Sunday, January 16, 2011

Dining Out - A Learning Experience

I found out this weekend that dining out on a restricted diet isn't always easy, and definitely is not as fun.  A friend and I traveled from our home in Bluffton, SC up to Charleston, SC for a bit of a 'girl's weekend', well a girl's overnighter.  We drove up Friday afternoon just after lunch time and came back again Saturday.

So Friday night, after we checked into our lodging, we walked to the restaurant next-door to just grab a quick dinner before we headed to our planned event in Downtown Charleston.  The restaurant that was next to our hotel was Sticky Fingers which happens to be a BBQ-themed chain restaurant. My friend had asked me before we decided on this place to eat if there would be anything on the menu that I would be able to order that did not contain meat.  I assured her that I would find something and was actually very much in the mood for salad (rare).  I have been to this restaurant previously but was not completely aware of what meat-free or fish options they might have available.

To my surprise, the pickings seemed to be slim - well no, they seemed to be slimmer than I expected.  When I look back on it, really, why would the BBQ restaurant try to cater at all for a vegetarian?  All of the main dishes included some type of pork, chicken or beef and there were no available fish dishes.  My original plan was to get some potato skins without the bacon, but they also came with some other type of meat and I wasn't in the mood to pay that much for potatoes and cheese.  Ultimately, I decided on a house salad with balsamic vinaigrette and an order of spinach & artichoke dip (Savannah Dip it was called).  Not the best choices, but it worked.

Saturday, we decided on lunch at a local place in downtown Charleston called Poogan's Porch. My traveling companion had previously visited this restaurant and suggested it be a great place for breakfast.  We ended up there for brunch.  I had previewed the menu and before our arrival I had decided on the French Toast, but once we arrived and I reviewed the menu again, went with the below pictured Carolina Crabcake Benedict. It was excellent and an easy decision. 

The difference between these two dining out experiences made me really think of how difficult it must be for people on restricted diets to dine out.  I'm not just talking about vegetarians or vegans, but also people with food allergies (which I forgot to mention - my friend is allergic to shellfish so dining in the Low Country gets tricky), or health issues that keep them away from certain foods, etc.  I realized that in order to continue to stay on track with our vegetarianism/pescetarianism and enjoy eating out, there will have to be some real pre-planning.  No more BBQ restaurants and no more steakhouses.

So today was Dan's birthday and we decided to have a nice evening out at our favorite sushi spot in town (to be honest, we tried to go to a new place, but it is apparently closed until next month - the downfalls of living in a seasonal tourist area).  I'm very glad that we have decided to keep fish, shellfish and crustaceans in our diet.  I enjoyed a nice bowl of miso soup, a few sushi rolls and a couple tamago sashimi,  Dan had an assortment of things including the below Double Tuna Roll.

So now that I have bored you with the longest post ever!  Just want to wrap it up with:
Two weeks in and no meat so far.  Three days with fish (or similar) dishes, still learning as we are going and still very much looking forward to continuing our meat-free adventure.

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