How One Restaurant Critic Had His Cake (Without Gaining Weight)

how-one-restaurant-critic-had-his-cakeAs Frank Bruni hangs up his restaurant critic’s hat for The New York Times, he reveals his strategies for staying slim while dining out repeatedly at many of the Big Apple’s restaurants, old and new.

Turns out Mr. Bruni had fought and lost the battle of the bulge for most of his life, until just before he began his turn as one of the paper’s most famous foodies. During his tenure, he consumed an average of 3,000 calories a day without putting back on the weight he’d lost, through — shocker! — regular exercise and by following five steadfast rules.

I don’t consume 3,000 calories a day every day (emphasis on the “every”), but I do eat out often. My strategies for dining out without regret include trying to make fish and/or salad a part of every meal. Sometimes I fail (Or do I? Does a caviar garnish count as fish?), but not usually. Splitting several dishes is quite effective as well. Two friends and I recently ordered two appetizers, two pasta courses, and two protein-heavy entrees for our table so we could try everything we desired without the guilt. Dessert, too, is made for sharing — unless someone at your table has more than one sweet tooth.

What do you do to avoid overdoing it when dining out? Or is dining out precisely the time you should overdo it?

Dining out with a Food Critic: Reality Bites

Do you dream of being one of the (supposedly) lucky folks who regularly dine out with food critics? Your dream may actually be a bit of a nightmare if you’re not prepared for the realities of what is required of their dining partners. Baltimore Sun restaurant critic Elizabeth Large reveals 10 truths about what you’re in for when you come along for a free meal, including the fact that there’s no such thing as free lunch (or dinner).

I haven’t had the pleasure (or displeasure, depending on your perspective) of dining out with a food critic, and it might be fun to do once. In general, though, I’d rather dine out as a civilian, if you will, than as a critic. I loathe looking for fault at restaurants as I’ve spent a good part of my life working at them and I know too well how hard it is to get everything right on any given night — the food, the service, the setting, and a thousand other variables. Also, I’m a firm believer that our enjoyment of many of life’s pleasures, dining included, is contextual. If you’re in good company, in a good mood, or simply having a good day, you’re probably going to have a good time. If you’re in a foul mood? Not so much.