka. A lush wad of alabaster meat is the star while Kerala Matta rice, keerai sambol and a sago cracker assume supporting roles. Just because this is fine dining, don’t expect them to tone down the spices. Lamb Lollipop Pickled Chops. Photo: Nadodi KL
Prior to this, the tastiest lamb I’d ever eaten was at Gaggan. That is, until I had Nadodi’s Pickled Chops . Who knew a dish could make your mouth pucker in the act of masticating? It’s a bit like sneezing with your eyes open or applying mascara with your mouth closed.
The Ibérico lamb is one of those dishes that induces a temporary state of lunacy, and it’s only once we’ve finished mopping up every last drop of lamb jus that it occurs to us we’re in a room full of civilised people, executive chef included.
“As you may know…” begins Sri hesitantly, a little disturbed by this carnal side of us he’s disentombed. “India is famous for pickles, especially mango pickles.”
I respond by way of another fun fact: “Did you know that the idiom ‘Holy cow’ rose out of Hinduism’s reverence for cattle?” Thank Kamadhenu for that, as chefs in India have had to direct their prowess to lamb protein! Pugliogare. Photo: Nadodi KL
Striking while the iron is hot, Nadodi is scheduled to unveil its latest menu at the end of April 2019. “The menu will once again be filled with memories and stories,” promises Sricharan, who has never once shirked his duty of conveying culture and evoking emotion through food. Prices
Regular 11-course tasting menu: RM490+ Vegetarian 11-course tasting menu: RM450+ Liquid degustation: RM260+
Nadodi | Lot 183, Jalan Mayang, Off Jalan Yap Kwan Seng, Kuala Lumpur | 03-2181 4334 | | Reservations Tags

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#LuxuryBreak: Unveiling Saint Lucia’s Luxury Side

Hall of Fame #LuxuryBreak: Unveiling Saint Lucia’s Luxury Side
With Saint Lucia’s recent announcement of acceptance into Virtuoso’s exclusive portfolio of preferred destinations, the credential is another confirmation of the island’s luxury status as a destination.
The scene is set as guests meander through the verdant oasis of the exclusive Cap Estate passing dazzling ocean views, inspiring residential properties and the vibrant Rodney Bay, before arriving at the secluded retreat of Cap Maison , a family-run boutique with luxury at the helm and the island at the heart.
Set atop a private ocean-front bluff, Cap Maison is a haven whereby guests can simply take pleasure in the surrounding natural splendour, a cultural Eden in the northernmost tip of Saint Lucia. Guests are treated to unobstructed views overlooking Pigeon Island National Park and the neighbouring island of Martinique ahead, and the crystal-clear water of the calm Caribbean Sea to the west. Spread across three acres of tropical landscaped grounds, the 49 beautifully-appointed suites take influence from Spanish Caribbean style with an elegant hacienda villa-feel on offer.
Cap Maison tends to be food and aficionados first choice, thanks to its reputation for delivering outstanding cuisine across its two different yet equally alluring onsite restaurants. The man at the helm of the dining experiences is Welsh Rastafarian, Executive Chef Craig Jones. Launching his restaurants here in 2008, he brought with him an impressive culinary background that spans across several top UK Michelin-starred restaurants including Longueville Manor, Gravetye Manor , and the famed Michelin-two-star restaurant, Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons , under the legendary Chef Raymond Blanc.
The Cliff at Cap offers the one of the outstanding dining experiences to be had on the island, the dark wooden interior a contrast to the deep cerulean sea views that can be revered from every table. The menu here is of nouveau French and West Indian cuisine, a fusion that combines Chef Craig’s classic training with seasonal local produce. The Naked Fisherman is a more informal dining setting situated on a cove just below the resort, offering a more relaxed experienced but with the same emphasis on quality specialising in seafood and light plates.
With many intimate spots situated across the resort, the location lends itself to a plethora of romantic moments. From a chilled bottle of champagne whizzing down on a zipline to Rock Maison (the private wooden deck perched out at sea), to a private dinner on the deck with a dedicated waiter, and a delectable selection of cocktails and nibbles in the private Smuggler’s Point Gazebo that overlooks the Caribbean Sea there are many intimate memories to make here. To unwind together, the Spa Maison is a sanctuary whereby couples can also indulge in deluxe treatments that incorporate local products from the island including vanilla, cocoa, and coconut.
Cap Maison prides itself on offering an authentic taste of Saint Lucia in luxury surrounds, but the experiences on offer go beyond the resort itself. Guests can enjoy popping the bubbles with a gourmet picnic on the natural landmark and beauty spot Pigeon Island, take to sea with a cruise on the private 46-foot luxury yacht Cap Maison I for a spot of snorkelling, or to explore the exclusive Marigot Bay, the iconic Pitons and the charming town of Soufriere. Chef Craig also offers guided tours of the vibrant markets of the capital city of Castries, followed by a personal cooking masterclass to demonstrate how to incorporate Michelin-starred techniques to local produce.
Seven nights in a Garden View Room on a B&B basis in the summer season (until 19 December) start from £334 per room, per night. For reservations, please email:

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Opinion | Airways crisis: As winds of change blow, it is no more jet-set-go

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
It almost seems like T.S. Eliot wrote these lines in The Hollow Men, way back in 1925, just for Jet Airways. India’s favourite airline for the past more than 25 years folded up earlier this week. I felt all the more terrible, almost like a personal loss, as I had been one of the passengers on its first ever flight, 9W 321, from Bombay to Ahmedabad on 5 May 1993. I still have the boarding pass somewhere in my personal files.
Even when it launched, Jet Airways as an airline stood out for its panache: smart, stylish, swish, savvy, smiling. The air-hostesses looked chic; they were elegantly turned out; they were well-groomed; they were warm and welcoming. The aircraft were clean. The cutlery and crockery was of good quality. The food was well presented. The menus were well chosen. The check-in was mostly hassle-free. The lounges were well appointed. The flights were almost always on time. It didn’t take me much thought to dump Indian Airlines, then the No.1 carrier, sign up as a Jet Privilege member and stay in the Platinum classification forever after. In fact, I must have clocked at least a couple of million miles on Jet, flying both domestic and international over the years, and a couple of hundred thousand privilege miles are now lost with the demise of the airline, though the company has JPMiles are secure.
I don’t know what killed Jet. Was it that the demise of East-West, Modiluft and Damania made it overconfident? Was it the Sahara acquisition? Was it that Jet and JetLite should never have co-existed? Was it that despite Kingfisher making it look stodgy, it still did not wake up to competition? Was it that it just ignored the likes of IndiGo and SpiceJet? Was it that Naresh Goyal ran a company that was too centralized? Was it that its international operations got management to ignore the domestic market? Was it the spiraling fuel costs? Was it the unhappy marriage to Etihad? Perhaps the answer is a “yes” or “maybe” to each of these questions.
Jet had trouble coming its way for the past couple of years, but just did not know how to deal with it.
Jet, even in its going belly-up, can still pride itself in the fact that it was truly India’s finest home-spun airline brand. It was with the little things—the hot and cold towels, the variety of welcome drinks to choose from, the nicely laid-out menu, the clean, crisp pillows, the well-folded blankets, the 180-degrees flat beds on international flights, the complimentary night-wear, the duvets, the excellent Indian cuisine, the masala chai—that Jet set standards that became the norm for the entire industry. Honestly, all things remaining constant, Jet would always be my first choice to fly, simply because I liked the airline, and they cared for me.
For a short period, yes, I did flirt with Kingfisher. But I just found it a bit over-the-top, and the over-powering red colour sort of turned me off.
Reports say the Jet shutdown is temporary. I am not so sure. More than 15,000 jobs are at stake. I feel sorry for the staff. They are a nice bunch. Well-mannered. Friendly. Helpful. Quite unlike staff on most of the low-cost carriers—all trained not to smile. I feel bad for Naresh Goyal, too. He really did build a great airline, a great brand.
Whatever happens eventually to Jet Airways, it will go down in history as a trendsetter and an innovator: a brand that set standards, and got an entire industry to emulate them. In its saddest hour, I still salute Jet: for its spirit, its service excellence and, yes, the smiles of its staff.
An adman, Sandeep Goyal is former chairman and joint venture partner of Dentsu in India.

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Food Delivery Company EAT Club Buys Taro

Food Delivery Company EAT Club Buys Taro By Amit Chowdhry ● April 19, 2019
Redwood City, California-based food delivery service for businesses EAT Club announced it has acquired Taro. With the acquisition, Eat Club will be able to offer new globally-inspired gourmet food to its customers.
As part of this deal, EAT Club and Taro teams are going to be integrated. And EAT Club is going to acquire Taro’s assets including proprietary recipes, culinary equipment, and distribution technology. The terms of the deal were undisclosed.
EAT Club offers healthy and authentic international menu items that are not available in markets or restaurants. And Taro reimagines home-style food for the modern consumer.
“EAT Club is the only food delivery service for businesses that treats eating in the workplace as a personalized culinary experience,” said Taro co-founder and CEO Krishna Mehra. “When we set out to expand our reach and distribution beyond family dinners, EAT Club emerged as a natural partner with its unique approach of delivering employees individualized selection within a collaborative atmosphere. EAT Club is making it possible for thousands of new workers to experience Taro’s food and flavors, and we are proud to join forces with them in increasing workplace satisfaction.”
EAT Club’s culinary offerings have been created by an exclusive team of talented chefs. And the company has successfully delivered more than 17 million meals to employees.
“Taro is recognized for authentic home-cooked Indian, Korean and Chinese food, and we are thrilled to add their distinctive offerings to our menu,” added EAT Club CEO Doug Leeds. “EAT Club is committed to delivering employees the best curated menu that satisfies their individual meal preferences, and Taro enables us to add even more of the high-quality Asian cuisine that our customers crave.”
Taro is considered EAT Club’s second acquisition since Leeds was hired as CEO last year. Prior to joining EAT Club, Leeds was a longtime Internet executive and the former CEO of IAC Publishing. EAT Club was originally founded by COO Rodrigo Santibanez.
EAT Club is inspired by the Dabbawala delivery system of India and the bento box office delivery model in Japan. EAT Club also previously acquired Farm Hill Foods and the company now serves 1,000 corporate clients every month including Facebook, Wag, and Postmates.

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Korea Tourism Organization holds Travel Mart and Festival in Mumbai, signs MOU with OTOAI

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In a bid to promote South Korea among the Indian travel trade community, Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) New Delhi recently organised a day-long Tourism Travel Mart and Korea Night on April 12, as a part of introducing the key Indian B2B tour operators and travel industry stakeholders to the newest tourism offerings from South Korea. This was followed by a two-day long Korea Culture and Tourism Festival for travel enthusiasts, from April 13 to April 14.
Tourism Travel Mart and Korea Night
The day began with a press conference aimed at sharing KTO’s future plans and endeavours in extending their footprint in the Indian travel industry and announcement of the Culture and Tourism Festival in Mumbai. The occasion was graced by Park Jeong Ha, Executive Vice President, KTO International Tourism Division along with Kwon Jong Sool, Director, Korea Tourism Organization. Delivering the keynote address at the morning session, the Executive Vice President commented, “We are very pleased to host the Korea Culture and Tourism Festival in Mumbai, the centre for economy and tourism industry in India. The festival will allow Indians to feel and experience traditional as well as modern Korean culture. The number of Indians travelling to South Korea is on the rise. Around 100,000 Indians visited South Korea in 2018 and the numbers are growing with an average rate of 10-15% year-on-year. With our New Southern Policy being emphasised by President Moon Jae In, we are positive that India will be one of the important markets to drive growth in terms of tourist numbers.”
The Tourism Travel Mart saw the participation of nine Destination Management Companies alongside four Regional Tourism Organisation which included Gimhae City , Gyeonggi Tourism Organization, Incheon Airport and Jeju Tourism Organization . The Korean Film Commission & Industry Network representing the entire entourage of South Korea’s 12 film commissions as well as the Seoul Film Commission were also present at the B2B travel mart.
KTO and OTOAI join hands
As part of the initiative to promote South Korea as a tourism destination in India, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Park Jeong Ha, Executive Vice President, KTO International Tourism Division and Mahendra Vakharia, President, OTOAI. The association will see OTOAI promoting South Korea as a Focus Country for 2019, organising multi-city seminars in collaboration with KTO to educate the Indian travel trade community on South Korea as a MICE, Business and Leisure destination.
Speaking at the occasion, Kwon Jong Sool, Director, Korea Tourism Organization, said, “ India has always been an important country for us. South Korea has immense to offer in terms of tourism for regular travellers as well as the MICE market. We believe there is tremendous untapped potential and this two-day festival will help us garner interest and create more awareness about South Korea amongst Indian travellers. We will continue to invest in promoting Korea for Indian travellers and this MoU reinstates our attempt in doing so. We look forward to a long-standing partnership with the OTOAI in making Korea the first choice for India travellers. ”
In order to further South Korea’s appeal to the Indian traveller, a unique guidebook titled ‘ Indian Friendly Restaurants in Korea’ was also launched at the event. The guidebook is aimed at providing holistic information about restaurants that not just serve Indian cuisines but are also palatable to them.
The Travel Tourism Mart provided crucial networking opportunities through one-to-one interaction with all participants and was followed by a celebratory Korea Night . All guests were treated to South Korean hospitality through a selection of Korean culture-inspired gifts, food and beverages as well as a mesmerising performance by Korean Fusion Band, Queen.
Korea Culture and Tourism Festival
A two-day long experiential series of events were organised by KTO with the purpose of reaching out to the enthusiastic Indian tourist. Held at the High Street Phoenix, the festival had the best of Korean culture, entertainment and tourism offerings on display. The key attractions included exciting performances by famous Korean artists and music bands including Queen, AlexandrA, In2It and Gamblerz Crew.
Visitors also sampled traditional Korean delicacy in the form of Bibimbap (an assorted rice dish) and Sujeonggwa (a cinnamon-flavoured punch). The opportunity to wear the Hanbok, Korea’s celebratory attire added an experiential dimension to the festivities. Name stamping in Hangeul, mask painting and face painting kept visitors happily engaged.
The Korea Culture and Tourism Festival boasted of dedicated Hallyu Zone, Performance Zone, Experience Zone, VR & Calligraphy Zone, Photo Zone, Game Zone, Food Zone, Regional Tourism Zone and Redemption Zone to provide a holistic Korean experience to every visitor. All activities were arranged in line with the campaign idea, ‘Imagine Your Korea’.
It needs no mentioning that Indian travel agents were also present at the festival with special Korean packages on offer.
The Korea Culture and Tourism Festival concluded with Korea Movie Weekend organised by Korea Culture Centre at PVR, Juhu.
On an ending note
Korea Tourism Organization’s efforts in making a mark in the Indian travel market were well-supplied by the tactful execution of multifaceted activities for both the B2B and B2C travel communities. It is not far-fetched to say that KTO has left no stone unturned in capturing the Indian imagination. Tags:

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Maldives-The Sinking Wonder of the World

/ Maldives-The Sinking Wonder of the World Maldives-The Sinking Wonder of the World Tripoto https://www.tripoto.com/ By The Spirited Travelers It was our first time snorkeling-the sand was white, water emerald green, and beneath were colors we have never seen before, beneath was a world we had never experienced before. All these years, we were stupid enough to deprive ourselves of this magical parallel world. The day passed by and the night sky was lit by countless stars and a full moon. We were at our water bungalow deck, sipping wine and I remember telling Ayan “this holiday can’t get any better”, next we see manta rays and a couple of other fishes swimming right below our deck! This was another “first time” for us. Before this, we didn’t know one need not snorkel to see fishes swimming at night. This is the little paradise located in the Indian Ocean called MALDIVES. Moonlit Sky Transport More than 50,000 aircraft use Velana International Airport, Male’s runway. So stop being lazy and just google the flight details! For hotel transfer, almost every resort offers free pick up and drop services either in a seaplane or speed boat depending on how far your resort is from the airport. Ours was a speed boat transfer. Keep your camera ready to capture some amazing clicks on your way! Island View From The Aircraft Accommodation In the Maldives, the resort you choose to stay at depends on your budget. We were staying at the beautiful Olhuveli Beach & Spa and our suggestion would be to opt for their All Inclusive Package. Our package included Unlimited Breakfast, Lunch, Hi-Tea, and Dinner along with a wide range of alcohol, cocktails, and mocktails to choose from. The package also included Snorkeling Day Trip, Sunset Dolphin Watching Trip, Massage, a free couple/family photo shoot and a wide range of water-sports activities! The resort mostly experiences full occupancy and thus, it’s advisable to book your freebie slots in advance. Now, if this isn’t enough for you, the resort sets new standards of hospitality. You will always be greeted by their smiling staffs, ready to cater to all your needs. They have an infinity pool which is beyond beautiful. They are also home to two beautiful Herons and many (put a lot of stress on the word “many”) colorful Macaws. Infinity Pool Beautiful Wildlife Of The Island The resort offers different types of over-water bungalows and we opted for the Jacuzzi water-bungalow. We would sit at our bungalow deck every evening watching the sun set while welcoming our evening guests-baby sharks and baby mantas! According to us, staying at an over-water bungalow is a must in the Maldives (irrespective of the resort you are staying at). For budget travelers, even a one-night water bungalow stay will be worth every penny you spend. The Stunning Water Bungalows Our Stay Our activities included snorkeling, snorkeling and some more snorkeling. Maldives is our “Coral Reefs and Marine Life Mecca”. In fact, our first ever encounter with a water turtle was in the Maldives and if you are in luck, you might even spot Whale Sharks. We also tried our hands at wind surfing and jet skiing. After 30 minutes of training, I saw Ayan on his jet ski boat, waving at me and the instructor while accelerating towards the mid sea. I did not join him though. It was too sunny (and I was too scared to ride the boat alone!). One evening, we opted for a candle light dinner by the ocean. Now, we both love the sound of crashing waves and with the moonlit sky, couldn’t have asked for a more romantic setting. Wild And Free, Just Like The Sea Food and Entertainment There are around 1200 islands in the Maldives of which 200 are uninhabitable. The remaining islands are mostly occupied by resorts (at times luxury/3-7 star hotels). Usually, a single resort owns an entire island meaning your food options are restricted to your resort’s restaurants only. Depending on one’s budget, some may find the resort’s menu on the higher end. Also, check with your resort beforehand as to which currency they deal with (ours accepted dollars only). On the brighter side, our resort offered 3-4 restaurant specializing in different cuisines! Every evening, there were themed parties with music, live band, and other fun activities to keep you and your kids occupied. Breakfast By The Ocean Set Up For A Destination Wedding Kindly note Unless you live under a rock, you would already know how beautiful the beaches of Maldives are and how rich is its marine life. So instead of talking about the established facts, I wanted to write a little about a reality most aren’t aware of. The earth continues to suffer from the effects of climate change (thanks to us human beings!). With sea level rising as a result of glaciers and icebergs melting, Maldives is predicted to be completely submerged if this trend continues. Now, you have more reasons to travel to the Maldives before it vanishes! Imagine telling stories to our little ones about a group of islands which once existed, a marvelous creation of god where you and your partner held hands while walking on the soft white sand. The setting of the sun never looked brighter before, neither did the sky wore this shade of red before. The deep blue sea finally touches the sky at the zenith, so close and yet so far. Now imagine explaining to them why this land vanished? This Earth’s Day, let us remember that little effort is all that’s needed to keep the magic alive, to keep our earth alive. About The Author We are a husband-wife duo who are sad IT professionals on the outside and Spirited Travelers from the inside. We aim at appreciating different cultures, lifestyle and food. Often, the roads taken the most suffer adverse effects of tourism and through our writing, we want to encourage our readers to be responsible towards environmental preservation. To be a part of our adventures around the globe, follow us on Instagram @ the_spirited_travelers . The Spirited Travelers

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Why I Take All My First Dates to Olive Garden

Why I Take All My First Dates to Olive Garden April 18, 2019 5:59 PM Subscribe When I meet women on dating apps, I always want to know if I can take them to the Olive Garden, my treat. It’s a solid opener; a way to know if we’re compatible. If they’re the right kind of woman for me, they’ll respond with an enthusiastic yes. The right kind of woman for me is someone who won’t give me a hard time about the things I like. The kind of woman who will let me pocket all the leftover breadsticks and doesn’t care if we only discuss our favorite sexual positions and what kind of appetizers look best off the limited-time-only menu. We’re at Olive Garden because it’s kitschy and cute. Nothing that happens needs to be a serious thing. It’s no big deal. posted by rodlymight at 6:11 PM on April 18 [ 11 favorites ] I actually really liked that. For all the bad puns, she had a pretty sly pathos. I may have to keep my eyes open for her book, which has a great title. Thanks Johnny. posted by benzenedream at 6:18 PM on April 18 [ 5 favorites ] That was certainly a conceptually ambitious ad for Olive Garden, if it wasn’t satire. Maybe the date could have turned into something bigger if I hadn’t made it so it couldn’t possibly. Maybe I could’ve rolled the dice on sustainable companionship if I weren’t so terrified of it backfiring. Maybe. But here’s what I do know: If I ask nicely enough, the restaurant will give me a packet of my very own warm breadsticks to take home. On the house. And if that’s not intimacy, I don’t know what is. Really beating the reader over the head with this. The narrator has intimacy issues. At Olive Garden, these melt away in an oil slick of olive and butter. Great. posted by clockzero at 6:18 PM on April 18 [ 6 favorites ] I read it as more tongue-in-cheek than satire. Also, I found it (and the other essays) delightful! posted by schroedinger at 6:21 PM on April 18 [ 3 favorites ] That article about the bread at macaroni grill is on point, and I’d happily eat spaghetti with red sauce from a jar, ground beef and powdered parmesean cheese from a green tube three times a week if I could magically absorb that many carbs without gaining a ton of weight–but Olive Garden is pretty insipid food, something that any teenager can outdo with only the slightest effort (even just using the aforementioned jarred sauce and green-tube parmesean). I don’t look down upon people who want to go there, rather I genuinely wonder why they wouldn’t prefer to go to one of the other casual dining restaurants that serve uninspired but vastly superior food for a similar price. No Olive Garden is more than a mile from a TGIF, Chili’s, Ruby Tuesday, Outback or something similar, so it’s not lack of options, even assuming a person is only looking for a place to eat that has a national advertising presence. posted by skewed at 6:23 PM on April 18 [ 3 favorites ] Isn’t Olive Garden one of those restaurants where the food is mostly prepped in a giant industrial kitchen someplace and then shipped to the restaurants to be heated, finished, and served? I’m pretty sure I heard that. They basically don’t cook anything on-site. posted by hippybear at 6:26 PM on April 18 [ 6 favorites ] I think Arnett’s essay makes it pretty clear she’s not there for the food. As she says: There’s something comforting about the fact that my Olive Garden is located in the neighborhood where I grew up. It’s where my evangelical family and I used to eat together before we stopped speaking. Before I came out, before I stopped going to church, before I held them accountable for all the ways they’d silenced important parts of me. So yeah, Olive Garden reminds me of my family, which is painful, but it also reminds me of home—at least, an idea of what home could be: a never-changing place that isn’t ever going to foist anything new upon me. This is an essay about Olive Garden, but it’s not really about Olive Garden. posted by schroedinger at 6:26 PM on April 18 [ 57 favorites ] Isn’t Olive Garden one of those restaurants where the food is mostly prepped in a giant industrial kitchen someplace and then shipped to the restaurants to be heated, finished, and served? I’m pretty sure I heard that. They basically don’t cook anything on-site. They actually do cook most things on site, albeit in big batches that are prepped for the day and then finished to order. The breadsticks are of the brown and serve variety, and are brushed with a thick butter-like substance and sprinkled with garlic seasoning as they come out of the oven. The desserts almost all come to the restaurant frozen. The salad dressing shows up already made. But the soups, sauces, pasta (dry, not handmade), lasagna, etc. is mostly made fresh daily. You don’t want to be a server at a Cedar Rapids Olive Garden the day that the chefs ruin the Alfredo sauce. On a Friday during Lent, no less. posted by terilou at 6:37 PM on April 18 [ 45 favorites ] I won’t judge you for eating at Olive Garden, but I also won’t meet you there. posted by madajb at 6:38 PM on April 18 [ 16 favorites ] I love the idea. My last time at an Olive Garden was pretty terrible. But swap it out for a Chili’s or something and we’re cool. posted by downtohisturtles at 6:41 PM on April 18 I will, however, judge harshly any “celebration of old-school Italian-American restaurants” that includes Olive Garden, it being neither “old school” or even particularly “Italian-American”. It was founded as a corporate chain. By General Mills. In Florida. posted by madajb at 6:43 PM on April 18 [ 14 favorites ] Chain restaurants expertly target children and teens, who decide on all such family matters, even when outnumbered by a dozen adults. posted by Brian B. at 6:45 PM on April 18 [ 10 favorites ] I love puns, and I don’t even mind Olive Garden*, but she sounds like a bad date. *I live in an area with an abundance of Italian restaurants, only some of which are owned by the literal Mafia, but those breadsticks, though! posted by Ruki at 6:47 PM on April 18 [ 2 favorites ] I remember them fondly as the post-rehearsal meal of choice for a folk dance team I was on. “Burn through every calorie you could possibly burn dancing to fiddle tunes, then cram in as much soup and breadsticks as will fit” isn’t a bad way to spend Monday nights in college. posted by nebulawindphone at 6:52 PM on April 18 [ 14 favorites ] I used to carry mild resentment toward my wife for disliking italian food, but the more time passes the more I think it’s a blessing in disguise, since really all it means is we’re never tempted to go to Olive Garden. posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:52 PM on April 18 [ 2 favorites ] I won’t meet you at Olive Garden, but I will meet you at Red Lobster for cheese biscuits and novelty nautical cocktails. posted by betweenthebars at 7:01 PM on April 18 [ 16 favorites ] I used to “test” first dates by offering them to drive me to punk shows and then I’d fall asleep in their car afterwards. It’s a solid opener; a way to know if we’re compatible. posted by Cookiebastard at 7:06 PM on April 18 [ 9 favorites ] Long ago (I last dated in the early ’80s), I had a similar strategy, only with the Mexican restaurant equivalent…. El Torito. (It’s a California thing). posted by oneswellfoop at 7:10 PM on April 18 [ 4 favorites ] Metafilter: a conceptually ambitious ad for Olive Garden posted by dephlogisticated at 7:12 PM on April 18 [ 11 favorites ] El Torito ye posted by Hermione Granger at 7:19 PM on April 18 [ 3 favorites ] OMG now I’m reminded of Casa Bonita in Denver . Mexican food with endless seconds and cliff diving! If I lived in Denver, that’s where I’d take my first dates. posted by hippybear at 7:26 PM on April 18 [ 5 favorites ] Two people eating means you get three sticks total. I like to think Olive Garden did that on purpose, so that you’re forced to break bread with your date. One of my favorite (🍔) little fuck yous that restaurants seemingly always indulge in is the way that shared plates always come in prime numbers. I have this running fantasy of opening a restaurant whose premise is that it doesn’t do any of the little annoying things that restaurants do because it’s not worth their money to optimize, like not having enough seating space in the waiting area to account for the actual volume of customers, or (in the case of counter-service places) having a giant bottleneck by the bus trays because that’s also where the condiment counter is, etc. Anyway, I just added another requirement: shared plates must always come in maximally divisible counts, like 6 or 12. You’ll get the occasional five top that runs into the same old problem, but considering that most numbers aren’t prime, it’s the obvious choice. This is a fantasy because this restaurant would obviously hastily go down in fiscal flames. posted by invitapriore at 7:26 PM on April 18 [ 17 favorites ] But they just give you the breadsticks. They could easily count the heads at the table and bring an adjusted number appropriate for those present, rather than being required to do return trips in order for everyone to feel equal.”Oh, two people? I’ll take them four!” I don’t see what the restaurant gains by bringing them three, unless there’s some psychological trickery going on, like nobody will eat the last one so they don’t ask for more even though they want more. posted by hippybear at 7:30 PM on April 18 [ 4 favorites ] Back when I in culinary school, you know, those two months of my life, my bread instructor said, every class, “You like those Olive Garden bread sticks? That’s my recipe.” posted by maggieb at 7:35 PM on April 18 [ 6 favorites ] I’d go to Olive Garden with her, if only because I like the olives they put in the salad (pretty hard to screw up) and loathe the (mass-produced, out-of-season, mealy) tomatoes. At least through the salad course, we’d be happy. posted by Daily Alice at 7:36 PM on April 18 [ 1 favorite ] “Hi, I’ve basically given up on even trying to rise above America™️ anymore.” /not criticism, I’m halfway there myself. Hey kids, who wants Chipotle again tonight? posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:37 PM on April 18 [ 1 favorite ] One of my favorite (🍔) little fuck yous that restaurants seemingly always indulge in is the way that shared plates always come in prime numbers. Oh thank gawd, I’m not the only person who’s noticed, and is driven crazy by, this. Toasted Ravioli should not, should NOT come in servings of seven; someone’s gonna get stabbed with a salad fork. posted by notsnot at 7:38 PM on April 18 [ 10 favorites ] I loved the essay as a snapshot of a time and place. My chain lunch club (it’s just four friends, we like funny food and generous parking, we’d never see each other if we didn’t plan a monthly lunch and we feel like everyone else we know would be very LA about our pedestrian tastes except everyone who hears about it goes “ooh, I secretly love Red Lobster!” or whatever) just went to Olive Garden last weekend because they are doing this limited time special giant food menu and we were like yeah, challenge accepted . To our shock the giant meatball was silky and delightful, and the giant chicken parm was delicious (I ordered it, and cut half of it off and stuck it on the appetizer plate for everyone else to eat or take home), and the two who ordered shells and cheese liked it though I found it too cheesy. We got a pitcher of green apple moscato cocktail and it was unpleasantly sweet; we always order coffee to linger over a while longer, which you can usually get away with at chains in LA*. We almost always talk about our memories of the place we’re eating (if we even have them; all of us are natives of central and eastern parts of the country), and it’s hard not to have some kind of hook to these places, even if it’s just that we thought they were ve y fancy as very young people, or we had grandparents who only felt safe eating in these very recognizable settings or there was one at the intersection near our first love’s apartment. Anyway, Olive Garden is one of those places that I rank medium-high on the “work department’s going out for lunch and several people are extremely picky” scale. You can mostly cobble together a low carb or vegetarian meal there (or pescatarian – they do surprisingly good fish, and I think they might have taken the mussels off the menu but it used to be a common work travel meal for me), the people who are scared of everything will find something comforting to order, if you’re traveling for work you can cobble together a whole glass of wine from free samples (tip: go to a very business-area OG on a weeknight, a bored server will get you wasted on free samples). *Hands down, the best chain experience I’ve found in LA is the Cheesecake Factory in Marina del Rey, which has a patio on the gorgeous not-windy marina beach and it’s cheaper than any of the other freestanding restaurants on the marina (and presumably cheaper than the hotel restaurants that take up the rest of the waterfront). There is a Bubba Gump on the beach at Santa Monica Pier and their patio-like enclosure is definitely tourist-worthy in a city that doesn’t actually have many commercial properties on the actual state park beaches, and frankly Gump’s is just as good as the much snootier place up at street level that costs twice as much. posted by Lyn Never at 7:42 PM on April 18 [ 21 favorites ] Goddamn but I miss toasted ravs. posted by invitapriore at 7:42 PM on April 18 [ 7 favorites ] I grew up in the midwest thinking Olive Garden was awesome, but I moved to a big coastal city (and grew up), so now I know better. But I’m conflicted about whether I’m happy about that, because liking things shouldn’t really be about other people and it’s not like I’ve ever been to an Olive Garden and not liked it. It’s more that the hamster wheel of taste and all of its status implications is just kind of horrible. I know a few people that loooove Panera, and every time I’m reminded of this I get an ego boost from how confused I am. Like, did they miss the memo about how Panera is not cool? How its bagels aren’t even real bagels? And then I get annoyed at myself for being just a judgy elitist. Why do I have to enjoy looking down at people so much? Who the fuck cares what they like? How much of my happiness is just belief I should be happy because it’s what I think other people approve of? Metafilter is good and bad in this regard because it’s definitely introduced me to a lot of great stuff, some of which I would have dismissed out of hand. But the infitite dismissive comments just worm right into my brain and oh man I hope I’ve been less than obvious about my judginess in so many situations. Anyway I liked the main linked article quite a bit, thanks. posted by ropeladder at 7:52 PM on April 18 [ 24 favorites ] This is an essay about Olive Garden, but it’s not really about Olive Garden. [pulls off schroedinger’s mask] Ira Glass! posted by clockzero at 7:54 PM on April 18 [ 21 favorites ] The pull quote in the post reads SO differently from the POV of a woman writer than from a man writer as I initially thought. posted by bleep at 7:57 PM on April 18 [ 49 favorites ] I met my current husband online and he suggested Panera Bread down at the shopping center for our first meetup. I was disappointed in this choice, firstly, in spite of my solidly Midwestern upbringing I had recently returned from living in Europe so I was aghast at the idea of going to a chain bakery and more importantly because it made me wonder if he was a serial dater who didnt want to lay down heavy investment given the likelihood we wouldnt hit it off. This turned out to be not at all true in the sense he was not a serial dater but completely true in that he was not willing to risk spending too much on a date, first or last. This article has his name written all over it. Years later I am used to him eating all the breadsticks and the rest of my dinner and everyone else’s at our table, but never dessert because that costs extra. Is it possible to marry someone who checks so many ” I would never date someone like that” boxes? Yes, I tell you so this Olive Garden test isn’t so reliable as this writer would have you believe. posted by waving at 7:59 PM on April 18 [ 12 favorites ] When I meet women on dating apps, Women reply to her on the dating apps?! Who is she, a sorcerer? Teach me your ways, Olive Garden Morgana. posted by pelvicsorcery at 8:02 PM on April 18 [ 26 favorites ] I liked the essay, but while I understand the appeal of Olive Garden, it wouldn’t be my go-to for dating. (If nothing else, a meal that heavy requires some downtime for digestion.) posted by Dip Flash at 8:02 PM on April 18 [ 1 favorite ] Olive Garden is pretty insipid food, something that any teenager can outdo with only the slightest effort Their pasta, sure, but I can assure you that their breadsticks are not replicable with “only the slightest effort”. I’ve tried. (I’m sure there are teenagers that can do it, but it’s not trivial.) They’re parbaked or ‘baked off’ at the restaurant, but they’re a legitimate bakery item–you’re not going to get the same results using Pillsbury dough out of a can, or a chemically-leavened quickbread recipe. (Though I admit to a certain nostalgic thing for Pillsbury breadsticks-from-a-can, as well as many other canned bread products, but that’s a different story.) Unless you can find a store that sells really good parbaked breadsticks, which I never really have, they’re tough to do at home. Same with their pizza. Sure, you can make pizza at home, but there’s a non-trivial learning curve just to get the thing in and out of the oven and onto a pizza stone correctly. I ruined a lot of pizzas and a lot of high-gluten flour before I could get a homemade pizza to even the quality of what they turn out at OG, and it’s still a no-shit daylong process when you include making the dough. If you were just going to get a bowl of pasta, sure, anybody can do that (well, if you’re willing to not boil the living daylights out of the pasta…). But credit where it’s due, their menu extends quite a distance beyond pasta. Anyway, as a filter to weed out obnoxious dudes there are probably worse methods. posted by Kadin2048 at 8:06 PM on April 18 [ 7 favorites ] I was too kind to this author earlier. She really sounds like she deserves the Olive Garden. That’s mean. This reads like a cry for help. I hope she’s okay. I think it’s the editor who decided to publish it rather than saying, “Hey, have you tried therapy?” is the one who actually deserves the Olive Garden. Don’t eat at chain restaurants. They’re not worth the price. If these essays are any indication, that includes a metaphysical one. I can’t get on board with these weird celebrations of bland corporate suburbian culture, food or otherwise, that I’m seeing pop up more and more from people in my generation. It’s poison for the soul, and you’re contributing to your own subjugation when you support that shit instead of a locallly owned restaurant. This isn’t hipster pretention, every corporate chain restaurant near me is as expensive as the locally owned restaurants with food that’s a quarter as good. And is probably also less healthy, so even if, like the author of the first article, your tastebuds are so dead you can’t tell the difference between red and white wine or another other slop you shovel into your face, you’ll still probably live longer if you eat the local food. Just stop it. I’m out. posted by Caduceus at 8:08 PM on April 18 [ 10 favorites ] I would love for this author to eat at Olive Garden with the awesome Marilyn Hagerty . Then they could write a joint essay that would make all of our hearts sing. posted by Maarika at 8:16 PM on April 18 [ 8 favorites ] I think it’s that lots of chain places charge a fair amount but also load the plate up with cheap carbs so it feels like more food. People feel like local places aren’t giving them value because they aren’t taking home two bites of meat and a pile of mashed potatoes they’ll never actually eat. posted by Ferreous at 8:18 PM on April 18 [ 2 favorites ] Yeah, I like the Olive Garden OK, but it’s the kind of place you go with your grandma or an old friend, not a date. It’s comfy and not at all romantic. Which is basically why the writer takes her dates there — she wants zero romance. Maybe some hooking up, but no actual romance. I liked the article a lot, but it did have an uncomfortable edge. The writer seemed so unhappy. posted by rue72 at 8:18 PM on April 18 [ 2 favorites ] Two people eating means you get three sticks total. I like to think Olive Garden did that on purpose, so that you’re forced to break bread with your date. This is actually a result of the PE firm that purchased the chain getting mad about what it perceived as wanton waste on the part of the restaurant. I am very much not making this up. Yeah, people think it’s snobby not to like restaurants like the OG, but it’s not like they’re genuinely inexpensive! I know there are places where it’s Applebee’s or nothing, but where they are in NYC, you are a couple blocks at most from a local restaurant or five that is at least as good and in the same price range. Those Red Lobster biscuits are pretty tasty, though posted by praemunire at 8:21 PM on April 18 [ 4 favorites ] I used to carry mild resentment toward my wife for disliking italian food, but the more time passes the more I think it’s a blessing in disguise, since really all it means is we’re never tempted to go to Olive Garden. Whatever it is that the Olive Garden serves, it is in no way Italian food. If people like it, fine, but don’t get it twisted. posted by snuffleupagus at 8:23 PM on April 18 [ 4 favorites ] Once I told my coworker I liked having a Jimmy Johns close by so I could buy lunch if I hadn’t had time to make it. She told me that she used to work near the original location when they first opened “so the novelty has kind of worn off for me.” I was like… that’s not why I go to Jimmy Johns. Anyway, this essay was an interesting combination of insight and silliness. I liked the puns too. posted by Emmy Rae at 8:24 PM on April 18 [ 2 favorites ] The one and only time I went to an olive garden I was served as extremely broken sauce and when I complained was told “that’s how it’s supposed to be, it’s Italian” I am understandably biased against them. posted by Ferreous at 8:27 PM on April 18 [ 6 favorites ] There are plenty of reasons people like chain restaurants, beyond predictability and consistency. They are generally friendly to multigenerational groups, they are mostly ADA compliant, menus are well labeled in terms of allergens, and on and on. I don’t eat at them often (aside from ordering Jimmy Johns sandwiches at work) but there’s no reason to be dismissive or disparaging of the option. posted by Dip Flash at 8:29 PM on April 18 [ 23 favorites ] They literally stopped salting the water they cook pasta in to maintain a warranty on pots. I think thanks a plenty good reason to be dismissive of them. posted by Ferreous at 8:33 PM on April 18 [ 8 favorites ] If you’re a librarian, you should read her Lithub stuff. If you’re not, and you ever go to the library and want to know why all of us are like that, read her Lithub stuff. Knowing who she is makes this hilarious to me. posted by sir_patrick_o’veal at 8:34 PM on April 18 [ 14 favorites ] The one and only time I went to an olive garden I was served as extremely broken sauce and when I complained was told “that’s how it’s supposed to be, it’s Italian Were you by any chance at the Olive Garden in Cedar Rapids on a Friday during Lent ? posted by TedW at 8:35 PM on April 18 [ 8 favorites ] I use Olive Garden as a test, if you don’t enjoy it with me then you’re a picky eater and probably less adventurous and open about trying and understanding food than I am. posted by polymodus at 8:36 PM on April 18 [ 6 favorites ] I was in New Jersey which made it far far worse. posted by Ferreous at 8:38 PM on April 18 [ 2 favorites ] I find it so weird that people can’t imagine what local restaurants that live and die off feeding the crowds going to the latest Disney production look like. posted by praemunire at 8:38 PM on April 18 [ 1 favorite ] I find it so weird that people can’t imagine what local restaurants that live and die off feeding the crowds going to the latest Disney production look like. I, um… him. Re the prime number theory on appetizers and other shared plates… I found (via the ” Incredible Costless Abundance of Macaroni Grill’s Free Bread “, which is a great article) this 2014 Darden Restaurants slide deck which discusses Olive Garden breadstick rationing. The rule servers are supposed to follow for the initial breadstick disbursement is N+1 where N is the number of guests at the table. So, for a four-top table you’re supposed to get 5 breadsticks, and thus you’ll always have an annoyingly indivisible quantity. Other fun notes: if you want more breadsticks, their intent is that you ask the servers and they’re supposed to bring you fresh ones, because apparently an OG breadstick has a half-life measured in single-digit minutes (no, seriously, they say themselves “after sitting just 7 minutes, the breadsticks deteriorate in quality”). On average, they go through 3 breadsticks per customer, but the average customer doesn’t actually eat that many breadsticks. (They don’t say how many breadsticks the average diner actually eats; must be in the classified version of the report.) There’s some tsk-tsking at servers who oversupply customers with breadsticks, apparently to the tune of $4-5 million per year . And, as fodder for the upsell theory, they do say that by not giving out so many breadsticks initially, “guests inherently [sic] consumed less and ordered more appetizers and desserts”. So it’s not that they want to drive people away from ordering dessert, quite the opposite. They just can’t not give out the breadsticks because it’s a core product, people expect it. (I mean… duh.) There’s a bunch of other information in there that I’ve never seen otherwise published, including a breakdown of food costs–proteins are 38% of their food spend, beverages are 25%, produce 13% and wheat, presumably including breadsticks, only 7%–so yeah there’s a reason why they bring out the ‘sticks before the unlimited salad. Also they use, or used back in 2014, dishwasher safe takeout containers. You could take your leftovers home and run the container through the dishwasher and reuse it to your heart’s content. That’s actually kinda cool–wasteful and insane, since I don’t know anyone who’s ever done this–but interesting. posted by Kadin2048 at 8:42 PM on April 18 [ 12 favorites ] The Olive Garden is an overpriced corporate shit hole that is trying to destroy labor by training customers to be our own waiters by ordering from the computer screen, not to mention the food is bad and did I mention expensive? But as mentioned above, kids love it. Go to the local Olive Garden in my neck of the woods and it’s a rainbow of ethnic diversity; families, couples, and an endless churn of people celebrating their birthdays. They’re well liked. And I liked this article, and would be honored to go on a date there with the author. I mean, does anyone think she doesn’t know about organic grain bowls or “authentic” Korean fried chicken joints? She knows restaurants, good and bad, and she knows Olive Garden is bad, and she enjoys the fun times that a carefully constructed capitalist restaurant chain can provide. Further, she is burned out on the stresses and anxieties of dating culture, and like many humans is lonely, and found a fun way to connect with a date and suss them out, even as she remains fairly hopeless about love. We live in America. It’s ugly and stupid in many ways. But a funny lady staving off the ennui with a date and a plus sized bowl of pasta is not the problem. posted by latkes at 8:55 PM on April 18 [ 24 favorites ] or used back in 2014, dishwasher safe takeout containers This is pretty common on the left coast now, for what it’s worth. I gave up all my Gladware for black meal-prep containers about 2.5 years ago, and many of our takeout options switched to something similar within the past 1.5 years. When they’ve been microwaved/dishwashered to the point of brittle unstableness, I can still use them as seed-starting trays in the garden a while longer before recycling. posted by Lyn Never at 9:03 PM on April 18 [ 6 favorites ] I grew up in the midwest thinking Olive Garden was awesome, but I moved to a big coastal city (and grew up), so now I know better. But I’m conflicted about whether I’m happy about that, because liking things shouldn’t really be about other people and it’s not like I’ve ever been to an Olive Garden and not liked it. I feel this. There’s a specific experience I keep trying to explain to my coastal-born friends, of being the young person who hasn’t left the Midwest yet. You’re going to eventually , because you’re liberal & counterculture & likely queer, but more importantly you scored a billion percent on Openness in the Big Five scale & you want to have life experiences. And sometimes those life experiences involve driving forty minutes to go to the Olive Garden because it’s somehow, actually, legitimately fancier than anything in your town, because you love how all-in they went on plastic grapes & fake marble busts & Frank Sinatra on the stereo, because it’s a special treat for your friend’s birthday & she wants to go to the Olive Garden, because you can get drunk off wine while they keep bringing you breadsticks, because no one has shamed you out of genuinely enjoying mildly sub-par fettucine alfredo. I’m out of the Midwest & enough of an insufferable foodie now to know that Olive Garden food is less worth the calories than many other meals I could get — including from an actual authentic Italian joint! — but I would never tell younger me that she wasn’t allowed to derive genuine joy from the friggin’ Olive Garden. posted by taquito sunrise at 9:08 PM on April 18 [ 39 favorites ] I find it so interesting that chain restaurants are still quite popular in America. Is it the case for Canada, too? Here in Australia, they were only marginally popular in the eighties. As the decade closed, so did they. There’s now only a very few left, and they ate not that busy typically. I guess there are a few popular chains like din tai fung or papa rich, but they are relatively authentic Asian restaurants, not really parallel universe themes or cuisines unto themselves. I did it interesting because in many respects I find US and Australian cultures quite similar. posted by smoke at 9:18 PM on April 18 [ 4 favorites ] Just tonight I was asked out on a first date. As we were negotiating where to meet, he made it very easy to politely decline meeting him, by being less than enthusiastic about Thai, flat out vetoing Indian, being lukewarm about Mexican, and being all about steak and bloody mary’s. There was also the small issue of his implying he was only after a one night stand. Any man who wants me to put out, but won’t eat chana masala or butter chicken isn’t getting past a phone call. posted by Sequined Ballet Flats at 9:21 PM on April 18 [ 21 favorites ] i’d hang out with her! she sounds fun. also, bravo for writing a personal essay that is *short*. brevity, wit, and all that, so rare in expositional internet writing. also, the metaphor of terrible food for terrible loneliness is apt. both have amazing inverses– that is, love and umm good food. and olive garden is, indeed, terrible. posted by wibari at 9:35 PM on April 18 [ 11 favorites ] I grew up with an Olive Garden in through my backyard! I still think of it fondly! And I love olives! Thinking about it, I’m kind of baffled by how, two towns over from New Haven, where southern Italians ported their thin-crust Neapolitan pizza, there were really no good Italian restaurants. We did try Pasta Fair once, and service there was dim and slow and the pasta was unsatisfactory. posted by batter_my_heart at 9:53 PM on April 18 I just don’t like the food there. I’m from the Midwest too, and grew up too poor to eat in restaurants, chain or otherwise. I went to Olive Garden once for a friend’s birthday, in New York City, and my pasta there was overcooked and gummy. Never again. If I were going on a first date in Florida, I’d say “How about we get a big ol’ sandwich from Publix, and a nice bottle of red, and go to the beach?” I’d eat the prepared food at Publix over anything at Olive Garden any day of the week. And if there were a second date, I wouldn’t say no to Cheesecake Factory. posted by droplet at 9:56 PM on April 18 [ 2 favorites ] Man, I just can’t get worked up about the Olive Garden. posted by jenfullmoon at 10:01 PM on April 18 [ 10 favorites ] This article made me unaccountably sad and I couldn’t really put my finger on why. I don’t have strong feelings about the Olive Garden; I don’t think I’ve been to one in twenty years. I didn’t even really know they were still a thing. Apparently there’s one ten minutes from me! posted by potrzebie at 10:08 PM on April 18 [ 1 favorite ] What a sad tale. I hope she one day finds non-corporate companionship with an extra serving of genuine love. posted by They sucked his brains out! at 10:41 PM on April 18 [ 1 favorite ] Also, I feel like I need to stick up for El Torito a little. Faux-cantina Amero-mexican is not not actual Mexican food but still good, in the same way that “red tablecloth” Amero-italian is not Italian but still good. Wheras Olive Garden is an ersatz version of Amero-Italian that hovers somewhere slightly above a cafeteria buffet line, but with breadsticks and other trappings of 70’s “Continental” fine dining that somehow make people not notice the ripoff. posted by snuffleupagus at 11:18 PM on April 18 [ 2 favorites ] Wheras Olive Garden is an ersatz version of Amero-Italian that hovers somewhere slightly above a cafeteria buffet line I once met a date at a Luby’s… posted by hippybear at 11:27 PM on April 18 [ 3 favorites ] Here in Australia, they were only marginally popular in the eighties. As the decade closed, so did they. There’s now only a very few left, and they ate not that busy typically. Ehhhh I wonder if we’re using the term “chain restaurants” differently. I assume you are not counting fast food, maybe even Nando’s etc is in that category, or all the bakery cafes like Pie Face, but although Sizzler specifically disappeared (*sniff*), you can still eat at Pancake Parlour, The Coffee Club, La Porchetta, etc. It’s a smaller set because australia is a smaller market, of course, but it’s still a thing. posted by the agents of KAOS at 11:35 PM on April 18 [ 2 favorites ] Mexican food with endless seconds I have eaten at Casa Bonita. The food is of the quality that I would pay extra to not have endless seconds. posted by Mr. Bad Example at 2:19 Asking a first date to Olive Garden would, to me, be a sign that my date is only comfortable with the blandest of white people food. Which is fine, but that means we wouldn’t be compatible. My hot take is that American chain restaurants are not universally comforting + accessible and we should stop pretending that they are. Many chain restaurants are pretty uncomfortable and unappealing to me as a Chinese-American person: if I took my mom there she’d complain about how cheesy/creamy and overportioned the food is to her. posted by storytam at 3:43 AM on April 19 [ 12 favorites ] It’s all very romantic, if romance is deciding who gets to take the bigger share of the carbs. There is a grain of truth in this. One night I made a pun so bad that a woman actually took out her phone and unmatched me right there at the table. If you have not had this experience at least once in your life, you lack humor or courage. If you have had it more than twice, you lack a filter or prudence. posted by GenjiandProust at 4:11 AM on April 19 [ 11 favorites ] I haven’t been to an Olive Garden since I moved back from the suburbs a decade ago. I always find it so weird that the chains have almost 100% taken over dining in the suburbs and while there are some in the city, there’s still a ton of local options. Even the chain places in the city are mostly locally owned ones that only have a handful of locations but you literally go over the boundary into the closest suburb to me and it’s all Red Lobster and Chilis. My wife and I go to the movies a lot and usually end up driving out to the ‘burbs because there aren’t too many theaters in the city but we’re always stumped for dining options when we get out there. posted by octothorpe at 4:24 AM on April 19 I also can’t really get it up about Olive Garden. I’ve eaten there, there are worse things that have happened in my life, and better. The linked article about beans and greens in Pittsburgh was kind of news to me, though. I mean, that’s not a fairly standard Italian dish everywhere? I’ve honestly never even took two looks at it on a menu (I tend not to get that when I eat out because we make it frequently at home). And I’ve certainly never eaten at Alla Famiglia because I don’t have hundreds of actual dollars to spend on a meal. posted by soren_lorensen at 4:30 I really like Kristen Arnett’s voice and perspective. She’s also the author of the terrific The Problem with Writing About Florida ( previously ). I recently went to the Olive Garden for the first time in 15 years. I think that makes it 3 times total. It’s not a restaurant I seek out, obviously, but neither has it been, IMHO, worthy of the sneering it invariably gets from a certain crowd. I had the braised beef gorgonzola alfredo and it was actually quite delicious, and the service was amazing–we were a table of 8 adults and a baby, and they assigned us 2 servers who were pleasant and accommodating and efficient. I think it only just opened up in my hometown a year ago, and I know everyone was excited to get one. My sister’s family has eaten there enough in the time since that my nieces have their ordering system down to a science. posted by drlith at 5:21 I once met a date at Olive Garden, And she said “I beg your pardon?” When I started to pun, she started to run, And our breadsticks did nothing but harden. posted by Slinga at 5:26 AM on April 19 [ 13 favorites ] I used to do a lot of drug deals at an Olive Garden parking lot. it was a great place for it because everyone who entered or left just looked straight at the ground, they never scanned around to see if anyone was hanging out in their car suspiciously looking all around every thirty seconds. posted by some loser at 5:39 AM on April 19 [ 11 favorites ] I likewise don’t particularly think of beans and greens as being any kind of Pittsburgh ~thing~, but then, I grew up in New Jersey before moving here. So maybe my baseline expectations of the availability and types of Italian food are just skewed by the places I’ve lived. The combination of price and crossing the Monongahela, god forbid probably means I’ll never go to Alla Famiglia either. posted by Stacey at 5:46 AM on April 19 [ 2 favorites ] I’ve lived all my life in Pittsburgh and never even heard of greens and beans, nor all but one of those restaurants. I travel for work a lot and would rather go to supermarket prepared foods over any chain, with one exception. Ruby Tuesday has a pretty good salad bar and they will make my burger rare. posted by M-x shell at 5:46 I love this comment from taquito sunrise. My husband and I used to go to Olive Garden for special occasions. We lived in a small rural town with very few restaurants. A nearby city (still a small and rural city at that) has restaurants! We were always warmly treated there, and at the time, to us, it was fancy. We’ve grown older and learned more about food. The rural town we lived in has a thriving wine culture now and there are some amazing restaurants that we sometimes go to. We’ve since moved to a town of 300 with a park, a church and a pop machine, no restaurants without a drive to someplace else. I’ve improved my cooking. But I have fond memories of anniversary dinners at Olive Garden with this good man I’ve spent nearly 20 years with. And though in hindsight I don’t have the same tastes in food that I once did, I’m thankful for having the experience of dressing up with my husband to go out for a nice dinner – because regardless of the reality of the situation, that’s what our memories hold of those nights posted by hilaryjade at 5:47 AM on April 19 [ 18 favorites ] For people of a certain age who grew up poor, Olive Garden was an unattainable dream. If you got to go for a birthday or graduation, you were living the dream. Double if you got to sit in a room with a fake fireplace that looked like a house on TV. Some people never experienced that, some people strove to make sure their kids never felt the same, and some people strove but are happy to visit a reminder of their past. posted by tofu_crouton at 5:56 AM on April 19 [ 17 favorites ] When that ice cold salad plate hits my table, it’s as comforting to my dysfunctional, food-insecure GenX soul as Teenage Riot. I don’t go to Olive Garden to feel special. I go to feel normal. The banality is a feature. And I don’t go anymore, because I found therapy more filling than breadsticks. posted by a complicated history at 6:06 AM on April 19 [ 9 favorites ] I’ve lived all my life in Pittsburgh and never even heard of greens and beans, nor all but one of those restaurants. Yeah, if someone asked me to define Italian-American cuisine in Pittsburgh beans and greens would not be the signature dish I would pick. Or even remotely consider. And why did they pick the Italian restaurants that the owners of the bloody Steelers (and their assorted employees) go to? That’s not, like, normal-people Italian restaurants. Living in Pittsburgh did teach me early and often that I actually hate Italian-American desserts. Moio’s is my kryptonite. So much candied fruit and almond paste and anise and ugh. No thank you. I mean, I admire the tradition of the cookie table, but I usually don’t want anything to do with 90% of what’s on offer. posted by soren_lorensen at 6:13 AM on April 19 And why did they pick the Italian restaurants that the owners of the bloody Steelers (and their assorted employees) go to? That’s not, like, normal-people Italian restaurants. Legends is not fancy, it’s a just a little corner Italian place next to Allegheny General. Entrees are like $12. Also, for what it’s worth, I’ve run into Pat Rooney quite a few times, we’re neighbors, and she seems like a very normal person. posted by octothorpe at 6:27 AM on April 19 Thanks Sir Patrick for the link to the author’s Lithub articles. She’s inspiring me to clean out my personal e-mail inbox and I love learning more about libraries! posted by narancia at 6:39 AM on April 19 Yeah, people think it’s snobby not to like restaurants like the OG, but it’s not like they’re genuinely inexpensive! I’d venture that the class distinction (and ensuing allegations of “snobbiness”) fractures along lines that are more complex than pure economics. It’s more a question of comfort zones than price, and in the snobby end of the disdain, of “authenticity”. To not want to go to Olive Garden (or anywhere else, really), you basically need to have a basis for your distaste, which could be any of three things: quality, adventurousness, or “authenticity”. Starting with the first: it’s true that Olive Garden is pretty mediocre even by the standards of chain restaurants or other restaurants at its price point, but that’s only obvious if you’ve eaten better. If you’re not adventurous (or if your hometown is devoid of quality downmarket Italian), you might not have that, even if you’re rich. Adventurousness (or the lack thereof) is I think the main feature where Olive Garden fans and detractors split. Having an occasional bad meal is the price of exploration, but a dull meal is, to an adventurous eater, an unforced error, and Olive Garden is a hard place to put together an authentically exciting and interesting meal (for a white person raised in the mainstream white American culinary traditions; see below). Culinary adventurousness is a complex amalgam of upbringing, education, wealth, and possibly genetics (considering, e.g. supertasters, allergies, and cilantro aversion) but I think it is bound up in some ways with class, in that a willingness to breeze into a hole-in-the-wall of a cuisine you’ve never encountered reads fundamentally as a cosmopolitanism which exists independent of wealth, whereas patronizing chain restaurants is widely seen as a small-minded unwillingness to explore. Adventurousness, of course, cuts both ways, since Olive Garden is tailored to fit the comfort zone of a particular American taste, and if that’s not your native culture it can be threatening. storytam’s note above that Olive Garden would be weird and uncomfortable for her mother, whose concept of comfort food doesn’t conform to the Olive Garden model, is kind of illuminating.”Authenticity”, I think, is where the intersection of quality-seeking and adventure-seeking goes sour, and is rightly regarded as snobbishness except when an inauthentic experience tips all the way into cultural appropriation. But even this isn’t an economic distinction: you don’t have to be rich to be a hipster. posted by jackbishop at 6:43 AM on April 19 [ 8 favorites ] I was thinking more of Alla Famiglia, which I often hear is the place that Steelers and assorted other sportsball people go. (I just re-read the article and I mixed up my Alla Famiglia prior knowledge with mention of the Rooneys.) As a vegetarian, I am far from an expert on Pittsburgh’s red sauce joints and Piccolo Forno is our local Italian (not really red sauce, I guess). I’m not sure what I’d pick from my end of town. Pleasure Bar, I guess? I’ve done most of my Italian-American food-eating at peoples’ Nonnas’ houses, tbh. posted by soren_lorensen at 6:46 AM on April 19 We lived in a small rural town with very few restaurants. A nearby city (still a small and rural city at that) has restaurants! We were always warmly treated there, and at the time, to us, it was fancy. That was us, too. The nearest Costco was about an hour away, so going there usually meant stopping for lunch. Sometimes we’d go across town for excellent regional Mexican food, but sometimes you want the chain restaurant vibe, and Olive Garden is far, far from the worst of the chain restaurants — the food has flavor, there are actual vegetables, and not everything is deep fried. At least at that specific Olive Garden, I liked seeing how the servers did a good job dealing with big family groups with both elderly and very small members — not something I ever see in the more hipster/high end places I more often eat out at. Cost-wise, the same money will get you a better meal at a local place, if you are in a city with those kind of options. That’s a big if; a lot of the Olive Gardens I see are surrounded by Chilis, Red Lobster, and similar places, not artisanal locovore restaurants. posted by Dip Flash at 6:55 AM on April 19 [ 8 favorites ] If we were looking for places in Pittsburgh that sportspuck people go to, I’d say just go to Kavsar and eat delicous dumplings. (I’m told the pancake bags are also amazing but I don’t like mushrooms so I’ll never know.) Little bit hole-in-the-wall, only a few accessible tables and the rest up a long flight of stairs, but damn, those are some delicious dumplings. I’m told they used to run a perpetual slideshow of Geno Malkin’s greatest hits in the upstairs dining room but they seem to have stopped; whether that’s a good or bad thing, I leave to you. Back on the Italian front, my office is obsessed with Girasole and we order vats of their ravioli for most work events. I don’t think we’ve ever even *tried* their escarole/bean situation, though. Maybe I’ll suggest a mini-vat of that for the next work party as an experiment. I have no strong feelings about actual Olive Garden. Haven’t been in years, wouldn’t hesitate to go if someone else suggested it, am perfectly happy with a chain restaurant, that just doesn’t happen to be one of my preferred chain options. I’m the only non-foodie in a foodie family and I’m sure my parents aren’t quite sure how I happened, but I’m pretty chill with whatever as long as there’s an option for me that’s neither seafood nor mushrooms. Chains, fancy restaurants my parents like when they’re in town, home cooking, and unique local places all please me in various ways. But the last time I had a first date was in 2000. We did a local Chinese place, it was delicious, we spent most of the time doing some really unwise sharing of personal traumas that you theoretically shouldn’t do on a first date, it went great and we’re still together. So I don’t really know how date restaurant choice works now, and possibly I never did. posted by Stacey at 7:06 I went to the Olive Garden on a date with my husband. It wasn’t our first date, but it was pretty early on, in the strip-mall hellscape of Arlington, VA. It was during one of their “never ending pasta bowl” promotions and we ate until we literally wanted to throw up. We still talk about it, 20 years later. We had to go straight back to my place and just roll around on the bed for hours–not in the fun way, in the moaning, uncomfortable, regretting all our life choices way. A few years later, after we were married and living in a very rural part of Maryland, we used to go to OG in the nearest town with a movie theater (45 minute drive) as like a big date night. But then we discovered that same town had a really good Thai restaurant hidden away, so that was the end of that tradition. But I have fond memories of Olive Garden date night. Shit is definitely also different when you have kids. We were eating at Choolaah a couple weeks ago (think Chipotle, but Indian) and looked around and every single table was parents taking their under-10-year-olds out for a special Friday night meal. Including us. It’s not spicy, it’s Indian food made for an American taste (hot sauces are available as a side), it’s always the same, they have kids meals so I’m not paying $10 for a bunch of stuff my kid will pick through and not eat most of. It is not authentic Indian cuisine but my vegetarian kid who has a bone-deep terror of anything that is different from the last time he encountered it will eat it. I ain’t going to judge anyone else doing what they need to do in order to have a dinner with their family that isn’t an annoying battle of wills. posted by soren_lorensen at 7:21 AM on April 19 [ 10 favorites ] We were always warmly treated there, and at the time, to us, it was fancy. I’ll take warm service over fancy anyways (not that the two are mutually exclusive). If I’m going out to eat it’s usually either because I don’t feel like cooking/cleaning OR because I want to be out and about. I don’t really go to Olive Garden now, but there have been times where it was a regular option. As a kid, I think my parents found the Olive Garden near us had the right combination of friendly but fast service that we kids wouldn’t get to antsy. We also have some picky eaters in the family and there were usually a couple of things on the menu that they’d be happy with. In high school and undergrad it was the cheap place to grab a bite. Again where picky eaters could usually find something they’d eat. I lived in a rural city for a year where Olive Garden was the nicer place to eat. There was a local “fancy” restaurant that served worse food for higher prices. The atmosphere at the fancy local place was darker and colder, so it really had nothing going for it. Now I want some breadsticks and salad. posted by ghost phoneme at 7:27 This is actually a result of the PE firm that purchased the chain getting mad about what it perceived as wanton waste on the part of the restaurant. I am very much not making this up. I went to Olive Garden recently, between coupons and $1 kids meals it was priced equivalently to McDonalds, and they gave one round of breadsticks, and I’m sure if we had asked they have given extras but they certainly didn’t send us on our way with a bunch of them. The food was worse than it used to be- the used to have a peach tea that had a frozen peach in it – totally made up for the subpar pasta. Now it’s the same peach-flavored Brisk that everyone else has. posted by The_Vegetables at 7:34 AM on April 19 if I took my mom there she’d complain about how cheesy/creamy and overportioned the food is to her.. Cheesy/creamy I get but in my neck of the woods all Chinese food places, no matter how Americanized or ‘authentic’ (I know nothing about how to determine if they are ‘authentic’ other than I probably can’t read the menu), surpass chains in how much food they give you. They give out enough rice where if you like had Lego people they would need oxygen to get to the top of rice mountain. posted by The_Vegetables at 7:42 AM on April 19 A few years ago my friend was visiting the US from Japan with her husband who is a government stone fruit (including olives) expert. We ended up eating at Olive Garden at his insistence! posted by vespabelle at 7:52 MetaFilter: staving off the ennui with a date and a plus-sized bowl of pasta posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:01 AM on April 19 Olive garden has an entire vegetarian/vegan menu, and on their website, lists the source of cheese rennet (i.e. whether it’s animal or microbial)! I have literally never seen this anywhere, except vegan places where you can assume there is no rennet because there is no cheese. They also have nutritional information, which I appreciate a lot as someone who is trying to watch what I eat. This is common for chains, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a local place that posts nutritional information about their food. Regarding quality, I feel like Olive Garden is at the same level as the very popular Indian restaurants in my neighborhood that doesn’t have a large Indian or South Asian community. That is, both are about average. But Indian food is cool and Olive Garden is not, so at least among the people I know, the former is well regarded and ordered from often, while the latter is kind of a joke. posted by chernoffhoeffding at 8:18 AM on April 19 [ 5 favorites ] I too have good Olive Garden memories. But remember that news story a few years ago about how they were going to clean their carpets less often to save money? They must be following through, because my local Olive Garden now has an overwhelming wet dog stench. You can hardly smell your food. I’m never going back. posted by heatvision at 8:24 Olive Garden is what it is. It’s Spaghetti Walmart. It’s Denny’s With Pepperoncinis. It is a least common denominator for genericized Italian food. If you have no other option in your town that can get above a C on the local health department inspection, it is acceptable. posted by delfin at 9:09 AM on April 19 The article was great. A little slice of wry humour’n’truth from somebody’s life. The plate of beans was a bit sour for my taste, though. posted by clawsoon at 9:12 AM on April 19 [ 5 favorites ] Olive Garden dates were major inflection points for two failed relationships I was in. Anyway, their gnocchi soup is really good. posted by prize bull octorok at 9:23 AM on April 19 Well now I have a bunch of restaurant names to suggest when Mrs. Shell wants to try something new. Thanks, Pgh’ers. posted by M-x shell at 9:24 My only frame of reference for OG is the highly awesome commercial written by a bot who was forced to watch over 1000 hours of ads. The sign-off? “Olive Garden. When you’re here, you’re here.”

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