Wednesday, April 8, 2009
I can navigate any restaurant, or can I?....
I've been doing the Weight Watchers program and working for Weight Watchers for the better part of a decade now. I've been to countless meetings where hundreds of tips have been shared on navigating the most ferocious, calorie-dense dining establishments. I know all the words to avoid: cream sauce, fried, oil, butter-base, etc. I know about the sauce on-the-side tricks.
I have proclaimed on multiple occasions that there is no restaurant that cannot be made program-friendly. And then came Buca di Beppo. I lost. It won.
I studied the menu for a good 10 to 15 minutes trying to figure out some way to take a single dish and reconcile it with my program. I viewed it as a challenge.
Challenge #1: virtually every dish was served in some variant of a cream sauce combined with a massive quantity of cheese and fatty meat. Low fat salad dressing? No! Maybe a basic fish dish? Hit the road!
Challenge #2: portion quantities were asteroid-sized. Some of these dishes were so large they exerted a gravitational pull. Even the "small" portions were so big they rivaled the size of my 9 year old daughter's head (see photo for size comparison). The "small" salad could have fed a football team.
The chosen solution was a "small" Shrimp Fra Diavolo, shared among two of us. It was advertised as sauteed shrimp with a spicy rosa sauce served over penne pasta. Seemed pretty benign, calorie/fat-wise. However a picture is worth a thousand menu words: observe the photo of this deceptive dish with its ample glaze of oil and what seems like a cheese-like fat residue. Suffice it to say, this was too much for even two of us. I would ball-park the whole bowl at about 35 to 40 POINTS with a big chunk of that coming from oil. (Don't get me wrong -- it was tasty). Never mind the bread served with olive oil or the bruschetta platter someone at the table ordered.
To their credit, the restaurant would suggest that these portions were meant for family-style dining and were not intended to be fully consumed by a single person (unless you were really hungry). Yet, I cannot help but wonder how many of their patrons order one of these beauties and then take out their Clean Plate Club membership cards.