A Restaurant Diet Reprieve

A Restaurant Diet Reprieve

What a jam-packed morning! I’ve already run 4 miles, went to yoga, and the grocery store – all before 10:30 AM! I love being on vacation!

Now, onto my post for the day. As many of you know, it has now been two weeks since my husband and I put ourselves on a restaurant diet – opting to not spend any money on dining out. But yesterday – on the first day of my staycation, we decided to use a gift card and treat ourselves to lunch. 

Let me tell you, we were so excited about going out to eat and really excited that we could do it without going off of our restaurant diet. We contemplated several outings and several different choices of restaurants. We decided to head to the Lincoln Park Zoo in downtown Chicago for a touristy vacation activity. But, before the zoo, was the main event (at least in our minds it was) – going out to lunch!  


When deciding on where we would lunch near the zoo, we contemplated between Mon Ami Gabi – a very nice French restaurant, or RJ Grunts, a Chicago icon known for its sandwiches and salad bar. We’ve been to both restaurants several times before and have had great experiences at both. We decided on RJ Grunts (I was so looking forward to their yummy french fries), the original Lettuce Entertain You Restaurant – as the sign says on the door.

RJ Grunts in Lincoln Park, Chicago, IL

RJ Grunts in Lincoln Park, Chicago, IL

Boy, did we make the wrong choice. The restaurant was so incredibly crowded on a Monday during lunch that we waited for 30 minutes for a table in a high traffic area. Next, it took us another 10 minutes for a server to even acknowledge us. And, come to find out when I finally ordered my sandwich, the server told me they no longer serve french fries but homemade chips! At this point, my husband and I were very disappointed and I even contemplated leaving. But, we stuck it out in hopes that the food would make up for our initial experience. 

My husband and I decided to split a “Mr Chicken” sandwich – similar to a beef sandwich with au jus sauce, but with chicken, peppers, and cheese. My husband also ordered a big bowl of chili to subsidize our split. When our sandwich arrived, the staff had pre-split our meal which I thought was a nice gesture.

Mr. Chicken Sandwich - my split

Mr. Chicken Sandwich - my split

The meal, including the homemade chips, looked tempting, although after one bite I concluded that the sandwich was really nothing special – another disappointment. Much to our delight, the chips were quite good, some crunchy, some soft like french fries, although you wouldn’t find me dipping then in ketchup anytime soon. 

The highlight of the meal was actually the dessert, one of RJ’s famous chocolate malts and that my friend was worth every penny of $4.50 we deducted from the gift card.

Overall, our first dining out experience after a two week restaurant hiatus was a little lackluster – leaving us feeling very unsatisfied and a bit hungry. It could have been the food, it could have been the atmosphere, or it could simply be that we are becoming even bigger food snobs. Or maybe, just maybe, our restaurant diet is helping us see that dining out isn’t all it’s made out to be. 

Check please!

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