For the longest time I’d always seen pictures of various “Restaurant Weeks” popping up all over Facebook, but never quite understood the concept of such a thing. “Why do people need an excuse to go to restaurants?” I wondered. I eat out whenever I’m too lazy to cook which happens way more than I budget for (it also doesn’t help that I live above a delicious Vietnamese Restaurant which means I can order in PJs…which has only happened 4 or 5 times). Then some wise soul explained the concept to me in very simplistic and generalized terms: you can eat an expensive restaurants for sometimes a fraction of the price. As a great lover of both eating and deals, this is something I could get behind.
I actually participated in Pittsburgh Restaurant week last time I was there. We ate at The Diamond Market Bar and Grill downtown, and for a fixed price I can’t recall at this time, got a three course fixed menu that included mussels, a trio of bbq sliders (sliders and pulled pork are two of my favorite things) and bread pudding. There was an option to pair each item with a beer, which was reasonably priced and would have been fun if I hadn’t spend the afternoon at the Strip District’s Beer Hive housing Penn Brewery hefeweizens (look at how much of a beer snob I could be if I want). I stuck with Coors Light and water.
Anyhow, Lancaster is now having its own Restaurant Week and I was initially excited to try out a few new places. Downtown Lancaster has an impressive amount of places to eat and drink and while I’ve exhausted all the drink options there’s still a plethora (word snob too!) of eateries I haven’t been to yet. Part of this is because is I’m a super pick eater who sticks to what he knows and routinely orders the same thing over and over and part of this is because I save a lot of money trying to cook for myself as often as possible.
I began looking over the menus and trying to find somewhere new and interesting I haven’t been whose menu I liked and truthfully, had some trouble. I would like the appetizer on one menu but think that I’d have to have the spicy mayo and broccoli rabe (sidenote: what is this?) removed from the sandwich entrée or have an order at another place, without the you-pick-the-vegetable-puree and turmeric aoli and there were many visions of me asking for coleslaw to be taken out of the equation.
I’m that guy, the guy who always asks for ammendments to be made. I frequently order hamburgers and fries when I don’t know what to get. I like pizza and wings and chicken fingers and anything with hot sauce and only enjoy salads made from Iceberg lettuce (I’ll tolerate romaine but I’ll whine about it and I’m starting a one man war against kale). I describe my tastes as “classical American cuisine.”
Normally this probably wouldn’t be an issue except that this is what I do for a hobby. I write about traveling and fun and new things to do over the weekend. Imagine how many more opportunities I’d have to write if I enjoyed finding the weirdest food ever, always tried locales’ signature dishes and expanded my ethnic cuisine beyond Italy and Mexico. I mean, I still do think you can judge a lot about an area/venue by their pizza and wings, but there’s a whole lot edibly I’m missing out on.
But you know what? I have been getting better. Four years ago you wouldn’t catch me dead eating pho on a sometimes biweekly basis and on my travels I’m getting a little more adventurous (Whale, it’s what’s for dinner…said no person in their right mind ever).
I mean, last week I even tried some edible bugs a buddy of mine brought back from South Korea (that it was the end of Parade Day factored heavily into this).
And also? My basic taste buds are what allows me to throw around cash in other capacities when I travel. When we were in Iceland, we ate a lot of Subway, pizza and hot dogs (which actually is an intrinsically Icelandic thing to do). We ended up spending less money than planned by our fourth day that we were able to rent a car and drive for ten hours, which probably wouldn’t have been possible had we been eating trendy the whole time. I have no probably existing on McDonalds (which I normally hate, minus McChickens which are my favorite) or Sheetz when I’m driving so I could spend more money either barhopping or touring or on some sort of activity.
As much as I sometimes wish I was more adventurous on the culinary frontier, this is what I’m stuck with. So there’s no real reason I should be getting down about not liking everything offered during Restaurant Week. I mean, the foodies will need someone with a basic palate to judge and I’ll happily be that guy; maybe in the process I’ll even find something new to add to the “like” list.
In any case, if you’re in the area, I encourage you to check out Lancaster Restaurant week.