March 8, 2012

"My wife's parents are very frequently suggesting that we should move from Minneapolis to North Dakota..."

"... because they keep hearing that there's an oil boom out there and we need to go be part of it."
When I saw this article, I briefly thought that I should send it to them with a note along the lines of "THIS IS WHY WE DON'T WANT TO MOVE TO NORTH DAKOTA."

But I immediately realized that their response would be: "WHY NOT? IT HAS AN OLIVE GARDEN!"

59 comments:

chickenlittle said...

"My wife's parents are very frequently suggesting that we should move from Minneapolis to North Dakota..."

That's a pregnant sentence. I can tell the author doesn't have kids.

edutcher said...

Now that's stuffy.

Just because you move to ND, you don't have to eat at Olive Garden.

Bob_R said...

People who live in cities have no idea how many places there are in the US where the addition of a fairly well run chain restaurant can raise the level of dining. Watch a couple of episodes of "Kitchen Impossible" and reexamine the idea that all locally owned restaurants are preferable.

mesquito said...

I live in Madison, WI - a town that is known for it's many and varied places to stuff your face with awesome food.

My son is gay. His boyfriend is gay.

And their favorite restaurant is The Olive Garden. 10,000 amazing hole in the wall restaurants and that's their favorite.

I just want to take a moment and apologize to The Gay Community. I tried to teach him, and I failed. I'm sorry.


....

The son's boyfriend is gay too!

Econophile said...

I've grown so tired of such snide remarks about Olive Garden and "flyover country" being made by every self-conscious, shallow, insecure person I meet.

Peter said...

I don't know why everyone hates on the Olive Garden. While the food's not spectacular, it's always more than decent, and the prices are very reasonable.

Keystone said...

Oil field work is dangerous and demanding, especially in harsh climates. Most Americans aren't looking for physical work. They want to be indoors with no heavy lifting.

BigFire said...

I've survived 4 years in Santa Cruz where lack of quality Chinese and Japanese food really tested me. I guess surviving in ND (other than the cold) will be no different.

John Cunningham said...

North Dakota currently reminds me of Alaska in the 70s and early 80s, when the pipeline boom was rolling. a great place for those willing to work hard and deal with often harsh conditions.
Definitely not the place for Leftie pricks and Madison metrosexuals.
a bit of pipeline humor--the kid welder asks the grizzled oldtimer what he does with all the money they are making.
"Sonny, I put my money in houses and lots."
Impressed, the kid asks, "Oh, real estate investments?"
"Nah,whorehouses and lots of whiskey."

David said...

Good thing smug is delicious.

Methadras said...

mesquito said...

My son is gay. His boyfriend is gay.


What does that have to do with food? Oh wait.

Chase said...

That reads like a review in a High School Newspaper.

In 1975.

In other words, the reviewer would easily be accepted into UWisconsin Law School.

Rusty said...

Just because you move to ND, you don't have to eat at Olive Garden.




You mean there are other places?

Rusty said...

My son is gay. His boyfriend is gay.

What does that have to do with food?




I hope they washed their hands.

Original Mike said...

Has anyone told James Lileks?

paul a'barge said...

Look. Snobs in the Dakotas.

rcocean said...

I just hope the Minnesota people don't move en masse to North Dakota.

If they do, say hello to Senator Pee Wee Herman.

MadisonMan said...

I once reviewed restaurants for a local paper, and the OG review reminded me of what the Editor told us: You can't say anything negative! They're advertisers!

Damning with faint praise is an undervalued art.

Petunia said...

The Olive Garden's pretty good, and reasonably priced. It's not a snobby restaurant, but some of the snobby restaurants serve far worse food with far worse service.

There was a restaurant in Madison where I went with my parents several years ago. The waitress was appallingly rude and incredibly inefficient. She left my French onion soup under the heat lamp for 30 minutes and when I pointed out that she'd never served it, she gave it to the only other table in the place that had customers.

That was the only time, in all of my and my parents' dining out experiences on six continents, that we did not leave a tip.

The restaurant closed shortly thereafter.

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

My wife's parents are very frequently suggesting that we should move from Minneapolis to North Dakota because they keep hearing that there's an oil boom out there and we need to go be part of it.

Sounds like the author's on the dole and has been sleeping on the in-laws couch for a while.

Bob_R said...

Actually, my experience is that having an Olive Garden will make it so that you don't have to eat at Olive Garden. When they moved in here, two of the better local restaurants (who were really not much better than an Olive Garden) dramatically stepped up their game. When Panera Bread came in one local bakery went out of business and one sold out to someone who dramatically improved the quality of their pastries and improved their breads measurably. When Outback came in all the local joints had to cook better steaks.

Most chains make money by providing good quality food with ingredients that can be purchased on a national, bulk basis. They can always be beaten, but usually are not on a national basis. Places with no competition routinely have restaurants that serve terrible food from dirty kitchens. (Until the chains move in a lot of inspectors have never seen a clean kitchen.)

Even in places with a lot of competition there are a lot of restaurants that serve a lot of terrible food. What's better: Olive Garden seafood pasta made with frozen shellfish or the local Mom and Pop "Monday Special" made with "fresh" shellfish that didn't get sold over the weekend. (Never eat in a Mom and Pop restaurant on a Monday. And never touch Sunday Brunch.)

Bob_R said...

Sorry - that's ...food that's not available on a national basis.

MadisonMan said...

I have to say that the metafilter thread is one of the more entertaining ones I've read in a while. There are some really dense people in the world, God Bless them.

So thanks, althouse, for the link.

Synova said...

My parents say things like that, that we should move to North Dakota.

They're only half serious and know that none of us are going to do that.

My in-laws live in North Dakota, my folks in Minnesota, so it would be moving home.

Grand Forks is on the border of Minnesota. I think that most of the oil is out near Dickenson. I doubt that Dickenson has an Olive Garden, but they do have a pretty nice Dinosaur Museum.

gadfly said...

I have eaten at the Olive Garden in West Fargo - but that' a long way from Grand Forks.

Whoda thunk that the server would be ready with the Parmesan cheese - that just never happens at Olive Garden!

Titus said...

My mom tried to get me to move back to Madison once.

Her reasoning?

She sent me an article from the State Journal about some gay bar that served "ostrich" and thought that the city of Madison was becoming exotic...you know because the gay bar served ostrich.

ALH said...

North Dakota man, dimly aware of the existence of a shadowy non-North Dakota world:



I was at the Olive Garden in Grand Forks when I noticed a small sign stating that the restaurant was one of over 1,500 Olive Gardens nationwide. I didn't think about it at first, but later on it hit me: There is only one Olive Garden in Grand Forks and 3 or 4 more in Fargo. Where are all those others?

Titus said...

I need to live in a city with a thriving people walking scene as well as exotic, multicultural hog.

I also have live somewhere where I can walk outside my expensive loft and get all my essentials, restaurants, groceries, dry cleaning, dog park, and I need to see hot hog walk by-lots of it.

tits.

Synova said...

Minot has a Royal Fork Buffet.

:)

Synova said...

Minot also has an Olive Garden.

But not Dickenson.

David said...

We have a new Olive Garden here in Beaufort SC connected to its sister restaurant Red Lobster. Since Olive Garden and Red Lobster both pay higher wages than the local restaurants and offer medical and other benefits, they put the market for staff into turmoil. The entire waitstaff at a local mom and pop I frequent moved to the chain right after Christmas.

With a few exceptions our locally owned restaurants are not places of distinction. Some survive on location, some on tradition but all would be vulnerable to non-chain competition. The problem is that it takes a lot of capital to start a decent restaurant these days, and the capital is not there. Thus there is turnover with different owners coming and going in the same spaces. Plus this is not an affluent community like Madison so the market is mostly middle and down scale.

Olive Garden is packing them in though. A friend's office is next door and he says that the wait is often an hour in the evening. It's been open for two months and the demand will tail off some. But it's a big hit since it's clean, the service is good and the food is consistent even if not high end.

It's been a long time since I've been to an Olive Garden. When the lines get shorter I will be glad to go for the all you can eat salad (if they still have it.)

My favorite chain in town is Waffle House. I eat breakfast there a lot. It looks a little dubious but you get a lot of people from the Marine bases, which tells you something. They also pay a higher wage that the locals and have medical benefits, profit sharing and an ESOP. The staff work hard and enjoy their jobs. It's not a great living but better than most because of the benefits.

Our seedy old local McDonalds was torn down this winter and is being rebuilt. It reopens in about a month.

That's the restaurant scene here in the real world.

Alex said...

Nice to know gays like blah faux Italian food just like the rest of us! Gays striking a blow for normalcy!

joewxman said...

Someone once asked me if as an italian I was offended by how italians are portrayed on The Sopranos. I responded that I was far more offened that the olive garden passes itself as authentic italian food, then anything I ever saw on the sopranos.

Alex said...

The Sopranos portrays 3rd/4th generation Italian-Americans, not Italians. Tony Soprano is way more American then Italian. He doesn't even speak any Italian in the show.

rcocean said...

I've never had a good meal at "Olive Garden" but I was told I was just unlucky.

I don't believe them.

MadisonMan said...

The chain I wish would open in Madison is Tim Horton's.

Love me some TimBits.

The closest one is -- I think -- in Toledo. Or maybe Sault Ste. Marie. Not sure which of those fine cities is closer to Madison.

Alex said...

The problem I have with chain restaurants is 90% of their dishes are caloric bombs. It's almost impossible to go out for dinner and keep things at 600-700 calories including wine.

MadisonMan said...

It's almost impossible to go out for dinner and keep things at 600-700 calories including wine.

Solution: Just have wine.

Alex said...

MadMan - let me guess. Your dinners out are well over 1000 calories and no apologies.

MadisonMan said...

Alex, I have no idea how many calories I consume when I go out to eat. Which is about once a month, maybe.

I don't drink when I dine out, though, because I'm cheap. Exception: Margaritas at Mexican restaurants. Or Queen Jennie Whiskey at the Old Sugar Distillery in Madison (super highly recommended).

SteveR said...

One good thing about an Olive Garden post is it demonstrates non-partisan snobbery.

If I like the food some place, I don't give a tinker's damn what someone else thinks. Except for maybe the Dept of Health.

Alex said...

SteveR - people who have taste are usually more intelligent then people without taste. You are mistaken if you think that eating at finer establishments is mere signaling. It's an indicator of more intelligent living which correlates with being healthier, better looking, better education, higher paying work, nicer homes, better kids, etc...

MayBee said...

I thought it was wonderfully earnest, and it made me laugh.

I've lived in a place where getting the pothole on a major street was the lead story on the nightly news. I've lived in another place where the opening of a big super market was the hot news. "Have you been to the new Jewel yet?" everybody would ask each other.
I loved living in those places. I have only love in my heart for a place that would celebrate the opening of an Olive Garden.
Still, the article makes me laugh.

I Callahan said...

Minot also has an Olive Garden. But not Dickenson.

Neither does Drake or Anamoose...

Chip Ahoy said...

The parking was ample and by the time we were finished night had descended and the parking lot was well lit.

We noticed the trash cans outside were aligned properly and their lids were on with no extraneous trash around.

There were enough coat hooks to accommodate everyone's coat with enough room for a hat if you wore one.

The carpeted floors were well vacuumed.

My peas didn't roll around.

SteveR said...

Alex, your thesis is so wrong as to suggest that you are no judge of intelligence, especially your own and certainly not mine.

Chip Ahoy said...

There was a recorded voice that said, "mind the gap," and so we did.

When the handle on the urinal in the restaurant's bathroom is pressed downward, water is delivered that rinses the bowl.

They have bread.

The menus are printed clearly and they are easy to read. The menus are also protected with a clear plastic lamination. The pictures are nice to look at and very helpful to visualizing what we're getting into even though all in our party can read.

Meatballs, cheese.

The decorative objects are all very well dusted and the windows are clear.

Chip Ahoy said...

The meal is served on plates and serviceware is provided to assist consumption. Chairs are situated around a table that is extraordinarily flat. Either chairs or a padded booth.

Marinara sauce fairly covers perfectly safe pasta.

Some specials offer endless rounds of bread, pasta, lettuce, bread, pasta, lettuce, bread, pasta, lettuce, bread pasta and lettuce.

Our waiter did his best.

Pogo said...

Olive Garden can immediately upscale just by adding huge cartoon blowjobs in the bathrooms.

MadisonMan said...

Chip, you do it very well. (laugh)

Rusty said...

SteveR said...
One good thing about an Olive Garden post is it demonstrates non-partisan snobbery.

If I like the food some place, I don't give a tinker's damn what someone else thinks. Except for maybe the Dept of Health



And that is the only thing that need concern anyone.


I have had the fillet at Morton's and at Outback. To be honest Outback had the better steak and service.


Never, never , ever order Mexican food from a Mexican place more than fifty miles from any place with a major Mexican population.


Friday fish frys and Sunday pancake days are pretty good at almost any VFW in the country.

David said...

Maybee you and I have lived in the same kind of town.

Sophistication is overrated.

Patrick said...

From the Wall Street Journal about this restaurant review:

"Hagerty, a 65-year veteran of the newspaper industry, responded to an e-mail Thursday, saying she was open to an interview, but her phone line was tied Thursday evening. She told the Grand Forks Herald Thursday she was so busy that she couldn’t read what Facebook users were saying about her column. “I’m working on my Sunday column and I’m going to play bridge this afternoon, so I don’t have time to read all this crap,” she said."

Patrick said...

Utterly charming.

TosaGuy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TosaGuy said...

I grew up in the Great Plains (The GP and Midwest are different places with different sensibilities) and supper clubs were considered to the pinnacle of dining out. The standard places beyond the local cafe/diner for us were the Perkins, Godfathers Pizza, Country Kitchen.

We liked them all because we only ate out perhaps twice a month. Most people had gardens and the area's beef cattle were some of the best in the country. The folks would buy a whole cow from the neighbor and put it in the deep freeze. It was never prepared like it is on the food network, but I ate garden produce most of the year and had steak that was on par with your better steakhouses at least once a week. Why did we need to go out to eat?

I go out to eat too much now because I can. It's not as fun nor as good as it used to be.

SGT Ted said...

If Olive Garden just built the biggest best restaurant in your town, then you might want to direct your sneers and snobbery in another direction.

Olive Garden is Amercanized Italian that is actually tasty and rich and priced accordingly. I've tasted worse food at independent Italian joints run by Italians.

I get Walmart hate. I don't get Olive Garden hate.

Olive Garden hate is faux snobbery at its finest in the land of the Pizza Pie.

SGT Ted said...

Italian food snobbery in the Land of the Pizza Pie. Classic American Snobbery on display.

I would LOVE to see the claims of the OG haters about "non-authentic" Italian food put to a blind taste test.

I bet OG would win.

Mitch H. said...

Alex, your thesis is so wrong as to suggest that you are no judge of intelligence, especially your own and certainly not mine.

Wasn't there a study about five-six years about about how people with lower intelligence were less able to judge their own capacity? A lot of people are like that with taste, and especially when they demonstrate extreme status anxiety via wittering on about taste. Alex seems to be a textbook example of this tendency.

I dunno, my parents used to like Olive Garden, but I was never too fond of it. The food was kind of bland and doughy. And I say this as someone who is willing to eat at McDonalds- but only if there isn't a Wendys nearby.

Was very disappointed last week to find that the best Italian place in town - which I haven't been to in a while - is now less than mediocre. That's what you get when you replace your original cooks with cornfed locals, I suppose. (I overtipped, if only because the waitress was sweet and clearly anxious about the quality of the food. The staff know if things aren't up to snuff, I guess.)