I recently learned that Olive Garden has added some gluten-free options to their menu. I was not in Seattle yesterday, and so my gluten-free restaurant options were a bit more limited than usual. Lunchtime was nigh and I was hungry, so my boyfriend and I decided to give the gluten-free menu at Olive Garden a try.
I asked our hostess for the gluten-free menu before we were shown to our table. This can help gluten-free dining to go more smoothly as it saves the wait staff or host a trip, and it gives the host a chance to alert your server that at least one of your party is of gluten-free status before they even get to your table and introduce themselves. It also gives them the option, if they choose, of assigning your table to someone more experienced or well-versed in the gluten-free options on the menu.
Their Gluten-Free menu was not huge, but there were enough choices available that I did not feel limited. It also had a lot of choices for those of you that are dairy-free as well. I chose the Penne Rigate Pomodoro, and my boyfriend went with the Herb-Grilled Salmon.
The hard copy of the menu we were given listed the salmon as herb-crusted, just like the “regular” menu. The online description, “brushed with Italian herbs” is more accurate. The Boyfriend still thought it was good, but it wasn’t quite what he was expecting.
I went with pasta, mostly because I was curious about what type they would use and whether the texture would be up to par. There were two pasta options on the gluten-free menu, I went with the one that sounded like it had the chunkier sauce. It was actually pretty good. I believe they used a corn-based pasta. The texture was not as good as some of the brands I cook at home, but it was certainly passable and it was fun to order pasta in a restaurant.
Of course we had to order the salad (I mean really, why else does anyone even go to Olive Garden?), we simply had it without croutons and I ate my usual embarrassingly large amount of it. As in, more than one serving-bowlful. I didn’t even miss the croutons.
We also took advantage of a new wine serving size they offer (don’t judge us, it was a snow day!). It’s called the Quartino, and it’s basically a glass and a half of wine for only 2-3 dollars more than the glass price. We split two of those, so we didn’t have to get an entire bottle, and we also saved some cash.
Overall, eating there was a good experience. They seemed well-prepared for gluten-free patrons (and believe me, in the town I was in that is definitely not always the case!), I felt safe simply ordering from the gluten-free menu, and I left full of decently tasty food and wine. It’s always nice to have a few chain restaurants in my mental gluten-free restaurant inventory for times when I am not in a region that has fully embraced the fact that gluten-free diners are here to stay. I would definitely go to Olive Garden again in the future.