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Dining out with dietary restictions -- wasting our $$$? (long)


Not About Food 24

Dining out with dietary restictions -- wasting our $$$? (long)

forkyfork | Jan 9, 2006 07:21 PM

Due to some medical advice, DH and I have revamped our eating habits ... low fat (even low on the "good fats" too), no HFCS, low salt, way more fruits and vegs, buying organic and free range meats -- you get the picture. It's been awesome! We feel great, the cholesterol is down and weight is coming off too.

So here in NYC we used to eat out an awful lot, but obviously it's easier to control ingredients and portions by cooking at home, which we do. But we did go out to a nice seafood restaurant the other night, and it was a disaster. We both ordered the whole fish of the day, which according to the menu, could be prepared steamed, grilled, broiled ... whichever way. (I asked for steamed, DH got it grilled) We both asked if it could be prepared without butter or oil, and the waiter said it could be. Out come the fish and they are covered in butter and sitting on a pile of vegetables, which are themselves sitting in puddles of melted butter -- we tried to send them back, but the waiter brought back both of the plates (unchanged) saying the chef had tried to steam off/wash off the butter, so there wasn't "much" on there, but some of the parts of the dish were prepared in advance, with butter, and there wasn't anything that they could do about it. We paid for the uneaten food, left a subpar tip and vowed never to return.

We're well aware of the fact that restaurant food is prepared using lots and lots of butter and oil -- but are we being ridiculous in even thinking a restaurant will leave it out if we ask? Is it possible for them to do it (are most good kitchens flexible in their prep)? Should they be obliged to tell us in advance if they can't? Are a lot of vegetables prepared in advance parboiled with butter or oil? Do people with special requests always call restaurants in advance to see if their needs can be accomodated? Should we have not paid for food we didn't eat because they didn't cook it the way we asked? Should we just stay the hell home?

Sorry for all of the questions -- we're new to this way of eating and we're just not sure how demanding to be on the ordering front or where or when to draw the line ... or, as we are the customer, is there a line? I know it will all depend on each individual place. I've seen people practically grab a waiter by the lapels and pull them down to the table face to face while explaining exactly how they want their food prepared -- should I toughen up and get that aggressive about it? Also I'm not sure I should be asking to rewrite a kitchen's recipes if I theoretically came there for their food to begin with.

What do you think?

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