Jan 06 2008

Should I give up on restaurants entirely? Or is there hope out there?

Oh, restaurants.

They can be a fun place to go, or a horrible waste of money, whether you’re trying to live frugally or not.

Tonight, my husband and I used our first coupon from our Entertainment Book.

We selected a small restaurant in our area that we’ve wanted to try. After yet another disappointing adventure in dining here, I think we’re going to give up on the small area restaurants, unless someone can give me a great recommendation for some. We’ve just been let down too many times. (Hey, Pittsburghers, specifically you in the North Hills….any recommendations?)

Tonight, including tip we spent $33. Our coupon book saved us $10.

On the plus side, we got out of the house, I didn’t have to cook or clean up after this meal, and we were fed.

The food wasn’t terrible–it was just OK. We won’t go back though, since the overall value, even with coupon, wasn’t good.

Maybe I’m just too demanding (…”maybe I’m just like my father”…ok sorry about the Prince reference, lol), but I think going to a restaurant should be a great experience overall.

If it’s not, why bother?

I expect a welcoming, fun environment. Comfortable seating. Prompt service. Variety on the menu. Reasonable pricing. Decent portion sizes. And most importantly, delicious food.

If you’re a chef, don’t serve me a bad cut of chicken, poorly cooked, and covered with mushrooms from a can. Don’t bring out cold dinner rolls that probably came out of a bag. Don’t put dense, boring iceberg lettuce in my salad, and don’t put tomato wedges on them, if they aren’t ripe.

[ Don’t get me wrong–I’m not critical of home cooking from a friend or family member. But when friends or family prepare food for me, they take pride in what they do. Even if the cuts of meat aren’t expensive, or if things come out of cans, they prepare it they best they can, and with love. Home cooking is totally different from restaurant food. ]

I don’t want to be a restaurant snob, but for pete’s sake.

I just want to go out to eat once in awhile, have a good time, and eat food that makes my mouth and stomach deliriously happy. I want to say “Now, that was money well spent.”

Is that so much to ask?

What do you look for in a restaurant? 

8 Responses to “Should I give up on restaurants entirely? Or is there hope out there?”

  1. I want all the things you listed in a restaurant plus convenient location and lots of parking.

    Sorry to hear about your crummy dining experience tonight.

  2. Restaurants can be tricky. I like local places, as well as good, reliable chains, but I get leery of any place that just doesn’t look welcoming and clean. And variety is so important — especially as a vegetarian. I’ve been to really nice places with great atmosphere where there was only one non-meat dish — that makes me want to never go back, and usually that dish isn’t very good, because they haven’t put in any effort towards variety. And I’ve been to very casual places with crummy atmosphere but lots of great options on the menu — that makes me want to keep going back to it, even though the setting or service isn’t great.

  3. Oh, you should watch Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares! LOL

    I pick restaurants with full parking lots. If it’s Friday night and it’s deserted – that’s a warning sign!

    Right now our favorites are Perkins (kids eat free) or Ryans Buffet (kids 99 cents) – but I do love me some fine dining!

  4. Restaurants are money suckers! I usually just think well, I am saving so much on groceries that I can spend this on a restaurant! I always use a coupon as well. My favorites are Japanese and Italian.

  5. I never skimp on good nutrition. It’s the forefront of keeping a healthy state of mind in order for one to stay disciplined and to be able to follow through on your goals and achievements.

    I look at restaurants mainly for nutritional value and I’m willing to pay top dollar for it.

    The only restaurant I would ever care to dine out to, would be the Souplantation.

    I look at eating food more so as a form of discipline than I do for enjoyment. Call me “square” or “out of touch”, but nobody will ever convince me, otherwise. :P

  6. Sorry to hear about your bad dinner experience.

    I found that restaurants are least professional they used to be. The service is horrible, food is served unreasonable slow and in my opinion, we are paying more than what we are getting.

    Yet, what you are looking for in restaurants is what a restaurant should provide to their customers.

  7. Bummer that is too bad, nothing is worse (in regard to eating) when you dine out and it stinks.
    I really like Parmini Brothers in there are several locations in Pittsburgh ( I might have mispelled it, try google.)
    Eat N Park has amazing breakfasts and you might be able to snag some coupons in the Sunday Paper or in the entertainment book. Also, I believe there is a Baha Fresh somewhere around you. Very yummy and you and Hubby could eat for under $15 with no tip required.
    (There is always Chipoltle….Call me cheap but I like places that are yummy, healthy, and no tip required!)Enjoy Pittsburgh for me!

  8. Okay I was way off with my spelling, this is my favorite inexpensive Pit dinning place….Enjoy! I craved thier french fry sandwiches when I was expected my daugher! http://www.primantibros.com/

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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