Date Night a.k.a. $120 dinner + $50 babysitter

Before we had children, my husband and I used to eat out at least 3 times a week. Our evenings wouldn’t even start until 8pm, and it wouldn’t be uncommon for us to have reservations at 10pm. We’d easily spend $300 in an evening for just the two of us. This was downtown San Francisco during its dot-com boom, after all.

Eating out now is the price of dinner + gas + babysitter + opportunity cost Things are different now. By the time Saturday rolls around, we are so exhausted from the week, that sometimes it’s not about eating out…it’s just about getting away while a sitter looks after the kids. 9 times out of 10 we debate where to eat – while in the car as we roll out of the driveway.

This past Saturday, I decided to actually call and make reservations at a restaurant that I’ve always wanted to visit, but just never had the chance to. There is a reason why I write about ingredients, techniques and original recipes and not restaurant reviews. It is so easy to criticize my own creations (and I often do), but its entirely another beast when you are paid to write about other people’s food. I love sharing great finds, but in the case of not-so-great finds…what’s a girl to do? I brought along my camera and asked the server if I could take photos – assuring her that I wasn’t doing a restaurant review, spying for the enemy or anything like that.

So I am here to keep my promise somewhat, show you what I’ve eaten & my comments, BUT not mention the restaurant name. For 90% of my readers who don’t live near me, you won’t give a cow’s turd anyways. Is this fair? What if one day I happen to meet the Executive Chef somewhere and he’d say, “Oh, you’re the wench who didn’t like my food!” What will I say then? Or worse yet, what if Chef doesn’t even know about what I wrote, and we somehow meet and become friends? I’d have to fess up and admit what I wrote. (gulp) Thank goodness I don’t do reviews….I’ll just call it bitching about my evening. This is precisely why I don’t own a restaurant. If I ever did, I would have to include the cost of weekly psychotherapy as part of operating expenses.

Starter (photo above) Rabbit cooked sous vide, then pan fried to give crispy texture. I love the sous vide method – which results in a silky, smooth yet luscious meat. However, when you over pan-fry the thin nuggets like in my salad, you lose all the benefits of sous vide and it becomes crunchy, chewy rabbit. Maybe if the rabbit nuggets were a little thicker, they would be able to withstand the pan frying? Or maybe it was meant to be rabbit jerky. The rest of the salad was wonderful, the egg perfectly poached, with the golden yolk spilling out and coating the greens.

Rabbit cooked sous vide

Husband’s Entree Short ribs + beef medallion with cauliflower and broccolini. Short ribs were decadent, fall of the bone. Medallion was overcooked – husband asked for medium-rare and it came medium well. But he didn’t have the balls to send it back. So, his own fault.

I saved the best for last:

Short ribs  + beef medallion

My Entree Slow cooked veal + ricotta gnocchi + sweetbreads. I LOVED the gnocchi. I could lap up an entire plate of gnocchi for breakfast, lunch, dinner. Oh, and midnight snack. The veal incredibly tender, moist and really represented the best example of all-day slow cooking. (who knows if they really cooked it all day, but it sure was good) Sweetbreads were creamy and delicious. BUT….the dish was so incredibly rich and lacked a bright note/acidity or difference in texture to give my tastebuds a little contrast. All I wanted desperately needed was to have was an ice-cold mango gelato for dessert on St. Armands Circle. Husband understood my urgency and we booked outta there and got my gelato.

So, dinner came out to $120. Add in the babysitter, gas and gelato, we’ve just chi-ching’d a $190 date (wince) In case you remember high school or college economics, this was my opportunity cost: For $190 I could have bought: kids new shoes + replenish yearly stash of saffron + 2 killer shredded chicken burritos from the Burrito stand + a pair of summer flip flops + anti-snoring strips for husband + a quart of mango gelato AND pistachio gelato + fresh roasted coffee beans shipped from Caffe Roma in SF + giant bottle of my favorite olive oil Bariani shipped from Sacramento + a small jar of caviar + bottle of bubbles