Monday, May 7, 2018

The Strategy

My husband and I have been going out to dinner more frequently lately, and the restaurants we’ve been choosing have been, on the whole, nicer than our typical standbys. Our kids are older—the Princess is in college and Banana Girl is in high school—so we should have been able to do this long ago. But it took us a while to realize we could up our restaurant game, and even longer to realize we could go out by ourselves or with friends and leave any children at home. I guess we’re slow. Or tired.

And I’ve come to realize that going out to eat, and really enjoying the experience, requires a strategy, especially if you want to make it through dessert—and seriously, isn’t the whole point of eating a meal so you can get to dessert?

I’ve always looked at menus ahead of time. My husband is a picky eater, so I always glance at what the restaurant serves to make sure there’s something for him to eat. I’m much easier to satisfy, as I only have three things I won’t eat:

  • Anything alive (as in, it can’t be alive while on my plate)
  • Any type of organ
  • Any type of bug/insect

Beyond that, I’ll try anything once. If it has a sauce, I might even try it twice.

But lately, my eating out strategy has developed further. 

I look at the menu, not just for my husband, but also for me. First, I look at the desserts, because I need to know how much room I’ll need to leave for them. Some places just don’t have great desserts, so I can order appetizers along with my main course. Others have absolutely mouth-watering ones, and in that case I might just get an appetizer so I have plenty of room left over. Yes, I still believe that dessert goes in a totally different part of your stomach than your non-dessert food, but still, there’s only a finite amount of space and I like to have a little wiggle room. 

And I will never understand restaurants that don’t list their desserts online. Seriously people, that’s often the whole reason I’m coming to your establishment! 

Once I’ve determined if the restaurant is a dessert place or not (and if not, if there’s a good ice cream place nearby), I move onto the main course to get an idea of what I want to eat. I also balance that out with what appetizers they serve. If the appetizers sound more appealing, I’ll skip the main course and just order an appetizer and a salad. Then there’s totally enough room for dessert and my night is made. 

Having figured out what direction I’m going in, it’s now time to go to the restaurant, where my entire strategy can get thrown out the window if the chef offers an intriguing special, or the dessert display is visible. 

And people wonder why I include so much food in my books…

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