After being pleasantly surprised by the ambience, food quality and service at the Riverland Dubai branch, I decided to check out Olive Garden in Abu Dhabi last weekend, that’s been around a few years longer. It is located on the top floor of Wahda mall, a busy centrally located shopping center familiar to all in Abu Dhabi.
We were received by two smiling ladies as we walked in and they immediately took us to our table. We got there early enough to not be on a waiting list, which was great. Flipping through the mouthwatering pictures of everything the standard Olive Garden has to offer, it took me a while to finally decide on the Steak Gorgonzola-Alfredo (medium cooked). My friend got the Tour of Italy. I got the Minestrone soup with my entrée and my friend ordered a Caesar salad with his. I was not happy that the main course arrived too early, not giving us enough time to enjoy our soup and salad, or order the free refill. We ordered our refills anyway, and then just juggled between soup and main through the course of our meal. The food was very bland and could have really used some more salt. I felt there was too much “balsamic glaze” in my pasta, giving it a not-so-pleasant, almost overbearing, sweet taste. The tour of Italy was also disappointing, apart from the Chicken Parmesan that was thoroughly enjoyed. Since I recently it in their other branch, I can confidently claim that it tasted much better then. The soup and salad were still great though.
It’s disappointing when a brand like Olive Garden fails to live up to our expectations. The food didn’t do justice to the well-lit, lively ambience and good and I’m not sure if they’ve let their standards fall at the Al Wahda branch since they’ve been around longer, but it looks like they have some catching up to do. Saved by customer service and maybe value for money only if you happen to have a voucher. I don’t think I will be returning any time soon.