I'm asking this question out of honest curiosity, because I've noticed here and in other places, and during conversations with people who are into food, that it seems like the Olive Garden is universally hated. In a way that other chain restaurants don't seem to be. And I really don't understand why.
If anything, I think I'm a bit of a food snob, and certainly the food there isn't out-of-this-world, but I'd way rather at the Olive Garden than at, say, Chili's, or T.G.I. Friday's, or really any other cheapish casual dining chain I can think of. The food won't be spectacular, but I've never gotten anything really bad there either. I'm sure a lot of my food came in frozen, but it's not like it's awful. And I actively like their salad.
I can't even really chalk this up to food snobbery either, because it's not only people who are cooking their way through the French Laundry Cookbook in between meals at Alinea. It's often people who are willing to confess a liking for certain fast food items. And it's particularly the Olive Garden, not any other ubiquitous casual chain.
I honestly don't get it. And every time I've gone there, there's been a long wait for a table, which suggests a lot of people like it. Is there an "Olive Garden smell" like the Subway smell, which some people can't seem to detect?