Posts Tagged by restaurant
|March 25, 2016|
Going out to eat is one of my favorite things to do. Most people have a weak spot for a particular food or place; my weakness is restaurant dining in general. But when you’re on a diet, eating out can be devastating to all your hard work if you don’t make the right decisions.
This weekend I tried the new CUT Fitness Menu at Bluewater Grill in Tustin, CA. The menu was designed in partnership with Tamra Judge from Real Housewives meant for the restaurant diner looking to order something that fits within their personal diet or fitness goals.
Before any food ordering comes to play, we ordered drinks. Sure the healthiest drink is water, but if you’re trying to have a fun cheat day, what’s the harm if you don’t overdo it? Just know that cocktails are usually higher in calories than a beer or wine, and a blended drink is usually higher than cocktails.
I ordered the cucumber mojito. What caught my eye was that it’s made with VeeV Açaí Spirit. If you haven’t heard of Veev, it’s a spirit made of the Açaí berry which is thought to be one of the world’s super fruits with an incredible amount of antioxidants. Are those same antioxidants present in the spirit? I don’t know, but if there’s a chance this alcohol is better for me, I will happily order this over another drink.
The cucumber mojito was so light and refreshing! It wasn’t overly sweet and you could barely taste the alcohol. Also, how could you resist anything served in a mason jar with the lime and cucumber on top? It was picture perfect.
My boyfriend ordered the bloody mary. Since Bluewater Grill is known for their seafood, having it garnished with a shrimp was the perfect touch. Personally, I hate bloody mary’s… sorry world. So yes I tasted it; but no, I will not tell you what I thought because my answer will be the same same for all of them: gross.
But the shrimp was good! It was a cold cocktail shrimp. Also, my boyfriend is a shrimp nazi; aka prior to eating any shrimp, he inspects the hell out of it to make sure it was cleaned properly because the vein grosses him out. He said it was the cleanest shrimp he’s ever seen! That means a LOT coming from him.
Looking at the CUT Fitness menu, the first thing I noticed was the way they added commentary-type descriptions to the food. They didn’t focus on the calories like other restaurants. They listed “Good For: …” This made it really easy to order. For example, I eat a balanced diet of carbs, fats, and proteins; so anything that said “Good For: Low-Carb Diets” I stayed clear of.
Between my boyfriend and I, we ordered:
- Appetizer: Oysters on the Half Shell – “Good For: An Aphrodisiac”
- Appetizer: Ahi Poke Lettuce Wraps – “Good For: Building & Repairing Muscle”
- Entree: Herb Free Range Chicken Breast – “Good For: A Well Balanced Diet. Proteins, Carbs & Healthy Fats”
- Entree: Grilled King Salmon – “Good For: Strength & Muscle Building. High in Protein”
Oysters are a great appetizer option because even if you add the sauces to them, they will always hands down be better for you than any dip or creamy soup. This is one of those things that people often buy when they want to “splurge” because yea, a cup of soup might be cheaper. But by “splurging,” you’re actually ordering healthier. So indulge away!
When you order this at Bluewater Grill, you can pick what oysters you want on the platter. We ordered the sampler which had two each of Hood Canal from Washington, Chef’s Creek from British Columbia, and Sol Azul from Baja. The Hood Canal oysters were my favorite. They was the largest of the oysters and had a mild flavor. They weren’t overly fishy or briny. The Chef’s Creek oysters were my second favorite. They were very similar to the Hood Canal except they were slightly sweeter. If they were larger, those would have been my favorite… I like them large, haha. The Sol Azul oysters were more briny than I would like.
The Ahi Poke Lettuce Wraps were amazing. One bite and I was sold on these. They were a little messy… but they did give us chopsticks and we completely forgot they gave us those. They used romaine lettuce as the “shell” of the taco. It had ahi, avocado, cucumber, and cilantro inside. Ginger, sesame oil, and Bragg’s aminos were used to create the sauce. It was mildly sweet with a salty kick. The flavor was less intense and had more depth than a soy sauce. I could eat those all day! I’m definitely going to re-create that sauce and use it in my own cooking.
The chicken was recommended to me, which I why I ordered it. I was a bit hesitant initially because Bluewater Grill has so much great seafood, I didn’t really think chicken was the way to go. I was also hesitant because if you follow any meal prepper on Instagram, you’ll notice chicken with herbs is a stable. Why? Because chicken is high in protein, low in fat, and generally inexpensive so you can make it in bulk for cheap. It’s a go-to “diet food.”
But I gave it a shot and boy did I have it all wrong. First-off, this chicken was free-range which is not the cheapest chicken in the market. It was juicy and the herbs added so much more flavor than I’ve been able to accomplish in my meal prep.
It was served on top of a bed of locally grown spaghetti squash and sautéed brussel sprouts. I was shocked when they said it was local. I can expect a small one-location restaurant to use local ingredients, but I didn’t expect it from Bluewater Grill. I was pleasantly surprised.
As far as taste, I don’t know what they did to that squash but it was amazing. If you overcook spaghetti squash it can get mushy and be very watery. If you under cook it, it doesn’t come anywhere close to pretending to be real noodles. Not only was it cooked perfectly but the sauce or seasoning they had on it was rich and exquisite. The brussel sprouts were also heavenly and bursting with flavor. I cleaned my plate for all it was worth.
The Grilled King Salmon was what my boyfriend ordered. It was served with quinoa, asparagus, and a lemon that was grilled with paprika and some other form of sorcery. Again, if you’re a meal prepper or follow any on Instagram, the ingredients are pretty identical to what those body builders might eat. What made this stand out from what I would normally make when I’m meal prepping is the flavor. That lemon… the magic that occurred in the kitchen to that lemon was the key to this dish. Next time I’m going to ask for an extra lemon. Whatever they did to it, it was slightly sweeter than a normal lemon and it really was the cherry-on-top to the salmon. A good salmon doesn’t need seasoning or a dry rub. If made right, all it needs is some salt and lemon. It was textbook perfect and definitely the star of the dish.
Lastly, we finished off with some dessert. They did offer fruit and whipped cream if we wanted a lighter dessert… but I figured since we made good choices for the rest of the meal, indulge! Start my meal off with a cocktail; finish off with some dessert. The basic structure of a perfect cheat day.
We ordered the Chocolate Lava Cake which was served warm with a molten chocolate center that oozed out when we cut into it. It was plated with a berry drizzle that wasn’t listed on the menu, but a great addition.
Overall from this experience, these are the things I learned:
- Bluewater Grill has officially been added to my list of favorite places to dine out. Their regular menu is also pretty diet friendly since you pick the fish you want and how it’s prepared.
- When I meal prep, I need to channel my inner Bluewater Grill and step it up on my seasonings.
- There is a lemon god and he wants me to grill my lemon with paprika and put it on everything.
- Brussel sprouts can taste good if you prepare them right.
Things for you to remember when you eat out and want to eat healthy:
- Calories aren’t always the answer. The quality of ingredients used are just as important. Pay attention to the descriptions.
- Sometimes the items often overlooked are the healthiest options. Oysters at a seafood restaurant; ceviche at a Mexican restaurant; etc.
- If you order drinks or a dessert, just be conscious of your decision. Don’t go with the flow and let your regular restaurant routine take over. Think about your choices. If you choose to go for it, enjoy it! By thinking things through, you won’t regret the decision you make.
- Look over the menu before going to the restaurant. Take mental note of the healthier options so once you get there, you can easily decide what you want based off the list you mentally prepared.
|October 1, 2013|
My boyfriend Graham and I celebrated our anniversary this past month and took a day trip to Santa Barbara to visit the wineries. We were looking for a fun and unique experience we could do in a day without putting a big hole in the wallet.
We started at the Fess Parker Winery and took a tour of the property. Tours are available at most wineries but have very limited schedules. If you are interested in tours, be sure to check all their websites for the offered times and call ahead to reserve your spot.
Note: When the wineries say “tour,” what they mean is a tour of the facilities where they make the wine – which most often does not include the vineyards.
All the wineries have a tasting menu and they are all very affordable – between $5 and $15 average per tasting. A great way to be able to sample more places is by sharing the tasting menu. Most of the local wineries pour you a little more than a small sip, plenty enough to share.
Graham definitely seemed like he knew what he was doing, clearly by looking at the photos. And there I was drinking away, only spitting it out when I didn’t like it. Check out this article to learn the how-to’s on wine tasting: http://www.winemag.com/how-to-taste-wine/
At Fess Parker, a local restaurant set-up a BBQ and cooking station to prepare small meals for guests. Although, the restaurant didn’t have any business cards or fliers with them so I don’t remember who they were (marketing fail!). But they were seriously lifesavers because none of the wineries we visited had actual food other than cheese and crackers to buy and were very overpriced. We did not come prepared at all. I was so jealous seeing some of the veterans, with thier picnic baskets full of fruits, cheese, and meats. Next time, packing a picnic is a must!
We stopped at the Curtis Winery and I tasted the best dessert wine I think I have ever had. At this winery, the server asked what types of flavors I like, so of course I told him I have a sweet tooth. My favorites are Riesling and Moscato. He told me he had the perfect wine and bet on his job that I would love it. Boy was he right! It was like drinking syrup. I was not going to leave that place without a bottle of my new favorite: Curtis 2012 Viognier.
After we were all wined out (yes – it can happen), we left and headed to The Ranch House in Ojai for dinner. I’m not going to lie, I was really worried about this place because Graham had shown me the website and it looked like they hadn’t updated it since the 90s. Also, looking at the map, this place was far out of the way. Not to say I didn’t believe Graham when he told me I’d love it, but between the drive and the outdated website, I was worried.
We drove up and the outside did not impress me at all. Walked inside and the first thing I saw was a super outdated looking bar (also not impressed). When we walked outside where all the tables were, I was shocked! It looked like it was straight out of Pinterest! There was a cute little garden and the tables were arranged in a tier overlooking the garden and other tables hidden in their own little nooks to create a very romantic and private setting. Being in the middle of nowhere (at least that’s where I thought I was), no way did I ever expect a restaurant like this. I was in such awe, enjoying the whole thing I barely took any photos (for being a food blogger). Lesson learned: you can’t judge a restaurant by their website or street view.
While we were deciding what to eat, the chef came out from the back and started picking a few herbs from the garden to cook with. Again, I was very impressed.
What I ordered: Potato Soup, Grilled Diver Scallops, and the New Orleans Delight
The scallops were probably the best scallops I have since Graham and I’s first anniversary (we were celebrating our 7th this year). I had to order them because on the menu it said “The best thing I ever ate.” -Cat Cora. The scallops certainly exceeded my expectations.
To finish off the night, we had the New Orleans Delight. It was very good. Four out of five of the regular dessert options had coffee in them which is a bummer for anyone that dislikes coffee – so it was a good thing I’m a java lover.
I would definitely recommend taking a trip to The Ranch House. They value fresh, local and sustainable foods with their beautiful garden and free-range Chicken Chevrie. Just be sure to make reservations in advance. This place is very popular so walk-ins are often not able to be accommodated.
|October 1, 2012|
Everyone has a weak spot. Mine is burgers. I can’t seem to get enough. Well I thought maybe I’d send some love out to one of my favorite burger places and give you some dining out tips.
Customization is everything! Whether you’re at a place liked Stacked where the whole concept is about customized burgers or you’re at another joint that is a standard order-from-the-menu type place. Always think about what goes into the dish. Did you know that you can cut out an average of 100 calories (depending on the location and type of cheese) by opting for hamburger over the cheeseburger?
Now let’s talk about Stacked (one of my favorite burger places). First things first, you place your order on an iPad! Being an Apple loyalist, I was sold before I walked in. But where they get their tagline “Food Well Built” comes from this iPad ordering system. It’s a build-your-own type concept that as you add things to your burger, you see a visual of what toppings are on your burger…pretty cool.
Now for the food. I didn’t really order that healthy this time around but I think I can enjoy a binge every here and there. What I ordered: Whole Wheat Bun, Angus Beef Patty, Pepperjack Cheese, Iceberg Lettuce, Chipotle Mayo, Roma Tomatoes, Pickles, Bacon, Avocado, Caramelized Onions and Roasted Poblano Peppers. Came to a pricy $10ish dollars but you get what you pay for. It was worth every penny.
Their gluten free bun is probably the best I’ve ever had at a restaurant. It doesn’t fall apart or mush like many other places. One of the tricks to a filling burger is making sure you top it with plenty of veggies (or fruit if it floats your boat). I always add extra lettuce for a good (nom nom) crunch and always get extra tomatoes on the side. The more veggies you get onto your place, the more full you will feel. If you finish off a well stacked burger here, you really don’t even need to order a side of fries. (But if you do, I highly suggest the sweet potato fries. Yum yum!) Anything creamy you should stay away from if you are looking for healthier options…Or do what I did and run a 10k the next day so you can enjoy the aioli with minimal guilt. But seriously, the best thing to do is stick to a mustard and maybe ketchup. Mayo, Thousand Island, or any special sauces should be avoided if you are eating light.
Stacked isn’t just burgers. You can also build your own salads, pizzas, and if you want to be really bad, try a build-your-own milkshake! Sorry non-SoCal fans, Stacked is still growing but for now there are only 3 locations. For more info on Stacked, visit their website.
**This post contains my own opinions. I was not compensated in any way by Stacked. (Yup, I paid for that $10 burger and I liked it.)