January 20, 2008

My Hot Date

Last Friday night I ate dinner with a friend who was visiting from Seattle and happened to be in the Springs for the weekend.

She’s Italian so I thought Biaggi’s would be a great place to go since 1.) it’s a ristorante Italiano (to me this implied authentic food) and 2.) I had always seen cars parked outside and therefore assumed that the food quality was high.

Well, I wish I read Cowen’s chapter on dining out before I actually ate out.

The food itself wasn’t bad but my assumption that Biaggi’s would be a phenomenal Italian restaurant proved incorrect (you see, I had never eaten there before and I simply guessed that because Biaggi’s was located in a high-rent shopping center that the food itself would also be top-notch).

Cowen advises that we order the item “we are least likely to think you want” (141) but the truth is that we tend to buy what we are familiar with rather than exploring with the “ugly and the unknown” (141).

Now, I didn’t order a pasta dish (because it’s so simple and cost-efficient to make at home, and Cowen says to make items that are cheap and tasty at home) or even the roast chicken.

However, I did order the Oven Roasted Duck. Not your usual, but still a conservative pick.

How did I end up with this?

I simply asked the waiter, “What’s good?”

I should have asked, “What’s best?”

Here’s what I believe happened: The waiter wanted me, as the customer, to be satisfied so that I would leave a nice tip (if you’re not satisfied, then you don’t leave a tip). If I tried something new that could give me an upset stomach and force me to make frequent trips to the restroom, then this could potentially cause my evening to go downhill from there.

The waiter had no way of knowing that the girl I was with was actually a friend I grew up with and would not care if I had diarrhea or not. Instead, he must have thought that we were on a date and that I was trying to impress her because we ordered a fairly expensive bottle of wine so he guided my decision-making to the “safe” menu choices.

At any rate, the lesson learned here is that I should not be going to a restaurant to eat something that I can make at home (sure, roast duck might not be easy to make at first but I would be willing to bet that I could produce a decent one after a few attempts). Instead, I should be adventurous. In hindsight, I should have ordered the Lobster and Shrimp Stuffed Trigger Fish.

That being said, I’m not here to complain about Biaggi’s. My meal was decent and I was happy but now that I’ve read Cowen, I think I would have been happier if I tried something unique. Yes it’s true that I didn’t go to Biaggi’s to order an Americanized Italian dish but then again, I shouldn’t have picked something so mundane either.

Last but not least. I need to give Cowen some credit because the appetizer I tried, Crab and Lobster Al Forno, is indeed a delightful treat that I highly recommend. But before I ever suggest a restaurant to someone in the future, I’ll make sure I’ve eaten there beforehand.

1 comment:

Alan C. Earing said...

ahhhh.... duck!

My advice, don't order duck off of ANY regular menu. If it's a one-night special, then MAYBE it will be good.

Personally, if you want a good fail-proof dish, go with Oso Bucco or salmon en papiotte. Lots of flavor, plenty of vegetables, AND if it's not IMMEDIATELY delicious (I mean moaning at the table) then you know that the chef is a sling it and wing it chef who probably smokes too much pot, aspires to buy rims instead of build a future and is 'just doing a job.' Plus, ANY wine can go with those!

Biaggis, like most of Colorado Springs cuisine, is blase and CLEARLY marketed towards 'family dining experience' as opposed to gastronomique.

But, yeah, good post; I agree about the restaurant industry!