Monday, August 08, 2005

Food on my trip to Indiana

At this point in my life I actually hate going out to restaurants unless they are very good restaurants. This is because, unless it's a very good restaurant, I can make whatever meal I have much better at home, whether more cheaply or not.

This outlook was only reinforced during my trip to Indiana in July. The drive from Long Island, with two little ones, to Indiana is a two-day affair. And, of course, when we stopped to eat, especially considering we have two kids in tow, it had to be some place kid-food-friendly. That, of course, means many a stop at McDonald's and Wendy's. It wasn't always McDonald's and Wendy's, but it was always some chain restaurant--both there and in Indiana.

One of the few plusses Long Island has over Indiana, in my view, is that the restaurant scene is so much more interesting. Probably 90% of the restaurants in central Indiana are chains--and there is no chain I consider a very good restaurant. We even tried the PF Chang's on the north side of Indianapolis. While it's a chain also, it is fairly fancy-shmancy for a chinese place. But, again, while the lo mein was one of the best I've had, the other dishes were average at best. I wouldn't go back.

I would say that the culinary low-point of the trip was our meal at the Outback in Pittsburgh on our way back home. I had a new dish, some sort of shrimp with two absolutely awful dipping sauces. One (reddish) sauce was possibly the worst thing I've ever eaten. Either the cooks are defecating in the pots and pans or the person who put this thing on the menu lost his taste buds in some industrial accident.

Believe it or not, the culinary highlight of the trip was possibly the room service at the Green Tree Radisson in Pittsburgh. I had a "Pittsburgh" cheese steak, my wife a smoked turkey club, I think. For my three-year-old we got some chicken strips, and for an appetizer we got the "nachos grande." Both sandwiches were decent--and better than anything at Applebee's or Tuesday's or any of those places. But the nachos were really outstanding. The portion was huge and very tasty--again, better than the Applebee's of the world. Far better, in fact. And better than any Mexican place I've tried. The price was decent, too, $55 after tax and tip for a fairly good meal. And it's eating in your hotel room. You can't beat it.

Either that was the culinary highlight of the trip or it was all the cute girls working at the McDonald's near my mom's house, where I got the bacon, egg, and cheese bagel meal every morning. I don't remember McDonald's workers being that cute when I was living in Indiana. What the hell's going on? And I sure as hell don't see workers like that on Long Island.

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