I went out for a farewell lunch with my team today. We went to a bar in the city centre, with a fairly typical bar menu. So – a Paleo Lunch?
I'm quite happy to go almost anywhere to eat, with the knowledge that on most menus, with a bit of staff interaction, a Paleo meal can be put together.
I start by ruling out any predominately grain based meals, such as pasta, pizza, pies and sandwiches. Of the remaining dishes I'm usually left with a few meaty options, of which I’ll try to identify the least likely to be fried (typically in vegetable oil), processed, coated (gluten), or marinated (often in sauces containing ingredients like gluten and sugar). Unless the menu is extremely limited I also rule out salads and vegetable based options, as I don’t find them filling and they often have many ingredients I wouldn't eat (like dressings, sauces, cheese and croutons).
At this stage today I was left with these options: –
- Slow braised lamb shanks served with minted rich gravy & mash
- Surf & Turf. 200g rump steak, prawns sautéed in garlic served with chive butter, fries and salad.
- Grilled Barramundi fillet with creamy mash & asparagus served with a hollandise sauce.
- Lamb Cutlets served with creamy mash, olive pesto & wholegrain mustard cream
I generally look at all of the menu options and mix and match my chosen meat with the vegetable and salad sides on offer with other meals. I've not yet been to a restaurant unable to accommodate my Paleo mix and match requests. Had there not been so many good options, I would have also considered things like the burger (without the bun, fries or sauces).
I went for the lamb shanks, as I knew they should be unprocessed and not fried. I asked for the lamb to come without the mash and sauce, but with plain vegetables instead. It arrived with roasted eggplant, capsicum, zucchini & mushroom (luckily I've not started my nightshade elimination experiment yet), which was a perfect Paleo meal.
I find pubs, bars and steak houses the easiest places in which to eat out, where there is usually a lot of reasonable options to choose from. A good Indian restaurant is often a surprisingly good choice too. I always ask the staff exactly what is in each dish, and there are often tomato based sauces or dry cooked meats, which are a great Paleo option. In my experience Chinese and Japanese can be a bit more testing. Quite often I actually find it easier to say I'm allergic to soy and gluten and ask for the staff to help me find a suitable option.
One of the things I enjoy about going off-menu, is the inevitable discussions it provokes from my pasta-eating dining companions – an excuse to talk Paleo is always welcomed.
How do you get a Paleo meal from a non-Paleo option? Do you find some types of restaurant better than others? I’d love to find out what tricks I'm missing!