I have recently come to the conclusion that, for me at least, the fine dining experience is for the most part highly overrated. I have no problem with trying new places and experiencing new things, except when it comes to my stomach as I explained in detail in my picky eaters post. So the allure of something like DC’s Restaurant Week diminishes for me quickly when I realize that to get the full benefit of the special restaurant week menus I have to be willing to try things that don’t agree with my picky palate.
For those not in DC, Restaurant Week is a yearly event in which all the hoity toity restaurants in the city offer their normally grossly overpriced fare at a discount that brings the price down to irksomely overpriced. This gives the non-elite among us the opportunity to experience getting raped with a fork with a white linen napkin in our lap first hand. They usually offer this discount by bundling three courses together into one set price so that the irksome overpricing is masked by the perceived value of buying more courses of food than you would normally buy anyway. I got the pleasure of this experience this evening while dining at one of DC’s fine establishments (that will remain unnamed) with a couple of friends.
As I said, to really get any benefit out of restaurant week I have to be willing to eat something I wouldn’t normally eat. But with my picky tastes I knew that that would be a waste of money so I wound up using my restaurant week meal on salmon. Salmon happens to be my go to meal whenever I can’t find anything else I want to eat. So of course I order salmon often. Our meal consisted of three courses. For my first I had an appetizer of balsamic shrimp. I got 3 shrimp on a skewer sitting in a pool of something with a pile of spinach on the side. I ate the three shrimp and it made me feel really hungry. Then I got my salmon which tasted like any other salmon I could have had anywhere else, but it was edible and tasty so I was happy. The salmon was sitting on a bed of some mashed corn concoction that looked like yellow mashed potatoes. It tasted…weird…I can’t think of another word for it. My friends tasted it and that’s the only word they came up with too. Oh and I think there were some asparagus on the plate, but I’m not sure because restaurant vegetables are generally invisible to me. I consider them to be decoration to make the plate look cute. Then I got my desert which was creme brule. There were three desert choices and three of us there eating so we ordered one of each so we could taste each other’s deserts. One of my friends got chocolate pound cake that tasted more sugary than chocolatey, but it was pretty tasty. The other got key lime cheesecake. Picture what you think a slice of cheesecake looks like, then erase that image from your head. They brought her out a round mound of cheesecake that was only slightly bigger than a Reese’s peanut butter cup with a cookie on the side that I guess was supposed to be the crust. All of us looked at it like where is the rest??? But it tasted pretty good and she barely finished it so I guess they knew what they were doing. I personally liked my desert the best out of the three, as was evidenced by my clean plate, but the other two were pretty good too.
In my opinion the desert was the best part of the meal by far. Well the desert and the drink I had that helped to soothe the sting of the bill that came. Three people eating a “discounted meal” should not get a bill for $158.
Now the problem I have with fancy restaurants (other than the lack of pictures on the menu) is that they always try to hard to make their food seem special. They can’t just serve fish. They have to serve herb crusted halibut on a bed of zesty basil orzo and butter steamed asparagus. ( I’m making most of this up. I’m not a foodie so I don’t really know what you call most of that stuff) I really wanted to try the lobster, but they didn’t just have lobster, they had Chinese style steamed lobster over a bed of fried spinach. How do you fry spinach anyway??? I just wanted plain old lobster with some butter to dip it in. But that wasn’t happening. Thus I went to my go to meal. At any rate, despite the price and my complaints I came out sufficiently full and satisfied. But no more satisfied than I would have been if I would have gone to a casual dining restaurant and spent $25 (including a drink). I suppose the reason for this is I’m just not that into food. I like to eat…well I like to not be hungry. But since food has such a profound effect on how I feel the rest of the day I guess I like to eat food that is predictable. That way I know how I will feel after the meal digests. Predictable food isn’t what restaurant week is all about. One day maybe I will find that fancy restaurant for picky eaters, in the mean time I think I might concentrate on figuring out ways to eat food that I love for $5 or less.