Dining Out

Navigating The Time-Honored Gray Area of “Date Or Business Meeting?”

Maureen O’Connor tackles “The Colleague Zone” for NY Mag’s The Cut. You know, that thing where someone suggests you meet for drinks after work and you don’t quite know why and halfway through you aren’t sure whether it’s a date or a business meeting or something in between. OR SO I HEAR.

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Calculating the Costs: Spaghetti With Olives and Anchovies

Sometimes when I’m not sure what I’ll be having for dinner, I’ll look in my cupboard to see what I have on hand. The other day, it was pasta and anchovies, and after a quick Google search, I found a recipe for spaghetti with olives and anchovies from Nigella Lawson.

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Why a Chain Restaurant Redesigned Its Menu

The Atlantic’s Megan Garber went to an IHOP restaurant recently and noticed that the menu was designed in a very specific way—well-organized, color coded, full of photos. The menu went through a redesign after the restaurant chain noticed that customers weren’t aware that they offered so much more beyond pancakes (though if I’m going to an IHOP, the thing I probably want is pancakes).

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The Best Restaurants According to All of Us (on Yelp)

Earlier this week Yelp came out with its list of the 100 most highly rated places to eat in the U.S. and a small seafood joint in Hawaii named Da Poke Shack topped the list. When restaurant reviewers talk about our country’s best restaurants, they usually come with white tablecloths and big bills like Chicago’s Alinea, and the Napa Valley’s French Laundry. As Will Oremus writes in Slate, the Yelp list works as an equalizer of all the dining establishments we have:

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Unlimited Drinks at Brunch Are Illegal, Endangered

According to Eater, The New York City Hospitality Alliance has issued a press release reminding everyone that bottomless drinks at brunch are illegal. Thanks, guys

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Money and Dating

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the Guardian interviewed a dozen or so young people about the financial strain of dating, and how personal finances affect their relationships. Yes, please:

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Get Thee to a Ruby Tuesday’s if You Have Any Pity Left

I don’t know what in the world led me to be reading about the financial fate of Ruby Tuesday’s and Red Lobster on this fine Friday afternoon, but there it is. The name of this article is “Ruby Tuesday is Doing Even Worse Than Red Lobster” (LOL) and I am kind of in love with it, especially the first sentence:

If you think Darden Restaurants (DRI) is struggling to get Red Lobster back on track, just imagine how much harder things must be for Ruby Tuesday.

Wow, burn. My grandmother and I happen to love the salad bar at Ruby Tuesday’s, but I guess that doesn’t mean much to reporter Rick Munarriz, who reports RT’s third quarter losses with a suspicious level of editorializing.

Nevertheless and despite a last-ditch effort of adding breaded chicken strips in November (too little too late, RT), Ruby Tuesday will be closing 30 of its 779 nationwide restaurants in the coming months, so now is your chance to get in there and show your support.

If the phrase “pretzel bread” does anything for you, you might be in for a nice surprise:

Ruby Tuesday and Red Lobster are taking their fading popularity seriously. Red Lobster’s plan was to add more non-seafood dishes to its menu in late 2012. Ruby Tuesday’s been trying to mount a comeback by introducing pretzel bread burgers and flatbread pizzas at single digit price points.

It’s not working, even though Ruby Tuesday is trying to argue otherwise.

When the fall that’s all that’s left, Rick, it matters a great deal.

Photo: matt hutchinson

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Is There Anything More Romantic Than Free Doughnuts For Life?

For the Paris Review Daily, Sadie Stein recounts her love for sitting at the counter at Peter Pan Doughnuts and a man named M., and then what is maybe the greatest “Sorry I didn’t know we were exclusive” consolation prize ever:

Around this time, I learned that M. had been seeing a second girl, a beautiful young Englishwoman doing an internship at a well-known fashion house. I was heartbroken. He seemed genuinely bewildered by my reaction. As he explained, we had never formalized our relationship nor declared it exclusive. Following a tearful scene, he left. But when I got home the next day it was to find that he had made a number of repairs around the apartment and gone to IKEA to replace a faulty set of blinds. He had left his set of keys on the table.

Several days later, I returned to the doughnut shop and ordered a bowtie and a coffee with half-and-half. When I tendered my two dollars, however, the young girl behind the counter turned away, consulted in a whisper with her colleagues, then returned to me and decisively shook her head. “It’s free,” she said. “You don’t have to pay anymore.” No one seemed able to provide an adequate explanation for this sudden stroke of good fortune, so the owner was summoned from the basement, where I was told she had been taking a nap. It was then I learned that M. had arranged a system whereby I was to have free doughnuts for life. He had put down $100; when the balance ran low, he would re-up it, in perpetuity. “I hope you appreciate him,” said the owner. “He really loves you.”

I will admit that I kind of wanted her to take the doughnuts and break up with him anyway, because POWER MOVE. But either way there are free Peter Pan doughnuts involved, so I’m on board.

Photo: Key Foster

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French Café Enacts Rudeness Tax

Owners of the Petite Syrah café in the south of France were fed up with rushed customers coming in to order coffee and forgetting their manners, so they decided to take action.

In a feat of brilliance, they edited menu prices to hit customers where it hurts: their fancy French wallets.

The new menu prices (translated for your convenience) include:

“A coffee” €7 “A coffee, please” €4.25 “Hello, a coffee, please” €1.40

Although Pepino admits he’s never actually had to enforce the price scheme, he says he has noticed a difference in his customers’ behaviour.

“Most of my customers are regulars and they just see the funny side and exaggerate their politeness,” he said, adding “They started calling me ‘your greatness’ when they saw the sign.”

“But people are more relaxed now, and they’re smiling more. That’s the most important thing.”

Photo: phvolmer

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Big Food Is Coming For Us

Apparently the three big trends are 1. millennials hate cans, so put your pre-made food in a bag or a box or something, 2. fancy buns instead of crappy white bread, and 3. JALAPEÑOS (“Millennials like “bold flavors”").

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Did Someone Say Glow In The Dark Ice Cream Made From Jellyfish Luminescence?

Yes they did. Thanks to food inventor Charlie Harry Francis at the Lick Me I’m Delicious ice cream company, this decidedly un-vegetarian confection can be yours for the low, low price of $225.22 plus the travel cost of a visit to the UK:

“It’s glow-in-the-dark jellyfish ice cream using calcium activated proteins that react when they are agitated, or to put it in a nonscience-y way, it glows when you lick it.”

Francis worked with a scientist from China who figured out a way to synthesize the luminescence protein found in jellyfish. He used it to make the ice cream give off a neon green glow when your tongue makes contact with the icy substance.

A scoop of the glowing ice cream costs about £140, or $225.22. And regarding the question of whether it’s safe to eat, Francis writes, “Well, I tried some and I don’t seem to be glowing anywhere, so we’ll go with a yes for now.”

Lick at your own risk, as they say.

Photo: Reiki Lifestyle

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Old Man Continues To Be Adorable

It has been a few weeks since we fell in love with the 103-year-old Harry Rosen, who loves going out to dinner but has trouble finding a date. Lucky for us, Alan Richman at GQ took Harry out to a fancy dinner at Eleven Madison Park and plied him for more tales of his early days in the city, starting a business in The Great Depression, and his opinion on raw carrots served 30-ish ways.

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