I’ve been thinking about this all weekend. Bonaparte and I went to our favorite restaurant Saturday evening—Spring Mill Café in Conshohocken. We were celebrating his birthday in the best way we knew how—by dining.
Our favorite place–Spring Mill Cafe! Philly’s best and it’s BYOB!!
So, what was I thinking about? I’ll tell you.
Back when I was working for the healthcare company in Wayne; the one that closed the very last day in December of 2014 and started my bout with unemployment and, consequently, the birth of this blog, I worked with a co-worker who made a remark that stuck with me since she made it.
We were making office small talk about dinner. It was no secret that she and her husband went “out to eat” at least three times a week. The reason being that she was too tired to cook when she arrived home. And due to her fatigue, she and her husband would get in the car, drive to a chain restaurant, have dinner and then go back home.
I’m so tired. I sat at a desk all day and pretended to work!
While we were having this conversation, I did mention that we, Bonaparte and I, rarely went out to dinner because I cooked at home. And when we did go out, it was because of a special occasion or event.
And the following remark that she made was the one that stuck with me. She said “Oh—you’re just too cheap to go out to eat”
Yes. Just call me a member of cheapskates anonymous–Bonaparte can only dream about that one with the way I spend!
There were quite the number of replies that I could have thrown back at her. I could have mentioned that it is far healthier to cook at home rather than go to a cheap chain and eat fat-laden garbage. Or I could have mentioned that when we do go out to dinner, we dine and spend quite a good amount of money for sustainable food. But I didn’t want to go there because I would have sounded bitchy.
Yeah. I coulda talked some smack too–but then I would have been called into HR!
I just shrugged it off. After all, living with a Frenchman was making me quite the expert on The French Shrug!
A “meh” and a shrug leaves more of an impact anyway! Oui!
Then again, this was a woman who judged a restaurant by the quantity of food rather than the quality of food served. The more food on the plate meant a better restaurant. Less food meant poor quality.
This is not how I rate a restaurant–trust me, I love a great cheeseburger and fries, but in human portions!
And it’s hard to judge because when my kids were young and with the running around that I did with their baseball, basketball, soccer, Irish Dance, field hockey, guitar lessons and various other activities crammed into an ever-changing schedule, there were those nights when we would head to a chain for a quick dinner. My chain of choice was Pizza Hut—and I can’t stand pizza but the bread sticks with a salad were an ideal meal for me back then.
Hey man, if Pizza Hut was good enough for Ringo then it was good enough for me and my kids!!
There were also the nights that I would stop at White Castle on the way home from Oona’s dance lessons. And the nights we went to Old Country Buffet. Boston Market was my take-out of choice but I always had room for Taco Bell!
No–that would be ME during the middle of the night after Boston Market take out!
So, I really can’t come off as self-righteous here.
But what bothered me was being called “cheap”. I love a bargain, but I dare say that declining to go out three times a week to a chain restaurant dinner is called cheap.
For all her fatigue from work and being too tired to cook, it takes more time and energy to get back into the car, drive to the restaurant, get a parking spot, wait for a table, sit down and wait to be served, wait for the food to come, eat, wait for the check, pay for the food, get back in the car and drive home. Not to mention the cost.
How long does it take to open a box of pasta, heat up frozen broccoli and toss it together with the pasta and add a bit of olive oil and parmesan cheese? How long does it take to grill a chicken breast and have a salad? All in the comfort of your own home.
And if you don’t like broccoli there’s always cherry tomatoes! Less time to boil the water and throw the pasta in then to drive to a local chain for dinner!
Perhaps Bonaparte and I are frugal rather than downright cheap.
And Saturday evening, we dined. And we had a marvelous time! Come along with me while I relive our dinner. OK? You don’t even have to get dressed either! I’m in my pajamas now!
The weather was gloomy on Saturday so I wore my favorite brocade pants from Old Navy! They stretch so they are very meal-friendly if you know what I mean!
This is the “other” building at Spring Mill Cafe–little events and parties are held here-although we did have dinner here once and it is a charming little cottage!
We made our way to the restaurant…
…had the weather been nicer I would have been tempted to eat out on the patio.
Instead, we made our way to the restaurant via the front porch…
…where “our” table was waiting..
…and we enjoyed our Kir Royals...
…while the wine breathed!
We started off with our usual Country Pate Tasting.
The Birthday Man had his usual grass-fed steak..
While I went with Rack of Lamb and what a rack this was!
Bonaparte, who detests veggies, gagged when he saw the side of Kale that I ordered (and I ate the whole thing)! It was delicious!
And for dessert, a cream and berry festooned Mousse au Chocolat!
What say you? Do you prefer to dine or eat? Have your tastes in restaurants changed as you’ve gotten older-I definitely know my tastes have. I don’t like going to those places that I went to when the kids were young.
Well—one caveat. Taco Bell is my weakness!
Yes I do. I love me some Taco Bell and always will!
Here’s Fergie’s Glamoorous–the song where she sings about Taco Bell!
Catherine, thanks for always making me giggle! Just love your blog…ever think about being a cartoonist? Your drawings are really good….
HI Michele! Thank you–I’m always happy to make you giggle!! I love to draw and need to get back to it. My oldest son as been asking me to create an illustration for his apartment. Methinks the time is now!!!! XOXOXOXO!!!!
I’m with you Catherine. We go out to eat for special occasions only–but then it’s really a celebration.
Your birthday dinner for Bonaparte looked delicious! And such a lovely restaurant. You looked lovely too!
Molly–Right????? That’s what makes those occasions special!!! If I’m that tired I can open a can of peas and eat them right from the can–which I’ve actually done in the past–before I met Bonaparte–he would die if he saw me doing that now-!! Thank you so much we had a lovely time together!! XOXOXOXO!!!
I think I work with your former co-worker. Only she’s now become a lot worse. Since I am French, I shrug a lot while at work…
Lol!! Hélène!!! Oh non!! I fell your pain!!!! Keep shrugging!!!💖💖💖💖
That ex co-worker sounds like a real philistine – (probably voted for Trump as well!!).
PS Love your blog.
Oh. I’m sure she did!!!. Thank you!!!!!!!!!!
I find it quite intriguing how different people’s “essential expenditure” can be! There are always co-workers who call your spending less on their essentials ‘cheap’ and more on things they don’t buy ‘flash’ – so silly!
Well I am yes lazy my kitchen came with the house!
I am so lame working on being better at it!
But Mr Fun aka spouse is super super picky…..sigh!
Hi Debe! I love that line that the kitchen came with the house!!! XOXOXOXOXO
We dine. We eat at home mostly, but we like to go out during the middle of the week from time to time, since it gives my resident chef a night off. (He is still working, I’m retired – but he is a much better cook than I am. It works!)
Hi Vava! I think a great couple has the one who cooks and the one who cleans. I cook and the husband cleans up after me because we are like Felix and Oscar from the Odd Couple–only I’m Oscar!!!! XOXOXOXO!!!
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Yes, yes and yes to all you have said.
On dine au restaurant.
To eat is just to fill your belly, to dine is a social experience with friends or your significant other. To share a conversation, have a good time good food and wine.
I would be very unhappy if I had to eat outside 3 times a week, Especially at one of those chain restaurants. It has nothing to do with money and everything with what tastes good and is healthy.
Hubby and I enjoy going out to dinner but not because I’m too tired to cook.
I’ve just come back from a trip and have been eating outside the house lunch and dinner every day for one week. While it’s fun for a short while I will be off restaurants for a bit. Nothing beats home cooked!
Salad, tomatoes, mozzarella, pasta, lentils, soup…..very easy to whip up. I resort to frozen food sometimes when I’m in a cinch.
B! You hit the nail on the head! It has nothing to do with money and everything about taste and health. And even when we travel, there’s nothing like coming home and preparing a decent, home-cooked meal. We’re already planning our dinner for Saturday night!!! XOXOXOXOXO!!!
What an intriguing comment from your former co-worker – it is quite a sad thing to say really. I guess it says how little she values herself or her life. You can dine “cheaply” but if you savour every mouthful and really appreciate it then all is good – and no I dont mean necessarily going to the bargain bucket places – a good meal, sourced from local ingredients without too much going on doesnt have to be wallet busting. You can buy quality – but if you don’t enjoy it then money wasted, whatever you spent. That can be a decent coffee or a full meal. I mean either going out or staying in to cook, we go out once in a blue moon – but like you I love food and I grew up with a passionate vege and fruit gardener – I love food and I value it, if you cook then you are more likely to value the ingredients and the skill when you do go out. By the way – your kale looks delicious 🙂
Hi Juliet. You’re correct on so many points. And when you cook at home, you know what you are getting. Over the holidays when the kids were here I made pita break and home made gyro meat and it was a huge hit. And a lot of cooking is time management. I’ll admit, I take a huge break from baking during the summer because we’re out and about more–but if it’s a rainy weekend, I’ll incorporate bread making into my daily routine. OMG. That freaking kale was the best I had ever tasted–it was lightly garlicky and buttery and ohhhhhh sooooo goooooooooooooooddddddddd!!! XOXOXOXO!!!!
We are young-ish empty nesters and every Friday we dine out at a local establishment at 6pm.
Right about 5:45 one of us will wander the house looking for the other one. It’s such a nice routine.
LOL. Patricia!! Sounds like Bonaparte and me when we go out!!! XOXOXOXO!!!
I so agree with you Catherine. We shudder when we hear people judging a ‘restaurant ‘ (invariably a fast food chain outlet) as good because – you get a lot, it comes quickly and it doesn’t cost much! We are not snobs but we do enjoy good healthy food and wine when we dine out and don’t mind waiting for freshly cooked food. At home everything is cooked from scratch, including our bread. I’m fortunate to have time to do that, but as you rightly say it need not take long or cost a lot to eat well. I brought my son up to cook and he’s now a very good adventurous cook who knows how to eat healthily and frugally. You looked amazing. I love reading your blog, thank you 😊
Hi Kathy! You bring up a good point–just because you appreciate great food doesn’t make you a food snob. It’s so true. I’ll eat just about anything as long as it’s good and not garbage! And that home made bread is so much better.
Like you, my kids learned to cook at an early age and they are now very good cooks and that’s because they love a good meal!! Thank you so much!! XOXOXOXO!!!!
Hi Cathe, I think your former co-worker felt a bit guilty about being too tired to cook so often for her husband (maybe even unknown to herself) and that was why she retorted with a rude and nasty comment directed at you – to take the glare of her own stuff. Lise
The glare OFF her own stuff – 🙂 Lise
Hi Lise–Right??? If someone doesn’t want to waste money three times a week to go out to dinner I would hardly call them cheap. Rude has been the new normal for quite some time now and it’s too bad!!! XOXOXOXO!!!!
We grow our own lamb, chicken, veggies and honey so it seems a shame to waste all that work and good food by going out. But when we do, I want a :”foodie” meal – something I wouldn’t make for myself that someone else does very well. And I don’t really care about the cost because we do it so seldom. We even bring our own food when running errands for day (nearest “big town” is 45 miles away) because fast food just makes me feel logey. Also helps to save money for those special meals out! Your dinner looked scrumptious!
Thanks Cyndy!!! You’re very fortunate to be raising your own and growing your own. I think if I had such a sustainable farm to table environment, I would NEVER leave home to go out to eat or dine!!! Fast food sucks (with the exception being Taco Bell, naturally). I’m also glad that we’re not the only ones who save for an exceptional dinner out!!! ThanksXOXOXOXO
Hi Catherine, that cafe is so charming and the food looks de-lish! Definitely my kind of place. I like to dine out, but the Hubs travels for work and the LAST thing he wants to do when he gets home is go out to eat or dine. Anyway, we both enjoy cooking, nothing too fancy or involved (we love Ina Garten) with good produce and such. We’re very lucky to have a bounty of food growing within 5 miles of our house..Fruit/Veg stands a plenty!! Ok, I’ll admit it..I’ve got an IN and Out Burger place within 5 miles, too!! LOL!! On a rare occasion…I’ve just gotta have it!! Dang, though, I’m still struggling to keep the last 3 pounds off that I regained, ugh! Alrighty, that’s another story, ha.
Have a terrific weekend! It’s Friday Eve, yippy!!
Hi Rene! Oh…I think we all have those guilty pleasures (Taco Bell Gordita) I”m struggling with five!!! But yeah, I love restaurants that feel lik esomeones home. And Ina–please. I’ve NEVER made a recipe of hers that failed. Never. In fact, my daughter Oona is now hooked on Ina!!!!!! XOXOXOXO!!!!
I, like Miss Bougie, would be miserable eating out like that 3 nights a week! Aaaack. We have always been cook at home people. When our boys were in high school, there was always an extra teen around the table, surprised by the fact that there was dinner 6 PM 7 days a week! They got used to it, and I would get texts from their friends asking if there was room at the table. It’s good to know your kids friends…