Food Review: Olive Garden – Venetian Apricot Chicken, Dolcini Dessert
Had the pleasure of going out to dinner with the wife last week and it was her choice. She chose the Olive Garden. Now, in general, I am not Olive Garden’s biggest fan. I like the salads, especially since they have olives (well an olive per person but I always get my wife’s) and those spicy peppers, but they are not the healthiest. I hate the breadsticks (bland bread that is over-salted + 140 calories per stick). And I am just not thrilled with the entrees. Nothing is ever particularly bad, but neither is anything ever particularly good.
I admit, I am a little biased, since I have an Italian heritage. What I especially don’t like is that pretty much anything I can get there, I can make better myself at home. The wife likes it because I don’t cook as often as she does, and it means she doesn’t have to cook or clean for her meal (and I make a big mess when I cook).
So when we went there, I was conscious of it being a mediocre both week- and day- for me food wise, and I decided to try and find something reasonable since I hadn’t been able to scale back that day or the day before. At 400 calories, the Venetian Apricot Chicken was the lowest calorie item I would potentially be interested in, though I was a bit worried, since I am not a big apricot fan.
I was pleasantly surprised by my meal. I won’t go so far as to say it was great, but it was decent. The chicken was bog-standard mass produced chicken – pretend grill-marks, mostly micro-waved or mass-baked. The asparagus and broccoli were also pretty average (and I skipped the tomato/spinach mush). But the apricot sauce was really nice. It really made the meal quite nice. Definitely at least a thumbs up.
Edit (5/19/12) – Had this again and will comment that the chicken was better than last time. Looked freshly cooked almost. Was actually two thumbs up.
In addition, they added a new dessert line called dolcinis which are little cups of different things. They are all 200 – 300 calories or so (compared to their average dessert of a double that). Again, the wife and I each had one (caramel and dark chocolate mousse for her, chocolate mousse and dark cookie crumble for me) and both were very nice (hers was a little better as well as lower calorie). It was nice to be able to have a dessert without blowing the budget.
Edit (5/19/12) – Since the original review, I have had the Limoncello Mousse and the Strawberry & White Chocolate Dolcini’s. I like lemon-y things and thought the Limoncello was fantastic. Better than either chocolate one (and I like chocolate). The strawberry one was mediocre at best in my book, very bland. That said, I’m very hit or miss in general on strawberry flavored items.
(And to think when I was young, I used to love the Olive Garden and especially the Tour of Italy at 1400 calories – yep there’s a reason I’m fat today.)
Edit – 8/18/11: Here is a link to a recipe that claims to recreate the chicken dish mentioned below. I have not personally tried it yet.