How to Partake in Restaurant Week
I love going out to eat, especially in New York City. It's an experience as much as it is a vehicle for sustenance. I get it. I stay up late at night scrolling through my Instagram feed, which has now become inundated with fancy dishes from cute SoHo restaurants owned my trendy chefs and oh boy those top down pictures of elaborate lattes. It's an addiction, really. Food porn at its finest. I want to be the girl with the top down picture of perfectly crafted salad and capers. I want the cream heart shape in my latte. I want restaurant week! So how is one participating in the Whole Life Challenge (such as myself), or practicing the Paleo life, or allergic to delicious food like cheese and beer (definitely NOT me) supposed to participate in the restaurant ritual?It's up to you
The best part of restaurant week is the easily discernible prix fixe menu. Participating restaurants usually give you a few choices for appetizers, a few for the main course, and a few for dessert. You have the power to choose! And after practicing good decisions and meal prepping, you're equipped to make a choice that will not shake you from your clean-eating habits. Sure, the butternut squash ravioli in sage butter sauce looks like a great appetizer (I MEAN...), but the watercress salad with salami and pepperoni is equally delish and not as filling! Who wouldn't want that?! And since its restaurant week, you know any choice you make will probably be outstanding.
No cheese, please
I've started using the qualifying phrase, "I don't want to be one of those people, but..." and then continue to list all of the modifications I need to make the dish fit my needs. "I don't want to be one of those people, but can you replace the lettuce with spinach, take out the cheese, no croutons, and add chicken?" First of all, I'm not even sure what "those people" I'm referring to, but it's probably not very kind to say. But, more importantly, I've watched enough Top Chef to know that dishes, and their ingredients, are always put together for a reason. Cheese adds a creaminess to the salad, buns make burgers easier to eat than lettuce wrapping, salt makes all flavors pop, mashed potatoes add a hearty, garlic personality to protein. It makes sense. However, and you can argue with me about this one, good chefs and good restaurants know how to compromise. Recipes are meant to be changed and manipulated to bring out different flavors. Experimentation and cooking are synonymous. Not to mention, people are allergic to all sorts of food. Good cooks should be able to think on their feet and have a plan B or C or D when making dishes. Chicken and mashed potatoes are THE BEST COMBINATON EVER WHY WOULD YOU SEPARATE THEM YOU MONSTER?! But you know, chicken and grilled veggies also harmonize well.
Don't be afraid
I'm pretty confident in saying that you should not be afraid to deviate from your meal-prepped Tupperware lunch every once in a while to enjoy the dining out experience. You can make good decisions. You can relish in the atmosphere, partake in the good company of food lovers, and still eat nutritious, wonderful meals. And if the question of dessert makes you really leery of straying too far off your path, you can always opt out and get a fancy coffee instead. Crisis averted with a caffeinated buzz.