Dining Out Lo-Co
As I mentioned in last week’s ‘Erasing Onion Rings with Salad‘ post, dinners at our annual week-long Cape Cod family reunion involve several multiple-family, how-is-it-vacation-if-you’re-cooking-for-12? style dinners. Though all are fun (as long as it’s not your night to cook), from a lo-co perspective, some (the fish dinner) are um, far healthier than the others (steak, ribs, lobster).
But it’s more than just the cooking-in family dinners. There’s also the one night all 12+ of us troop out to a fancy restaurant to celebrate the summer birthdays and anniversaries. This year we went to l’Alouette – a self-described french bistro in Harwich, which none of us had been to in over a decade.
I don’t know who chose l’Alouette, but the food was spectacular. The service not so much. And that my 18 year old son and 23 year old niece were in the room took the average dining age down a decade or two. So ambience, well…
But no matter – the food was superb and they sat us at a round table that made it easy to talk. Because we don’t have enough of that during the other 4 family dinners.
But I digress.
The real problem hit when I looked at the menu. There was very little that even resembled lo-co on the menu. And by that I mean nothing. For example, here were the appetizers:
- Bistro Onion Soup Gratinee – Gruyere crouton.
- Crispy Duck Confit – frisee – star anise, port & honey glace.
- Seared Foie Gras – caramelized asian pears – muscat & honey glace.
- Warm Wellfleet Oysters – light fennel curry, salmon caviar & chives.
- Escargots a la Bourguignonne – garlic, shallot, white wine & parsley butter.
- Mussels au Vin Blanc – steamed with white wine, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, leeks & thyme.
This appetizer offering meant, with my shellfish allergy, that I had only three choices: onion soup, duck confit, or seared foie gras. Aren’t you proud of me that I did not order the foie gras (which is basically fatty meat cooked in fat?) Don’t be, I’m not a fan so it wasn’t too hard a choice. Though I’ll take credit anyway. And I wouldn’t want to guess at the fat and cholesterol in onion soup gratinee or duck confit.
So I had to skip the apps and peruse the salads. And salads, as you know, make me sad. To cope, I downed half of my vodka on the rocks while considering my options (I guess I could have been the only one to skip the first course, but at least salad has fiber, which is lo-co, so…) Here were the salad offerings:
- Field Salad with Fresh Herbs – herb vinaigrette.
- Arugula, Fennel, Oil Cured Olives & Grapefruit – citrus vinaigrette.
- Warm Goat Cheese Salad with Pears & Pine Nuts – Dijon vinaigrette.
- Asparagus Salad – roasted mushrooms, shaved Parmesan – truffle vinaigrette.
I ordered the field salad, right?
Though clearly I should have as it’s the best lo-co choice. But I’d had half a vodka already, and the field salad was, just, well, boring. And there was nothing WARM in it – and that’s the only way I can stomach salad – it has to have a warm, happy element.
I would have ordered the asparagus salad but they were out if it. Big sigh. And I despise fennel.
So that left the warm goat cheese salad. Which was wonderful though not lo-co. That said, I did my best to make it so by eating just half the goat cheese. Or about half. Maybe three-quarters. But definitely not more than that.
At this point, I downed the rest of my vodka. Then decided that while considering the entrees, I’d best switch to wine. Even though I wasn’t driving.
I thought I’d be home-free for the dinner portion of this so-far-not-lo-co meal. That it’d be easy to order a lo-co entree even though it’s a french bistro because there’s always fish. And we were on the Cape, home of amazing fresh fish. And I actually like fish grilled with just olive oil.
But alas, lo-co trouble was around every corner of this french bistro.
They only had 2 fish dishes on the menu that night: salmon and swordfish. Salmon, well, I eat lox daily so that’s really a no-go for me, and swordfish is the only fish I do not like.
Seriously? We were at a fine restaurant on the Cape, and I couldn’t even order fish. Clearly bigger forces were at work.
I glanced at the meat, but not surprisingly, it was nearly all red meat. There was a crispy half-chicken option, but I eat so much chicken at home that I have a rule against ordering chicken in restaurants.
So clearly, I had no choice but to order the seafood special: a lobster tail served over corn polenta. Which, I have to admit, was heavenly. So much so, that it was probably worse lo-co wise than the red meat (clearly it was bathed in butter).
But who knows, really, for sure?
In the end, I failed miserably in dining out lo-co. Which is odd, because usually, I can do pretty well in restaurants. But alas, not this time.
I finished my wine and shrugged (we were in a french bistro, so shrugging seemed apropos) – and said to myself, ‘well, it was just one night.’ And resolved that next year, I will choose the restaurant.
I might have to start perusing restaurant menus now.
With a glass of wine, of course.