Eating out ain’t what it used to be

Egg Custard Tarts from Golden Gate Bakery in S...

Egg Custard Tarts from Golden Gate Bakery in San Francisco’s Chinatown (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My daughter, granddaughter Hannah and SIL Bill visited last night and we went to Applebee’s to celebrate the holiday weekend and catch up on recent events. 

Years ago, David and his youngest son Tim frequented the local Hot Shop on Fridays for ‘all you can eat’ shrimp. When I worked at the Census Bureau, some of us regularly traveled to the nearest cafeteria where you could find, entrees, vegetables, desserts, etc.  But Hot Shoppes went out of business, along with several other chains like Black Eyed Pea that catered to the noontime crowd by offering ‘soul food.’ 

David and I celebrate an anniversary this month and we have been discussing whether or not to “go out” to a fancy restaurant. In years past, we went to the Sebian Crown for Chateaubriand, a glass of Zinfandel for me, and romantic balalaika music.

These days David and I almost never eat in a “fancy” restaurant, although for years we did.  And, I gained too much weight doing it. Not only did David and I eat in every fancy establishment in Washington from the Watergate Restaurant to San Souci, my various bosses (in the private sector) took  staff to very nice restaurants downtown, or when we were traveling, to the best local restaurants (one of the locals attending these meetings always had assembled a list of  eateries). 

For example, on trips to NYC, my boss and I ate in the Windows on the World establishment at the top of the trade towers (rip 9-11) where he sometimes drank a bottle of wine by himself (AT&T had offices in the Trade Towers).  On other trips, paid for by various groups like the Associated Press or American Demographics, I ate at the Waldorf Astoria.  The last time David and I visited NYC we took my oldest granddaughters on the trip, and ate in museums, “hole-in-the wall” restaurants, or in the subway stations like the locals. We had great fun, except Amelia got sick from all the assorted foods.

I have thousands of match book covers, many of them from NYC, to remind me of those days when smoking occurred in most restaurants, and I always collected a book of matches with the restaurant logo.

If you were on a business trip, the alternative to eating at a nice local restaurant was what friend Kathy described as the “rubber chicken circuit,” where we ate meals frugally prepared for some group or other we had addressed as the featured speaker. I recall meals I had in Dayton Ohio, where I addressed the local business planners association on the finer points of demographic projections, New Jersey where I addressed a county school planning board, and others.   

I doubt extravagant business meals occur quite as frequently these days. Jimmy Carter started the trend of cracking down on tax deductions for private sector “expenses” or “three-martini lunches.”  Obama continued the attack when he critiqued conventions in Las Vegas. The politicians put a damper on fancy fare in the private sector. Meanwhile some government workers at GSA discovered Las Vegas.

After we retired, David and I turned to the local “hole-in-the-wall” eateries around here, many of them offering “ethnic” fare, or we eat at the hospital where I can get sushi. Our current favorite is a rrestaurant based on New Zealand cuisine(lots of green mussels and the full English breakfast David loves). Some of the restaurants are superb, unfortunately they are also fattening.  Most are tolerable when you don’t feel like cooking  and your spouse has burned his thumbs on the outdoor grill. I like Mexican food, but boy is it loaded with fat. Ditto most of the Asian dishes, except Moo Goo Gai Pan and summer rolls with uncooked rice paper wrappings….according to Weight Watchers.

Oh to be in England where they have pub food?? NOT.  Better yet, those delectable bistros in France or fish houses on the Costa del Sol. Cheap grub, but tasty. Oh wait, I gained 10 pounds on every overseas trip. Perhaps it’s good that we don’t have delectable food on every corner.


Lost one more pound this week. Began cooking again in self-defense. I even made Mom’s banana custard using some of Bill’s eggs. Yum. Used Splenda, only 9 points per large dish. (who can eat a small one?)  


16 thoughts on “Eating out ain’t what it used to be

  1. My trouble is that I still like fancy restaurants but I can’t actually eat dairy or lots of creamy foods now. Fatty foods are out too; most fancy restaurants serve dishes loaded with cream and butter and lots of red meat.

    Ah, where are the days when I could eat and eat and never put on a pound, or my stomach never complained. It’s just not fair, what other pleasures are there for the average 60+ year olds?


  2. Like you, we’ve enjoyed eating at some very fancy restaurants over the years. Now we’re not so inclined unless it is a special occasion, such as a significant wedding anniversary. Like you, our latest dinner out was at the local Applebee’s. We split an oriental chicken salad and an appetizer. And it wasn’t costly; we got a 10 percent senior discount plus another 10 percent by using a gift card purchased with credit card points. Nothing wrong with being frugal, I say, if you get good value and enjoy the meal. We did.


  3. I don’t know why but we don’t usually eat at VERY fancy restaurants. I guess we’re too cheap…I mean frugal. We do like to eat out, but it’s usually in affordable restaurants. Our daughter and son-in-law will take us out every so often to experience fine dining and we truly enjoy it.


  4. I, too, traveled with work for 16 years in 80s part of 90s, with communal dining experiences similar to yours. These days Hubby and I chow down at home where we have control of salt, fat and portion size. The kicker is that when we travel or visit friends and relatives locally, it is hard to resist temptations offered in the guise of hospitality. I have yet to manage being reasonable when it comes to my MIL’s banana pudding or my SIL and DIL’s desserts and casseroles or sons’ grilled and barbecued offerings.


  5. Hubby and I love to dine at all kinds of restaurants, especially on special occasions. It’s fun, especially when there is a fantastic view. However, there will be some belt tightening for the time being until he finds a job.


  6. Oh, I am so proud of you. Me, still doing preop stuff for the surgery….blood draw tomorrow. That scares me to death. I have to drive home afterwords. Here, breakfast and lunch here usually and our simple WW faire. Lately even dinner hasn’t been quiet up to WW standards. Desert has ruined us.


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