Tuesday, July 20, 2010

War of the Greens

Tonight, my family went to Sweet Tomatoes, a salad bar restaurant, for dinner. Sweet Tomatoes is a precarious balancing act in a lot of areas. It's rather pricey, but is set up buffet-style with salad, soup, baked potatoes, bread, pasta, fruit, jello, baked dessert, and ice cream. In other words, Sweet Tomatoes lets you gain the "freshman fifteen" without ever writing a paper or living in a dorm!

Buffets are great ones for that, as they employ economies of scale against you. See, you pay the same price at a place like Sweet Tomatoes whether you eat a single piece of lettuce, or enough food to make a "food pyramid" that would make Giza jealous. So, in order to get your money's worth, it makes more sense to eat more (and of course, there's no sharing). However, for dieters and those who like fitting through the average doorway, eating your way to a bargain has a lot of negative ramifications.

True. It's a salad bar. But no one in that restaurant is stopping at one cup of spinach, with some grilled chicken and veggies. No, this is the land of deliciosity - pre-made salads, cheese, sunflower seeds, and dressing. Then there's soup, which can be fairly light (vegetable) or fairly dense (cream of cauliflower made with American cheese - pleck). Baked potatoes are really just serving pieces for butter, cheese, and sour cream. Bread - sourdough, indian grain, blueberry muffins, cornbread, specialty muffins, and focaccia are "bred" to be diet-ruiners (ba-da-chhhhh!). Their pasta tends to be somewhat bland, but there's always a cream-sauce option - sometimes two (out of three).

After-dinner, the fruit and cafeteria-style desserts aren't too bad, as long as you like unripe honeydew and sugar-free jello mousse. Really, the perfect cherry on top of a calorie load is some artificial sweetener. There's always a special baked dessert - from chocolate lava cake to cherry cobbler, as well as brownies, because nothing says "just like mom's" like the next dress size. They also offer soft-serve "non-fat frozen yogurt," but if you put it on top of the baked dessert, and add syrup, toffee, peanuts, and cookie crumbles, you capsize the fat-free lifeboat. On top of this, they have nice people walking around with baskets of chocolate-chip cookies that they deposit on your now-groaning table.

See, Sweet Tomatoes is a hard restaurant, because it pits money against calories in a battle that few of us really want to fight. Sweet Tomatoes rewards the uneconomical, those really in touch with their stomachs, and, let's face it, the people who really want to eat. It tricks you into feeling good about yourself, because obviously, twenty servings of something served along with salad isn't bad for you. Granted, though, most other restaurants gleefully pile on unwanted calories without a thought - there it's a pay-as-you-eat system, though, so it's less tempting for us economically-minded friends. I don't want to bash Sweet Tomatoes, as I really do find it tasty, but it requires a lot of self-control and weighing the calorie/dollar ratio.

We ran into my aunt, uncle, cousin, and cousin-in-the-womb that night, which was quite fun - and for my toddler cousin who eats like a teenager, Sweet Tomatoes presents absolutely no dilemma.

I planned my Sweet Tomatoes attack in:
Grayish-brown pencil skirt, deep teal cowell-necked baby-doll sweater, purple veined disk earrings, big green ring with white and red accents, and gold giraffe wedges with turquoise piping.

No comments:

Post a Comment