Healthy Choices while Dining Out

Healthy Choices while Dining Out? Is this an oxymoron?

Legal Harborside

270 Northern Ave.
Liberty Wharf
Boston, MA 02210

Following up on my last post, readers of my blog will be happy to know that I am down 36 pounds since November, and that I am now more-than-ready to re-engage in the “Restaurant Guy” blog, with a new focus on healthy choices

I’ve contended the term "Healthy Dining Out” is an oxymoron, however, my girlfriend Yvonne, says “Of course, it’s doable!”.  So, as the “Restaurant Guy” blog evolves, let’s find healthy eating out options!

A client of mine told me about an absolutely incredible crusted tuna dinner he had at LTK (Legal Test Kitchen -225 Northern Ave, Boston, MA 02210.)  He enjoyed it so much, he inquired after the healthiness of it.  The word came back from the kitchen…2800 Calories.  That’s the equivalent of five Big Macs.  In his words, “He would have left LTK thinking he had a healthy tuna dinner had he not asked for the calories.”

Two days later, I picked up Yvonne at Logan after her three-day business trip.  Sitting in Friday night MassPike traffic was NOT my idea of a good time, so we went over to the Liberty Wharf area. We had openers at 75 on Liberty Wharf (one of our favorite spots), while waiting for Legal Harborside to open.  The view, the wine, the service and the conversation were all amazing.

I had made - reservations at Legal Harborside for 6pm; my thought was “This is Legal’s…it has to be healthy, right?”

We were greeted by a lovely hostess, who sat us at my requested table overlooking the harbor next to a gas fireplace.  The night was certainly shaping up to be special. 

Our waiter came to the table, described the specials.  We immediately asked him for healthy choice recommendations.

He laughed, and said “Go with the chicken, it’s the healthiest thing on the menu.”

Hold on.  The healthiest option at Legal’s is the chicken?  There is something counter intuitive about this.

I started to get concerned.  We could have gone to Del Frisco’s for a healthy steak.  This is a fish place; with the exception of mercury in some fish, isn’t fish healthy?

Thankfully, Yvonne kicked in.  Yvonne started asking how the fish was prepared.  To his credit, the server was well versed in how the meals were prepared, as well as some meals to simply avoid.

Yvonne quickly honed in on scallops (pan-seared, on bed of vegetables, with polenta).  The issue was the scallops were prepared in butter.  A consensus was quickly reached… could the chef prepare the scallops with olive oil?

A quick check had our scallops’ order being prepared. 

The other thing Yvonne and I have been doing in the past few months is splitting an entree.  With all due respect to my late parents, I was always taught to eat everything put in front of me (“There are starving children in Biafra.”)  By splitting an entrée, the caloric intake is immediately half of what it would have been otherwise.  This is respectful of a quick suggestion a nutritionist made, “Eat whatever you want, and don’t eliminate the things you like, as you’ll crave them later and binge.  Just cut the volume in half.”

Dinner was fabulous…and then it was time for dessert.

We went with a pear.  Far better for us than the Legal Profiteroles.

Overall, a good compromise allowing a fabulous evening to continue.

One thing we debated is how to rate these experiences.  Legal Harborside already got a green on the RAG scale.  On the Healthy Choices Dining Out Scale, Legal Harborside gets good marks for cooking with olive oil at our request, however gets a Red light for Healthy Choices Dining Out.

  • Overall – Green Light
  • Healthy Choices Dining Out – Red Light

Please share your thoughts!!

About the RAG scale:

       Green Light – Go and enjoy

       Amber Light – Use caution

       Red Light – Save your time and money

The Author

Gary Kelley has lived in Westborough since 1994. His reviews are what he would tell friends, and are not an academic analysis. You can follow him @glkelley or www.garylkelley.com

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Gary Kelley February 07, 2013 at 01:59 PM
Thanks, Ron. I've never thought of Legal's as a "have it your way" kind of place, and it will be good to try!
Gary Kelley February 07, 2013 at 02:00 PM
mrh, thanks for your note. I am finding the healthy eating making be feel better as well. Or is it the weight loss? In any event...all good and we're going to keep trying.
Ron Goodenow February 07, 2013 at 03:17 PM
You're a pioneer with lots of support. Check out today's NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/07/business/lighter-menus-appeal-to-diners-and-owners.html?ref=dining
Gary Kelley February 07, 2013 at 03:48 PM
Ron, I recently spent a couple weeks in New York and a week in San Francisco and observed the small plate trend first hand. "Appetizer" sized meals.... The truth is I found them very nice...and you could leave the restaurant without feeling bloated or with a doggy bag (which I am not a personal fan of using...I end up with the food spoiling in the fridge.) I'd much rather go with dramatically smaller portions...or at least the option of a half order.
Ron Goodenow February 08, 2013 at 08:15 PM
Romaine's in Nortboro has wonderful small plates. I've been trying to convince ChengDu, which seems to have increased portion size along with some prices, to do the same. Many Asian restaurants at least offer small veggie plates to accompany one big plate. Sometimes I like to dine alone and want to have options to a big entry -- or something to accompany one that does not have broccoli or string beans . We do enjoy Bocado in Worcester, a fine tapas place. I'd be interested to know what you discovered in San Francisco, our second home.


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