Saturday, February 11, 2012

Olive Garden- 22503 N US Hwy 281, 78258

I know everyone has had an Olive Garden chain experience, but this location is the strong link in the chain. I have to admit I wasn't all that excited to see a this name go on the building near us, but they changed my opinion quickly, and we have been several times and each venture has been positive. Even if you have a bad taste for this common restaurant, I urge you to give this location a chance.

Atmosphere: A

All new restaurants go overboard with niceness in the beginning, sometimes it is too much and most of the time, the friendliness disappears over time. Not the case here. Each time, we have been greeted as soon as we walked in the door, and on every occasion, even with a large party with several high chairs needed, we have never waited for a table. The cafe is always clean and very well lit, the decor is different from the original Olive Garden decor, and the eating area is spic and span. They also do a good job of putting most of the families in the same section of the restaurant so that the noise is common, and isn't going to bother a quiet party of two.

Service: A

The staff here is very friendly and prompt. We have always been greeted and had drinks within minutes of sitting down. We did have one instance where one kids meal did not come out with the rest, the server forgot to order it, but they handled it very well, putting a rush on the dish and bringing some extras for him to tide him over while we waited. The item was taken off of the bill and we were also brought free dessert courtesy of the manager. The manager has always stopped by the table to check in, and one time even brought a scoop of ice cream for each child so that the adults could enjoy the rest of the meal without hurrying to avoid a meltdown. They make sure that you get the relaxation of eating out as well as your child.

Value: B+

Most of the items on the kids menu are priced at around $5 an entree, but for the quality of food that you get I think it is fairly priced. Each meal comes with a side item, and a drink served in a kids cup. The amount of food is good, for toddlers there is enough to make two meals. The quality of the food is great, it is a meal that an adult would find appetizing as well, overall the value at this establishment is above average, for adults and kids.

Selection: A+

They have a great selection of entrees to chose from. You can build your own pasta dish, which gives your child plenty of customized choices so they can get what they like. The Olive Garden also has great side item selections, none of which are fried. They have mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli, and grapes, wonderful selections from a parent perspective. The drink options are vast and offer some healthy alternatives as well. The have several juice options, 1% milk (both white and chocolate), and of course soda, but for an extra charge you can get a smoothie made with real fruit and non fat yogurt. With all the options that the Olive Garden provides, you can feel like even though you ate out, your child didn't get loaded up with grease and sugar.

Entertainment: C

This is the area that the weak link appears. They do have kids menus that serve as a coloring page and they provide crayons. Other than that, the distractions are up to you. The nice thing is that you are started off with salad and bread sticks so they are munching while waiting, which makes most kids happy.

-Gluten Free Options, even pasta
-Kids dessert menu, with options of a fruit smoothie made with yogurt
-Pasta Tales-a yearly sponsored essay contest for kids, rewarding them with a trip to NY and educational funds
-Pasta for Pennies-a fund raiser for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, over 3 million school age children participate to give back to their communities

Overall the Olive Garden in the Stone Oak area has earned an A. They have done an excellent job at fitting into the demographics of their area, and do a fantastic job at making a family dining adventure a marvelous experience. The added bonus of the community involvement also is a big plus, I know they are global, but they think local, and I respect that.

-The Thomas Troop

Olive Garden Italian Restaurant on Urbanspoon


  1. Reading your blog posts is like a trip down memory lane, taking me back to a time when eating out with small kids was a frequent occurrence in my life. Thanks for that.

    1. Thank you for the comment, I have been following your blog for quite sometime now, so it is nice to get some feedback from you!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.