13 Steps to Dining Out

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Oh boy! It’s Restaurant Week in Chicago (which is actually 14 days long, so I guess they’re better at cooking than counting?), and you know what that means– prix fixe menus galore! So many options!

If you’ve been dying to try out that new cute little tiki bar owned by the Melmans or that new hotsy-totsy pizza joint owned by the Melmans or how ‘bout some down-home BBQ, brought to you by the Melmans? Then this is your time, you sophisticated foodie!

Here are the 13 steps to dining out like a bonafide saveur:

1. Get excited and send out a group email inviting your friends out for Restaurant Week!

2. Spend the better half of your day examining the menu of each and every restaurant in the city. Hmm… there’s a lot of weird-sounding stuff on these.

3. Google unfamiliar ingredients during the second half of the day. Huitlacoche? Huh. A lot of this is actually pretty gross.

4. Curse this whole “farm-to-table” bullshit and re-read the menus for the fourth time to find the place that’s like Panera, but you know… fancier.

5. Decide on a place! LET’S DO THIS! WHO’S HUNGRY FOR ADVENTURE?

6. Click on over to OpenTable to make a reservation… Balls. The place you want only has 4:45 and 10:15 available. (And yes, the restaurant you want is called “Balls.”)

7. Cross-reference restaurants that don’t make you want to barf with open reservation times that are actually appropriate for ingesting food.

8. Conclude there must be something horribly wrong with any place that has available seating during the optimal 7:00 – 9:00 PM dinner window.

9. Begrudgingly make a 6:30 reservation at a place where you’ve pre-selected the menu item you hate the least. I mean, at least you saw it featured on Check, Please! and it was a pretty good episode– the one where the retired cop didn’t go gaga over the account exec’s waffle spot, so then the account exec got really aggressive and ripped the retired cop’s charming suburban bistro a new one. Wait, that’s every episode of Check, Please!

10. Spend the cab ride over checking Yelp! to make sure you’re not about to make the worst mistake of your life.

11. Arrive at the restaurant. Discover that the menu that you lovingly and painstakingly pre-studied is all different. There’s no gnocchi safety net. None.

12. Spend $80 on a plate where you eat around the quail egg. Why don’t people just make stuff with normal chicken eggs the way Bob Evans has been doing it for centuries?

13. The next day, head to Panera. Go all out and order the You Pick Two. With the Signature items. You’ll never stray again.

Liz Kozak (Editor-in-Chief) usually orders the gnocchi and always sends food back when there’s mayonnaise on it when the menu clearly did not mention mayonnaise ANYWHERE. 

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