Breaking the Ho Hum of Restaurant Menus
Reading a restaurant menu can be boring sometimes. Going out to dinner should be as is often said, a dining adventure, a treat and a time to relax when a day out of the 24/7 kitchen is a good idea. So when the opportunity comes my way, I look forward to enjoying foods that I don't often cook at home and that brings me to asparagus. What? I crave asparagus when it is in season but not for every season and it seems that the lovely spear is always the side on whatever your entre happens to be. Why is that? I think it is because asparagus is easy to prep and cook. It’s a no-brainer. Whereas fussier sides like Brussels sprouts and broccoli rape are more time consuming to prep and cook. I get it but I also want some variety, something to tease my taste buds.
Potatoes are so predictable too. No surprises. Fries, mashed or baked? Need a substitution for potatoes? Well…there is always rice pilaf! How about taking potatoes up a notch, like scalloped potatoes, potato croquettes or potato pie. Now you have my interest.
Desserts seem to be mainstream on many menus; there is always something chocolate like molten lava cake, cheesecake, tiramisu, ice cream and the ever-present crème brulee. Those are temptingly common but a creamy plum tart or warm apple pie; crunchy-topped fruit cobblers, meringue dacquoise and heavenly angel food cake could hit the sweet spot.
For me, choosing a restaurant is based on several things; what I am in the mood for, the price point, the number of dishes on the menu (a lot could mean things are pre-prepared and frozen) and how interesting the menu reads and if it is reflecting in season, locally sourced foods.
I know that many people go by word of mouth or on line reviews to rate a restaurant but that is not always reliable. People who cook at home a lot and dine out infrequently, tend to be more critical of restaurants because they have a reference point from which to judge but those who don't cook much at home tend to be more forgiving in their ratings.
For many of us, the best place to eat may be at home.