Getting the Most Out of Your Meals Out

Thanks to an extreme lack of power and children in the house this weekend, the Practical Cook has been indulging in quite a bit of field research. Since everyone is probably outside grilling right now, or recovering from their celebration of National Biscuit Day (yesterday, but there’s still time to eat one, worry not), this will be a philosophical rather than recipe post.

Top 5 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Meals Out

1. Ask for help. Who better to guide you than your server? While many of us do this in a fancypants restaurant, I encourage you to try it elsewhere. This weekend I got a slice of pizza with BBQ (that would be pulled pork for all non-Southerners) and slaw on it. Yes, on it. It was fabulous, and not something I would have ordered on my own. (Below is the slice I got the last time I used this method. Awesome!)

The Bermuda Triangle: Pineapple, Pickled Jalepenos, and Feta

The Bermuda Triangle: Pineapple, Pickled Jalepenos, and Feta

2. Order something fried. Yes, I said fried. If you’re like me, you don’t deep-fry in the house. Too much mess, too many healthy people around to bother. I’m assuming you don’t eat out for every meal, so now is the time to eat something that is in fact, better than you can do at home.

Sweet Potato Fries Sprinkled with Garam Masala, Side of Spicy Mayo

Sweet Potato Fries Sprinkled with Garam Masala, Side of Spicy Mayo

3. Sit down, and eat while it’s hot. If you’ve read the About page, you know this is my life-long dream.This is obviously a bit of a call to eat somewhere you can enjoy the experience instead of just get the job done. It’s your money and your caloric spend, make it count.

Vimala's Curryblossom: One of Everything (Almost)

Vimala's Curryblossom: One of Everything (Almost)

4. Order the house specialty. This may seem obvious, but it isn’t always. Don’t go to a steakhouse expecting a sublime chicken dish, unless that’s their thing. Order something the restaurant is good at and known for. If you’re not in the mood for that, don’t go there.

5. Don’t fear the doggy bag. If you need to order a bunch of things, because you’re hungry, because you like variety, because you rarely drive across town to this restaurant, be prepared to take leftovers home. I currently have an obsession with uttapam, shown above in the Vimala’s Curryblossom photo. It is large. I was the only one eating it. I had it for lunch today with some fresh veggies from my once-again-functioning fridge. It will taste better later.

What’s your dining out philosophy? Do you have a local place you frequent, or are you always on the hunt for something new? Leave a comment, or chat away on Twitter!

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Filed under Kitchen Philosophy

4 responses to “Getting the Most Out of Your Meals Out

  1. deb

    i always ask the server in a conspiratial tone, ‘what should i order?…’ what should i avoid? what would you order?

    teaming up on the chef, makes them feel powerful = makes me feel protected

  2. Something fried? Excellent advice! Especially with a mayoey side….servers, on the other hand, at least up in these parts, tend without fail to steer us to the higher priced items. Am always a little leery….

    • The Practical Cook

      I will second the mayoey side (let’s not put on airs, nor limit the options by calling it aioli)!

      Good point about the regional differences and the servers pointing to the pricey. In my case, it was a pizza joint where the most outlandish slice doesn’t break the bank, but I’ve certainly been stung by high-priced recommendations before. So caveat the recommendation if it comes with an extreme price tag. Maybe skip the puffer fish?

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