Restaurant #6: Friends with Food Restrictions

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If you want to cook and take care of your friends with food restrictions, there are many great blogs and recipe books out there.

If you are on a Cuisine Quest to visit every restaurant in your town, and you have a friend with you, how do you handle her food restrictions?

You let her pick the restaurant!

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We have finished the restaurants on our first street, so I made my chart of the restaurants on the next street we will tackle.  I gave our friend the list, and she chose the one that seemed to work best for her dietary needs.

Most of the places on our first street were casual restaurants, so it was nice to sit down to a Thai restaurant that has tablecloths and an attentive waitstaff.  This small restaurant, even on a weeknight, was so busy that we had to squeeze into a table on the sidewalk outside.  A busy restaurant is a good sign!

But will they take care of our friend with food restrictions?

Our friend ordered  Thai Green Curry  with beef, coconut milk, bamboo, peas, carrots, eggplant, and sweet basil.

Our friend ordered Thai Green Curry with beef, coconut milk, bamboo, peas, carrots, eggplant, and sweet basil.

Her Thai Green Curry is served with rice, and when she ordered and requested vegetables instead of rice, the server was very confused.  It already comes with vegetables, so why would you want more?  Our friend tried again.  Perhaps some cabbage instead of rice?  The server didn’t think the kitchen could do that.

But in the end, it didn’t matter, because her food was “lick-the-plate good!”

My  Chicken Fried Rice  had a tasty balance of meat and vegetables, and was enough for leftovers.

My Chicken Fried Rice had a tasty balance of meat and vegetables, and was enough for leftovers.

My husband’s dinner was similar to our friend’s, but with chicken and Thai soy sauce. He liked it!

My husband’s dinner was similar to our friend’s, but with chicken and Thai soy sauce. He liked it!

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Would we go back?  Three forks up!  Even without accommodations being made for our friend’s food restrictions, she still would eat there again.

A different person with food restrictions could have made the evening unpleasant.  People who want to can complain about anything.

When at a restaurant, when do you complain?

When you do let things go?

Restaurant #4: When to Break a Rule

We shouldn’t have gone to this restaurant.

There are five of them in our county, and one in the county just north of us.  By our own definition, that makes it a chain. If there were only four of them, we would have been fine, but we still went.

So, if our Cuisine Quest is to visit every non-chain restaurant in our town, and the list is very long, why did we waste our time on a restaurant that should have not been on our list?

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Soccer.  Or, football.  Depends on where you’re from.

You see, we are soccer fans in America without cable TV.  So, unless we invite ourselves to someone’s house to watch the game, we have to go to a restaurant to watch.

The best restaurant we’ve found that our whole family can watch soccer is a chicken wings chain restaurant the next town over.

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That restaurant is the only place I’ve ever eaten wings.  During FIFA World Cup, and during the Summer Olympics, we eat a lot of wings.

That is why I broke our rule and visited a border-line chain restaurant.  I wanted to know what chicken wings were like at other restaurants.

My husband refused to order wings. His salad turned out to be really tasty!

My husband refused to order wings. His salad turned out to be really tasty!

It looks and tastes the same as at our usual wings restaurant. But the bread sticks are amazing!

It looks and tastes the same as at our usual wings restaurant. But the bread sticks are amazing!

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Would we go again? Yes, for the food. Two forks up. Will we go again? Not during soccer season!

Is it ok to break a rule just because I want to?  There are many reasons for rules.

  • Courtesy – open the door for someone with their arms full.

  • Law and order – don’t take something that doesn’t belong to you.

  • Social behavior – look at the person, not your phone, when they are talking with you.

  • Business – If it’s not necessary to ‘reply all’, don’t.

  • Health – don’t start smoking.

  • Family – ask first before borrowing.

  • The Golden Rule – do unto others as you would have them to unto you.

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Restaurant #2: Too Much Competition

Look at all the lovely, identical snakes for sale at the  pet store ! How can I choose?

Look at all the lovely, identical snakes for sale at the pet store! How can I choose?

How do you stand out in a crowded field?

Our town has a taco shop on nearly every street. How can they all stay in business?

Our Cuisine Quest to eat at every restaurant in our town took us to a taco shop we had never been to before.  My husband was excited that they had posole.  Posole is a soup with hominy and meat, often served with tortillas, cilantro, radishes, avocado slices, cabbage, or onions.

Not many taco shops have red posole! You can see how difficult it is to make  here .

Not many taco shops have red posole! You can see how difficult it is to make here.

I ordered a carnitas plate, which is pork served with items to eat separately, or together in a tortilla.

The pork carnitas were delicious, not too fatty, and enough for leftovers.

The pork carnitas were delicious, not too fatty, and enough for leftovers.

Again, my question is, how do you stand out in a crowd?

Personal attention.  For this restaurant, the lady at the counter seemed to know everyone who came in.  These individuals and families come again and again because they know someone will show that they are happy to see them!

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Would we come back again?  For me, since there are so many taco shops in my town, I will be more picky.  I want a place with Coke products.  And, I prefer my guacamole to be more chunky.  Yes, those are little things, and with this restaurant being so friendly I am uncomfortable saying this, but I would go elsewhere.

My husband will be back again for that posole!  Unless the next taco shop has posole that is just as good….One fork up.

How do you stand out in a crowded field?

Restaurant #1: A Pleasant Surprise

lentil soup at restaurant #1

We don’t have a map or a chart or a plan yet.  How will we dine at every restaurant in our town?

Although I am a planner, it was dinnertime and we decided to just jump into our cuisine quest at a nearby restaurant we had never tried before.

Tucked in a strip mall between a UPS store and vitamin market, this “Indian & Nepalese Food” restaurant used to be a Hawaiian shaved ice counter.  So, that is what we expected, just with more curry.

We can still get delicious  Hawaiian shaved ice , but we have to drive a lot further.

We can still get delicious Hawaiian shaved ice, but we have to drive a lot further.

I did not expect this new restaurant to have a fancy interior, with intimate lighting and red and gold accents.  I did not expect cloth napkins.  I did not expect the place to be triple the size of the previous shaved ice restaurant.

Lentil soup  for everyone.

Lentil soup for everyone.

Homestyle Nepalese entrees.  Classic Indian dishes.  Great service.  Delicious, if a bit spicy, food.  Large quantities.

I should have written down what these dishes are called. Chicken with vegetables in a sauce. Served with naan bread or steamed rice. Yummy!

I should have written down what these dishes are called. Chicken with vegetables in a sauce. Served with naan bread or steamed rice. Yummy!

The best part,  live performances !

The best part, live performances!

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Would we return?  Two forks up!

Are there any restaurants in your town that have been completely transformed (for the better, or for the worse)?