I must confess that I’ve only been to the United States once ! Yes that’s right just once, and it was over twenty years ago when I took a three week trip to Florida. Memories of Dennys for breakfast keep flooding back along with my first visit to the Hard Rock Cafe and errrr I’m afraid that’s all I remember about eating in the States with the exception of HUGE oversize portions of both food and drink and of course Disney and Universal Studios which was the main purpose of my trip. So when I told a friend I had an invite to Olive Garden in Dubai he was raving at me that I MUST go it’s simply the best place to go and a firm favourite of his son’s who lives in the States whilst his dad, my pal, lives here in Dubai.
So on his recommendation, I found myself at the very quiet launch lunch of The Olive Garden which has opened in Al Manara, just along the road from Jones the Grocer, Crumbs Elysee and right next to Bistro. Not really knowing what to order, I asked for recommendations from the waiting staff and PR folk as long as from the Manager who was keen for me to sample some of the best sellers.
I started my meal off with a refreshing Peach Fresco and was also served a huge bowl of garden salad with dressing and parmesan cheese. One of the treats of dining at Olive Garden is that all mains come with either unlimited soup or the garden salad plus garlic breadsticks these are served free of charge as part of your meal which is a nice touch. The salad was particularly pleasing at it was beautifully fresh, vibrant and crunchy.
Starters were very much chosen as recommended by the Manager, who despite it only being me at my table, sent full portions across. The portions are large, and personally I would suggest sharing them unless you have a very large appetite.
Shrimp Scampi Fritta – lightly breaded and fried shrimp in a spicy cherry pepper sauce, spicy, succulent and not at all greasy or heavy considering they were fried.
Lasagne Fritta – Parmesan breaded lasagne pieces, fried and served over alfredo sauce with parmesan cheese and marinara sauce – personally I found this too heavy for me and I’m not a huge pasta fan, but I can see the attraction if pasta is your thing.
For mains, I settled for one of Olive Garden’s signature dishes, the Stuffed chicken marsala which was a oven roasted chicken breast filled with italian cheeses and sundries tomatoes which was topped with mushrooms and a rich and sweet marsala sauce, this came with garlic parmesan mash. I’m guessing not everyone is used to the sweet marsala sauce as the waitress checked with me twice to advise that the sauce was sweet, I’m not complaining at all, it’s how it’s supposed to be.
For desserts, I was joined by one of the PR team who ordered a slice of Tiramisu which she said was good, and of course it should be. I was tempted by the Warm Apple Crostata which consisted sliced apples served with almond biscotti, a cookie crust, vanilla ice-cream. The Crostata was served warm and was reminiscent of a deconstructed apple crumble. It hit the spot perfectly, wasn’t too sweet and actually wasn’t too filling.
Would I visit again ? Yes, the menu was interesting, prices were very reasonable and although the portions were big, shared with a dining companion they would be perfect, and anyway the restaurant were more than happy to package up the leftovers for me to take home as I hate wasted food.