Since we're American and stubbornly stick by the utterly illogical belief that eating fat is ultimately healthy, my wife and I have been on a low-carb diet for a month. Also, we both loathe crowds, and her birthday is February 12th, so typically we have our romantic night out before the 14th. We were in Chicago this past weekend, so on Saturday night we went out to an old favorite for our Valentine/Birthday/still Keto dinner. So it's in the books already.
We went to Gene and Georgetti's, a Chicago steakhouse institution since the 1940's. I prefer it to the other old-line Chicago steakhouses. (There is a constant stream of newer places like Maple & Ash and RPM but we never really feel like we fit in). The restaurant did a fine job. The food, service, and ambiance was everything I remember from other visits. But thanks to a variety of dietary limitations and personal hangups, the dinner was pretty much a fail. It took a lot of thought to choose this venue, and I'm not sure even after hindsight I can come up with a better alternative. Dining out while on a diet, as nourishment, can be accomplished successfully. But as a celebration, I'm not sure it can be done.
When dining out, service can be poor, or it can be professional. At G & G's, service seems to be personal. It seems as if every server is related to the owner; that's the kind of vibe one picks up there. So that is usually a winner. About 30 seconds after we sat down, an eager server left us bread and was damn proud he did so.
The breadsticks are the bomb-diggity
So I could have been 'That Guy', spoken up, and stated that we weren't having bread this evening. I wasn't. We could have had the conviction of our actions, and simply let the bowl of bomb-ass breadsticks sit there. We didn't. It was a moral victory that we only ate about half. But right there, bye-bye diet for the couple of days it takes for the ketogenic settings to reset themselves in our bodies.
We did not order wine, of course. That's no fun! Nor did we order any fun appetizers, but perhaps on a so-called romantic dinner, that's for the best.
Items are ala-carte and pricey, so I was pleased to find that they were having a 'Restaurant Week' special that included their famous Garbage (antipasti) salad, their 'Petite Surf & Turf' and a dessert for one price ($50). This was a four ounce filet, two grilled prawns, mashed potatoes and sauteed spinach. Now, even though the potatoes are not part of the diet, this seemed to represent a nice display, it was what one would call 'polite portions'. I would never order this otherwise, a four ounce filet? But it turns out that not only was this enough food, and really not enough potatoes to give anyone a conniption, but honestly this looks like a solid choice for a 'romantic' dinner? I think so.
I ordered the filet medium rare. It was medium, at least. Which is what I prefer, anyway.
Well. I suggested she order the same. Since my wife is a 'black-and-white, right-or-wrong' person, she wasn't going to order anything with CARRRBS! She ordered a wedge salad, which she did enjoy. She didn't want any sides. Makes for a lonely dinner plate, but fine. She wanted a ribeye. They only had a 20 ounce bone-in for 69 bucks. Right there, dinner was shot for her. SEVENTY bucks for a piece of meat? Well, we never order 20 ounce steaks. Have a filet, I suggested. Nope, she doesn't like filets (???), she wanted ribeye, and ordered the 69, and then muttered the whole time that she's had better, that I've made better. And while I appreciate that she likes my steaks, I'm not digging the fact that I've spent 70 bucks on something she doesn't like.
It looks like the Atlanta Falcons logo. She ordered medium well.
I had forgotten that it is tradition at G&Gs to offer complimentary cottage fries from time to time. Once again, I was not That Guy, to refuse their hospitality.
Once again, I felt it was a moral victory that we only ate half. Part of that was because she moved the platter out of my reach. Dammit, that's rude.
I did say there was dessert. They offered spumoni or bread pudding, both of which she likes but they have CARRRRBS so I ordered panna cotta, because I honestly didn't know what it was. It was a molded cream & gelatin dish with mixed berries garnishing it. By that time my mood was shot, so I didn't quite enjoy it, but hey, I've tried it.
Gene and Georgetti's did a fine job, and I would return. To me, a celebration should not have boundaries, and when you are on a diet, voluntarily or otherwise, there are limits that cut into the fun. Certainly some of you will disagree and let me know in the comments. It is both mentally and physically healthier if one eats to live, and not the other way around. It isn't the absolute truth that I live to eat, but I admit it's damn close. Knowing all of that, it was hard for us to build an enjoyable, meaningful dining occasion.
Even though, after it all, I still don't feel like I was the bad guy here.