When we first became empty nesters, we started eating out a lot, at least once a week and sometimes more. We could go wherever we wanted, didn’t have to consider the pickier palates of teenagers, and could afford nicer places when it was just the two of us. But lately, we haven’t been eating out as much. After a couple of pricey, but pedestrian meals out, I just felt like I wasn’t getting much bang for my buck. Maybe the novelty is wearing off, or maybe I’m trying to eat healthier. Or maybe since my hours were reduced at work, I have more time for cooking at home. Whatever. Suffice it to say, for us, cooking better meals at home has replaced a lot of eating out.
But after a particularly stressful week, we decided to let someone else do the cooking for the first time in a few weeks. I remembered that the Caroline Street Cafe has started offering dinner on the weekends (Thurs.-Sat., I think), advertised as “family-style” and only $15 per person for a 3 course meal. So we checked it out last weekend. We were pleasantly surprised. We started with homemade rolls and a chopped salad, then had a platter of lamb, seafood jambalaya, and chicken & sausage jambalaya. For dessert, we got a chocolate cake and an apple tart. The food was very homey—in fact, the jambalaya tasted like something I might have cooked myself. Which isn’t exactly a huge compliment, but it was hearty and pretty good. And the apple tart was fantastic. So with drinks, tax and tip, we had a 3 course meal out for around $50. I consider that a decent value.
There is no choice on these weekend dinners. You get whatever the chef is dishing up that night. We are very adventurous eaters, and are generally happy to eat whatever a chef wants to cook. In fact, it's a very refreshing change from all of the restaurants with set menus. But if you are at all picky, you better call ahead and find out what's cooking. On the night we were there, a family of 4 adults came in, and when told the menu, the dad said he didn’t like lamb or jambalaya, so they left. Better yet, if you’re that picky, stick with Applebee’s.
Above right: Entrees are served family style on platters. In addition to the lamb and two kinds of jambalaya, there was fresh squash and roasted potatoes.
Above left: The apple caramel tart was to die for. And the chocolate cake with whipped cream layers reminded me of 2 favorite snacks of my youth, Drake's Yodels and Ring Dings. Anyone remember those?