Saturday, September 7, 2013
From Labor Day weekend on, I've been traveling, then sick and medicating through comfort foods, then lunching with the boss at Mexican, where the chips were plentiful.
Saturday, August 24, 2013
Yesterday I went to lunch at Atlanta Tech Village in Buckhead. The building provides cheap office space for tech startups. This is a crowd that tends to run young; I have 35 years or more on most of them.
They were probably thrilled with the lunch provided: pizza, of course. And dessert was...beignets, more white flour and empty carbs.
I stuck to the slices with spinach and sliced tomatoes, but it was still a lot of carbs and sodium from the cheese.
The rest of the day I didn't track my Weight Watchers points. For dinner, I had a Weight Watchers red lentil soup, some veggies and hummus and quesadillas. More salty cheese! And as a snack, I had some cheese sticks.
So today could have been a weigh-in disaster. But I ran three times this week, and otherwise did pretty well.
So today's weigh-in has me even with last week. I'll take it.
Posted by Mike L at Saturday, August 24, 2013
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
|Halibut with clams, butter beans and a fennel foam|
- Among the 32 items from which one selects five, there was at least one good choice for each course.
- The portions were so modest that even if decadent, the damage wouldn't be too bad.
- Nobody blinked when I brought in my own Fresca because Diet Coke has so much caffeine. The staff whisked it out of sight and refilled my glass until the can was empty, just as if I'd brought in a very special bottle of wine from home.
- At $85 for five courses, it was an extremely well priced tasting menu.
- The server was among the best ever encountered.
Asked about what was lowfat and healthy, she launched into an extensive review of all the options. Her knowledge of the dishes, how they were typically prepared and how they might be adapted for a dieter was encyclopedic.
|Mushrooms, pea shoots and beets|
In the end, it seemed smart to trust the server and request that dishes be prepared with no additional salt. The research seems pretty clear: Salty food is a trigger for overeating, even after a perfectly satisfying meal.
The courses were:
- Deep, woodsy local mushrooms with beets, pea shoots and pecans. The description advertised focaccia, but it amounted to two very small crisps.
- A perfectly cooked piece of halibut, accented with littleneck clams, al dente butter beans, a tarragon sauce and a fennel foam. The fish was cooked so expertly that the texture was close to that of the foam.
- A piece of prime NY Strip, seared crusty on the outside and juicy rare inside. It was cut in a row of 1/4-inch slices that required no knife.
- A dice of Georgia peaches with pistachio, oregano buds and a bit of feta. It was a meeting of three guaranteed diet killers -- salt, fat and sugar -- but so modest in size and restrained in flavor that there was no reason to argue.
- Wonderfully fresh figs with a lemon verbena ice milk and a couple of thin chips of pecan brittle.
Saturday, August 17, 2013
A week of staying on plan -- mostly -- yielded results. And the results may be better than they appear. Last week's weigh-in was in cotton shorts, no socks and a T-shirt. This week, shirt, jeans and socks, which is enough to add a pound.
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
|Field peas, peanuts, charred tomato and pepper salad|
This has won Miller Union all manner of foodie accolades, including notice from Bon Appetit, Esquire and the James Beard Foundation.
But previous visits left The Restaurant Dieter unable to bestow an award for those of us counting our Weight Watchers points.
This time, however, there was a pleasant surprise: the menu held two stand-out dishes that were incredibly fresh, faithful to the farm-to-table movement and relatively low in calories and fat.
A salad of crunchy peanuts and al dente field peas was dressed with a light vinaigrette and accented with charred tomato and peppers and a dollop of lemon ricotta on the bottom. Nothing in the dish masked the flavor of those peas, which were indeed fresh.
The selected entree was a low-country boil of shrimp, andouille sausage, tiny new potatoes and peppers. The method of cooking, of course, adds no fat to the dish, save for what's in the sausage so it was easy to count. Four points for about 5 ounces of shrimp; 2 for a piece of corn on the cob; 2 for 3/4 cup of potatoes; and 7 for about 3 ounces of sausage.
A low country boil, carelessly done, can be a big ugly mash: It's easy to wind up with lots of the ingredients overcooked -- rubbery shrimp, limp corn and masticated potatoes. Not this time. These ingredients may have been cooked together, but a good guess is that they were added sequentially.
Both items are on the current online menu, but the website cautions: "Our online is updated weekly so may differ from the menu in the restaurant." In other words, if you're dieting and thinking of going, better to call ahead.
|Low country boil|
Sunday, August 11, 2013
|The half red velvet cake that came home|
The first thing to know about Southern Art is that the chef, Art Smith, was Oprah Winfrey's personal chef -- not during her skinny phase. (That for the record was Rosie Daley, who seems to have disappeared.) The second is that Smith was a gay male Paula Deen on Bravo TV's Top Chef Masters -- all the butter but none of the antebellum baggage that killed her career. The third is that Smith was diagnosed with diabetes before his 50th birthday, lost 100 pounds, now eats six meals a day and runs marathons.
Which brings us back to Southern Art in Atlanta's Intercontinental Hotel in Buckhead. Can he possibly eat at his own restaurant when visiting?
The Restaurant Dieter says yes -- with reservations. It takes a lot of willpower and a willingness to plan accordingly.
The willpower is required the minute the server brings to table a plate of homey drop biscuits with maple butter and a small pot of pickles. The pickles -- cuke, carrot and okra -- are salty, vinegary and sweet. I ate the first pot pretty much myself. The biscuits and butter were left for dining companions.
Some willpower also came in handy when dining companions ordered a chef's assortment from the ham bar. You read that right. Southern Art stocks artisanal pork products from all over the United States and assembles them into mouth-watering charcuterie plates. A dieter who is susceptible to overeating after something salty has to avoid this. There's no middle ground.
The menu overall is gloriously southern in the way that Decatur's Watershed was before it moved uptown to Buckhead in Atlanta. The fried chicken, for example, is brined, moist and juicy on the inside, cracking crisp on the outside and it's on the menu every night. I know because on a non-diet night, I've had it. Needless to say, that evening never made The Restaurant Dieter.
This one was different. I had 29 of my daily 38 Weight Watcher points yet to use by the time we sat down, and I spent them accordingly to save up for the encore.
And all of this was possible because the serving staff seemed to understand -- from the chef himself perhaps? -- that dieters need to ask for and get compromises without a fuss. Bravo.
A salad of crisp romaine, clementine, avocado and feta and Green Goddess dressing came as requested -- feta and dressing on the side. A companion who wanted the fried chicken, but the green tomato chow chow from the catfish entree got a "no problem" from the server. My filet (I ate only half) came with the blue cheese butter on the side and went unused; it had flavor enough. Ditto for a companion who ordered the sirloin and wanted no brown butter shallot vinaigrette.
And when you've been that good, why not take a forkful of your spouse's sinfully good dish: braised pork cheeks atop a white cheddar johnnycake with mustard creamed leeks and fried parsnips. This entree is typical of the fare; fattening southern in all its glory.
By the end of my entree, I'd only consumed 18 of the 29 Weight Watcher points. Time for the encore mentioned earlier.
There's no point in going to Southern Art if you're not going to order cake. Not cake in the sense of modern restaurants -- where there's a maybe a chocolate gush something or a funny shaped medallion one might otherwise mistake for -- oh, maybe a modern automobile key.
No, I'm talking cake. Real cake. Big, high, rich frosted slices of the kind that might have been carved off a footed platter at a Southern Baptist church supper. This is the cake no modern, high-end restaurant seems to serve. Pastry chefs have become artistes.
Without a doubt, Southern Art offers the best red velvet cake one is likely to find anywhere. The 12 layer tower alternates thin layers of moist-crumb cake with incredibly rich, but not over sweet, cream cheese frosting. Somewhere there is a church lady put to shame by Art Smith.
I assessed myself 8 Weight Watcher points for half of that cake and entered Southern food heaven. Come on down and join me sometime, y'all.
Saturday, August 10, 2013
But there is a "healthy side" menu with a fruit plate, a skinny omelette, salmon salad, granola fruit and quinoa. Just what us folks on Weight Watchers need.
The waiter didn't miss a beat when asked to skinny the omelette more: cut the goat cheese and the roasted garlic cloves (not that the latter are fattening) and use cooking spray.
It arrived as requested and packed with red pepper, green onion and asparagus. The fruit on the side was a nice melange, including kiwi.
The only off note was that the English muffin came buttered. One could knock the waiter for not asking; who asks for cooking spay but wants buttered toast?
I have no doubt it would have been replaced free had I asked. A grandfather and grandson were surprised by the pulp in the grandson's orange juice. The very same waiter took it away and replaced it with apple. No charge.
Carb temptations aside, this is worth another visit.