Generally when going out to eat we don’t really think about what we are eating from a nutritional standpoint. During the night on the town, dining at the fancy French restaurant, we probably consume over one thousand calories in one sitting. The portion sizes are very large at most places, or you have multiple courses. Eating like that every once in a while shouldn’t be too harmful, but it will leave you not feeling so great the next day. It puts a heavy strain on your body.
On a recent venture to Fogo De Chao, I tried over 20 different meats. Every different meat had something special about it, I learned a lot. The next day, and even the ride home, I wasn’t feeling too great. I overate because it was an experience and I wasn’t thinking about it. I tried over 20 different meats and had a few drinks. I don’t even want to guess how many calories that meal was.
In my opinion it’s not so much the customers responsibility to eat smart, as it is for the restaurant to cook more healthy. The customer goes to your restaurant for the experience. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten at a fine dining establishment wondering how man calories I consumed, or how much fat. Half of going out on the town to eat is spending time with family or friends. Sharing an experience with people you care about.
I’ve worked in several restaurants and I’ve seen a lot of room for improvement nutritionally. A massive amount of butter is used. A lot of the time you can’t get around that without making the dish sub par. There are two key ways I can think of to make nutrition a focal point without changing the menu.
The first is the easier of the two. You can lower the portion size on items that have a lot on the plate. The key problem with this being the consumer often times feels like they aren’t getting their moneys worth. Imagine you’ve been eating at a fine dining establishment once a month for a year. You know most of the servers by name. You go in for your monthly dinner out with your significant other, you order your favorite pepper steak. After a drink and a nice conversation your steak gets to your table and it seems way smaller than usual. Would you be happy?
The second scenario is just cooking with less saturated fat and things like that. Keep the food itself more nutritional by cooking with that in mind. This isn’t easy though. French cooking for example uses an obscene amount of butter, but it makes the food delicious. Cooking French food with olive oil rather than butter would not be nearly the same.
The best way to keep the responsibility to the customer is just to have a menu to where you can cook nutritionally sound food in the first place. Most restaurants don’t think consumers keep nutrition in mind while eating out, which is true. 10 years from now It will be more important to consumers. Living in Portland i’m seeing it first hand. Places with healthier menus get more of the young crowd. Nutrition is important and it is the responsibility of the restaurant, to the consumer to cook responsibly.