Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Dining Out: What are you really paying for?

I've asked myself this question many times over the past year when we we get the wonderful opportunity to have "date night" together. We've been finding ourselves more and more drawn to small, organic restaurants. There's something about going out and knowing you're being pampered and NOURISHED at the same time. We are so lucky here in the Northwest to have a nice selection of natural, sustainable, organic restaurants. We've been to several over the past year and really enjoyed the experience. We've also found ourselves being choosier where we take the whole family out for meals (we usually eat at home) when we go out - opting to eat deli or prepared foods at PCC or Whole Foods... or a quick dinner at Chipotle's Mexican Grill (LOVE that place!).

Last weekend for date night, we chose a fabulous restaurant called Bennett's Bistro on Mercer Island. They filter their own water (in a huge, 3-chamber filtration process), serve vegetables and fruits from local farms, RAW cheeses from local dairies, Sunshine Dairy (the brand I buy) products and sustainably farmed meats and seafoods. The meal was absolutely fantastic.

We ordered the salmon poki appetizer (raw salmon on top of avocado with a poki sauce), which was to die for! Then I ordered their "Tip of the Iceberg" salad with a blue cheese-lemon vinagrette, Oregonzola raw cheese, toasted hazelnuts and tomatoes - I substituted the iceberg lettuce for romaine. Horus ordered their turkey burger with Beecher's (local cheese company) mac-n-cheese and chipotle cilantro coleslaw. Mmmmmmmmmm!!!!!

I'm so proud of how natural and organic my own kitchen has become... It's already expensive to SHOP for organic and natural grocery items... I guess part of me just can't get over thinking - why pay extra money for food that I wouldn't serve my family at home? At least when we're home, I know (for about 95% of our food) WHERE it came from, EXACTLY what's in it and HOW it was raised/farmed.

How do you feel about this? What does a fancy dinner really mean to you? Does it mean just simply spending a lot of money? Does it mean getting the absolutely best, most expensive food available (like a mouth-watering, well-marbled, fifty-dollar, corn-fed steak or the most beautiful, bright-orange fillet of salmon), regardless of where it came from and how it was "farmed?" I ask myself this question constantly when we go out to eat - anywhere. ...and if it's not the greatest restaurant, I try to pick the most natural item on the menu.

Do you think about this when you eat out AT ALL or am I just a weird-o? :)


chewymama said...

well ive thought about it before only because you mentioned it to me a few months back ;) We do have chipotle here but other than that more healthy option, thats it. Nothing local or sustainable anywhere close that I know of. We rarely, rarely go out to eat because of the kids' allergies and our budget BUT honestly - if I do get to go out to dinner, all that matters to me is that someone else is cooking it LOL. I get so burnt out cooking/preparing everything - if I get to eat out and it tastes good, I try to block out the rest. Horrible, I know. I have some lines I draw and wont cross but otherwise, its all good ;) IF we had more options and IF we could afford them then Id probably think about it more. I think its a very good point though. The restaurant you just went to sounds awesome!!!!

cmaerling said...

I haven't posted in ages here... This is Chris.. Great stuff as always! Me and my future wife will be ging more natural, organic and local. Do any of you belong to Co-Ops? I am in Northern NJ and teh nearest one is about 30 or so miles away without having to go into the NYC.

Angela said...

Thinking about where good came from when dining out is always a good thing (similar to thinking about how/where your clothes were made when you're buying them). My philosophy is "do what you can with the knowledge you have". I've given up corn-fed beef (at least for as long as I can) after reading the Omnivore's Dilemma, and that has started to impact my eating out, but, as it turns out, I'm okay with that.

Anyways, you're not a weirdo and there should be more folks out there thinking about where their food comes from. All the time, not just at home.

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BIO said...

You are not alone. I dine out a lot because I don't know how to cook and I can't push myself to do so for now, so I optimize the practice of dining out. I just make sure I taste the difference among the glut of similar-tasting restaurants. As much as I can, I stay away from fastfood chains. And whenever I get to dine out in a classy restaurant on a budget, I make sure also that what I order is something I won't regret.


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