Sunday, March 26, 2006

Nice snack, but where is my dinner?

As I've chronicled before in my love letter to Waffle House and my ranting about Joey's lack of taste in food, we loves us some good eats in our house. When we go out to eat, it's not about the quality of service as much as it's about finding places that have good food and decent portions.

Southerners love to eat. Eating is an important part of our culture. And we take food seriously. When Joey and I got married, we ended up having a buffet dinner after the ceremony that featured chicken cordon bleu, pork tenderloin, vegetables and rolls (and cake, of course). It wasn't anything spectacular like you'd see at a four-star restaurant, but ten years later people in our hometowns STILL talk about how they had chicken cordon bleu at our wedding. So obviously, food is a big deal around these parts.

Joey is a meat and potatoes guy, whereas I like a little more variety and will eat pretty much anything but Indian food. So I exercise my eclectic taste on the weekdays at lunchtime with my friends, and stick to the more conservative stuff for dinners and weekends. It's not that Joey won't try different things like sushi, but if you present him with a spicy tuna roll and a steak, he will look at you like you just dropped from a spaceship and take the steak anytime. And don't even get me started on cheese, the guy would eat anything covered in cheese. ANYTHING.

A few weeks ago, we went on a little adult-only getaway and really enjoyed getting to eat, drink, and be merry (especially since this was a business trip so we were living it up on the company's dime). One night we had dinner at a five-diamond restaurant that was absolutely outstanding in every manner of the word. Well, almost every manner. We started off with a delicious summer squash bisque that was out of this world. The entree that we selected was a combination of beef tenderloin and then some braised teriyaki short ribs. What was presented on our plates was a piece of tenderloin about 1.5 inches in diameter and the teeniest piece of short ribs imaginable. Both of us looked at each other like, ARE YOU KIDDING ME? It was like that old Wendy's commercial where Dave Thomas is in that fancy restaurant and they give him one baby carrot and three peas and Dave looks at the waiter like he just stabbed him right in the chest. But we gamely ate our dinners, hit the bread basket heavily, and chalked it up to "having a culinary experience." Or, in Southernese, "I can't believe I just paid $X to eat something the size of a marshmallow - for that price they should've slapped a damn side of beef encrusted with diamonds on the table with some barbeque sauce."

The same thing happened last Thursday night after that networking thing. Seven of us went out for drinks and appetizers, we ordered five appetizers and ended up practically stabbing each other to get a taste of each because the portions were so small. Delicious, but almost microscopic in size. And believe me, you don't want a bunch of hungry, drunk construction people with sharp objects fighting over food because it's going to get ugly real quick. If you ever find yourself encountering this situation, take my advice and make sure you've had a tetanus shot recently.

I think Friday night was probably the icing on the cake (albeit a very tiny cake). The group split appetizers - which once again were very small in size and forced everyone to scramble to get a taste of each thing - and then everyone ordered main courses and desserts. Joey ordered a filet mignon, and I ordered some veal tortelloni. The plates were presented, and on Joey's plate there was One. Very. Small. Filet. Mignon. No potatoes, no vegetables, not even some of that leafy green garnish stuff on the side. The kicker was my plate; from the amount of tortelloni that I received, I calculated that each individual one cost over $3 a piece. OUCH. I kept moving the garnish all over the plate hoping another tortelloni or two would magically appear, but all I was left with was parsley which in my opinion no self-respecting person would eat unless stranded on a desert island filled with parsley (and in that case, I would probably just smother myself in parsley to make my death much faster).

Dinner was fabulous. The tortelloni was wonderful. But the pathetic part of the whole thing was that when we arrived home at 1 AM, I was already hungry again (and we didn't actually eat until around 9:30 PM). For over $3 each, I expect to be satisfied a little longer than four hours. Hell, I could've gotten a single combo at Wendy's and been satisfied a lot longer. Maybe Dave Thomas had a good point. Or maybe I just need to learn to eat the garnish.

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