Thursday, April 14, 2011

Week 12 - Spontaneous and Free!

This week I had family coming into town unexpectedly - I found out on Wednesday that they would be in late Friday night.  We usually do our date nights on Saturdays - it's just easier that way, so we were thinking we'd probably just skip this week.  But then on Thursday night some friends of ours invited us to join them for dinner on Friday.  We decided to accept their invitation and count it as this week's date night. 

We met our friends Brad and Tabitha and their son Wyatt at Nettie's, a local Mexican restaurant. Neither John or I had been there in years.  I used to think of it as authentic Mexican food, but having since been to Mexico, I'm not sure anyone there would eat the cheddar cheese-covered Nettie's fare, but my American palate still finds it pretty delicious.  We tried the guacamole, which was yummy and had an unexpected kick, but I realized as soon as our entrees arrived why I'd never ordered it before.  The portions are ginormous, I took at least 3/4 of mine home after eating chips with salsa and guacamole beforehand.  John managed to take out most of his, but I think he and Brad were having some sort of contest to see who could eat the most. 

It was a great night catching up with friends, eating yummy food, and discussing our upcoming trip to Playa del Carmen, Mexico.  And since they ended up picking up the check in return for some computer issues John had helped them with, it ended up being free!  (We did dip into the date night fund the next night to take my nephew out for Chinese though.)

Week 11 - Not-so Fine Dining

It was John's turn to plan our date, and he decided he wanted to have dinner somewhere we've never tried before.  After hearing good things from friends, we decided to check out Cedar Creek Steakhouse.  I was very excited when he told me where we were going, I'd been wanting to try it out for some time, but unfortunately we were both in for a pretty big disappointment. If the restaurant was trying to achieve fine dining as the cloth napkins, ambiance and pricy-ish menu suggested, they missed the mark.  They also managed to violate several of my restaurant pet peeves, no matter what kind of establishment. 

First, the server-and several others I observed that night, had long hair that wasn't tied back.  I'm not sure why this is such an issue for me, but it's a biggy.  I think it looks unprofessional and I worry about them running their hair through food without even knowing it.  Other than that, I thought the service was fine.  Not good, not bad, just fine. 

We ordered a garlic cheese bread appetizer ($4.25), John ordered the king cut prime rib (12 oz, $22.50) with a loaded baked potato, and I ordered the chicken fried steak ($11.75) from the "specialties" menu.  Both entrees came with salad and bread. 

I had assumed that our appetizer would come out first, but my second pet peeve of the night was violated and the salads came out.  They were a very uninspiring iceberg mix from a bag, topped with a single cucumber slice, a small chunk of tomato, a quarter slice of green pepper and a few croutons topped with at least twice as much dressing as needed.  There was still a large puddle of dressing in the bottom of my dish when I was finished.

The appetizer came out when we were about half way through with our salads.  It was over-buttered bread topped with melted cheese.  The garlic flavor was subtle, but good, however the texture of the soggy bread was a little off-putting. 

After the salad plates were cleared our dinner was brought out.  John said his prime rib was "OK", but nothing special.  The portion was rather small compared to other restaurants with similar prices.  His loaded baked potato was a plain potato wrapped in foil (yet another pet peeve of mine) with sides of butter and sour cream - again, very unremarkable.  My chicken fried steak on the other had, was the highlight of the meal.  The batter was much lighter than most chicken fried steaks I've had and seasoned deliciously.  The meat was tender and seemed to be of a better quality than the typical pounded round steak.  The portion was generous but not overly huge.  The mashed potatoes and gravy were good, but nothing special. 

Basically, when it came down to it, if the prices had been about 25% less and they were going for a diner feel we would have been satisfied, but we have had much better meals other places for this price range. I don't see us going back any time soon.

We had Corbin with us, and we have finally decided that it's time to find a sitter if we want to have a nice meal together.  He's past the stage where he sits quietly or snoozes in his car seat and just requires too much attention.  He'll still be included in some things, but not the nicer restaurants.

After dinner we went through the Dairy Queen drive through to get a sweet treat to take home with us.  John got a turtle waffle bowl sundae and I got a hot chocolate smoothie.  These were a welcome bit of deliciousness after the somewhat disappointing dinner.  We went home, put the little one to bed and snuggled on the couch watching TV with our ice cream, a great way to end the night!

Total price for dinner and ice cream was about $65 with tax and tip.
The highlight of our evening!

Week 10 - the "plans change" date

This week I had planned what I thought would be a pretty fun date for the hubby, the little guy and I.  However, when my husband reminded me mid-week that he would be participating in some controlled burning (he's a volunteer firefighter/EMT) that day, I realized he may be too tired for what I had planned, so I decided to scale it back a little.  Then the night before date night I had dinner with a friend and she offered to babysit the munchkin so we could have a night out without the bambino.  So I changed my plans again.  Then, just before we left, I came up with yet another plan. 

So we dropped the kiddo off with my friend and headed to Outback Steakhouse. This is one of my husband's favorite restaurants, and he hadn't been in quite some time, so I thought he'd really enjoy it, and we did.  We had a pretty great dinner and it was nice to be able to eat and talk without having to tend to the baby.  John had his favorite, prime rib - Outback style, and I had a small filet (which I noticed when reading the menu had gotten even smaller since the last time we'd eaten there) and we also split an order of the coconut shrimp.  It was way too much food and John ended up having some of it for breakfast the next morning. 

When we were done with dinner we went to Best Buy.  There were some things John had been wanting to look for, and he had a gift card from Christmas to spend, so we wandered the store looking at giant TVs and digital cameras and smart phones and laptops and so on and so forth, picked up a few small things, and decided to call it a night.

Dinner was around $50 with tax and tip.