Sunday, January 23, 2011

Things I have discovered since we started eating at home more...

So Matt and I burned our January eat out card on Friday night. At the end of last year, we made small cards for 12-15 restaurants we want to try this year. We were trying to have a good way to record what restaurants we visited and also keep ourselves on track by limiting to only the restaurants we listed. Granted, we can change a restaurant if we feel like it, but we have a good guideline as to what we want to try this year.

We decided to go out for several reasons, mainly due to the fact that my car has been in the shop for a while (over a month!! eek). Well, my car is a 1997, so even though it didn't have a ton of damage, insurance was still able to total loss it out. Anyways, we ended up getting the repairs done for a LOT less than expected, so we were able to pay off the majority of our credit card debt and still have money left to put in savings for a down payment!!! So it was definitely a celebration of sorts, and it was very nice to relax after dealing with the hassles of insurance/car for a month.

We chose to visit Cubanitas, a restaurant here in downtown Milwaukee. Matt and I both had pretty tasty meals. We started with an appetizer of an empanada, and an order of plantain chips with guacamole. I thought the plantain chips were pretty good but could have benefitted from the addition of a spice mixture for a little flavor. The empanada was super delicious, I highly recommend them!!

As for our main meals, I had the Pollo Tropical, a delicious tropical chicken that was lightly marinated and served with a garlic/onion, topped with pineapple and mandarin orange. It was really yummy. Matt had the special of plantain crusted salmon, topped with diced tomato and served with a cilantro-lime sauce. He really enjoyed the cilantro-lime sauce, I think his exact words were "I could drink this". He thought the fish was good but really salty (something I'll discuss later!).

We ended the meal with a delicious flan, which was a bit different from flan I had in the past. It was super thick, you could really tell it was homemade. The burnt caramel sauce it was topped with was fantastic, not overly sweet but really good.

So, overall we enjoyed our meal, but we do notice specific things when we dine out now...

-How salty all the food is!!
It's incredible how we didn't notice this before, but restaurants add a ton of salt!! Obviously since we don't eat in restaurants much now, it is very noticable. It kind of drives me a little crazy now that we notice it. It doesn't exactly ruin a meal, but it doesn't really enhance it either! Matt made the observation on Friday that this is probably so they can make you order more drinks!!
(sidenote: another way we save on eating out: drink water all the time. It's cheaper and healthier for you!)

-If food quality matches price point
Sometimes, I'll be honest, I feel like I am getting totally ripped off!!
Cubanitas actually had pretty good price points. I was surprised!! Most downtown restaurants jack their prices up way too high.
Once you start eating at home, you notice how much things in a restaurant really cost to make. It is a good jumping off point too if you want to replicate restaurant meals.

-How many people don't understand how to properly eat in a restaurant (!!!)
While we were eating at Cubanitas, a woman at the table next to us had no comprehension of this. She asked to borrow a chair from our table so she could TAKE A PHOTOGRAPH OF OUR WAITRESS' BOOTS. I am not kidding. She made our waitress put her leg on the chair so she could photograph them. She inturrupted our meal for this?? Our waitress seemed mortified, but complied.
This woman (not the waitress) also dropped f-bombs left and right, which I didn't notice (surprising) but Matt did (also surprising). I can see if you're at a bar or pub style restaurant and you're talking to a friend, but to be 2-3 feet from the next table at a mid-priced restaurant?? Not appropriate.

Alright, well enough about my restaurant discoveries! Overall, Cubanitas was a pretty good place. I think it would be a good place to go for lunch, as they had a ton of delicious-sounding sandwiches at very reasonable prices!

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