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Review: Olive Garden Gluten Free

Posted by on September 29, 2012

This is a review of the Hammond, La Olive Garden. Ever since I discovered my wheat allergy and gluten sensitivity, I’ve been pretty careful about where and when I eat out but one of the things I like to do when I get a first paycheck is to go out and eat. A little date night with A. Our town has a brand new Olive Garden open up last month so we thought we’d give it a try since they had gluten free pasta and a neverending pasta bowl which they were willing to sub gluten free pasta out for. So I give them points for effort there at the corporate levels.

It was a new Olive Garden and seriously understaffed and crazy busy. But from the time we got in till the time we left…was 2 hours. Seriously? There is absolutely no reason for that, ever. It took a half an hour to get our salad…which had to be returned because despite being told we had a wheat allergy and couldn’t have wheat or gluten, it had croutons then the waiter just offered to take the croutons off first. I could barely believe my ears. Then he offered the breadsticks he’d accidentally brought, to A even though A was also eating gluten free. I don’t mind usually when A doesn’t completely abide by the rules, it just means no kissy face for a while, but he’d specifically ordered gluten free as well. You don’t just assume people are avoiding a certain item because of a crazy diet or what have you. You assume the worst case scenario if it can be a danger to their lives and you act upon that unless told otherwise.

So after a bowl of salad, they then brought out the extra Italian sausage we’d ordered for our neverending bowls….but it was just the sausage in a bowl. No pasta or sauce. Huh? I was so confused at this point and started to feel like I wanted to cry because they couldn’t even get a simple order right. Should I have come at a less busy hour? Sure, it might have been somewhat simpler but the entire staff’s attitude up till this point was one of not caring at all. So another bowl of salad was offered to us and by the time we’d finished that, our actual gluten free pasta had arrived. Too bad it wasn’t even al dente. It was rubbery and hard. It was obviously made of corn but it had not even remotely cooked long enough. I  mentioned this and they offered to cook some for a longer period, although they made it sound like they just heated it up from the way the lady phrased it. I was hesitant but nodded my acceptance and was willing to give it a try.

So it disappeared and about 5-10 minutes later, a manager type shows up and tries to tell me that is how gluten free pasta is when it’s cooked. I just looked at him with a “You are completely full of it” and said that it was undercooked and that I’d appreciate them cooking it longer. I was polite. I didn’t get uppity at tall. It took another 20-25 minutes for that one to appear, by which time we’d kinda filled up on salad. But the pasta was actually done and quite tasty as a matter of fact. But we couldn’t eat all of it and had to ask for it to go at that point. The meal itself was good, so if you know your local OG’s staff, I say try it, but I was seriously disappointed in the management and staff’s attitude towards one of the top 8 allergens. I usually go for their soup and salad lunches, but this was enough to turn me completely off Olive Garden.They are a chain restaurant. Their staff needs to learn how to make their menu before being set free. Even our waiter/bartender didn’t seem to know what he was doing with drinks.


  • Corporate Consideration: 4 out of 5
  • Taste: 2 out of 5, 4 out of 5 after I told them how to fix it.
  • Attitude of site staff: 2 out of 5
  • Customer Service: 1 out of 5
  • Service Knowledge: 1 out of 5
  • Average Score: 2.3

A’s Verdict: The main issues seem to me that they didn’t have enough people and they didn’t give attention to any of their customers. As if they were just a tip and paycheck. They didn’t think some things through at all. The food was good but two hour was way too long for what service we got, whether we’re gluten free or not. Yet, it seemed to be the same for everyone else around us as well. Sad since all of my experience with Olive Garden up until now have been positive.

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