When you get used to eating lunch at the same place, enjoying the same menu of favorites, and then suddenly they are closed, it's like losing your best friend or soemthing, you know?
Monday: Whole Foods Salad Bar
Healthy and not too expensive, this has remained a staple of my weekly lunch routine even with more tempting options. It is sensible and reliable and, at $7.99/lb, not too expensive if you avoid the heavier items. The bar offers spinach, chopped romaine, and mixed greens. One side has staples like cut vegetables and assorted dressings. The other side has pre-made combos like artichoke and tomatoes, Asian slaw, and marinated root vegetables. This week, I got the fried chicken salad over spinach with cherry tomatoes, grated carrots, celery and bleu cheese. It came out to about $6.50, mostly due to the chicken salad, made up of breaded chicken breast cut into bite-sized chunks, cheddar cheese and tomatoes in a creamy dressing. I felt like I had made a responsible choice, both dietarily and fiscally.
This relatively new addition to my lunch routine is parked outside my building every Tuesday and draws a reliable crowd who just fall short of chanting "Taco Tuesday" once breakfast has worn off in anticipation of lunch. The menu has a definte Latino influence with a standard selection of burritos and sides like beans and rice or fried plantains. But these gals play it a little funky by adding a corn and mango salsa and my new favorite - the curried chickpea and potato burrito. I get mine in a bowl with letttuce, tomatoes, cheese, the aforementioned corn mango salsa and sour cream (this is what one of them recommended, and she was right). The curry is spicy and works with the slightly sweet mango salsa. And even with the lack of meat, it is very filling and keeps me satisfied through the afternoon without feeling like a boulder. This week I also got a side of plantains with salt and pepper (they also come with Adobo or curry) for a total of $6.50.
By mid-week, I was really feeling kind of lost and turned to an old comfort food from my childhood - the bologna and mayonaise sandwich. Harbor East Deli does make a good sandwich, and I've had this one from them in the past - bologna on white with lettuce, tomato, mayo and swiss. It's a little pricey at $6.50 but is a quite the meaty sandwich, so I always feel like I'm getting what I pay for. I ate half for lunch with a sadly over priced Cesar salad ($5.99 for chopped romaine, grated parmesean, and a packet of Ken's Steakhouse dressing), making for a total of $14.50. When the 3:30 doldrums rolled around, I ate the second half and was well-fuled for the evening's cardio workout. Even though bologna isn't really part of my current dietary regimine, I retain a certain weakness for it, and when I choose to indulge, I rarely regret it.
The Legg Mason Cafeteria is open to the public, and for this we are eternally grateful. They entertain the international financial crowd, so you know the on-site dining is better than at most offices. This week they had a duck lunch on the menu - roasted duck breast with sage risotto, garlic green beans and a fig compote. I saw that item listed for Thursday's lunch when I checked their menu earlier in the week and was gastronomically counting down the days. As good as it was to think about eating duck for lunch, the reality fell just slightly short. The duck had a nice irony taste, and the green beans were cooked to perfection. The risotto, though.....It was strongly flavored and salty and just no good on its own. Even when I mixed in some of the fig compote, the risotto was still overpowering. Which only goes to show that sometimes the thought of something is better than the reality. Other than that, it was a lovely lunch. Coming in at $9.50, it was the deal of the week.
Friday: Ra Sushi
I can't remember the first time I had a Bento box, but I do know that it has always felt natural for me. My particular eating habits are well-suited for it. I gravitate toward eating my food in sections - first the veg, then the meat, etc. And even though I know there is something a little overt about Ra Sushi - a little trendy and less than authentic - I really like their bento box. It's one of the most genuine items on a menu that features things like the Viva Las Vegas roll ("Kani kama crab and cream cheese rolled in rice and seaweed, lightly tempura battered and topped with spicy tuna, kani kama crab mix & sliced lotus root; finished with a sweet eel sauce and spinach tempura bits"). Yeah. My bento came with an egg roll, a gyoza, slaw in one corner and a green salad in the other, and four shrimp tempura on a bed of rice. Even with the presence of so many deep-fried items, it was not greasy. Plus the rice was sticky enough to eat with chopsticks. It wasn't outstanding, but it felt familiar and good and just what I wanted. And that's a lot of food for $9.00.
And, of course there was a cupcake from IcedGems. Today I tried their new Hot Chocolate, and it tasted true to its namesake - a light chocolate flavor topped with a marshmallow icing that gave me heart palpatations. Despite my cupcake dalliances in August, I remain loyal to IcedGems for creations like this.