Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Straight-Shooting Suggestions for My Birthday Dinner

Sorry for another off-topic/non-cycling post here, but I have been under the weather and haven't ridden much (as in not at all) this week. Tomorrow I should be up and back at it though. Actually, people seem to enjoy the non cycling posts more...

My birthday is not for 3 weeks but the time has come to start dreaming of where my birthday dinner will be. My family has already started asking. Birthday dinners on my wife's side of the family tend to be on the upscale side of things. My in-laws or my wife's grandmother do it as a gift to the family member whose birthday it is and the rest of us whose birthday it is not benefit as well.

My mom will be in town from California and so I would like it to be somewhere that will 'Wow' her. But, really that doesn't take a whole lot to do that. She is a very down-home non-fancy person. I am much more picky and spoiled.

The last two birthday dinners have been at Morton's of Chicago for me. Prior to Christmas I got to go on a guys' night out with my father-in-law and brothers-in-law to the Ringside. And just over a month ago I was lucky enough to get to go to El Gaucho for my father's-in-law and brother's in law combined birthday dinner. That was spectacular. I figure that my portion of the bill alone was around $90 though. ouch.

I really like steak. As in really good steak. As in USDA Prime steak. But...I am open to ideas to go elsewhere.

Other recent family birthday dinners I have been to have included the Melting Pot and Urban Fondue. I appreciate the whole fondue thing and cooking bite-size pieces of meat/veggies in flavored broth, but it is not really my schtick. Frankly, it just takes way too long to get full. They usually give you a couple of skewers to cook your meat, but it still takes at least 2 or 3 minutes to cook the meat. That is just way to dang much time for me. It requires way too much patience.

Plus, it is just a little too metro for me. I mean my skewers are touching other peoples skewers which is just a little troubling. Do I want my meat touching their meat? Maybe I don't want my beef rubbing up on someone elses clam or fish since the broth pots are communal. Not that there is anything wrong with that if that is your sort of thing. When it comes to food, I really don't want to have to dance around with others and get cutesy with the other utensils a pot that ends up looking like a game of pick-up sticks.

One last thing about those places. It also bugs when the meat falls off the skewer and then seems to go in some secret part of the broth bowl, because I have a heck of a time ever finding my meat again. No man should ever have to worry about losing his meat. So while I appreciate the atmosphere and the experience it is not my first choice for a night out.

I quite like Thai and other Asian food. I also really love Mexican food. But I can afford places like that normally. For a birthday dinner I am looking for a place that I can't afford normally, after all--I ain't paying. And the fact is that if I picked some run-of-the-mill restaurant I think that my family and extended family would be let down. A birthday is an excuse to eat well on my wife's side and so I need to follow tradition or risk have everyone disappointed. I don't want to let them down.

Right now I am leaning toward the Ringside. Not as spendy as El Gaucho, but still pretty freaking awesome. Oh, and those onion rings...just about the best I have ever had. The steak is Prime beef and most of the time you can eat it from tip to tip with a New York cut. But I would mind branching out a bit to somewhere I haven't been to before.

If anyone has any other suggestions, I am willing to consider other options.

Dang it. I am suddenly starving.

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