Dining Out And Dining Injustice

Age to me, is a state of mind. Mine, of course, is presently hazy, but that’s been the case for some years now. I turned 68 on February 2nd and as far as birthdays go, it was just how I wanted it. No fuss, no bother. Just a good meal. The good meal I got as Nat booked a table at The Keg in St. Catharines, which is my favourite place to eat. I’ve been a “meat and potatoes” kind of gal since I was knee-high to my father.

The evening was very nice, as we sipped a gorgeous glass of unoaked Chardonnay and waited for our steaks to arrive. We were both well into our meal when we began to realize the steaks were good, albeit a bit chewy. Not so bad that we couldn’t finish them, but we have had far superior ones at The KegWhen a waiter (other than our own) took our plates away and asked how everything was, Nat spoke up and said they were just a little chewy. We never thought twice about anything else and began to wait for our regular waiter to return so we could order the piece de resistance – Billy Miner Pie. Suddenly we were greeted by the Manager who immediately apologized repeatedly. Again, no big deal, but very, very nice gesture. Then again, he returned, only carrying a plate of that spectacular Billy Miner Pie. How did he know?? I told him we were about to order that as it was my birthday and it went without saying I wouldn’t leave without a piece. He smiled and thanked us for our patronage. Can’t get much better than that in service and goodwill. It didn’t help either that he was good looking!!

As a younger sister of mine, Michele, has her birthday five days after mine, and as I wanted to go out to lunch with her for a good “bitch session”, I took her for a meal at the restaurant of her choosing. We decided on meeting inbetween Cities and had lunch at the Swiss Chalet in Niagara Falls. It was no big huge celebration of her 60th birthday, but we both had a great time getting caught up on family news, her trip to New Orleans, and getting certain matters off of our chests to make us feel better. Venting is always good for the soul!!!! Doing that lunch with Michele made me realize I really do need some ‘alone’ time with my sisters and I really want to do that again. It just felt so good!!!!

Since I was on a roll dinning out, Nat and I decided to go to Cafe Amore in St. Catharines for our Valentines’ Day lunch. Dear Thamazine had given us a gift card to this restaurant as a thank-you gift for wrapping her Christmas parcels. Really, no need, but who am I to refuse a gift card to any restaurant. I love eating out.

As I made reservations for 12:30 for lunch, I was informed that they would be serving from the Dinner Menu that day, instead of the Lunch Menu. We agreed, as this was the only time we were able to attend – the day prior and after February 14th were tied up with other appointments close to that time.

When we arrived we were escorted to a bench and a half-bench table. There was one full bench on one side and the opposite had a half-bench which allowed other customers to wiggle past to another area where there was a semi-circular table and large bench. As it happened my bench decided to shift as I started to settle in and I almost fell. I then proceeded to move the bench back to a more convenient location where my hands could at least reach the table. Whew, we were able to proceed.

It was no surprise when we read the Dinner Menu that the meals were going to be larger than any Lunch Menu and also more expensive. With our gift card in hand we felt we could manage the whole meal without too much of an over-flow. We both found something we liked – Nat ordered Meatballs with Pasta and I ordered the Lasagne. We also decided on a glass of wine – not quite as good as the other unoaked Chardonnay we had at The Keg. When our meals arrived, everything look great, except my Lasagne was a corner piece with burnt edges. We also received a nice small loaf of garlic bread to accompany our meal. As I cut into the Lasagne I soon discovered the burnt edges were there for a reason – the Lasagne had been overbaked, dry and not very gooey with cheese.

I realized I should have returned my dish, but there was nothing else on the menu I wanted. Everything was too large for me to finish and at those prices I wasn’t going to risk it. I also figured that if they gave me another piece of Lasagne that it would have been cut from the same pan. Again, the same dry, overbaked dish. I took some of Nat’s extra sauce from his Meatballs to moisten my meal a bit and managed to finish at least up to the burnt edges. The garlic bread was good!!

We decided to treat ourselves to dessert, which we don’t normally do. Nat had the Key Lime Cake and I had the Double Chocolate Fudge. Both were good, but nothing we would hurry back to have again. Turns out their desserts are Gluten Free. In my opinion if you’re serving decadent desserts at those prices – for God’s sake put in the Gluten!!!

We returned home shortly after 2:00 PM, completely full from our meal and feeling very bloated and heavy. Neither one of us are use to eating such bigs meals at noon time. We’ve both become very small eaters for every meal. We were also a bit disappointed about the whole affair but at least this treat was on dear sister, Thamazine. Not that she would have known any different, of course, but we still love her for the kind gesture. After all, her family has enjoyed a lot of good meals at Cafe Amore, so she had no way of knowing what kind of luck Nat and I always have.

Once we returned home, we both jumped into our comfy evening clothes and whiled the rest of the afternoon away with Nat doing his Crossword and me on the iPad. Our supper was going to be nothing at all, or maybe some toast and tea in the early evening.

It soon began to bug me – naturally, any little injustice always does – about serving Dinner Menus at lunch time on Special OccasionsThe Mandarin does the same thing, as we found out on Fathers’ Day where we were dinged with a $70.00 meal at lunch time. They do notify their customers on their menus about Special Occasion pricing, but it still doesn’t make it right. I tweeted about my disappointment with The Mandarin at the time and at least received their apologies for my disappointment. I then decided to at least let Cafe Amore know about my disappointment, too. In order to at least get this restaurant menu injustice off of my chest I emailed them from their web site. I don’t want anything in return I just want restaurant owners to realize not everyone wants a large meal at large prices at lunch time.

Some Things To Celebrate

Spring is in the air and even in my step! Working out on the treadmill 30minutes a day has really been helpful. My legs are finally starting to feel stronger and my knees haven’t creaked in quite a few weeks now. Go figure, exercise is good for you!! With the exercising and the cutting back on the bad food I feel as if I have that spring back in my step, and I’m now determined more than ever to reach my goal – 30 pounds – the good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise!!

Having said all of the above, Nat and I attended a (somewhat secret) dinner party for Thamazine and Daryl’s 25th wedding anniversary at Cafe′ Amore′ on Sunday night. After checking through the menu I knew instantly that my diet was going to go on hiatus, but what the hell. One of the few nights Nat and I go out for a meal. We both had a Caesar salad with garlic ciabatta bread (yummm), the pasta and meatballs (more yumm) followed by the celebratory cake, and enjoyed every morsel. Knowing that we might return again in the future, we checked around to see what others were having – Eggplant Parmesan, Chicken Parmesan,  grilled Lamb, Primavera Pasta, grilled Steak, Stuffed Sole, Haddock Valencia, Pizza and so much more, all of which looked great. A nice family owned restaurant that has grown from its first small establishment on Lake Street in St. Catharines. With both sides of families in attendance it was nice getting re-acquainted with everyone we’d not seen in a long time. Camaraderie and laughter filled the private room and everyone had a great time looking back at Tam and Daryl’s wedding photos. A really nice evening all around.

Back to reality on Monday and still full from our meal the night before, Nat and I took it kind of easy, but managed to get a few things done around the house. Nat attended to more of the gardening while I got caught up on house stuff. The cookie bin is down to its last crumbs, so I’m trying to fill it, only this time in stages. With the warmer weather now upon us, I hate heating up the kitchen. Still can’t complain yet about the heat, as these past few days have been just perfect and we’ve both been able to sit out on the deck, enjoy a few lunches and a few suppers.

The solar panel project and paperwork is coming in by dribs and drabs. The hydro approval was received yesterday and with the consent and fee mailed in, that’s one more thing done. We’re both getting a little excited now and anxious to have the new roof and panels installed. Patience is not our best virtue, but with no say in the time frame, we’ll have to put up and shut up until the time comes.

On a family matter, our granddaughter, Karly, is mow back from Guatemala. She volunteered for a 3 week stint at an animal rescue preserve and absolutely loved it. She stated a couple of times that she didn’t want to come home and from what we saw from her photos, who could blame her. The pictures she took were fabulous – a beautiful housing area, lush surroundings, the encampment of macaws, parrots, monkeys, leopards, and other species not known to me. I’m getting the feeling it broke her heart not to get to know these creatures, as they were being rehabilitated for release back into the wild. Her love of animals has been apparent since she was a young child. We’re all so proud that she’s trying her best to pursue her dreams and would like to think she can attain her dream job of animal rescue in Africa.

It’s getting to the stage in life where all of the grandchildren are graduating high school, maybe heading on to college or maybe just trying to get a job and make a living. All four kids have grown up before our eyes and naturally, way too fast. Nat and I don’t see them as often as we’d like, but with schooling, part-time jobs, sports and friends, it’s difficult even for their parents to see them. As much as I hate Facebook, it seems to be the only way we can see them, their friends and even their pictures, and we’ll take whatever we can get.