Top Restaurant Prices https://www.toprestaurantprices.com The authority of restaurant prices online Tue, 28 Apr 2020 17:35:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.3 Is Kosher Safer Than Other Food Types? A Look at the Facts and Fiction https://www.toprestaurantprices.com/is-kosher-safer-than-other-food-types-a-look-at-the-facts-and-fiction/ https://www.toprestaurantprices.com/is-kosher-safer-than-other-food-types-a-look-at-the-facts-and-fiction/#respond Sat, 23 May 2020 16:31:00 +0000 http://www.toprestaurantprices.com/?p=9593 Many people probably order the kosher style hot dog at Five Guys in the belief that it’s safer to eat than, say, the hot dogs sold by ambulant vendors in New York City. The idea that kosher foods is safer, healthier and better non-kosher foods is also taking hold despite the higher prices. Surprisingly, only […]

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Many people probably order the kosher style hot dog at Five Guys in the belief that it’s safer to eat than, say, the hot dogs sold by ambulant vendors in New York City. The idea that kosher foods is safer, healthier and better non-kosher foods is also taking hold despite the higher prices. Surprisingly, only a small percentage, about 8%, of people on a kosher diet are religious Jews!  

But is kosher food really safer, healthier and better than non-kosher food? While kosher food is produced according to strict religious dietary laws under rabbinical supervision and in specialized facilities, it may or may not be so. Let’s take a look at the facts and fiction surrounding kosher food. 

The Salting Process Makes Meat Safer 

The salting process in the preparation of kosher food involves the use of kosher salt in the removal of the blood from the flesh. The claim is that it kills salmonella and other bacteria that cause diseases in humans.  

Is there truth to it? The answer is no for many reasons. Yes, salt has antibacterial effects but it isn’t a powerful antibacterial substance. While it aids in meat preservation, it doesn’t prevent bacteria buildup in food. 

This is true even for kosher salt, a type of salt with larger grains than regular table salt, which means it stick to the carcass’ surface for a longer period. In a study published in Poultry Science (2012), salting significantly decreased microbe level in poultry; the microbes included generic E. coli. In another study published in the Journal of Food Safety, salting and rinsing decreased salmonella bacteria on chicken.

But here’s the deal: Salting is neither a pasteurization nor a sterilization process. Proper handling of meat is still a must to prevent food poisoning, whether the meat was salted with regular or kosher salt. There’s also the matter of high salt consumption that increases the risk for a wide range of diseases.  

The Greater Number of Inspections Makes Food Safer 

Arguably, kosher foods undergo more food safety inspections than non-kosher food. Kosher inspectors ensure that the strict religious laws are followed, and they do so through random inspections and unannounced visits to the production facilities. These laws include the strict separation of meats and dairy products as well as the accurate labeling of products, even checking the animals for signs of illnesses.  

But here’s the thing about kosher inspections: These aren’t designed for food safety and, in fact, these aren’t in full compliance with the food safety standards imposed by government regulatory agencies. This means that kosher food isn’t actually safer than non-kosher food. 

There’s Reduced Risk from Mad Cow Disease 

Many people on a kosher diet think that they are less exposed to mad cow disease. This is supposedly because the slaughter methods used in kosher food preparation, particularly the prohibition on the use of stun guns, prevent brain tissue from spreading to other parts of the cow. Brain tissue is where most of the prions, the infectious agent, is located. 

But the CDC and FDA have asserted that there have been no cases of the human version of mad cow disease, known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (a wasting disorder), in the United States because of infected American beef. In other words, there’s little to no risk of getting Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease from eating non-kosher beef for as long as it was prepared according to prevailing food safety standards. 

The bottom line: Kosher food isn’t necessarily safer, healthier and better in quality than non-kosher food! You must still ensure that kosher food is prepared and cooked according to current food safety standards. You may want to ask the restaurant manager, for example, about its kosher practices including where it sources its kosher food. 

Furthermore, kosher food isn’t automatically natural and organic, unless the label says so. Many of these kosher foods also contain just as much salt or sugar, fats and calories, and other unhealthy ingredients as non-kosher foods. 

There’s also the matter of kosher foods not automatically being produced more humanely than non-kosher foods. Many critics say that certain kosher practices, such as the avoidance of stun guns and the cutting of the throat, are stressful and cruel. The animals may also be raised in cramped conditions with little to no ventilation, a clear violation of humane animal production. 

What does this all mean? While the kosher label and symbol are a welcome sight for kosher food enthusiasts, these aren’t guarantees of safety.  You, the consumer, should store, handle and prepare kosher foods like you would with non-kosher foods, even in a fast-food restaurant like Five Guys. 

These food safety measures include cooking poultry and meat to proper temperatures, refrigerating perishable food within two hours, and separating cooked and raw foods as a preventive measure against cross-contamination. The more careful you are, the better for your health and safety – and it has little to do with the food being labeled kosher. 

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Soft Serve and Its Differences with Ice Cream https://www.toprestaurantprices.com/soft-serve-and-its-differences-with-ice-cream/ https://www.toprestaurantprices.com/soft-serve-and-its-differences-with-ice-cream/#respond Sun, 17 May 2020 14:25:00 +0000 http://www.toprestaurantprices.com/?p=9589 Did you know that Dairy Queen is celebrating its 80th anniversary? Yes, the beloved fast-food chain has been serving up its signature soft serve concoctions for the past 80 years and counting! In celebration, it’s offering 80-cent blizzard deals – buy one blizzard at its regular price and get the second one, either of equal […]

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Did you know that Dairy Queen is celebrating its 80th anniversary? Yes, the beloved fast-food chain has been serving up its signature soft serve concoctions for the past 80 years and counting! In celebration, it’s offering 80-cent blizzard deals – buy one blizzard at its regular price and get the second one, either of equal or lesser price, at just 80 cents. 

Now, that’s a buy one, take one deal that we’re happy to take, even when it means getting more calories for the day! The BOGO deal applies to the 15 flavors. 

You may be eating your fill of Dairy Queen’s soft serve-based Blizzard yet you may not know where it comes from. While we may take certain things for granted, it’s a good idea to know where your food came from – and soft serve ice cream is one of them. At the very least, you will know why it’s considered as the queen of ice cream.  

It Has Conflicting Origin Stories 

Soft serve may be a modern invention but the matter of who actually invented it is up for discussion. In one story, the Carvel brand founder Tom Carvel sold melting ice cream in Hartsdale, New York on Memorial Day weekend in 1934. He did so from his ice cream truck after one of its tires became flat and he had to pull into a parking lot. 

Within a couple of days, he sold his entire ice cream supply and concluded that soft frozen desserts are a great business idea. He developed a soft serve formula and super-low temperature ice cream machines for it, and by 1936, he opened his first store serving the soft ice cream. 

But in another story, Dairy Queens claims that it’s the inventor of soft serve. In 1938, J. F. and Alex McCullough created their soft serve formula near Moline, Illinois. In August 4, 1936, they sold their soft serve in Sherb Noble’s stores in Kankakee, Illinois and served more than 1,600 servings within two hours.  

So, which one’s true? We may not know exactly but we’re thankful that soft serve was invented. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be enjoying the sinful concoctions that Dairy Queen continues to churn out, pun intended. 

It’s Full of Air 

That’s meant as a figure of speech, of course! 

Emphasis must be made that soft serve and ice cream are both frozen dairy desserts and, thus, they share similarities in terms of ingredients. But soft serve, as its name implies, has as softer texture as well as a less dense, less crystal-like mouth-feel. Plus, it melts faster than regular ice cream so it should be eaten – licked, if you will – faster lest it ends up as a sticky puddle in the cup or in your fingers. 

Soft serve can be made into regular ice cream, too. The difference lies in the percentage of air in these frozen dairy desserts. 

After the ingredients of ice cream are combined, an ice cream machine freezes part of the water and introduces air into the now-frozen mixture. At this point, it’s known as soft serve when it’s pumped out of the machine and poured into a cone or cup. But if it’s placed into a tub and placed in a freezer, then it’s regular ice cream. 

Technically speaking, ice cream has 30% to 60% air and it’s necessary for it to have air. Without air, in fact, it can be called an ice cube that can crack your teeth. 

But air isn’t the only difference between soft serve and ice cream. In ice cream, the fat globules (the liquid particles of fat) are spread nearly evenly throughout the mixture of ingredients and air bubbles. The even distribution means ice cream has a creamier texture. 

But in a soft serve, the higher percentage of air means that there’s less room for dairy fat. You may rejoice in the fact that soft serve has less fat content than ice cream given the same amount, say, a cup. Many ice cream products have between 10% and 18% fat content while soft serve has between 3% and 6%. 

But it isn’t license to indulge in cup after cup of Blizzard either – soft serve is still a sugary treat that, when taken together with the toppings, can result in a sugar crash.  

There’s also a difference in temperature between ice cream and soft serve. The latter is significantly warmer than the former – soft serve is 21°F while ice cream is at 10°F, more or less. 

In a study, consumers are more likely to choose soft serve over ice cream – 7 out of 10 times. We aren’t surprised because soft serve can be enjoyed immediately – no need to wait for the mixture to become soft enough to scoop – and doesn’t cause brain freeze and numb gums.  There’s something good to be said about instant gratification!  

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Where Chipotle Went Wrong and Right With Its Queso https://www.toprestaurantprices.com/where-chipotle-went-wrong-and-right-with-its-queso/ https://www.toprestaurantprices.com/where-chipotle-went-wrong-and-right-with-its-queso/#respond Mon, 11 May 2020 13:20:00 +0000 http://www.toprestaurantprices.com/?p=9585 Chipotle is persistent and passionate, if nothing else, about giving its customers what they want and giving their competitors a run for their money. This is evident in its efforts to offer its customers the perfect queso, a point of pride for Texans who grew up on the cheesy concoction.  But the chain definitely started […]

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Chipotle is persistent and passionate, if nothing else, about giving its customers what they want and giving their competitors a run for their money. This is evident in its efforts to offer its customers the perfect queso, a point of pride for Texans who grew up on the cheesy concoction. 

But the chain definitely started on the wrong foot with its first rollout of its queso. The good news: It has rectified its mistake and it is set to make even the most finicky queso fan happy.  

The Old Queso Was a Bomb 

When Chipotle first rolled out its queso, it claimed that the queso doesn’t have artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. This wasn’t surprising since the chain prides itself on using all-natural ingredients and made-from-scratch food. 

But even with these claims and Chipotle’s reputation for fairly good food, its first cheese dip was anything but good. First introduced in September 2017, Chipotle’s queso was – and is, if you ask us today – among the worst quesos ever offered by a restaurant. Such was its negative reception among consumers that it was called the queso-gate! 

Take note that queso itself is easy to make despite its central role in Tex-Mex cuisine and as a widely considered Texan birthright. In most households, it can be as easy as placing a large cube of Velveeta in the microwave and adding a can of Ro-Tel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chiles to the ooey-gooey melted cheese. It’s then paired with a bag of Cheetos, a satisfying junk food that makes the extra calories worth every bite. 

But Chipotle being Chipotle, it offered a queso made only with “real ingredients” with the intention of transforming a beloved junk comfort food into a New Age healthy food. Well, at least, that’s what we thought of it. 

The queso was made with aged cheddar cheese, fresh tomatoes and tomato paste, and three kinds of chile peppers, among other ingredients. So far, so good, ingredients-wise. 

But it wasn’t as good as it sounded on paper! The swift public consensus was that Chipotle’s queso was wrong on so many levels, whether its ingredients were healthy or not. It wasn’t as bold and bright as people expected with many saying that it was nothing but a disappointment. 

By December 2017, Chipotle introduced a new queso recipe that it touted as creamier. Business Insider even reported that “it’s good” but most consumers still disagreed. This tweaked queso wasn’t creamier – it wasn’t thick and creamy at all, a soupy concoction with a light texture akin to water and melted cheese mixed together. It also had a fluffy and grainy texture, as if powdered cheese was dissolved in water and it wasn’t fully dissolved. 

Worst of all, there wasn’t the hint of chiles that make quesos what it is – a Tex-Mex creation. If you ate it, you probably threw it away but kept the chips just so you didn’t waste more money.  

The New Queso Blanco Is Welcome News 

Chipotle listened to its customers and introduced yet another queso concoction and called it Queso Blanco. This time, the chain has apparently done something right! 

The queso has a heftier feel, a smoother texture and a spicier kick combined with a creamier feel than its predecessors. It’s the queso Chipotle should have rolled out years ago instead of offering the soupy ones. 

According to Chipotle, its Queso Blanco uses 13 real ingredients, again with the intention of making it healthier. These ingredients include aged Monterey Jack cheese, white cheddar and three types of chiles – poblano, Serrano and chipotle peppers. 

The Queso as Texans Knew and Love It 

Considered as Texas’ unofficial state dish, chile con queso is usually served with warm tortilla chips. At its simplest form, it consists of two main ingredients – cheese and chile peppers. It’s then tweaked by chefs, cooks and homemakers so much so that it’s safe to say that every family has its own recipe. 

Due to the melting pot nature of the American culinary landscape, queso has spread throughout the United States, from Houston to New York City and Atlanta. Many fast-food chains have also introduced their own queso versions, such as Chipotle and Wendy’s. The latter, for example, offers bacon fries, chicken sandwiches and burgers with its queso on the side.  

But not everybody loves the numerous versions of queso. Leslie Brenner, a food critic, says that most versions is just the “baby food version of Mexican food” while Ford Fry, a Texan-born chef, says that many versions are processed cheese with milk. He says that the perfect cheese ratio is 25% Chihuahua (no, not the dog but a soft white melting cheese) and 75% processed American cheese, particularly Easy-Melt. 

Yes, you can make queso at home. But if you’re in a hurry or you want an instant fix, then you should consider getting yourself to the nearest Chipotle. You may just be surprised. 

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Of Fish Sandwiches and Tenders for the Lenten Season https://www.toprestaurantprices.com/of-fish-sandwiches-and-tenders-for-the-lenten-season/ https://www.toprestaurantprices.com/of-fish-sandwiches-and-tenders-for-the-lenten-season/#respond Tue, 05 May 2020 17:17:00 +0000 http://www.toprestaurantprices.com/?p=9581 The Lenten season has started and for many Christians, it’s a time for certain diet restrictions. No, we’re not talking about restricting calories but avoiding certain food types, particularly meat like beef, pork and lamb. Yes, we’re talking about eating more fish dishes, especially on Fridays.  But fish isn’t such an easy food to prepare […]

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The Lenten season has started and for many Christians, it’s a time for certain diet restrictions. No, we’re not talking about restricting calories but avoiding certain food types, particularly meat like beef, pork and lamb. Yes, we’re talking about eating more fish dishes, especially on Fridays. 

But fish isn’t such an easy food to prepare because it’s delicate – too little cooking and you end up with bad sushi; too much cooking and you get a mushy dish that not even the cat will touch. Fortunately, there are several fast-food restaurants that offer fish-based dishes for Christians who want to follow the Lenten tradition. 

Fast Food Restaurants Where Fish Is Served 

Chick-fil-A is the first chain that comes to mind when it comes to Christian traditions like fish on Lent. After all, it prides itself on being a chain with Christian values and its practices reflect it. 

While Chick-fil-A primarily offers fried chicken and chicken sandwiches, it offers cod-based items only during the Lenten season. This is unlike many large fast-food chains, such as Burger King, Wendy’s and McDonald’s, which offers fish dishes the entire year. While this is surprising considering Chick-fil-A’s image, its fish sandwich and fish tenders are worth the wait. 

In 2020, the Lenten season began on February 26 (Ash Wednesday) and will last until April 12 (Easter Sunday). During this time, many Christians will abstain from eating meat and other meat-based dishes, such as broth. Chick-fil-A, however, will not serve its cod-based dishes by April 11. 

Chick-fil-A’s fish sandwich comes in two versions. The regular version has two lightly-battered fried cod fillets placed in a warm, buttered bun, as well as lettuce, cheese and lemony tartar sauce. The deluxe version has tomato, lettuce and American cheese. 

The chain also offers boxes of fish nuggets or fish tenders, which are served with waffle fries, its bestselling side. Keep in mind that the each box of tenders has 190 calories while the basic sandwich has 370 calories. 

Other chains offering fish dishes are: 

  • Wendy’s cod fish sandwich, a treat with its wild-caught cod breaded in panko, deep friend and then served with dill pickles, lettuce and fill tartar sauce. 
  • Burger King’s Big Fish sandwich is made with Alaskan pollock with toppings of lettuce, sauce and pickles.
  • McDonald’s has its year-round offering, the Filet-O-Fish sandwich. 

If Chick-fil-A stops offering its delicious fish sandwiches and tenders, then you know where to go to satisfy your cravings! 

Fasting as Part of a Christian Tradition 

Emphasis must be made that fasting during Lent isn’t done in the traditional sense of the word (complete abstinence from food and water, except for water). Instead, a religious fast means abstinence from certain types of food and from certain meals, such as meat, but certain food are allowed like fish. 

Eating fish as part of a Lenten fast has a colorful history. The practice apparently dates back to the Roman period when the early Christians were encouraged to eat like the poor, which means just fish and vegetables. Since meat was considered as food that only the upper class can afford, it made sense to eat fish and vegetables. 

Plus, the Lenten diet was also in commemoration of the sacrifices of Jesus Christ. The early Christians then abstained from eating the flesh of both birds and beasts. The tradition was carried to modern times wherein devout Christians abstained from eating meats on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays during the Lenten season. 

Nowadays, fish and seafood are often more expensive than certain types of meat including chicken and pork. But in biblical times, these were considered as the staple of the average family’s diet because these were easily available. In some areas, men just have to fish in the lake or sea, cast their nets and get fish – and it’s actually mentioned in the Bible! 

Jesus Christ, for example, encouraged his disciples to be fishers of men, an exhortation considering that many of his early followers were fishermen. In a way, the abstinence from fish is a sign of respect for Jesus’ exhortation.  

The more fish, less meat diet during the Lenten season also has a biblical basis. The flesh of fish is different from the flesh of both man and beast including birds. 

But even if you don’t believe in this Lenten practice, you should still enjoy the fish sandwiches and fish nuggets at Chick-fil-A, McDonald’s and Wendy’s! Fish is rich in omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids that have been proven to decrease the risk of chronic degenerative diseases. Aside from soy, fish is also an excellent source of protein, the building blocks of muscles and, according to many health experts, it’s the healthier alternative to meats.  

Besides, you don’t have to spend an hour or two preparing the fish, from removing its guts and filleting it to deep frying it! You just have to order your fish sandwich and fish nuggets and voila! Your hunger is no more in just 10 minutes or so, no mess, too. 

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Fun Facts for Fans of Mozzarella Sticks to Mull Over https://www.toprestaurantprices.com/fun-facts-for-fans-of-mozzarella-sticks-to-mull-over/ https://www.toprestaurantprices.com/fun-facts-for-fans-of-mozzarella-sticks-to-mull-over/#respond Tue, 28 Apr 2020 17:16:23 +0000 http://www.toprestaurantprices.com/?p=9578 Mozzarella sticks are among the bestselling side dishes on the Burger King menu and we aren’t surprised. There’s something so satisfying about biting into a mozzarella stick, getting the ooey-goeey texture and enjoying the so-cheesy flavor!  But do you know where mozzarella comes from, among other things? You should be interested because it pays to […]

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Mozzarella sticks are among the bestselling side dishes on the Burger King menu and we aren’t surprised. There’s something so satisfying about biting into a mozzarella stick, getting the ooey-goeey texture and enjoying the so-cheesy flavor! 

But do you know where mozzarella comes from, among other things? You should be interested because it pays to know where your food comes from, if only to gain a deeper appreciation for it. You may even be able to share fun facts about mozzarella with your friends, a great way to start conversations. 

It Comes from Italy 

The Italians have a love affair with cheese and it shows in their love for mozzarella, a sliceable curd cheese. The first mozzarella was made from the milk of water buffalos. But since these animals were herded in a few countries only, Italy and Bulgaria included, most mozzarella produced nowadays come from cow’s milk. 

Mozzarella itself can be made from either pasteurized or unpasteurized milk although there are no significant differences in their taste and texture. The regions of Italy from which it comes from are Campania, Molise, Abruzzo, and Puglia. But it’s also produced in other countries by the producers like FrieslandCampina and Williams Cheese Company. 

It was previously made only with the water buffalo’s milk because of its unique characteristics. Milk from the water buffalo has nearly double the solid content as well as a higher protein and fat content than cow’s milk. Plus, it has high levels of healthy unsaturated fats including oleic acid.  

Nowadays, mozzarella made from water buffalo’s milk tend to be more expensive than mozzarella from cow’s milk. This is because the water buffalo is only herded in a few provinces in southern Italy, thus, its limited supply. There are also mozzarella made from a combination of cow’s milk and water buffalo’s milk. 

But buffalo milk produces more mozzarella than cow’s milk. A ton of buffalo milk results in more than 24 kilos of mozzarella while a tone of cow’s milk only produces 13 kilos.  

By the way, fior di latte is the name used for mozzarella made from cow’s milk only. It’s an old-fashioned term that’s still in use by milk producers and pizza makers.  

It’s a Protected Product 

Mozzarella is an Italian Traditional Specialty Guaranteed (TSG) product. This means that it’s considered as a traditional and geographical specialty, and it has strict production requirements. Indeed, Bufala Campana is a type of mozzarella that cannot be produced anywhere else other than Campania, as well as non-local ingredients and different processes. 

There are cheeses used on pizzas that aren’t considered as mozzarella because these have been made with milk proteins or imported frozen curds. These are called mozzabella and pizzarella, among other similar-sounding names, but these are mozzarella as the cheese industry knows it. 

It Has Unique Characteristics 

Unlike most other cheeses, it isn’t aged and, in fact, it should be eaten fresh, usually within just a few hours after it’s made. It’s a semi-soft, brined cheese with a 45% fat content and 403 mg/100g calcium content. 

It doesn’t have a rind so it’s eaten as is. Its milky flavor is complemented by its white color and fresh, milk aroma. It has a stringy, springy and supple texture that makes it a favorite cheese for pizzas and sticks. 

Its Name Evokes Its Process

Mozzarella’s name comes from its production process. During the processing or water buffalo or cow’s milk, its curd is cut off, so to speak, meaning that it’s cut according to the desired shape. Its shape can be braided, rounded and bite-sized, also known as bocconcini. 

It has Specific Preservation Techniques 

Since mozzarella isn’t aged cheese, it has unique preservation techniques. For one thing, it should be stored in a small amount of its serum, the salted whey in which it’s packed and delivered. It shouldn’t be left immersed in milk, even when it seems like a good idea, since it will lose its fresh, milky flavor. 

Pizza makers, however, may drain it and then leave it in the fridge before using it on pizza. This will prevent the pizza’s dough base from becoming soggy, even wet, when baking. 

For another thing, it shouldn’t be frozen! Instead, it can be placed at the top part of the refrigerator (not in the freezer). Otherwise, the transition from the freezer where temperatures are in -18°C to room temperature will result in its powdery texture and loss of flavor. 

Did you know, too, that Italians in the Puglia region has a version of the mozzarella sticks we love in the United States? We can surmise that mozzarella sticks are their original invention considering that mozzarella came from them!  Known as stracciatella, these are made with mozzarella strips mixed with either whipped cream or whey cream, a delicacy that kids and adults love. 

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Of New Food and Drinks in The New Year https://www.toprestaurantprices.com/of-new-food-and-drinks-in-the-new-year/ https://www.toprestaurantprices.com/of-new-food-and-drinks-in-the-new-year/#respond Mon, 06 Apr 2020 09:46:00 +0000 http://www.toprestaurantprices.com/?p=9494 We’re halfway through 2020, the beginning of the decade, and we’re still excited about the new offerings from the restaurants we love, even from those we love to hate but still want to go to anyway. Here are a few of the new offerings that we want to share with you.   Applebee’s $1 Vodka […]

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We’re halfway through 2020, the beginning of the decade, and we’re still excited about the new offerings from the restaurants we love, even from those we love to hate but still want to go to anyway. Here are a few of the new offerings that we want to share with you.  

Applebee’s $1 Vodka Rum Frostbite 

Applebee’s has its Neighborhood Drink of the Month and it’s the Vodka Rum Frostbite for January 2020. The drink is intended to give tropical vibes, the perfect antidote to the cold weather we’re having nowadays.  

The drink is served in a 10-ounce mug, a good-sized amount, if we say so ourselves. We can best describe it as a boozy tropical cocktail that will warm your insides in more ways than one, thanks to its ingenious combination of rum and vodka with creamy coconut, blue curacao and pineapple. We also think that it’s an Instgrammable drink with its blue and white swirls, which reminds us of a winter wonderland; it’s served on the rocks, too, so it’s a great drink for toasting.  

Don’t worry too much about drinking it too much and putting yourself into an alcoholic stupor. It isn’t that boozy but it still pays to drink reasonably, even when you can afford to drink 10 of it in one dinner session.  

Hooters’ Fake Meat Dish 

What’s Hooters doing with a fake menu dish? Well, we can’t blame you if you also asked this question because Hooters is famous for its all-meat, real meat chicken wings and steaks! Hooters should have no business selling fake meat options. 

But Hooters is striving to be relevant to the times when tastes-like-meat-but-it-isn’t-meat options are becoming more accessible in the restaurant industry, even in fast-food giants like McDonald’s and Burger King where meat rules the menu. And thus was born Unreal Wings! 

Unlike the aforementioned fast-food giants, however, Hooters has partnered with Quorn, a company based in the United Kingdom and offers refrigerated and frozen meat-alternative products. McDonald’s and Burger Kings uses Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods’ plant-based sausage and burgers.  

For now, the Unreal Wings are available in more than 300 Hooters restaurants in the United States.  These look like chicken wings but aren’t actual chicken wings, but these are also fried and served with the classic Hooter’s dry rubs and sauces. These are also non-GMO and soy-free as well as vegan and produced through sustainable methods.  

Think of it as having your chicken wings and eating them, too. But how do they taste? We have to say that they taste like real chicken wings so you won’t really know the difference if they are served without your knowledge that they are Unreal Wings. 

But if you’re into the real McCoy, then you may think that there’s nothing like the real thing and we have to agree. There’s something so satisfying about eating real chicken wings – juicy, succulent and tender with just the right spiciness to them. 

Then again, each to his own and we respect the preference of vegans and vegetarians who prefer to skip the meat dishes.  That’s the beauty of living in a free country – everybody has the right to choose based on his lifestyle preferences.  

TGI Fridays Revamping Its Bars 

Known as the original singles bar, TGI Fridays has a colorful history of ownership, from being a privately-held company to becoming a publicly-traded corporation and back again. But in 2020, it’s preparing to become a publicly-traded company once again, a change of ownership that also brings with it changes in its bar business. 

These changes are in response to the dip in its bar business according to the chain’s higher-ups. About 30% of TGI Fridays’ sales are generated by its bars but the sales are decreasing – from January to November 2019, for instance, TGI Fridays’ sales shrank by 6.7% for company-owned locations and 8.1% for franchised locations in the United States. 

The main reason: Many customers are skipping the visits to TGI Fridays in favor of food delivery and dining at fast casual restaurants with more convenient options and affordable items.  

There are also certain policies at TGI Fridays that have driven away, so to speak, customers and encouraged them to seek other restaurants. For instance, TGI Fridays has a company policy of not allowing customers to be served a beer and a shot simultaneously, and it has hurt the business since it’s a popular combo among customers during happy hour. Besides, it limits the customers’ options to enjoy drinks at the bar.  

Other planned changes include improvements on the music and lighting to reflect the TGI Fridays’ image as well as seating arrangements that encourage more socialization. TGI Fridays, after all, was originally about single people socializing with each other and even finding dates so it makes sense that the chain returns to its roots. 

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Does The Back of The House Staff Deserve Tips, Too? Yes, and Here’s Why https://www.toprestaurantprices.com/does-the-back-of-the-house-staff-deserve-tips-too-yes-and-heres-why/ https://www.toprestaurantprices.com/does-the-back-of-the-house-staff-deserve-tips-too-yes-and-heres-why/#respond Tue, 31 Mar 2020 13:43:00 +0000 http://www.toprestaurantprices.com/?p=9490 We enter a restaurant and we tip the receptionist for getting our group a great table and we tip the waiter for giving good service. But we generally don’t tip the back of the house staff because, well, it isn’t done – at least, not by everybody else we know so we don’t do it […]

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We enter a restaurant and we tip the receptionist for getting our group a great table and we tip the waiter for giving good service. But we generally don’t tip the back of the house staff because, well, it isn’t done – at least, not by everybody else we know so we don’t do it either.  We don’t tip them whether we’re at Logan’s Roadhouse, a place where steaks are king, or at IHOP where pancakes rule the menu. 

Here’s the thing though: We think that they also deserve tips, perhaps even more so because they prepare the food we eat! You may initially find it awkward but you will likely find that many restaurants actually have a tip policy in place where the back-of-the-house staff actually have a take on the tips.  

But we must also say that a qualified statement should be made. We think that the higher-ups in the back of the house, particularly the executive chef and the sous chefs, shouldn’t have a take on the tips for a good reason. Both the executive chef and their sous chefs are usually well-compensated, from their higher salaries to their separate family meals and bonuses, perhaps even a share of the profits. 

Instead, we think that the staff at the back of the house that earn between $10 and $12 an hour deserve tips, too, just as the servers have been taking tips. These include the line cooks, the prep cooks, and the dishwashers, all of whom are crucial in the preparation of the dishes from washing the vegetables to washing the dishes.  Here are the reasons why they deserve tips, too. 

The Back of the House Staff Has Static Wages 

Did you know that chefs make about $12 per hour as a median wage? This is according to a report issued by the Economic Policy Institute, and it’s something that should make you cringe considering that it puts chefs under the poverty line. Yes, under the poverty line and to think that most of them have to undergo expensive training in culinary schools.  

Granted, of course, that restaurants workers earn $10 per hour as a median wage. But remember, too, that the back of the house staff have a static wage – their salaries will not change regardless of how busy or slow the business at the front of the house is. In contrast, the overall take of the bartenders and servers can increase during busy days and when they perform their jobs well, not to mention that guests are most likely to tip them than to think about the staff who prepared their food. 

The Back of the House Staff Performs Critical Work 

There’s also the sad fact that chefs and other back of the house staff work between 8 and 10 hours, from before the restaurant opens to after it closes its doors when the last guest leaves. The back of the house staff has to clean the kitchen well after the front of the house staff has gone home, perhaps to work in other jobs, too. But they will likely make half the amount that their front of the house counterparts, particularly the servers and bartenders, will make in the latter’s five-hour shift.

The bottom line: The back of the house staff work more hours but take in less dollars. 

Bartenders and servers, of course, don’t have easy jobs either, whether they work in greasy joints or in upscale restaurants, since there will always be obnoxious guests. But when you come to think of it, the back of the house staff are exposed to more job hazards, from being surrounded by sharp objects to being in a hot environment nearly all day. Most, if not all, kitchen staff will experience burns, bad backs and other injuries on a normal day on the job.  

Yet, their wages are static and they remain unappreciated by the guests! For this reason, it makes sense to give them tips, a form of reward for a job well done even when it’s the kind of job that the guests will not actually see being performed. 

When you give tips to the back of the house staff, your dining experience will also improve. The staff will be motivated to work better to provide the best dishes for you and your guests, even work in better harmony with the servers to ensure that your food arrive sooner to your table.  

How can you tip the back of the house staff? Now, we must admit that this is a tricky question considering that it isn’t a common practice. But you can start by asking the manager about the restaurant’s policy for tipping the kitchen staff and following it, if there’s any, such as when the tips are pooled to be shared by everybody. 

You may even find a few restaurants that adds on a service charge, anywhere from 5% to 10%, so you don’t have to tip the staff. The service charge will likely be used to ensure that every worker in the restaurant is provided with a living wage and health insurance – but you can ask, nonetheless, what it’s for.  

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Where are The Salt Shakers? https://www.toprestaurantprices.com/where-are-the-salt-shakers/ https://www.toprestaurantprices.com/where-are-the-salt-shakers/#respond Tue, 24 Mar 2020 19:41:00 +0000 http://www.toprestaurantprices.com/?p=9486 The salt shakers are among the pop culture staples of the restaurant industry since, well, as far back as anybody 30 years old and below can remember. These were a ubiquitous presence nearly everywhere, too, from the greasy diners to upscale restaurants like Peter Luger, a restaurant that serves the best steaks this side of […]

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The salt shakers are among the pop culture staples of the restaurant industry since, well, as far back as anybody 30 years old and below can remember. These were a ubiquitous presence nearly everywhere, too, from the greasy diners to upscale restaurants like Peter Luger, a restaurant that serves the best steaks this side of the world. These weren’t just there for the salt either – bored kids used the salt shakers along with toothpicks and napkins to build a table fort while superstitious adults used to throw a pinch of salt over their life shoulder to ward off evil spirits. 

But where are the salt shakers? If you’re the observant type, you would likely be asking the same question, and it’s a valid one, too, considering that you may want extra salt on your salad or steak.  We asked ourselves the same question and here are a few answers that we think are valid. 

#1 Chefs Don’t Want You to Ruin the Dishes 

Keep in mind that chefs know that too much salt will ruin the dish – it upsets the balance between the flavors – so they take care to add just the right amount of salt. When you’re presented with a dish, it’s been seasoned with salt in such a way as to bring out the best flavors in it – neither lacking in salt nor overflowing with it. 

So, when you add extra salt to a dish, you will likely ruin the balance of flavors in it. You won’t be able to appreciate the nuances of flavor in it, not to mention that it will become too salty and you’re going to complain about it. You will also be guilty of an old saying – when you salt your food at the table, you’re insulting the chef.  

Well, of course, you can mask the salty flavor of the dish with acid, such as lemon juice or vinegar, but it will also affect its overall flavor. You may want to add more water to the over-salted broth but, again, it will ruin the dish. 

The bottom line: The absence of the salt shakers will remove the temptation of adding extra salt to an otherwise great dish. 

#2 Nutritionist Don’t Want You to Consume Too Much Salt 

Emphasis must be made that salt isn’t just a crucial seasoning ingredient in food without which food tastes bland. Salt is also crucial for the body’s normal functions! 

Sodium, a key ingredient in table salt, aids in the proper regulation of blood flow and blood pressure as well as in the transmission of messages between the nerves and muscle fibers. Chloride, another key ingredient, aids in proper digestion. When salt is added to dishes, it doesn’t just make the food more delicious but it also replenishes the sodium and chloride levels in the body for healthy functioning.  

As with most things in life, too much salt can be harmful to health! We aren’t just talking about the consumption of processed and canned foods, which have high salt content to preserve their quality, but also of prepared foods in restaurants. Think about the amount of fast-food items, from hamburgers and hotdogs to French fries and onion rings, you have consumed over the years and you will be alarmed at the excess amounts of salt you have consumed. 

What happens with too much salt in your diet? For one thing, you will experience bloating because your body holds extra fluids in its cells. This is because your kidneys, among your body’s main excretory organs that filter waste from your blood, keep more water in your body. Your kidneys usually maintain a normal electrolytes-to-water ratio but the consumption of too much salt adversely affects it; electrolytes include potassium and sodium. 

When your kidney keep more water in the system, it causes a wide range of undesirable health symptoms. These include edema, or the swelling of the hands, arms, legs, feet and ankles, as well as high blood pressure caused by the buildup of more blood coursing through your arteries and veins; the buildup causes the blood vessels to become stiffer and, thus, less flexible.  

The bottom line: Too much salt can lead to your premature death. 

If you live in New York City, you will find that restaurants mark the dishes on their menus with sodium levels above the recommended daily value of 2,300 milligrams. The regulation is intended to aid New Yorkers in making healthy decisions, salt-wise.  

It’s also worth pointing out that salt and pepper shakers take up room on the table, even when these are relatively small compared to the plates and glasses. With a finite space on the table, it makes sense to remove the salt and pepper shakers, especially as not too many people use them anyway.  Plus, there’s also the sad fact that some people like to steal whatever can be placed in their purses or bags including the shakers – the loss adds up to the restaurants’ costs over time.

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What Exactly is The Best Seat in The House? https://www.toprestaurantprices.com/what-exactly-is-the-best-seat-in-the-house/ https://www.toprestaurantprices.com/what-exactly-is-the-best-seat-in-the-house/#respond Tue, 17 Mar 2020 13:38:00 +0000 http://www.toprestaurantprices.com/?p=9482 Good food, good wine, good service. Yes, all of these aspects are crucial for a good dining experience, whether you’re in a fine dining restaurant like French Laundry for dinner or a fast casual restaurant like IHOP for breakfast. But when you’re seated in the worst seat of the house, these things become secondary, quickly.  […]

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Good food, good wine, good service. Yes, all of these aspects are crucial for a good dining experience, whether you’re in a fine dining restaurant like French Laundry for dinner or a fast casual restaurant like IHOP for breakfast. But when you’re seated in the worst seat of the house, these things become secondary, quickly. 

This brings us to the question: What exactly is the best seat in the house? As with most things in life, the best answer is: It depends, particularly on what restaurant you’re in and what your dining objectives are for that moment. 

But first, what’s the worst seat in the house? No question about it on this point – the seats closest to the wait station, the bathroom, and the door, especially the kitchen door, are the worst, ever. These are the tables where the foot traffic is so high you won’t be able to eat your meal in peace without people constantly brushing up against you. 

The Chef’s Table 

Yes, we know the advice of nearly everybody from David Change to the Wall Street Journal about the bar being the best seat in the house and, thus, the best place for a great dining experience. The bartenders are more likely to be friendlier, the menu items wider because of the addition of the bar menu, and the wait is shorter, if there’s even a waiting time. 

But if you’re looking for a better seat, you will find it at the chef’s table. Even the experts at the National Restaurant Association agrees that a seat at the chef’s table means being in the best of both worlds, so to speak, so it’s a coveted position. 

What is the chef’s table? It’s the counter-style dining area located directly in front of the kitchen but not beside the door where the waiters go in and out of the kitchen. Here, you will find that dining becomes fun! 

You will be treated to an exciting behind-the scenes look at the culinary wizardry happening in the kitchen, an experience akin to being part of the near-magical process of preparing your food. You will also likely be visited by the chefs who will stay for a few minutes to ask about the dish, perhaps even make small talk and talk about their passion for cooking. Your dining experience then becomes less about grabbing a bite and more about socialization.  

Getting a seat at the chef’s table isn’t easy, however, since it’s obviously a coveted seat. You have to reserve the chef’s table, either by calling via phone or making online reservations (i.e., Resy and OpenTable come to mind). You may have to wait for a few days, perhaps a few weeks, before you can score it but once you do, you will likely find the experience to be well worth the wait.  

The Power Table 

The chef’s table, however, is far from the action due to its location away from the main dining room. It isn’t the best place to see and be seen, a common objective among people who want to establish their social status and to watch people. 

In this case, the best seat in the house is the so-called power table, a place that every fine dining restaurant will have because, well, it is de riguer. It’s the place where wealth and power can be asserted, in more ways than one, and where guests can be the center of attraction, if that’s the goal.  

The definition and location of a power table changes from one restaurant to the next.  But there are common traits between power tables in fine dining restaurants. 

First, it isn’t in the middle of the room. If it is, then people will walk around it more often than desired so the meal becomes disrupted one too many times. Thus, it can be set against the wall or a booth where people aren’t likely to pass by around it. 

Second, it usually has a full view of the floor. This is in line with the see and be seen goal, regardless of the reason for it. For this reason, it will likely be elevated, perhaps on a dais or a slightly raised stage, as if the table is for royalty. 

Third, it’s always a round table. This way, there’s no issue about who sits at the head of the table and everybody on the table can be given equal attention. 

In some cases, the power table can have more lights, albeit discreet, than the rest of the table. All the more reason to be able to see the room while also being seen, thanks to a virtual spotlight.  

Again, you have to reserve the power table in a fine dining restaurant. When doing so, you should remember the keywords to getting it: Deference and discretion, even when you’re the most powerful man in the city, perhaps in the country. Keep in mind that many fine dining restaurants can be so exclusive that not even the CEO can get a seat with the snap of his fingers.  

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Wow Moves When Ordering Wine for Any Occasion https://www.toprestaurantprices.com/wow-moves-when-ordering-wine-for-any-occasion/ https://www.toprestaurantprices.com/wow-moves-when-ordering-wine-for-any-occasion/#respond Wed, 11 Mar 2020 17:35:00 +0000 http://www.toprestaurantprices.com/?p=9478 Fine dining restaurants like French Laundry and Peter Luger usually have an extensive wine list, a fact that can be a boon or a bane depending on your wine expertise. If you’re a beginner in the wine game, it can be a bane because the more choices there are, the more confusion can happen, especially […]

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Fine dining restaurants like French Laundry and Peter Luger usually have an extensive wine list, a fact that can be a boon or a bane depending on your wine expertise. If you’re a beginner in the wine game, it can be a bane because the more choices there are, the more confusion can happen, especially since wine-food pairings have to be considered. 

Fortunately, there are ways to order wine and wow your family and friends, even your business colleagues and clients, when you’re the dinner host! 

Talk About the Food 

Before you order the wine, you should talk about the food with your dinner guests, whether they are close friends or valued clients. You can ask them beforehand their initial food choices so you have an idea of the best wines to pair with their orders. You must remember that every type of food, from pork, poultry and beef to fish and seafood, pair with specific wines so knowing beforehand the possible dish orders is a good idea. 

Also, talking about the food serves as an icebreaker, of a sort, so you and your guests can segue into other topics during the dinner. Food as a conversation starter also makes sense considering that when you and your guests come into a restaurant, the food is the center of the occasion – the wine adds to the experience but it isn’t the star. 

With that said, you should also ask your guests about their wine choices. These questions can include what they have been drinking recently, what bottle of wine they would like, and what their preferences are – by bottle or by glass. You may want to order wine by the bottle if it matches most of the food or by glass to match it with the different courses, from appetizers to desserts.  

Avoid Choosing the Wine Based on the Price 

Well, of course, not everybody has the buying power of Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg but when you’re in a fine dining restaurant, you should be prepared to spend some serious money. But that doesn’t mean either that you should buy the most expensive wine on the menu in an effort to impress your guests, neither should you buy the cheapest because you’re short on money.  

You will be making a negative impression otherwise – choosing the most expensive bottle makes you seem ostentatious and it isn’t classy; buying the cheapest means you’re just a tightwad who doesn’t value the fine dining experience. If you’re taking out clients, you want to demonstrate stability, success and prosperity so the cheapest wine isn’t recommended but you also want to show them responsibility so getting the most expensive isn’t recommended, too. 

Besides, ordering the most expensive wine can actually backfire. Surprisingly, the most expensive wines – with the exception of a tiny percentage – aren’t the best wines or the most interesting. 

Instead, choose wine based on the dishes ordered! You can ask the sommelier or wine steward about their recommended wines for the dishes and listen to their suggestions. You can point to a wine within your price range and ask about its suitability for the food – the sommelier or wine steward will get the hint and make suggestions while also being discreet about your budget.  

Choose the Wine Based on the Occasion 

There’s a reason champagne is best served for special occasions and it isn’t just because of his high price tag! Champagne with its bubbly texture and zesty flavor lifts up the spirit, too, thus its status as a drink for special occasions. 

This applies to wines, too, a fact that even beginners have to acknowledge when ordering wine for the first time in fine dining restaurants. You should, for example, order the best wine on the list – not the most expensive wine, obviously – to celebrate closing a deal or commemorating an anniversary. 

You may also choose either a local wine or a wine from your guest’s home state or country. You can order a Spanish red, for instance, if you have a Spaniard for a guest or, alternatively, you can order a local red wine. Again, you may ask your guest for his choice – it’s about making a good impression on your guest!  

You don’t have to use fancy words when ordering wine to impress the sommelier or your guests. You may even find that your deference to the sommelier’s knowledge will result in a great wine within your budget. You should listen to the suggestions, ask about the wine’s characteristics and make your decision from there. 

Once the bottle of wine arrives, you don’t have to further impress your guests with your wine-tasting prowess unless you’re actually a wine connoisseur. Just enjoy the wine with your food, thank the wine steward and carry on interesting conversations with your guests.  You will be more impressive to your guests when you’re just being yourself and being brilliant at it.  

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