Healthy Restaurant Eating

By The Restaurant Dieter

Tag: prix fixe

Review: Eat light the rest of the day before going to Revival in Decatur

The only way to eat mindfully at Decatur’s Revival is to eat light the rest of the day. This is not a restaurant with a lot of light-and-healthy choices. It’s a splurge, and a really good one at that.

Revival is an interesting name for this restaurant situated in an old Decatur home just off the downtown area. It’s been the location of at least two failed restaurants. This effort seems likelier to be successful. It’s by Chef Kevin Gillespie, who also owns the new American dim sum restaurant Gunshow in Atlanta.

The inspiration here isn’t the unlucky building, though. The name comes from the Sunday suppers of Gillespie’s youth. It’s southern with all the trimmings.

Diners can order a la carte from the menu, or choose their own entries as part of the family style dinner for $42 a person. Family style includes entree, the sides and choice of dessert. We chose family style, and it was a lot of food.

The amuse bouche was a pork belly — I gave mine away — with pickled green tomatoes.

The salad, if eaten alone, would have been a pretty healthy choice. It was kale, lightly bruised in a dressing of cider vinegar and egg, with apple chunks, pickled onion and locally sourced Thomasville Tomme cheese. It came with exceptionally tender corn bread and honey butter. Of course I had one.

The salad at Revival was was kale with apples, picked onion, Thomasville Tomme cheese and a boiled dressing of apple cider vinegar and egg

Revival’s corn muffins with honey butter

Two of our number had a juicy pork chop; the third the duck and I had the fried chicken. I limited myself to the one small breast piece, and gave away or left the rest. As with any southern restaurant, the sides starred as much as the main courses. The beans in the beans-and-rice were firm; the flavor and texture had not been cooked out of them. The mac ‘n cheese was gooey good. The greens were smoky and rich.

For dessert, three of our group had the fried apple pie with vanilla ice cream. The pastry itself was buttery, flaky, wonderful. I had a ginger cake with cream cheese ice cream. The latter is a strange flavor by itself, but it worked well with the cake. I tasted both desserts, enjoyed them, and shared or left most of mine.

That’s the secret to eating here. Leave some to take home, share with companions or consign to the food recycling gods.

Revival’s ginger cake with cream cheese ice cream

 

 

Review: Little Park in New York City’s TriBeCa

The Restaurant Dieter has said it before: When the reservation is at a restaurant serving only a prix fixe or tasting menu, there’s not a whole lot a Weight Watchers member can do. This is especially true when the occasion is New Year’s Eve at Little Park in TriBeCa with friends.

Depending on how you behave with the bread basket, the situation can either wind up an all-out binge or a reasonable meal that wipes out your weekly bonus of Weight Watchers SmartPoints. I chose the latter.

Lobster, charred meyer lemon, mustard greens

Lobster, charred meyer lemon, mustard greens

Little Park is one of those places I’d never heard of, but my friend who is up on the New York restaurant scene said it had become the favorite of women doing power lunches. It makes the New York Times’ best list at The Scoop.

Each of the courses offered a choice of two options, so I asked the server what would be healthiest and lowest fat. Then I followed her direction for all courses, except for the last one, where I picked the lobster with charred meyer lemon and mustard greens.  If you’re going to make a decision not to count points, embrace it.

The meal took a leisurely three hours, providing lots of time to catch up with friends. Each course was excellent. Portions were modest, as tends to be the case on tasting menus at fine restaurants. A rich dish like the squash tart with brown butter, sage and maple arrives at a modest 2-3 ounces. It was so rich and earthy that a second or third might have been nice. (It’s on the regular dinner menu, by the way.)

Rye corzetti with potato, smoked trout roe

Rye corzetti with potato, smoked trout roe

The server had recommended the rye corzetti over the cauliflower risotto for the pasta course. Corzetti was a mystery, but it turns out to be large circles of pasta. The combination of the rye flower, an almost-not-there sauce, the size of the portion and the perfect al dente preparation made it almost seem like a diet food. Again, I could have eaten a large bowl.

Which suggests a future visit along with New York’s power-lunching women. The menu has lots of items that call to folks trying to eat healthy. The brunch menu, in particular, has great offerings such as a multigrain waffle and coconut and spelt pancakes. See you there.

 

 

 

Review: A great five-course tasting at Bacchanalia in Atlanta

Halibut with clams, butter beans and a fennel foam

The Restaurant Dieter has no earthly clue how many Weight Watcher points to assess for a recent five-course tasting menu at Bacchanalia, nor does he care. This is a restaurant and a menu that can be endorsed for dieters without hesitation.

Several reasons:

  • Among the 32 items from which one selects five, there was at least one good choice for each course.
  • The portions were so modest that even if decadent, the damage wouldn’t be too bad.
  • Nobody blinked when I brought in my own Fresca because Diet Coke has so much caffeine. The staff whisked it out of sight and refilled my glass until the can was empty, just as if I’d brought in a very special bottle of wine from home.
  • At $85 for five courses, it was an extremely well priced tasting menu.
  • The server was among the best ever encountered.

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Review: WD-50, New York City: Starvation by molecular gastronomy

Everything bagel with smoked salmon threads and crispy cream cheese
The Restaurant Dieter has been dreading this review. It will rain on his spouse’s parade. I hate harshing his mellow. Really.

The Restaurant Dieter’s spouse collects interesting and unusual restaurant experiences like a scout collects merit badges. If a restaurant has been featured on the New York page of Eater.com, it’s a must-do. Ditto for something on Food & Wine’s top restaurants list or the subject of a positive review in the New York Times or New York Magazine.

Two things motivated us to visit WD-50 on New York’s Lower East Side one recent Sunday night: Chef Wylie Dufresne‘s appearances on Bravo TV’s “Top Chef” and his renown as a chef who engages in “molecular gastronomy.”

Eggs Benedict

You’re probably familiar with the term if you’ve seen “Top Chef.” Its practitioners may be heavily gloved and wearing goggles, pouring a vat of smoking liquid nitrogen over something. Or they may be mixing up magic powders with food to create something that looks completely unlike food. The phrase “mad scientist” comes to mind. Molecular gastronomy makes use of substances such as transglutaminase (a protein binder called meat glue) and , for thicking, something called hydrocolloids. At Gastroarte in New York City, a deconstructed salad came to the table dusted with olive oil powder, which was likely created using something called maltodextrin.

What’s that they say about pre-packaged food? If the ingredients on the label don’t sound like food, you shouldn’t eat it! Tell that to the TRD Spouse.

My first brush with molecular gastronomy came on a visit to Chicago. The TRD Spouse had snagged a reservation for four at Alinea, a hilarious experience — er, meal —  that I recounted in a previous blog post.

When it comes to hilarity, WD-50 served up an 11-course chef’s tasting menu that didn’t disappoint.

There was a miniature “everything” bagel that was actually ice cream with the flavors of garlic, onion and poppy seed, accented by a smoked salmon powder. A duck breast Reuben arrived looking like a DNA strand. Eggs Benedict consisted of a jelled egg yolk, English muffin chips and two deep-fried balls of Hollandaise sauce. One of the dessert courses was a paper-thin slice of mango, filled with a sake caramel (!), dots of sheep’s milk and again in powdered form, cashew.

The duck “Reuben”

Because there’s little control over what you’re served, it’s rarely a good idea for a dieter to order the tasting menu. But the house rules almost always require all persons at the table to partake. They figure that it will be awkward if somebody has three normal-sized courses and sits there while a parade of small tastes proceeds.

And so, for the sake of domestic harmony, I complied. Knowing that the caloric intake would be unpredictable, the rest of the day I restricted myself to high-fiber, low fat proteins and vegetables.

The funny thing about a meal like this: Even with 11 courses, nothing really satisfies. Each bite plays sight and taste games, but that’s it. They’re clever, but nothing sticks.

After a meal like this, I’d say there’s a very real danger of stopping off for a hamburger. I was tempted.

Mango with sake caramel, sheep’s milk cashew