Restaurant Lessons I Should Know

Last night John and I went out to eat in a rather late celebration of our anniversary. We rarely go out to eat, so this was a special occasion. We went to one of the nicer restaurants here in town, one that we generally go to just for our anniversary or other special event. In the past, the food was tasty, healthy, and very fresh. So as I looked over the menu, I happily selected Pasta Rosa, which was billed as chicken with fettuccine, tomatoes, and peas. I opted out of the prosciutto.

Here’s where I went wrong. I always encourage people to ask the server questions about how the food is prepared. And I almost always do, but last night I incorrectly assumed that because I had eaten there before I “knew” how the food was going to be prepared. I was wrong.

First of all, the bread was served in a brown bag that was covered in grease. Gross. John and I pulled the bread out and there was really no place to put it to slice it, even if we had wanted to eat it, so we left it sitting there like a lump on the middle of the table. Then our dinners came.

Mine was served on a square plate and had enough food on it for at least 5 people. At least. But that was okay, because I just portioned out what I thought I would eat and took a bite of the chicken. It was fried. Breaded and fried. I couldn’t believe it. And it wasn’t a good fried taste, but a soggy breading. Yuck. So I moved the chicken over to the “extra” side of my plate and tried the pasta. It was swimming in some kind of sweet cream sauce, and the vegetables were few and far between.

I took a few bites but just couldn’t eat anymore of it. John kindly gave me his yams and green beans so at least I had something to do while he was eating his food. He tasted mine and liked the sweetness of the sauce, but he said he could see why I didn’t like it.

Here’s a picture of my entree, you can see the fried chicken pieces and the very few vegetables.

greasy, fattening restaurant meal

Lesson learned – again.  It taught me to never get complacent about my food – not at home, and not while eating out. I brought the entree home because I didn’t want to leave it there, but I’m going to toss it. It’s not healthy, not tasty, and definitely not worth the calories! I learned to not relax at restaurants and ask lots of questions.  I should have sent it back, but it was our anniversary meal and I didn’t want to spoil it.

Have you ever been surprised at how a restaurant meal was prepared, and what did you do? Diane

29 thoughts on “Restaurant Lessons I Should Know

  1. Diane says:

    I have had a few surprises, and when it has happened I send the dish back . I learned to do it due to a food allergy , and it makes it easier to become more assertive than just for weight loss it seems. Just think you have an allergy to fat, and you will be fine. Dishes can and do change due to suppliers, cost and several other factors. In this day and age with the economic crunch, a lot of moves are made to keep small businesses solvent, and changing certain dishes to become more cost affective and more in accordance with mainstream tastes makes sense for the bottom line( profit) , but is not always in the best interest of the patron. You can’t blame them – they have their own mouths to feed in turn.
    .-= Diane´s last blog ..Another weigh in, another show ! =-.

  2. Fran says:

    Here I have the same comment as at the dessert: when I go out for dinner I don’t watch what I eat. First of all eating out isn’t cheap and I want to enjoy it and not think about if it’s healthy or how big it is. If I think about that too much the pleasure of eating out is all gone for me. Dieting is a part of my life, it’s not my whole life.

    I do have to add that I usually choose the meats that are low fat by nature simply because I love those more.
    .-= Fran´s last blog ..A day in my life: Saturday February 20th 2010 =-.

  3. tj says:

    OH! I hate when I am disappointed when my meal comes out. Sometimes that is why we go to the same “safe” places all the time OR don’t even go out at all. lol I am BIG on talking to my server- telling them exactly what I want.

    .-= tj´s last blog ..Friday =-.

  4. Cammy@TippyToeDiet says:

    I’m sorry your celebratory meal didn’t go well! There should be a law against that!

    My biggest disappointments in restaurants are when they refuse to “healthify” a dish that could be fine without a certain sauce or if served with grilled meat instead of “encrusted.” Now, I just stay away from any restaurant with an “executive chef.” Those people are vicious! 🙂
    .-= Cammy@TippyToeDiet´s last blog ..What Up? =-.

  5. Sunny says:

    Sweetie, it WAS spoiled, in the sense you didn’t get what you want. I have zero problem telling the wait staff what’s wrong with a meal, and I would’ve in your case. But hey, that’s just me. I’m sorry your special occasion wasn’t all that it should’ve been. 🙁
    .-= Sunny´s last blog ..What Do You Think? =-.

  6. Jody - Fit at 52 says:

    Diane.. UGH! What a disappointment! Like you, I tend to ask all kinds of questions the few times I even decide to eat out.

    Once I did ask & was told the soup was NOT cream based & when I got it, it tasted a bit too good but it was kind of hard to tell. When I got home, I checked on the internet & sure enough, this soup was calorie & fat loaded! Even with my questions, it still went wrong. I should have trusted my taste buds!

    Also, a lot of people do not know that restaurants but BUTTER ON chicken, fish & beef to make it taste better….
    .-= Jody – Fit at 52´s last blog ..Healthcare Sunday =-.

  7. Jules - Big Girl Bombshell says:

    Good lessons learned is right. I am just learning all those things. I can only ask or look. Reading labels is the start and but the biggest is that I can rely on no one else to tell me about food. I need to have my plan and let my choices fit into the plan versus my choices becoming my plan.
    .-= Jules – Big Girl Bombshell´s last blog ..The Walk of Shame =-.

  8. Lori (Finding Radiance) says:

    What a bummer! Like you, we don’t eat sit down meals a lot and that makes it extra disappointing if you can’t even enjoy it.

    I have had those grease swimming meals, too – and they just never taste good. I’ll eat some, but then won’t even take the rest home.
    .-= Lori (Finding Radiance)´s last blog ..Silent Saturday =-.

  9. Julia says:

    Sorry your Anniversary dinner was not great but at least you had great company.
    It is ours today so we are planning to go out for dinner later – not sure where yet. Aubrey did mention my favorite italian but I said not cause I have already had a food indulgent weekend so we will see.
    Enjoy the rest of your day!

  10. Amy says:

    That is really disappointing and also a testament to how restaurant food can really be so unhealthy, and make people have really bad habits about thinking those portions and greasy sauces are “normal”. It is not easy to eat out and have an enjoyable, healthy meal.
    .-= Amy´s last blog ..Gold medalist! =-.

  11. Nancy Carter says:

    Jim and I went to Wall Street Grill in Humboldt for some occasion. I asked if there was meat in the cheese manicotti and the server said no. When the food came, my perfectly delicious manicotti was covered with a meaty spaghetti sauce. I have not eaten ground beef in 32 years and did not want it. When the same server asked me if my food was good, I told her when the next vegan asks whether meat is in the manicotti, say no. She apologized.

  12. 'Drea says:

    It’s sad that you can never let your guard down but, apparently, fat and salt get a lot of meals sold.

    I went to First Watch and although I felt silly, I asked for nutrition information and I was traumatized just looking at the fat and sodium included in most dishes.
    .-= ‘Drea´s last blog ..Inhale To Recharge =-.

  13. Carla says:

    When I eat out, I go online to check the nutritional info first, and then pick what I’m going to eat before I even get there. I also think that in most cases there could be more salt and fat than what it says on the nutritional info, because you can’t really control how much butter or oil or breading, etc. a chef is going to put into each dish.

  14. vickie says:

    this happens with (processed) food in grocery stores too!!!

    The nutritional label might say one thing the first time you buy it – and then something in the manufacturing changes and it is totally different later. But in general the label LOOKS the same (design, color, etc). So have to recheck the nutritional stats constantly for this type of processed/packaged food.

    My oldest says that when the waitress comes to take our order (at restaurants) she better know how the kitchen does things and had better have a really big pad of paper to write down our changes.


    Actually there are only a couple restaurants that I will go to in town. At one I order redbeans/rice that is served with huge salad. And at the other I order their steamed veggie plate with horseradish sauce.

    Interestingly – at most restaurants – they can’t actually tell you if their veggie have been treated (like lettuce so it doesn’t wilt on salad bar). There is no ingredients list or food stats on that type of bulk packaging. And many bakeries can’t tell you what is in their mixes – same type of bulk packaging.
    .-= vickie´s last blog ..Lower Back Update =-.

  15. Chris says:

    Awww, that’s a shame your dinner was spoiled. Truth be told…I still don’t have a lot of restaurant strength…I might have eaten something unhealthy like that! I try to check out the calorie count for the entrees if I go somewhere.

  16. vickie says:

    and that just SUCKS for you to have had a special night and spent $$$ and then have it be such terrible food. That is ONE advantage to lots of questions – because if it is not what they said – I will SO not pay for it.
    .-= vickie´s last blog ..Lower Back Update =-.

  17. Mia says:

    Happy Anniversary!

    I admire your will to not eat it. I am often too hungry to push food around and end up eating some part of it. I will agree with Carla above that before I go to a restaurant, I will check out the menu on line prior to arriving with my choice in mind. That way I don’t sub come to my hunger and choose something less healthy.

    I also have to agree with Vickie about nutritional labels changing! How can THAT happen?? Sometimes calorie content will jump 10-20% or the protein amount falls!

    It all goes to show how in today’s world you have to constantly work to stay on top of things!

  18. Annimal says:

    I hate it when a restaurant changes a dish without updating the menu. I am like you that I have a hard time sending a meal back, but I am getting more assertive at this issue. Actually, I’m finding a lot of times they are glad to hear about your dislike, because they can’t change a bad meal unless they know you don’t like it (you just stop going there or stop ordering it). I complained about my favorite green bean appetizer and the waitress said, “oh, thanks for letting me know, we changed suppliers and didn’t feel they were up to our standards”
    Restaurants want and need your business. Politely pointing out your issues will help them succeed.
    I would have sent that pasta dish back. It was absolutely horrid and unacceptable.

  19. Nicole, RD says:

    Bummer! That is really unfortunate. I probably would’ve sent it back, though I hate doing that and try to avoid it. I hate confrontation and being viewed as “needy”! I do ask a lot of questions in restaurants. It drives my husband crazy, but when I order a salad I ALWAYS ask for it to be made with spinach or Romaine — not iceberg or whatever else they use. 🙂
    .-= Nicole, RD´s last blog ..Awards to pass along…and truffles galore =-.

  20. Babbalou says:

    I’m normally reluctant to send food back and hesitate to make a scene or cause unpleasantness but in this case I would have called the server over and said had I known the chicken was fried, I would not have ordered it. And then I would have said, “Unfortunately, I can’t eat this.” At this point, I’d send a nice letter to the restaurant manager, telling him or her about your experience, and explaining how your special dinner was ruined by inadequate information on the menu. I’d suggest they provide more information, and certainly indicate when food is breaded and fried. Hopefully you’ll get a nice response. I must go only to restaurants that do a good job with descriptions on the menu – I rarely have to ask questions to get something I want to eat. Nancy, that’s a terrible story about meat in your pasta – I hope you made them replace it! It reminds me of a story I read about someone taking a guest whose religion prohibits the eating of pork to a midwest restaurant. An inquiry was made whether a particular dish contained pork, the answer was no. Sure enough, the dish comes and it’s loaded with pork. They called the waitress over and pointed it out to her, and she says, “That’s not pork! That’s bacon!”

  21. MamaBearJune says:

    Yes, thought I would be brave and order tilapia. (I don’t normally eat seafood.) Every other restaurant I’d been to, the tilapia was grilled. It came with a breading that was about 1/2 an inch thick. Thankfully, the breading just scraped right off.

    Reading my new book “400 Calorie Fix” and she talks about how restaurant portions have changed and how most of us don’t know what a serving should look like. Our bowls, plates and spoons have all gotten bigger! This book is awesome because it teaches you what a 400 calorie meal looks like.
    .-= MamaBearJune´s last blog ..Ultimate Abs ball =-.

  22. Sagan says:

    I took the boyfriend out for his birthday to a really nice French restaurant a few weeks ago, and while the food was delicious and I KNEW it would be loaded with cream and such, I was NOT expecting nearly everything to be fried. Because it was really tasty, and because I’d been expecting it to be a caloric meal and all, I did eat it all anyways, but it’s good to know for the future that that place serves just about everything fried. I’d go again, but I’d be veeeeery careful about what I’d order- or I’d go on a very special and rare occasion.
    .-= Sagan´s last blog ..The Living Healthy in the Real World Guide to Grocery Shopping, Part Four: Where to Shop =-.

  23. julie says:

    I totally hate when that happens, especially when I didn’t ask because I thought I knew a place. If not too awful, I might eat it, or eat some of it, other times I’ll try and trade with dining companion (most of my male friends will eat turds if you put sugar and salt on them), or at least share their dish. I detest both mustard and sour cream, and sometimes they’ll have a whole list of ingredients, leave one of these out. I’ll complain about that, for sure.
    .-= julie´s last blog ..Thoughts on reaching goal =-.

  24. Susan says:

    I’m with everyone else on the additional oils. Whyyy do restaurants feel the need to drench everything in oil?? I ordered grilled veggies at a place once that were seriously like an oil soup. And I’ve even gotten pita bread that has been drenched in oil. I’ve also learned my lesson on ordering sandwiches – always ask for the bread dry! Almost every place butters the bread to make it “yummier.” I used to get really shy about ordering at restaurants, but now I’m quite direct about exactly what I want. A lot of the time the people I’m with will just tell the server that they’ll have what I’m having 😛
    .-= Susan´s last blog ..‘F’ is for Balance =-.

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