Top Restaurant Prices https://www.toprestaurantprices.com The authority of restaurant prices online Fri, 21 Jun 2019 18:54:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.2 Keto-Centric Dining Out Tips https://www.toprestaurantprices.com/keto-centric-dining-out-tips/ https://www.toprestaurantprices.com/keto-centric-dining-out-tips/#respond Wed, 17 Jul 2019 11:52:29 +0000 http://www.toprestaurantprices.com/?p=9240 The ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that an increasing number of people are finding success with, both in terms of weight loss and healthy lifestyle. But it can be challenging to dine out when you’re on a keto diet, especially when every other restaurant doesn’t know what it is in the first place. […]

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The ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that an increasing number of people are finding success with, both in terms of weight loss and healthy lifestyle. But it can be challenging to dine out when you’re on a keto diet, especially when every other restaurant doesn’t know what it is in the first place.

Fortunately, there are several easier ways to stay on the keto diet while still enjoying lunches and dinners in restaurants with your family and friends! Yes, there will be a trial-and-error involved, perhaps you will order a non-keto dish, but that’s alright because you can start again. Besides, indulging in a few treats now and again will be good for you. 

Plan Ahead

Many restaurants are offering relatively keto-friendly menus nowadays so there’s more reason to dine out. Chipotle, Five Guys, and Red Lobster are among these restaurants and you will likely find more of them by asking family and friends who are on the keto diet, too.

There’s also the fact that most restaurants post their menus on their official websites. You can then take a look at the Red Lobster menu, for example, and choose the dishes and desserts that are within the keto dietary requirements. You may even be able to ask the restaurant management about the ingredients as well as the calorie, fat and carbs content in certain dishes.

In many restaurants, you may be able to have your dishes customized, too, so these are within your low-carb or keto dietary requirements. But be nice about it because remember that restaurants exist to cater to the general population or as wide a population as possible. Your specific dietary requirements can only be accommodated up to a certain point for good reasons.  

And speaking of Red Lobster, here are a few menu items that we think are within the keto diet requirements.

  • Entrees without breading and fruit salsas are great for keto diet followers. Go for the seafood entrees like the classic maine lobster tail, wood-grilled shrimp skewers, and wild-caught snow crab legs.
  • Get fresh seasonal asparagus, roasted green beans, and seasoned fresh broccoli since these have low net carbs, as well as being nutritious and delicious. 

Sadly, you shouldn’t eat the Cheddar Bay biscuits but if you want a treat, then take one and stop. 

Skip the Starch

Keep in mind that the keto diet emphasizes low carbs intake and, in this regard, starchy foods should be off your list. Bread, pasta, and potatoes as well as rice shouldn’t be on your plate, much less in your stomach, so be careful about choosing from the menu. 

But we understand if the starch cravings hit harder than you anticipated, especially in restaurants. We suggest these substitution tips to make smarter choices.

  • Substitute salads or extra vegetables when making an entrée.
  • Substitute lettuce wraps in place of the bread or bun for hamburgers and the like.

But there are instances when these substitutions aren’t possible. Don’t throw a hissy fit because, again, you’re in a restaurant where good manners are expected.

Just set aside the starch-rich ingredients on your plate and ignore them. You may even wrap these ingredients in a paper napkin and throw them in the trash before tucking into your dish. Your willpower will be tested but if you’re really into the keto diet, then it should be a cinch. 

If you feel that your dining choices need an explanation, you should keep it short and avoid launching into a tirade about the evils of a non-keto diet. Just say that you’re on a restrictive diet and leave it at that; you don’t actually have to explain your diet choices but good manner may require it. 

Go for the Healthy Fat Sources

Restaurant meals can be high in fat but it isn’t the type of fat that you should be eating whether you’re on a keto diet or not. You should be careful about choosing the fat sources that will get into your restaurant-prepared meals, and here are a few suggestions. 

  • Ask for unsalted butter that can be melted on your meat or vegetables.
  • Ask for vinegar dressing and/or olive oil for a generous drizzling over your salads and other dishes.
  • Ask for heavy cream to make your coffee and tea taste better as well as add more fats to them.
  • Ask for Béarnaise sauce, if the restaurant has it, and skip the ketchup since it contains high carbs levels. 

You may also want to consider carrying your own small bottle of olive oil or Béarnaise sauce when you’re planning on dining out. Think of it as being a scout since not all restaurants have gracious customer service that can accommodate your requests. 

Drinks and Desserts Should Be Chosen with Care, Too

We suggest water, sparkling water, coffee, and tea since these are low-carb choices. You can also drink alcoholic beverages but we suggest sticking to low-carb choices like champagne, spirits, and light beers. 

You can also drink these low-carb beverages to finish your meal. Regular desserts aren’t such a good idea when you’re on a keto diet but you can go for berries dipped in heavy cream or a cheese plate, if you’re still hungry. 

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Things We Love at Red Lobster https://www.toprestaurantprices.com/things-we-love-at-red-lobster/ https://www.toprestaurantprices.com/things-we-love-at-red-lobster/#respond Thu, 11 Jul 2019 14:49:33 +0000 http://www.toprestaurantprices.com/?p=9237 Red Lobster is such a great restaurant that we can’t help but fall in love with it, and it happens every time we have lunch or dinner here. This is the go-to place for family and friends – or for everybody, for that matter – who loves delicious seafood dishes, especially shrimp. Let’s take a […]

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Red Lobster is such a great restaurant that we can’t help but fall in love with it, and it happens every time we have lunch or dinner here. This is the go-to place for family and friends – or for everybody, for that matter – who loves delicious seafood dishes, especially shrimp. Let’s take a look at the other things that we love about it, too.

Cheddar Bay Biscuits

When Red Lobster comes in conversations, the Cheddar Bay Biscuits are always the central topic, and we can attest by it, too. These Southern-style biscuits are so popular that they have their own dedicated Facebook page, and nothing says “popular” in the age of social media than more than 1 million likes – and counting – on it.

Indeed, no Red Lobster visit is complete without getting your fair share of the Cheddar Bat biscuits! You and your tablemates will be given a basket of the delicious biscuits, too, nearly as soon as you sit on your chairs so there’s no missing it.

What makes these biscuits so addictive that you can eat your way through nearly an entire basket? These are the perfect balance between cheesy and buttery, garlicky and herby, and fluffy yet firm! Every delicious bite just leads to one more bite and then another until the last biscuit’s on the basket.

Here’s a funny thing about that last biscuit. Everybody will eye it and watch for the person who will want to take it, and it’s a game that’s funny because everybody’s watching everybody else until the waiter places another basket of biscuits on the table. Then, that last biscuit goes to the person who wanted it most in the first place. 

Do you want your Cheddar Bay biscuits fix at home without driving to your neighborhood Red Lobster? Well, now you can! The Cheddar Bay biscuits mix is already available nationwide in groceries and supermarkets.

And it’s so easy to make, too, even when you have little to no baking skills. You just need grated cheese for the biscuits and butter for the herbs, as well as to follow the easy step-by-step instructions. You can then enjoy hot-from-the-oven Cheddar Bay biscuits anytime the craving hits, perhaps even impress your family and friends during a seafood-themed party! 

Shrimp Galore

Red Lobster is known for its fat shrimp served in a wide range of ways, from grilled shrimp to shrimp tacos and everything else in between. When we say “fat shrimp” we mean that the shrimp here are among the fattest and juiciest we have ever tucked into, and that’s saying something in a society where “bigger is better” is the motto of the food industry.

We observed, too, that since November 2015, Red Lobster has served its shrimp dishes with better presentation and in larger servings. The shrimp plates are nearly 50% larger today than it was a few years ago, and it’s something that makes for a great dining experience.

Trivia: Red Lobster serves more than 80 million servings of shrimp annually. Now, that’s what we call a shrimp feast! 

Ultimate Feast

Do you have the appetite of Incredible Hulk for everything seafood? Then, you will love the Ultimate Feast of Red Lobster, a truly hulking entrée with plenty of every seafood you love – Maine lobster tail, steamed North American snow crab legs, Walt’s Favorite Shrimp, and garlic shrimp scampi, as well as your choice of side and rice.

The butter dip seems unnecessary considering that every seafood on the plate is delicious as is. But hey, if it amps up the delicious flavors of the seafood, then we’re all for it!

But don’t limit yourself to the Ultimate Feast either. You should ask the waiter about the Catch of the Day menu, which is updated on a daily basis. You can choose from 5-8 fresh fish options that the chefs specifically made for the day, and it’s proof that Red Lobster still knows how to surprise and impress its customers. 

While these three items on the Red Lobster menu are closest to our hearts and stomachs, there are many more dishes that appeal to fans. Here are a few more that we think you should try.

  • Seafood Stuffed Mushrooms may have lower levels of calories, sodium and fat but these are high in flavor and quality.
  • The Peppercorn Panko Calamari is such a great dish, too, thanks to its combo of crispy skin and chewy squid.
  • Manhattan Clam Chowder is slightly salty but it’s comfort food in a restaurant, and that’s the best thing we can say about it.
  • Tuna Poke highlights the meatiness of the tuna. 

Whenever you’re at Red Lobster, you should still read through the menu even when you’ve been here several times before. You will find that there’s something old that still surprises your palate and, perhaps, become your new favorite. 

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Sabrage is Fun But it Ain’t Easy! https://www.toprestaurantprices.com/sabrage-is-fun-but-it-aint-easy/ https://www.toprestaurantprices.com/sabrage-is-fun-but-it-aint-easy/#respond Thu, 04 Jul 2019 14:44:54 +0000 http://www.toprestaurantprices.com/?p=9233 We admit that using a saber – or a sword, if you will – to open a bottle of champagne is definitely fun! Known as sabrage, it looks easy enough since the cork on a champagne bottle doesn’t stand a chance against the saber. Yes, it looks festive as well because it makes the champagne […]

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We admit that using a saber – or a sword, if you will – to open a bottle of champagne is definitely fun! Known as sabrage, it looks easy enough since the cork on a champagne bottle doesn’t stand a chance against the saber. Yes, it looks festive as well because it makes the champagne stream out like a fountain.

Unsurprisingly, sabrage is a popular activity during momentous occasions – Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, anniversaries, and birthdays, even on christenings. But here’s the deal: It isn’t as easy as it looks!

Here’s Video Proof

In what’s perhaps the biggest epic fail in sabering a champagne bottle, French Laundry general manager Michael Minnillo destroyed a bottle of expensive champagne! Just how expensive was it? Well, it was purportedly a 15-liter Billecart-Salmon brut bottle costing – wait for it – $2,000!

Even we have to say that it’s expensive, and the cost alone can fund several gourmet meals at French Laundry. Plus, it was such a waste of great champagne that could have been avoided if only Minnillo left the sabering to the experts. 

In the video, Minnillo was seen using a saber to remove the cork from the large champagne bottle with a flourish. While another staff member held the giant bottle with both hands, he first identifies the bottle’s seam, lines up the saber for the first swipe, and takes it.

But he isn’t successful with his first try. While he was able to remove part of the bottle’s lip, he was unable to remove the cork. 

Then he tries a few more times but fails at them. He seems to lose patience with each swipe and starts hacking at the cork in a manner that evokes a jungle explorer hacking at the vegetation with a machete. He chops downward toward the cork, apparently out of frustration and embarrassment, and catches the bottle’s neck and there goes the champagne!

As the bottle explodes, everybody within a few feet radius becomes soaked with the champagne, possible even injured with the flying glass shards. Epic fail, indeed!

Well, of course, it was fun to see – epic fails captured on video are nearly always a source of laughter. Epic fails allow us to laugh at the failures of others while also making us think about what we could have done right. 

Here Are Useful Tips

What then can you do right in sabrage? We present a few useful steps and tips, but we must also emphasize that its takes practice to make it perfect.

Choose your bottle and tool.

If you’re a novice, more so a first-timer, in using a saber to open a bottle of champagne, you should remember two things. First, you may want to choose either a French or Spanish champagne bottle because these tend to break more precisely and cleanly. You should also consider using a cheap champagne bottle since it would be such a shame to waste good champagne.

Second, use a champagne saber for the activity so you have a higher chance of getting it right for the first time and the succeeding times. But you may also use a butter knife or a butcher’s knife, if you’re more comfortable at handling them or you have more practice. 

Be sure to have a towel and crystal glasses nearby, too. You want to pour the champagne as soon as the bottle is opened while the towel will be useful in mopping up the mess.

Check the bottle’s temperature.

The bottle should be cold enough – about 38°F to 40°F – for sabrage.  A cold bottle will be easier to break, thanks to its relative brittleness, so leave it in the fridge for a few hours before opening it. Then, remove its wire cage and foil wrapper when it’s cold enough.

Hold the bottle the right way.

You should firmly grasp the bottle by its base while also pointing its opening away from onlookers. Keep the bottle at an angle of 30°to 45° for minimum spillage and keep your fingers away from the opening. You don’t want to injure fingers as you swipe the saber.

Determine the vertical seam, of the intersection of the lip and the seam, since it’s where you will get a clean break. Hold the saber flat against the bottle while ensuring that its blunt edge is aimed toward the bottle’s lip; only the dull edge of the saber is necessary in sabrage since the impact matters more than the sharpness.

Slowly run the saber back along the bottle’s vertical seam toward your body. Thrust back the saber using a quick and firm motion up the seam and toward the bottle’s lip.

You should sharply strike the lip with the sabre at a slight angle and the leading edge should hit the crook where the neck ends. When these steps are performed correctly, the cork should fly off the end of the bottle and the champagne should bubble out.

And if you can, be sure to watch as many videos on sabrage as you can! You don’t want the French Laundry incident – or is it epic fail? – to happen to you. 

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IHOP Becomes Creative with its Pancake-Burger Combo https://www.toprestaurantprices.com/ihop-becomes-creative-with-its-pancake-burger-combo/ https://www.toprestaurantprices.com/ihop-becomes-creative-with-its-pancake-burger-combo/#respond Thu, 27 Jun 2019 13:40:40 +0000 http://www.toprestaurantprices.com/?p=9230 In 2018, IHOP changed its name – but only as part of a publicity stunt – to IHOb with the “b” representing its new burgers. We have to say that while it was effective in that it drew more attention to the IHOP burgers, it wasn’t as hugely successful as the IHOP top brass hoped […]

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In 2018, IHOP changed its name – but only as part of a publicity stunt – to IHOb with the “b” representing its new burgers. We have to say that while it was effective in that it drew more attention to the IHOP burgers, it wasn’t as hugely successful as the IHOP top brass hoped it would be. We aren’t surprised because IHOP, after all, is synonymous to pancakes.

But hey, hope burns eternal, too! IHOP has announced the release of three new burgers, one of which is The Big IHOP Pancake Burger. What is it? Keep on reading to find out. 

Burger and Pancake Combo, Obviously

Americans love their burgers and pancakes, but these are seen as two different food served at different times. Burgers, for one thing, are typically savory while pancakes are generally served with sweet toppings, such as whipped cream, maple syrup and fresh fruits; there are savory pancakes, too, with toppings like pulled pork and coleslaw but these aren’t the norm. Burgers are usually enjoyed for lunch and dinner while pancakes are traditionally served for breakfast. 

But what has that got to do with the new IHOP item? Well, now you can enjoy a burger and a pancake in one bite without feeling weird about it! You can have your cake and eat it, too, if you will.

Think of The Big IHOP Pancake Burger as the fast-food item that will appeal to the YOLO (You only live once) crowd. Since life’s too short and there’s only one of it, you may as well get as many experiences as you possibly can. The pancake-in-a-burger item apparently makes the brief.

To paraphrase IHOP, The Big IHOP Pancake Burger is a buttermilk pancake with cheddar cheese placed between two Steakburger patties, with each patty having its own topping of American cheese. The topmost Steakburger patty has strips of hickory-smoked bacon and drizzled with a generous serving of the signature IHOP sauce. The pancake, cheeses, and steaks as well as the bacon strips and sauce are then sandwiched between two thick buns.

Can you picture it? If you think that it sounds like the Big Mac, then you are right! But IHOP being about pancakes, the middle layer is a thick pancake. 

What does it taste like? Well, if you’re into savory pancakes, then it may well be your pancake of choice. The combination of the fluffy pancake with the tangy cheese, the smoky bacon strips, and the meatiness of the beef patty can result in sensory overload.

But if you’re part of the crowd that subscribes to the “more is better” mantra in food, then you will likely love The Big IHOP Pancake Burger. Otherwise, you may think of it as something new that you can try in the YOLO spirit. Plus, it’s available only for a limited time so the YOLO spirit may well be your encouragement to go to the nearest IHOP and try it. 

Two New Burgers To Try, Too

IHOP has two other new savory burgers in its menu. The Garlic Butter Steakburger features a subtle buttery, garlicky flavor of its house-made Gilroy garlic butter that underlines every bite of the steakburger. With its white cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onions, it’s a less overpowering burger than The Big IHOP Pancake Burger. But it’s still filling enough that you likely won’t order sides with it. 

And then there’s the Loaded Philly Steakburger that obviously takes its inspiration from the Philly cheeseburger. The steakburger is piled high with peppers and onions, as well as smothered in cheddar cheese sauce and melted white cheddar cheese. In other words, it’s a cheesy delight that may make a mess but it’s a worthy mess. 

You may or may not order your favorite pancakes with any of these three new IHOP menu items – it’s your life and your stomach. Just keep in mind that the calorie amount for The IHOP Pancake Burger may well exceed the recommended daily intake when it’s coupled with sides or pancakes.

But if calories and dollars are no object, then go ahead and order anything you want on the IHOP menu. Your favorites may even include a few items on its secret menu!

We love these items because these are as delicious as can be. 

  • Onion and French fry omelet, a hash brown omelet that really hits the spot
  • Roquefort and pear soufflé because the cheesy and sweet combo appeals to something weird in us
  • Cinn-A-Stacks, the ridiculously sinful buttermilk pancakes with a healthy dose of cinnamon spread (Yes, it’s on the secret menu although it has been taken off the regular menu, which caused a mini-riot among fans)

With IHOP – or IHOb – being more competitive than ever, we should be seeing more creative items on its menu. Who knows? Maybe in a few years’ time, it won’t be so much about pancakes but about burgers, although many IHOP fans including us won’t like it. 

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When Belgian Waffles Became The King of Waffles in America https://www.toprestaurantprices.com/when-belgian-waffles-became-the-king-of-waffles-in-america/ https://www.toprestaurantprices.com/when-belgian-waffles-became-the-king-of-waffles-in-america/#respond Fri, 21 Jun 2019 18:40:08 +0000 http://www.toprestaurantprices.com/?p=9227 In the 1980s and 1990s, waffles in America were smaller, thinner and crispier than the Belgian waffles we know – and most of us love – today. Known as American waffles, these were usually smothered in a combination of maple syrup and melted margarine resulting in a sticky breakfast treat. These also featured fewer holes […]

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In the 1980s and 1990s, waffles in America were smaller, thinner and crispier than the Belgian waffles we know – and most of us love – today. Known as American waffles, these were usually smothered in a combination of maple syrup and melted margarine resulting in a sticky breakfast treat. These also featured fewer holes so these two favorite toppings didn’t have many pockets to pool in.

And then about 15 years ago, the waffles as we know them then changed. Here’s what happened per our personal experiences and observations of the food trends in the United States. 

Beginnings of Waffles in America

Waffles have been a favorite breakfast item in the United States for centuries. Thomas Jefferson was said to have brought the waffle iron to the country after he visited France.

Up until the early 20th century, waffles were thin and flat so these were crispier. These skinny waffles were so popular that it was among the bestselling products of the time! In the 1950s, too, frozen Eggo waffles were the kings of the breakfast table; Kellogg’s later became the owner when it acquired the original manufacturer’s company in 1968.

But America being the melting pot of cultures, there were also communities that preferred thicker waffles. During the 1964 World’s Fair in Queens, for example, Belgian natives Maurice and Rose Vermersch sold Brussels waffles, which were thick and chewy. These became so popular that the Vermerschs called it Belgian waffles – apparently, many Americans didn’t know where Brussels was or we would still continue calling these waffles as Brussels waffles.

Waffles Became Bigger 

If you are a child of the ‘80s and ‘90s – and we assume that many of our readers can still remember these decades with nostalgia – then you may remember that in the past 15 years or so, there’s been subtle changes in the size of waffles. We’re not just talking about waffles served in homes but also about waffles served in restaurants, food trucks, and hole-in-the-wall eateries, too.

Waffles have become thicker and thicker, as well as filled with more holes and served with more toppings. These beloved breakfast treats also featured deeper pockets that can absorb, so to speak, more of the toppings that included just about anything that you can think of.

While maple syrup and butter are still among the favorites, especially among the health-conscious individuals who want waffles without feeling too guilty about the calories, there have been many more toppings. Sliced fresh fruits from strawberries, blueberries and blackberries to mangos, pineapples, and avocado; chocolate and strawberry syrup; Nutella or any chocolate spread available; and mountains of whipped cream are the new norm. There are even savory Belgian waffles with toppings like pulled pork and coleslaw!

We are keen to believe that waffles lovers think that the more toppings there are, the better the eating experience will be. Even if the waffles are nearly buried under the mountain of toppings, it’s still okay because the waffles have apparently become nothing more than the support, not the star, of the dish. 

Of course, the quality of the Belgian waffles is still the determining factor for their popularity. If the Belgian waffles are second-rate, not even the most decadent toppings can rescue it from mediocrity. But if the Belgian waffles are delicious, the simplest topping of maple syrup and berries will make it shine. 

The increase the size of waffles and the number of toppings can also be attributed to the “bigger is better” trend in portion servings in America. Restaurants from five-star fine dining establishments to fast-food joints are offering ever-larger plates and portions, often as part of their campaigns to attract more customers. Consumers have lapped it up, too, so much so that we want 20-ounce steaks but if there’s a larger steak, then we will take it!

Both the American and Belgian waffles have the same basic recipe, of course: flour, milk, eggs and a pinch of salt. But there are a few differences, too, such as a true Belgian waffle being leavened with yeast while an American waffle has baking powder.  But many restaurants are using baking powder, too, for their Belgian waffles so the difference lies in the ratio of ingredients and manner of cooking.

The two waffle types also have different mouth-feels! Belgian waffles have more air in them so these are fluffier than the American waffles, as well as a sturdier structure that can take the weight of the toppings. Belgian waffles are more Instagram-worthy, too, an important factor in its enduring popularity in the social media-heavy society we live in.

Fortunately, there are still restaurants that offer the beloved American waffles, too, so you can still get your old-fashioned fix! We love Waffle House, a popular institution in the American South, which serves thin sweet cream waffles, the traditional American-style waffle that children of the ‘80s and ‘90s grew up with.  We didn’t find any of the thick Belgian waffles on the menu and we love it.

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Cops Weigh in on The Pizza Debate https://www.toprestaurantprices.com/cops-weigh-in-on-the-pizza-debate/ https://www.toprestaurantprices.com/cops-weigh-in-on-the-pizza-debate/#respond Mon, 27 May 2019 21:43:12 +0000 http://www.toprestaurantprices.com/?p=9219 Pizza is a strange thing, if you ask us, because it both unifies and divides people from all walks of life. We can agree that pizza is the next best thing to sliced bread, if not better than sliced bread. We also disagree on what makes for a best pizza, and the New York City […]

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Pizza is a strange thing, if you ask us, because it both unifies and divides people from all walks of life. We can agree that pizza is the next best thing to sliced bread, if not better than sliced bread. We also disagree on what makes for a best pizza, and the New York City and Chicago cops have thrown in their two cents’ worth into the fray.

It All Started on National Pizza Day

On National Pizza Day, a day celebrated on February 9 each year, saw another aspect of the ongoing feud between the New York Police Department and the Chicago Police Department. This time, social media became an instrumental tool in the spat between the nation’s finest cops.

On National Pizza Day, some of the NYPD’s top officials tweeted a response to the first salvo fired by the CPD. The latter tweeted photos of thin crust and deep dish pizzas, which were accompanied by the challenging caption, “Deep dish, or ol’ fashioned thin crust? Either choice beats New York-style slices” and the word war started from there.

The NYPD through Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea tweeted an equally provocative response, “Trick question. If it’s not from New York, it’s not pizza.”

Let’s just say that neither of these city police departments will take things lying down!  The two sides even challenged each other to eat their competitor’s pizza and document it.

So, who won? We have to say that nobody will win because like religion and politics, pizza is a deeply personal belief that unites and divides people. The winner depends on which side you’re on and which pizza you prefer – you may be all for Chicago-style pizza but we like New York-style pizza.

Perhaps the only clear winner here are the pizza chains that offer versions of both types of pizzas. We suggest trying your neighborhood Shakey’s Pizza since it will likely offer both types.

It’s Every City’s Birthright

The word war between the two police departments isn’t surprising for another reason. There’s a reason each city has a pizza style named after it – Chicago takes pride in its deep dish pizza while New York City claims thin crust pizza as its own. Each city thinks of its unique pizza as its birthright, a right that many pizza enthusiasts will fight for until they’re blue in the face.

But if you come to think about it, the comparisons between the Chicago-style pizza and the New York-style pizza is akin to comparing chocolate pie and chocolate cookie! Both are made of the same ingredients – flour, water and yeast for the dough and tomato sauce, meats and cheeses for the toppings – just like chocolate pie and chocolate cookies share many of the same ingredients. Both are also baked in an oven.

But the similarities end there and the differences become more glaring.  Let’s take a look at these differences and understand why cops also felt the need to express their opinion on the fiery my-pizza-is-better-than-your-pizza debate.

Crust

New York pizza has a thin, crispy crust with a topping of a thin layer of rich tomato sauce, assorted toppings, and cheese. Chicago pizza has a thick crust with about an inch of tomato sauce, assorted toppings usually minced meat and vegetables, and cheese. As the New York cops sarcastically observed about their Chicago counterparts’ pizza, it may be filled with pasta!

Toppings

New York pizza has a more minimalistic approach to toppings, an understandable decision among its chefs considering the thinness of the crust. The toppings are thin and small so that these can better stay put in the crust’s flat shape.

Chicago pizza makers have a more is more attitude to the toppings for a good reason – the deep crust allows for heaps of toppings to be placed on of it. There may be an inch, perhaps more, of the various toppings on it, a fact that makes Chicago pizza more decadent in our opinion.  There’s something good to be said about the more is more approach as against the less is more one.

Cheese

New York pizza lovers prefer mozzarella cheese on their pies. Chicago pizza chefs use several different cheeses for a single dish and often form layers with them; cheddar and mozzarella are popular choices.  The result is that Chicago pizzas tends to have more complex flavors, cheese-wise, than New York pizza because of the use of cheese layers.

Servings

New York pizza is served in triangles while Chicago pizza is served in portions, as if it was a casserole. That’s exactly how the NYPD cops described Chicago pizza, too!

Eating New York pizza can be done in two ways – first, by using a fork and knife; and second, by folding it in half and eating it straight from your hand. Either one is acceptable; it’s all a matter of circumstance – you can’t eat pizza with dining utensils when you’re eating it on the go.

Due to the thick crust and toppings on a Chicago pizza, it should be eaten with dining utensils. Otherwise, you will become smothered in tomato sauce and toppings, a case of the pizza eating you and not you eating the pizza.

In the end, both pizzas are great! It’s just a matter of where you came from and your acquired taste.

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Spaghetti Bolognese Isn’t From Bologna https://www.toprestaurantprices.com/spaghetti-bolognese-isnt-from-bologna/ https://www.toprestaurantprices.com/spaghetti-bolognese-isnt-from-bologna/#respond Mon, 20 May 2019 10:39:39 +0000 http://www.toprestaurantprices.com/?p=9216 Spaghetti Bolognese fans, you will likely be in for a surprise when you order the dish at Bologna, the purported place of origin for the wildly popular Italian-American comfort food. According to the Mayor of Bologna himself, spaghetti Bolognese is neither a classic dish originating from the city nor a dish that the city wants […]

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Spaghetti Bolognese fans, you will likely be in for a surprise when you order the dish at Bologna, the purported place of origin for the wildly popular Italian-American comfort food. According to the Mayor of Bologna himself, spaghetti Bolognese is neither a classic dish originating from the city nor a dish that the city wants to claim for itself!

Such a declaration has been a long time coming for the people of Bologna. For years and years, the town has been swamped by clueless tourists who order classic spaghetti Bolognese at the town’s numerous restaurants only to be told by the waiters that there’s no such thing. Indeed, none of the town’s chefs and home cooks seem to know the dish, usually made of spaghetti and meat ragu.

The result is confusion on the part of the Bolognese and disappointment on the part of the tourists. But it’s a good thing, too, that the Mayor of Bologna wants to clear up the confusion about spaghetti Bolognese and, as he says, focus more attention on the town’s authentic classic dishes. Here are a few things to know about the issue.

Bolognese Sauce Does Exist

First off, there’s such a thing as Bolognese sauce and it’s an accepted and beloved part of Bologna’s culinary culture. Known as ragu alla Bolognese, or simply ragu, it’s a meat-based sauce used in dressing up tagliatelle al ragu, which are long flat ribbons of pasta, and in preparing lasagna alla Bolognese, stacked layers of wide, flat pasta with meats and sauces between the layers. It’s a versatile sauce, too, since it can be paired with pappardelle and fettuccine, both of which are broad, flat pastas.

There are notable differences between genuine Bolognese sauce and the tomato-based sauce used in the Italian-American dish known as spaghetti Bolognese. These differences are so significant that we aren’t surprised that the Mayor of Bologna finally expressed his disapproval in an online campaign.

On one hand, authentic ragu alla Bolognese is a labor-intensive sauce made by using a combination of techniques from sweating and sautéing to braising in achieving its rich flavors. The ingredients typically include a soffritto (i.e., a flavor base made of finely chopped celery, carrot, and onion), different types of meat like finely chopped beef or minced beef, and liquids like white wine and milk. Only a small amount of either fresh tomatoes or tomato concentrate is added to the mix.

The mixture is then gently simmered until a thick, creamy, and rich sauce is made.

On the other hand, Bolognese sauce used outside of Italy refers to a different animal, so to speak. Where the authentic Bolognese sauce contains a small amount of tomato, it’s a tomato-rich sauce that more closely resembles ragu alla napoletana than it does ragu alla Bolognese.

Where minced pork can be used in spaghetti Bolognese, it isn’t a popular ingredient in the authentic ragu alla Bolognese. Plus, genuine Bolognese sauce will never be used with spaghetti in Bologna, thus, the baffled look on true-blue Bolognese whenever spaghetti Bolognese is presented.

Spaghetti Bolognese is a Misnomer

This brings us to the matter of spaghetti Bolognese, a popular dish in several countries from the United States to the Philippines. Known as spaghetti with meat sauce, spag bog or spag bol, or just simply spaghetti, it’s something of a modern invention, a fusion dish, if you will.

When served outside of Italy in general and Bologna in particular, it’s a dish made of cooked spaghetti served with a tomato-based sauce. The sauce itself usually contains minced beef, wine, garlic and herbs, a combination that makes it significantly different in taste and texture from true-blue tagliattelle al ragu.

The presentation also differs. While spaghetti Bolognese can be served with the sauce on top of the spaghetti, authentic Italian pasta dishes usually has the sauce mixed in with the pasta before serving. In some cases, the pasta and the sauce are served on different bowls so that each diner can decide for himself or herself the ratio between the two components of the dish.

Spaghetti Bolognese is also typically served with grated cheddar cheese, or grated parmesan cheese, or any local cheese. The cheese depends on the available and preferred type of the diners since spaghetti Bolognese is a favorite dish in countries as diverse as the United States and Brazil.

Going back to the Mayor of Bologna, Virginio Mayoral, he launched an online information campaign to enlighten the world about authentic Bolognese dishes, and to inform them that spaghetti Bolognese isn’t their dish. He has encouraged his fellow residents to post photos of the numerous versions of spaghetti Bolognese that they have seen.

According to the mayor, it was frustrating that Bologna is known the world over for a dish that actually isn’t theirs, although the attention still has its positive sides considering that it draws attention to the town. But he prefers drawing attention to Bologna on the merits of its own distinctive culinary traditions.

A worthy endeavor indeed but it may take some time before spaghetti Bolognese gets another name.  In the meantime, enjoy it at your favorite Italian restaurant, such as Carrabba’s.

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Hating Brussels Sprouts Isn’t Your Fault https://www.toprestaurantprices.com/hating-brussels-sprouts-isnt-your-fault/ https://www.toprestaurantprices.com/hating-brussels-sprouts-isnt-your-fault/#respond Mon, 13 May 2019 21:34:48 +0000 http://www.toprestaurantprices.com/?p=9212 Brussels sprouts and broccoli share more than the letter “b” as the first letter in their name and the color green. These are two of the most hated vegetables in the United States! Even former President Bush once famously said that he isn’t going to eat any more broccoli because he’s the POTUS; if only […]

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Brussels sprouts and broccoli share more than the letter “b” as the first letter in their name and the color green. These are two of the most hated vegetables in the United States! Even former President Bush once famously said that he isn’t going to eat any more broccoli because he’s the POTUS; if only the rest of us can declare it that way.

And like most things that are hated by many in the population, there are plenty of literature devoted to explaining and exploring the passionate feelings against Brussels sprouts. Of all of them, we have to say that Andy Griffiths said it best when he wrote in his book, Just Disgusting, that Brussels sprouts are green, slimy, moldy, horrible, putrid, and foul, and there’s nothing to love about them. But if he was to eat dessert – custard, which he also hated, as it turned out – then he had to eat five Brussels sprouts.

But why do so many people, from children to adults, hate eating Brussels sprouts? We looked at the possible reasons, most of which scientists have also studied, for such hate and we arrived at the conclusion: You may hate Brussels sprouts now but you can learn to love them given the right circumstances.

Bitter Taste

Brussels sprouts look like miniature cabbages – so tiny, in fact, that these measure between 0.6 to 1.6 inches in diameter only. These are cute and charming to look at, too, especially if you’re into miniature vegetables like baby carrots and beets. Their green color also evokes health because, after all, these are vegetables filled with nutrients.

But these can also be bitter-tasting so most children and many adults hate them and skip eating them, even when the dish itself looks delicious. The bitter taste lingers in the tongue well after the Brussels sprouts were spit out or swallowed. Some people say that it’s the kind of bitter that immediately evokes the feeling even at the mere sight of the vegetables.

The bitter taste may not actually be your fault. For one thing, the Brussels sprouts may not have been picked at the right time. These should have been picked when the sprouts are still small and young, preferably after a few frosts, for the best taste. These may also have been frozen in route to the supermarket and the freezing temperature resulted in the unpalatable taste.

For another thing, humans are born with an innate dislike for bitter foods and we tend to reject them. Such an innate dislike is apparently a defense mechanism necessary for our survival as a species – for every single plant or animal food in nature with nutrients good for our bodies, about 50 food sources are bitter and poisonous.

Bitter Memories, Too

Many adults also haven’t grown out of their dislike for bitter foods for one reason or another. Since Brussels sprouts are bitter when harvested or cooked incorrectly, it’s no wonder that these vegetables aren’t popular in restaurants than, say, mashed potatoes and French fries.

The dislike likely stemmed from a childhood experience that reinforced the idea that, indeed, Brussels sprouts are bitter-tasting. Ask yourself: Was there a specific event or a series of related events during my childhood that put me off from eating Brussels sprouts again? You may just come upon something, such as your parents telling you and your siblings to eat your Brussels sprouts or else there will be no dessert or no television.

Don’t blame your parents either. They, too, may have had the same experience with their parents but they learned to grow Brussels sprouts or they have outgrown their aversion to bitter foods. You, in turn, have form a close association between the negative taste, smell and texture of cooked Brussels sprouts and the unpleasant experience.

Even as many of your colleagues say that Brussels sprouts are delicious, you’re not wont to eat them because of the unpleasant experience.

Smell Isn’t Agreeable

Brussels sprouts are a cruciferous vegetable, a classification that gives then a distinct smell. Think of phrases like “rotting cabbage” and that’s how people who dislike them describe these miniature cabbages.

While the sense of smell may not seem like an integral part of liking or disliking vegetables, it does! While the tongue, the organ of taste, can only detect five distinct flavors – salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and savory (umami) – the nose can actually smell more than 100,00 different scents! Our noses may be tame compared to, say, dogs and cats, we can rely on them to detect undesirable odors coming from food sources including Brussels sprouts.

The bottom line: You don’t have to beat yourself, so to speak, over your intense dislike for Brussels sprouts. Your brain may not be cooperating even as your rational self knows that Brussels sprouts are good for your health.

Fortunately, you can learn to love Brussels sprouts and it can start by ordering the caramelized Brussels sprouts at Umami Burger! Mixed with bacon lardon, roasted garlic and shallots, glazed carrots, and truffle glaze, the Brussels sprouts are so delicious you will forget that you ever hated them.

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Kobe and Wagyu: What’s What? https://www.toprestaurantprices.com/kobe-and-wagyu-whats-what/ https://www.toprestaurantprices.com/kobe-and-wagyu-whats-what/#respond Tue, 07 May 2019 10:30:10 +0000 http://www.toprestaurantprices.com/?p=9208 Every Kobe steak is Wagyu beef but – and here’s where the confusion comes in – not every Wagyu beef is Kobe beef. So, what’s the deal and what’s the fuss that guests at Japanese restaurants like Benihana should be aware of? Kobe as a Variety of Wagyu When loosely translated to English, “wagyu” means […]

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Every Kobe steak is Wagyu beef but – and here’s where the confusion comes in – not every Wagyu beef is Kobe beef. So, what’s the deal and what’s the fuss that guests at Japanese restaurants like Benihana should be aware of?

Kobe as a Variety of Wagyu

When loosely translated to English, “wagyu” means “Japanese cattle” – “wa” means Japanese-style (think of wafu pasta) and “gyu” means cattle. For this reason, wagyu simply means cattle or cow that has been bred in Japan, or if you’re going to take it to another level, in the Japanese style.

Where wagyu beef is a general term, Kobe beef is a more localized term. Kobe beef comes from the cows bred in the Hyogo Prefecture, specifically the Tajima-gyu strain; Kobe is the prefecture’s capital city, thus, the name.

So, when you’re in a restaurant and the chefs say that they only use wagyu beef, then you know that it’s sourced from Japanese-bred cattle. You may or may not ask whether it’s Kobe beef, if you’re being a picky eater or a beef connoisseur.

At the very least, you won’t be surprised if your bill arrives and it’s in the hundreds. Wagyu beef in general and Kobe beef in particular are so expensive compared to, say, USDA Prime beef.  But hey, if you’re looking for excellent quality, then wagyu beef is the no-brainer.

Wagyu Strains

Just like wafu pasta, wagyu cattle is a fusion of the East and the West, and the results have been outstanding.  In the late 1880s, several European cattle breeds were introduced to Japan; the 1880s and onwards were characterized by Japan’s more welcoming attitude toward Westerners and globalization. Japanese breeders then crossbred the European cattle with their own native breeds and, thus, wagyu cattle was born.

There are only true-blue wagyu strains accepted under international standards, namely:

  • Japanese black, a beef with intensive marbling
  • Japanese brown, a beef with light, mild taste and a leaner texture
  • Japanese shorthorn, a savory beef with high levels of glutamic acid and inosinic
  • Japanese polled, a beef with rich, meaty taste and gamier texture

In the United States, when chefs say “wagyu beef’, they are more likely to mean beef sourced from Japanese black cattle. This is because more than 90% of all wagyu beef come from this strain.

If you observe differences between the beef served then and now in the same restaurant, it may have been a different wagyu strain. That, or the chefs changed their method of preparation.

Healthier Meat

We have often heard that wagyu beef is healthier meat than, say, pork and chicken. While the jury is still out on this one, we are inclined to agree for many reasons.

For one thing, wagyu breeders take extraordinary measures in ensuring the overall health of their cattle and, thus, the excellent quality of the beef. No commercially-produced feeds filled with hormones, antibiotics and the like for the cattle, no ma’am!

Instead, the cattle are feed with specially-formulated feed made from a combination of grasses, forage, and rice straw. The feed is also supplemented with more healthy food including corn, soybean, barley, and wheat barn. There are even breeders who give their cattle beer or sake, apparently to improve the beef’s marbling.

For another thing, breeders are said to massage their cattle every now and then. The massage apparently relaxes the cattle’s muscles although it may or may not actually be a practice in Japan. But hey, if a massage contributes to great marbling, then go ahead.

Plus, wagyu cattle are fattened for longer periods than American cattle. The fat-to-lean meat ratio is one of the best in the meat industry, and we have the breeders to thank for it. Keep in mind that fat may be, well, fattening but it’s the reason why wagyu meat tastes as good as it does.

Marbling Makes the Meat

As we previously mentioned, these extraordinary measures result in the best marbling in wagyu beef. Marbling is the streaks of fat interspersed with the beef’s lean sections; the name comes from the marble effect.

The fat in wagyu beef melts at a lower temperature resulting in a rich, melt-in-your-mouth, and buttery flavor unparalleled by all beef types. Kobe beef has the best marbling of all the wagyu beef and, thus, its reputation for being the most expensive is warranted. When properly cooked, Kobe beef is so creamy, so rich, and so decadent that every bite tastes like heaven – or at least, as heavenly as it can while still being on earth.

And then there’s the confusion that arises from the fact that wagyu cattle are now being exported from Japan to other countries including the United States and Australia. Is the beef produced in these countries considered as wagyu beef? Yes, in a way, it is but it may or may not be labelled as wagyu – it may be rated as USDA Prime.

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Start-Up Restaurant Essentials https://www.toprestaurantprices.com/start-up-restaurant-essentials/ https://www.toprestaurantprices.com/start-up-restaurant-essentials/#respond Sun, 05 May 2019 15:45:11 +0000 http://www.toprestaurantprices.com/?p=9223 As the focus coming in to the 21st century shifts more toward small town, individual life and the impact we make on our planet, support for entrepreneurs and local businesses has spiked. With recognition coming in from movements such as Small Business Saturday it’s a great time to consider starting your own restaurant or food […]

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As the focus coming in to the 21st century shifts more toward small town, individual life and the impact we make on our planet, support for entrepreneurs and local businesses has spiked. With recognition coming in from movements such as Small Business Saturday it’s a great time to consider starting your own restaurant or food truck.

According to statistics collected by Small Business Trends, 40-60 year-olds make up over half of the startup workforce. The majority of startup owners completed high school or have a GED, and many didn’t go much further than that, proving that you can have a successful life without an expensive education.

Reasons for beginning personal businesses ranged from pursuing a lifelong passion to dissatisfaction with corporate America. And the most hopeful statistic we came across was that 82% of business owners didn’t doubt that they were qualified to run their own company successfully.

Chances are, if you’ve thought of starting your own business at all, you probably already have a plan of some sort. And once you’re ready to dive in it’ll become obvious that a lot is involved – not just finances, but marketing, product manufacturing, and customer service.

The restaurant business has been one of the industries most affected by startups. More and more customers are drawn to restaurants with delivery options or sustainable practices (such as Chipotle and Panera Bread), and chains are less and less appealing.

Whether you’re interested in beginning your own craft brewery or a small place offering up good ol’ home cooked meals, an important part of planning for a restaurant is knowing what equipment is necessary to get you starting off solidly.

Not only that, but potential restaurant owners should also be aware of common price points for certain pieces of equipment and whether or not “used” machines are a sound investment.

Below we’ll be digging into the individual pieces of equipment necessary for getting a starter restaurant up and off of the ground.

Nothing is worse than realizing on opening night that you’re lacking an important part of the kitchen features; so let’s dive in.

The Basics:

Refrigerators & Freezers

There are many things to take into consideration when shopping for refrigerators and freezers for your restaurant. To begin with, space – make sure that the refrigerator and freezer will fit comfortably in the space in a way that makes sense to everyone. You don’t necessarily want them in the most trafficked area, as it will make food prep annoying for everyone.

Also consider energy efficiency. Not only is it an attractive addition to a restaurant (although customers won’t necessarily know about it), it’ll be a money saver as well. Energy Star certified fridges and freezers are a great place to start.

Whether you’re looking at walk-ins or stand-alone units, make sure that the layout makes sense for what you’re trying to do. Is there enough room for food? Is it an easily organizable space?

If you feel good about all of the above qualifications, then take a look at price. In general small stand-alone refrigerators are priced at around $1,500, with walk-ins starting at $3,000 for smaller units.

Ice Machines & Drink Dispensers

These two are often overlooked, but very important.

What’s the first thing your waiter or waitress asks at a restaurant? If you would anything to drink other than water.

Ice machines (or ice makers) are best bought as new as possible, as older units can gunk up easily and cause more problems than they’re worth. They come in variety of forms such as undercounter, ice dispensers, and stand-alone cube ice machines.

The size and output of the machine should be appropriate for the volume of customers you plan on serving. Running out of ice is a small but annoying detail. The go-to units price in at about $2,000. According to the website Food Plus Ice, there are many undercounter ice makers to choose from in the market place.

When it comes to drink dispensers, these save a lot of time for everyone. They vary by size to accommodate whatever range of beverages you’re looking at and are easily attached to drink packs. A six-drink dispenser comes in at around $3,000 – definitely pricey, but worth it as beverages are an essential part of any restaurant.

Ovens & Ranges

Oven selection should depend on what exactly you’re planning on cooking. A commercial piece of equipment comes with a wide range of options, so that’s really your best bet, but if you’re into any kind of specialty baking or cooking, look for units marketed that way.

If you’re going to be doing more baking (think: cupcakes, bread) than anything else, you’ll want to pay attention not just to industry standards but to additional perks. Convection ovens are ideal as they actually circulate the hot air instead of just surrounding the food, as conventional ovens do. Convection ovens also give a more even bake to whatever it is you’re working on and although they are a bit pricier, the investment might be worth it in the long run.

The other draw for commercial ovens – and ranges – is that they’re easy to use, universal, and easy to clean. It won’t take much for someone to transition into your restaurant if they’ve ever used a basic oven or stovetop.

You’ll need a hood with the range for appropriate ventilation. This isn’t just necessary to the restaurant, but is also something that inspectors will look for. It’s important for a productive and safe kitchen environment.

As with refrigerators and freezers, keep space in mind. The output of the equipment needs to make sense for the volume of business you’ll be doing, and the general shape and size of the unit needs to fit into your kitchen plans.

In An Ideal World:

Hot Water Baths

Although not necessary for every kitchen, water baths are a great addition if you can spare the extra expense. They allow for very precise temperature control and can be used in banquet settings to ensure that food is at a safe and ideal temperature.

You may have heard of some chefs using sous vide – the process of hot water bath cooking at precise temperatures to maintain flavor, color, and tenderness (especially in meat). Food is vacuum sealed in a bag and then cooked in the water baths; afterwards, they may be broiled or grilled to add texture as the chef desires.

Sous vide machines are becoming more readily available these days but range in price from $80-$100. If this way of cooking interests you, you might want to consider a sous vide machine as a future investment for your business and your personal style.

Vacuum Sealer

Vacuum sealers range from $200-$1000 depending on what you’ll be using them for. They’re amazing when it comes to portioning out, pre-planning for large groups of guests or very detailed meals, and saving leftovers.

Sealers are quick and easy to use. They preserve the freshness and integrity of food by sucking all of the air out of the plastic packaging so that food isn’t crushed or juices wasted. They also protect against oxygen, unwanted flavors, and bugs. They may not seem necessary but a commercial-grade cauum sealer is guaranteed to make your job necessary and to cut down on food waste costs.

Can Opener

This is another small addition to a kitchen that some people might overlook.

Depending on what your restaurant menu looks like, you might be buying large cans of food. If you are, you’ll definitely want to invest in a commercial opener ($40-$100). They’re virtually indestructible and easy to use, making opening cans anything but a hassle. Most come manual but muscles aren’t required; just give the arm a quick twist and watch it do the work for you.

Slicer

Some chefs and business owners believe that a slicer is actually an essential in the kitchen. But again, this goes back to what your menu looks like and what you’re planning to do with your offerings.

Slicers cut meat and other foods quickly and uniformly, making for a great presentation and quality. There are two different types of slicers to choose from on the market – manual or automatic. Obviously manual takes a bit longer to get the job done, and many places prefer automatic. No matter which piece of equipment you choose make sure that all employees who will be using it are properly trained, as they can be dangerous, and no one wants a fingertip in their meal!

Last Words

Now is the time to pursue your passion if you’ve been considering starting your own business. Although there are many things to take into consideration and plan, with the right guides and resources you can have an efficient kitchen up and running in no time.

Keep an eye on the market to understand price ranges when it comes to restaurant equipment and consider talking to established restauranteurs who have already been through the process and can tell you what is essential, where to find it, and whether or not it’s a good option for buying second-hand.

No matter where you decide to take your business, remember that efficiency and quality are going to help maintain not only the reputation of your business, but the cost as well. If units are the correct size and do their jobs well, you’ll be buying and maintaining exactly the right amount of food to make your customers happy.

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