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Parents- Do you bring food into a restaurant for your kids?

I do...for my almost 6 year old. I know a lot of people say this is way too old for food from home, but he is gluten free and picky. Often, there is simply nothing he can eat. So if a gluten free muffin, an apple, and some pretzels make him a good dining companion, so be it. If there's anything at the restaurant appropriate for him, I'll order it as a side. Usually, rice or plain fruit.

The three year old will eat anything and everything, so I don't bring anything special. Maybe cheerios for before the meal comes.

Let me add that I'm walking proof that it's really not parenting that makes a picky eater. Kid 2 = junior chowhound, has yet to meet a food he won't try. Kid 1 = the pickiest thing you can imagine. I didn't raise them differently, but kid 1 has celiac so before he was diagnosed learned to associate food with discomfort :( Now, he's learned to be scared of new foods "in case they have gluten". It's tough.

Mar 29, 2013
mira_r in Not About Food

Is this really acceptable in the U.S.?

Not normal, no. Aside from all the parenting issues, a restaurant would be highly unlikely to make such an exchange. Assuming the carton was open and the restaurant employee knew it was open.

If the carton was unopened and just sold very recently (or the customer was deceiving the restaurant), then an exchange would be common.

If the restaurant knew the carton was open, it would be rare for them to exchange it. However, I can see some places having a hardline "customer is always right" philosophy and exchanging it. They would then have to throw out the white milk - they couldn't sell it after it was opened.

Feb 25, 2013
mira_r in Not About Food

Indy Downtown - Convention Center - Best Resto semi near

I'm not from Indy but visit family there frequently. R Bistro is certainly a good bet, but my favorite in the downtown area is The Libertine. It's a craft cocktail bar with an awesome dinner menu as well.

If you're willing to get a cab or have a car, Recess is hands down my top restaurant in Indy. I've been 4 times and I don't even live in the state. Every dish I've had there has been excellent, and the atmosphere is casual and fun while still seeming special in some way.

Feb 20, 2013
mira_r in Great Lakes

Sunday Brunch/Lunch in Pilsen

Thanks! We haven't decided yet, but all these options look good...more input is welcome.

As for parking, we are driving back to Ohio Sunday afternoon, so it looks like leaving the hotel by car, visiting the museum and lunch, then heading out would be the best bet, since we'll be close to 90/94S anyway.

Feb 20, 2013
mira_r in Chicago Area

Sunday Brunch/Lunch in Pilsen

My DH and I are coming to Chicago for a weekend next month. We're somewhat familiar with the city and have been frequently. We have Saturday dinner reservations at Grace, and on Sunday are planning on visiting the Mexican Art Museum in Pilsen.

two questions:
-We'd like a moderately priced brunch or lunch in the neighborhood. Caveat is that it must take reservations - we need to leave soon after lunch and museum, and can't afford a long wait for a table. Any type of cuisine, as long as it's delicious!
-I've never been to this neighborhood - is there parking available, or would transit be better? Our hotel is on the Mag Mile.

Feb 19, 2013
mira_r in Chicago Area

Chinatown and other recs (good for kids)

Thanks for the suggestions! For some reason I hadn't thought of Vietnamese for this trip, but I enjoy it so thanks for the reminder. Also interested in Tony's - gluten free pizza is sure to be a hit.

If anyone has additional ideas, I'm happy to hear them.

Aug 28, 2012
mira_r in San Francisco Bay Area

Chinatown and other recs (good for kids)

We're coming in to San Francisco for 3 days late next month before heading on to Yosemite. I'm hoping to get recommendations for must-try places with these caveats:

-will have a 2 year old and a 5 year old. They are well behaved in restaurants, but would be most comfortable with somewhere casual that is used to kids. One is a junior chow hound, so anything goes. The other is gluten free and very picky, so I usually just get rice and bring a gluten free sandwich for him. Gluten free restaurant options are welcome but not required.

-Any ethnicity or cuisine style. Very interested in Chinese - we live in Ohio and decent Chinese (especially anything beyond the Chinese-American standards) is hard to come by. Is there someplace especially good in Chinatown? We're interested in authentic, but not too knowledgeable about more obscure dishes or regions. Willing to try whatever.

-Sometimes the kids go to bed early and we get delivery in the hotel. It's near Union Square, and good delivery options would be nice to have in mind. I've seen websites like grubhub, but don't know how to narrow down what's good. Or somewhere close to the hotel with takeout, even if no delivery.

-Would prefer to stay in the broad range of major tourist sights, as this is a short trip and we don't necessarily have the time to go wandering out to far-flung neighborhoods. We're happy to walk 10 blocks away from where we are, but not like an hour bus ride. YKWIM.


Aug 26, 2012
mira_r in San Francisco Bay Area

Is There Any Commonplace Dish You've Never Eaten?

Is a tamale a commonplace dish? I've never had one. I've also never had green bean casserole.

Feb 03, 2012
mira_r in General Topics

In search of special dinner restaurant, but not extremely expensive

My husband and I are planning a trip without the kids for one night in Chicago. This is a rare occasion for us (mostly travel with the kids, so an overnight is a big deal) and we'd like a very nice dinner. Last time we did this we went to Alinea, which was wonderful. Unfortunately, that's a bit out of the price range for this visit.

We're looking for something more in the $200/person range, including wine, hopefully with a tasting menu. Any cuisine, as long as the food is excellent and the atmosphere is nice. We'd be staying in the Mag Mile area, but are willing to take a cab to anywhere fairly central.

Any help is appreciated

Jan 29, 2012
mira_r in Chicago Area

Restaurant reservations - proper way to be seated

Thats sort of the point of reservations, isn't it? You arrive at the scheduled time and get your table very soon thereafter, usually with no wait. Arriving without reservations to a popular restaurant is like flying standby. IF the restaurant didn't take reservations, or you didn't have them, then you would need to wait to be seated in order of arrival.

I'd be tempted to reply harshly to the annoying people to "make reservations next time!", but I probably would just ignore them.

Jan 22, 2012
mira_r in Not About Food

What are YOUR predictions for 2012 food trends?

Harissa will steal some of sriracha's thunder. Totally different items, but both hot sauces that have a variety of uses and I've seen more and more mentions of harissa lately.

Have cake pops already peaked?

Offal on more menus, not just those considered "trendy" or "foodie"


Korean food in general becoming more mainstream. It exists in most cities, but IME is mostly consumed by Koreans, other Asians, and people who are super into trying different cuisines. I predict it moving more to the level of Thai or Indian, cuisines that plenty of people go out for and isn't seen as overly exotic.

With offal becoming more acceptable to the mainstream, I predict the extreme eaters will start moving towards insects.

Jan 18, 2012
mira_r in General Topics

Perplexed by lack of food availability.

I was going to post something similar about my supermarket, here in Columbus, Ohio. A bigger city than Halifax, but certainly not NYC or Toronto.

For me, the grocery stores in my area of town (close to the city, middle to upper middle class, lots of university types) carry most items I need, but the ones near my in-laws in the almost-rural outlying suburb do not. This was brought home to me when my in-laws wanted to know where to buy kale. Yes, plain old kale, not a special variety. In my area, kale is at every supermarket but they thought they needed to go to a specialty store. Nope, just a supermarket a few miles away.

That and I don't cook anything super exotic. I mean, by the average person's standard I do, but not by CH standards. I've never had trouble finding an ingredient for a recipe in a general cookbook or website, but if I were delving deep into say...Malaysian cooking beyond the basics I might have trouble. But we have plenty of ethnic markets, so I'd probably find it...after asking on CH :)

Jan 18, 2012
mira_r in General Topics

How do Americans 'snack'?

I snack a ton (30 year old female, healthy weight per BMI). I get low blood sugar and very, very cranky if I don't eat often BUT I get full easily so don't eat as much as others at meals. A typical mid-priced American restaurant entree could easily be 3-4 meals for me, but I'll snack in between.

Breakfast is some sort of hot cereal or toast or something as well as fruit, then a snack around 10, then lunch (sometimes I bring leftovers or make a sandwich, sometimes I go out to a decent restaurant), then another mid-day snack, then dinner (which is generally reasonably healthy and home cooked), then I'm almost always done eating for the day.

Snacks may include some combination of the following:
yogurt, store bought
fruit such as an apple or whatever else is in season
Raw vegetables and dip
cheese and crackers
tortilla chips and salsa
toast with jam or peanut butter or hummus
homemade muffin or quick bread
Small salad or small cup of soup
I'll confess to the occasional fast food stop

Or, today, a handful of chocolate chips left over from Christmas cookies. And then some pepperoni left over from a pizza I made a while back. NOT my best day :)

Dec 20, 2011
mira_r in General Topics

Help the newbie - what to make with this small collection of spirits

I'm very new to cocktails, but have found myself with a couple bottles from gifts or purchased for specific uses. I'd like to learn to make more drinks but can't afford to add many more items at the moment. Here's what I have:

-Makers Mark whisky
-Orange bitters (Fee brothers)
-A cocktail shaker, shot glass with measurements, citrus juicer, variety of glassware

That's it. Well, also plenty of wine and beer. So far I've made a bourbon sidecar, eggnog with bourbon, gin and tonic, and champagne, cointreau, and cranberry juice (someone told me this was called a poinsettia).

What else can and should I make with this (adding non-alcoholic ingredients such as juices, etc is fine). I could probably do one more moderately priced liquor as well, assuming it has multiple uses. I don't like super-strong drinks but am willing to try most anything. The bitters were a gift and I honestly have no clue about them

Dec 20, 2011
mira_r in Spirits

Popular flavors that you don't care for

Mustard literally makes me gag. I won't eat it as a condiment or in a recipe in anything but the tiniest amount. Even then I'm very wary of it and generally prefer something else. At the office one day someone had set out a bowl of pretzels. I wasn't paying attention and grabbed one. Turned out it was mustard flavored and I spent the rest of my break between meetings chugging water and milk to remove the vile taste.

I'll eat most anything else, although the smell (not taste) of whisky is unplesant.

Dec 16, 2011
mira_r in General Topics

Serious question about what you expect for $100-$200 per person meals. I choke at $30

Possibly...but some people just have small appetites. I eat at fine dining restaurants often, and still can't finish 3 courses half the time. Of course, I'm then hungry 2 hours later - my eating pattern tends to be eat a little at a time but eat all the time. So when I've been to super-high end places with hours-long tasting menus (Alinea, for example), I'm OK because there's 4 hours to pace myself. At other places with standard 3 course option menus and 2 hour meals, I order a starter and a main but sometimes can't finish the main, and only get dessert if there's something amazing on the menu.

So a "typical" date night at a decently nice place would be maybe be $75-$100/person fo(2 $7-15 starters, 2 $25-45 entrees, possibly one dessert, maybe $30-$50 in wine between us, then 20% tip). For that, I'd expect attentive service, well-prepared, interesting food, and a good atmosphere. Once you get to $200/person, my standards go way up and it has to be a very memorable experience with food that is amazing, and superior service. UNLESS that day I decided to splurge on expensive wine at a place where I'd usually spend more like $75/person, in which case it's my choice for ordering a higher cost wine, and I wouldn't expect more from the restaurant.

Dec 08, 2011
mira_r in General Topics

Rochester recs

I will be in Rochester (NY) over Thanksgiving visiting family but will have one night out with just my husband and I. I'm not familiar with the area, so am looking for some suggestions for a nice date-type restaurant. Some factors:

-Type of food is wide open. My husband hates sushi, but that's about the only limit. Excellent food is top priority, and if it's local and/or innovative, that's a plus. A good wine list is also a plus.

-Location: wide open. Are staying with relatives in the western suburbs, but we tend to like places in the city (in other cities, haven't spent much time in Rochester). So something in the city or nearby, aren't able to drive out to far flung towns, etc.

-Atmosphere: we're in our early 30s and want something nice but not stuffy. Not super traditional, unless it is the best food ever.

Any help is appreciated!

Enough with this "presentation" silliness

I've seen some crazy presentations...but I've never, ever not had enough food at a restaurant. It ranges from "enough food for 4+ people" to "a good dinner for one, I even have room for dessert". I don't think I have an exceptionally small appetite, I'm certainly not exceptionally thin. I wonder if appetites vary that much, or if I just haven't been to the limited quantity restaurant.

Oct 02, 2010
mira_r in General Topics

Indian in Columbus Ohio

I'm fairly new to Columbus (Ohio) and haven't met many 'hounds here yet. I'm really wanting Indian food and am not sure what a good restaurant here is. Would prefer Columbus proper or the west/NW suburbs but am willing to travel for a great place.

I will be taking my husband, who is not super adventurous, so a general place where he can get something like a basic tandoori chicken would be ideal, but I can probably convince him to expand his horizons :)

Jul 21, 2010
mira_r in Great Lakes