New Restaurant M.O.

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I have a new modus operandi for restaurant dining.  I’ll admit it’s not original, but it sure is helping me:


  • Eat vegetarian at non-vegetarian restaurants
  • Save $$
  • Eat healthier portions


My new M.O. is to order a salad and an appetizer instead of an entree when dining out… especially at $$$ restaurants.  This way, I’m eating something more interesting than the vegetarian pasta – and saving money on an expense entree.


We went to a place called Blue in Uptown Charlotte.  This was our official celebration of the Husband becoming a Doctor of Oriental Medicine!


We started with two flights of wine, which made it look like we had a ton of booze on the table – but really, it was just 4 oz. for me and 8 oz. for the Husband.


Real mature.


I had the Layer Cake Syrah and Seven Deadly Zins Zinfandel.  Both are excellent but I love the Zin more.


And my meal, as mentioned, included a salad:


And a Mediterranean platter, which included warm pita bread, THE MOST AMAZING HUMMUS I’VE EVER HAD, baba ganoush, olives, and peppers.


After dinner, the Hus and I walked around Uptown for a little bit and checked out the nightclubs.  As ya’ll know, we’re not shy about tearing up the dance floor and were pleasantly surprised to see many bumping clubs on a Thursday night.  Wahoo!  Score, Charlotte!


I WILL wake up early and go for a run.  My clothes are laid out and everything!  Hold me to it in the morning!  🙂


What are your ‘tricks’ for eating healthy at restaurants?



  • Michelle @ Give Me the Almond Butter June 3, 2010, 11:34 pm

    I try to customize my dish if possible to make sure it includes the most veggies possible. I try not to be too incredibly picky, cause I know it can annoy my parents and friends.

  • Nicci June 3, 2010, 11:42 pm

    Eating healthy when out, I usually avoid bread basket and chekc out salads and soups! Most restaurants have a ”soup & salad special” for that day.

  • Jenn (Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog) June 3, 2010, 11:44 pm

    That Mediterranean platter looks perfect!

    I don’t really try to eat healthy at restaurants, I just eat what I like because I am usually full very quickly when I eat out. I usually have just a few bites of everything and I’m good. I’m not really a wine drinker, so I have extra calories to spare with food. 🙂


  • Nicole June 3, 2010, 11:44 pm

    There is a dean & deluca uptown if y’all want to walk to breakfast again.

  • Amanda @ Organic Eats June 3, 2010, 11:45 pm

    Living in rural Iowa has its challenges when you are vegetarian. Luckily, we recently moved to a more metro-area, but it’s still not like a big city. I usually end up ordering a side salad with an appetizer (much like you discussed). As long I get lots of veggies (as much as I possibly can), I’m satisfied. I hate ordering the traditional vegetarian pasta!!!

  • Ilana June 3, 2010, 11:51 pm

    Haha, that;s exactly how I’ve always ordered! I always consider restaurant portions to be absurdly excessive.

  • Jessica Lee June 3, 2010, 11:54 pm

    I’ll pick either appetizer and entree salad or I will skip appetizers and bread and just eat the entree. I do hate most vegetarian options though, always pasta. Blah…

  • Jessica Lee June 3, 2010, 11:56 pm

    Oh recently I just went to an Italian restaurant and I got a basic salad and a side dish. I love side dishes. This one was just grilled veggies (really good) and I got a side of marinara sauce for dipping. You can’t beat homemade marinara sauce from an Italian restaurant. My whole meal was about $13 and it was actually a good portion, not HUGE ones like entrees normally are.

  • Maria June 4, 2010, 12:10 am

    haha I love your modus operandi. I have no problem sticking to the first but the 2nd two are always problems! Actually, I would say that the $$ criteria is the hardest… especially if alcohol is involved!

  • Kellie June 4, 2010, 12:18 am

    I always look at the menu online before we go so I have a gameplan.

  • Molly June 4, 2010, 12:27 am

    I usually avoid fried and battered entrees. Usually I try something grilled with vegetables. However if there is a specialty of the area I will just go for it. We all need to live a little right? It’s harder on vacation though, when you eat out all the time and eat delicious food!

  • tasha - the clean eating mama June 4, 2010, 12:33 am

    Ooo try the Layer Cake Zin – heaven!

  • Jackie (Peaces of Earth) June 4, 2010, 12:53 am

    Congrats on the house!! I order like that as well. That way you can get your greens in and have something special to the restaurant. 🙂 Entrees over overrated!

  • Camille June 4, 2010, 1:05 am

    Congrats on the house find!

  • Wei-Wei June 4, 2010, 1:16 am

    Meh, I’m a boring sort of girl – I get a soup and a salad. I’m not a vegetarian though, and often I like to split with other people so I get tastes of everything. 🙂

    I’m glad you’re having fun in Charlotte! Best of luck with the rest of the move. 😀


  • Helen June 4, 2010, 1:48 am

    Those wine glasses look huge! You’ve got to have wine for a true celebration!
    In restaurants I try to eat healthily by ordering salads without dressing on it, only on the side. If I don’t have salad I usually choose a vegetarian main meal with a side order of veggies.
    It looks like Charlotte is quite the hip n happenin place!!

  • Britt June 4, 2010, 1:59 am

    I do the same you do, stick to the appetizers unless I’m at one of my favorite restaurants, then I can’t stop myself but to order a favorite entree.

  • Hayley @ Breath of Fire June 4, 2010, 2:36 am

    I love doing a salad and an appetizer. A lot of times the appetizer menu is more fun than the entrees, anyway- it actually has stuff I like like HUMMUS or veggies.

  • Heather Rose June 4, 2010, 2:56 am

    I love the Seven Deadly Zins Zinfandel, great wine!

    I like to start with a salad at a restaurant, and then usually look for a veggie dish like grilled portabella mushrooms or something.

  • janessa June 4, 2010, 3:18 am

    Zin is always my fave!

  • Freya @ Brit Chick Runs June 4, 2010, 3:25 am

    I just ask them to change the dish if I don’t like something. If there’s a dressing I always ask for it on the side, cos 9 times out of 10, there’s too much of it!
    Have a great day:)

  • Julia @ June 4, 2010, 4:36 am

    Good advice!! Especially for a fledgling veggie like me.

    In general – share a dish with someone else, gulp down lots of water whilst eating (even bettter if the water is free), skip desert (but I haven’t got tha sweet a tooth, so maybe skip appetizer if you do!)


  • Emily Eats and Exercises June 4, 2010, 6:01 am

    I definitely sometimes struggle at restaurants. My parent’s always get a salad each and then share an entree. That’s my ideal, though my now ex-boyfriend always ordered meat so it didn’t work so well…

  • Courtney (Pancakes & Postcards) June 4, 2010, 6:13 am

    I like your tips. I am poor though so that often guides my choices… at many places an app plus salad is more expensive then one of the small entrees so I might do that. But I try to eat healthy and if I splurge, make it something really special that I can not make easily at home! And often those ARE healthy dishes–unhealthy stuff is so much easier to find!

  • Mary June 4, 2010, 6:14 am

    I do the same as you, order a salad and an appetizer. it keeps variety and makes me feel like I’ve eaten in instead of eaten out 🙂

  • Jessica @ How Sweet It Is June 4, 2010, 6:31 am

    Love that you guys ended up at a club – how fun!

  • lisa June 4, 2010, 6:36 am

    I order a main dish, but just eat about half of it, depending on the size. I love to have leftovers the next day, and portions are always too large. Sometimes I go with a salad and appetizer, but it depends on the options.

  • MrsFatass June 4, 2010, 6:42 am

    Hey! You’re in my state! See me waving at you?? Hi!!!!!

  • Michal June 4, 2010, 6:49 am

    I somehow always felt like I was “supposed” to order an entree. I often find that appetizers are more expensive, though! I’ll strike the “entree obligation” thinking if I eat out anytime soon, though.
    Holding you to it – are you awake and running? 😉 Good luck with the landlord today!

  • Keri June 4, 2010, 6:58 am

    I love 7 deadly zins! Good luck on your run 😉

  • Kath June 4, 2010, 7:00 am

    Yay Blue!! Love that place.

  • Diana (Mymarblerye) June 4, 2010, 7:34 am

    you need to get paid by whatever city you are in’s tourism board. Now I really wanna visit charlotte from the past couple of posts you’ve made. And I’m totally stealing your dining “thang”: salad + appetizer it is!

  • Jen June 4, 2010, 7:36 am

    Blue looks good. I’ve never been!

    Dressing on the side, prepared without butter and salt, and can you add more veggies, please 😉

  • Annie@stronghealthyfit June 4, 2010, 7:37 am

    Good strategy, and that meal looks fabulous! Congrats to your husband 🙂
    Looks like things are working out for you guys, so happy for you!

  • Sarah (Running to Slow Things Down) June 4, 2010, 7:57 am

    Honestly, I don’t eat out often enough to worry about eating healthy when eating out. 😉 However, I do always start with a salad (dressing on the side) and just stop eating my meal when I’m full. Usually it’s way too much food for one person, and I’ll split it or bring the other half home.

    This restaurant looks great! 😀

  • Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman June 4, 2010, 8:00 am

    If the restaurant offers them, I try to get an entree salad. Of course, if it’s a special restaurant I’ll get an entree and just say, “Screw it.” Sometimes you need to live it up. Most other times I want to save cash.

  • Tina June 4, 2010, 8:25 am

    I would never really think to order a salad and appetizer as a meal, but it sure is a good idea. Especially the way portions are, those two would make perfect meal components. Although, I will admit that if something else on the menu really catches my eye – I’m getting it. 😀

  • Gracie (complicated day) June 4, 2010, 8:28 am

    If you liked the layer cake it’s on sale at World Market this week! My husband and I usually split an appetizer or both get a salad, then each order an entree – and eat leftovers for lunch the next day!

  • emily June 4, 2010, 8:31 am

    My “trick” is that I only eat things that are a) healthy or b) I’m excited about. For example, I love bread basket bread, so I eat it, but I don’t enjoy sandwich bread, so I always eat my sandwiches/burgers naked.

  • Carolyn @ lovinlosing June 4, 2010, 8:43 am

    I’m with you on the appetizers. They usually taste better anyway!

  • Allie June 4, 2010, 8:56 am

    love seven deadly zins!

  • allison @ livingoneday June 4, 2010, 9:05 am

    so…tell me what you really think about the hummus 😉 love your restaurant M.O. – i do exactly the same thing!! salad and app or side dishes is where its at! or my boyf and i will eat get an app and share an entree. it’s more fun and you get to try more things!

  • Heather ( June 4, 2010, 9:26 am

    looks like a fancy place!
    did you run???
    I order off the kids menu at places that don’t care about your age to save money!

  • Ashley (whole-ier) June 4, 2010, 9:26 am

    I like you MO. I love getting apps and by the time my real meal comes I’m stuffed. a side salad would be perfect. I just might steal this idea!

  • Robyn @ Frugal 'n' Fit! June 4, 2010, 9:39 am

    The app and salad idea is perfect for vegetarians. Usually the veg entree at restaurants is pasta, and who wants to pay $15 for white pasta? If no one else at the table orders an app, I ask for it to be sent along with the salad so that I’m not eating alone!

    I also like to check out menus online beforehand and create a plan beforehand.

  • giordin June 4, 2010, 9:57 am

    Mmmm I love 7 Deadly Zins too!

    I have started to find sometimes that salads and appetizers are almost as much as an entree at some restaurants so I’m really careful about that. But it’s usually what I’d prefer to eat, too, since I hardly ever want to order pasta at a restaurant. I do love to indulge at restaurants every once in awhile though.

  • Amber K @ sparkpeople June 4, 2010, 11:17 am

    I tend to eat at restaurants that provide nutritional and ingredient information as it makes me feel more comfortable with what I’m eating. My husband and I only eat out about once a month, and we tend to always go to the same place. So really, I don’t even think about it that much.

  • Jennifer June 4, 2010, 12:08 pm

    You are already picking up on the Southern culture–you wrote “y’all”!!

  • Lisa June 4, 2010, 12:35 pm

    That’s an excellent way to save calories and money. I like to order soup and salad instead of an entree, or I split a huge entree with a friend.

  • Anne @ Your Kind of Salad June 4, 2010, 12:58 pm

    One of my favorite tricks is the “sides” menu; this is usually where you’ll find steamed or lightly sauteed vegetables – and many times, I’ve made a delicious meal from various “sides” of vegetables etc. Its ironic; but I find the best vegetarian sides at steak houses! Their sides are usually deliciously decadent and done so well that you want to forget the meat. Enjoy Charlotte!

  • Melinda Neely June 4, 2010, 4:32 pm

    1. Stay away from fried foods.
    2. Watch the appies.
    3. Steer clear of creamy sauces.
    4. If you order dessert, share it with someone else.

    Hope you enjoy my old stomping ground. Charlotte looks so sophisticated now!

  • Kim June 4, 2010, 4:53 pm

    7 deadly zins is one of my favorites!

    The salad + appetizer combo is awesome for when you want to get something you REALLY LIKE instead of settling for fettucini alfredo… and it is usually enough to fill me up too, especially at restaurants with bread bowls. Sometimes I even split the appetizer with my fiancee (aka he steals it off my plate) and it’s still enough food, and not wasted cash!

  • Jess June 4, 2010, 6:12 pm

    I’ve really enjoyed reading your posts the last few days, because next week I’m head up to Charlotte to visit one of my college roomies and her hubby, who recently moved to the area. Thanks for the “preview”

  • Heather June 4, 2010, 9:07 pm

    That’s how I always operate at restaurants, too. ESPECIALLY if there is a bread basket. Or Mexican, with chips and salsa. Tonight I went out for a family dinner at a Mexican restaurant, and by the time I ate chips & salsa, I wasn’t too hungry so I got a side of beans ($1.50), fajita veggies ($2) and a small salad ($1.50). Way cheaper than the vegetarian fajitas (which were $9) and I didn’t feel grossly overstuffed afterward.

    Is the husband still on the semi-vegan kick? Is he eating eggs and just not dairy?

    • caitlin June 4, 2010, 9:45 pm

      he eats eggs but not dairy. 🙂 no dairy in weeks!

  • Jolene ( June 5, 2010, 11:37 am

    I usually pack up half my meal at a restaurant if it is a really big portion.

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