Friday, April 1, 2011
But, as we have navigated the restaurant waters for years there are a few pieces of advice I wanted to share with you on eating together too. These are things that may or may not be obvious. Let's dive in:
1) Mexican and Italian are great, seafood places not so much. Asian is also good. In fact, most ethnic foods are an excellent choice. The carnivore can scarf down carnitas, while the veghead can eat cheese enchiladas. Or he can have spaghetti and meatballs while you get fettucine alfredo. You catch my drift. These places have lots of options for all kinds of diets. However, for some reason seafood places just don't. There are sides for sure - but who wants a dinner of hush puppies and slaw? Just steer clear - trust me.
2) Don't be scared of the steakhouse. I know it sounds nuts, but I love going to steakhouses with the carnivore, and vice versa. He gets his meat on, while I stuff myself with rich sides and huge salads. Oh, and the fancy cocktails are fun too. We actually ring in the new year every year this way. The carnivore also likes that I am a relatively cheap date. (Same holds true at hibachi places by the way.)
3) Ask how they make things / what is in it. Don't assume, especially in the South that your veggies will be meat free. Ask the waiter if the salad comes with bacon bits. Ask if the soup if chicken broth based. Ask is your green beans were sauteed in ham hock. Just ask. It is better to know before the dish arrives at your table and you have to send it back. Or worse - you get a belly ache from unknown meat products.
4) Look at the menu before you go if you can. The carnivore is really good at doing this for me. I actually think its really sweet. And almost everywhere has a menu online these days. You can even find apps on your phone that will let you know if there are a few veg-friendly dishes. So use these tools!
5) Be specific in what you order. My carnivore is always asking for veggies to be left out, while I am always asking for the meat to be removed. We often make a joke with our waitress - "no veggies / all meat for him, please, and all veggies / no meat for me!" Make it as easy on them as you can, but be specific. Tell them you are a vegetarian. Really, they don't want to get your order wrong any more then you want a plate piled with high with meat you can't eat.
6) Go local when you can. They are more likely to accommodate special orders. The carnivore and I love finding new local joints for several reasons. We like supporting our small businesses. We love when they use fresh and local produce. And best of all, they are really wonderful at accommodating diet restrictions. Unlike large chains, even when something isn't on the menu, their chefs are always happy to switch something out or change something around for our tastes.
7) Its okay to just order sides, but don't expect us to live on baked potatoes and salads alone. Look, let's face it, sometimes us vegetarians are going to be stuck ordering sides. Its just a fact of life. And one, we really don't mind most of the time. Just don't take us to several places in a row where we have very few options. Its just not fun - or fair - or even necessary with all the great options out there these days.
8) Finally, don't read every vegetarian thing on the menu aloud. I know you are just trying to be helpful, but the truth is - we can read - and make decisions on what we want to eat. This is a personal pet peeve of mine. It never fails that when I go out with a group someone, usually a well intentioned person, tries to help me scour the menu for things I can eat. Truthfully, I am better at this than most meateters so I don't need the help. Also, we don't read all the meat dishes to you. Its kinda condescending - like how you might mention to a kid that they have hot dogs on a menu. So, just let us figure it out - please!
Hope these tips helps!
P.S. Please forgive the quality of this photo. It was taken with my iPhone on our last date night.