Category Archives: Food

Hey, Rasika: Butter chicken is for lunch buffets, not for tasting menus

I’m a crazy Indian food fan, so it wasn’t hard picking a restaurant for a special dual-birthday dinner.

Rasika was one of the top 7 picks in Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema’s 2008 Dining Guide, and it was the second-highest-ranked Indian restaurant (41st overall) on Washingtonian’s 2008 Top 100. And while I’d eat Udupi Palace‘s lunch buffet for every meal if I could, I’d never been to a “modern” Indian restaurant.

Sitting at home with a full tummy (and with a bagful of leftovers in the fridge), I’m glad we went. But I’m also disappointed. For all the hype about Rasika’s innovative flair, the ostensible centerpieces of our meal consisted of the usual curry suspects available at any Indian restaurant.

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Chipotle comes clean on nutrition

I’ve been a huge Chipotle fan since the chain opened a restaurant in College Park in 2001 (for a time, it was the top-grossing location). When I moved to Florida in 2003, I had to wait a year and a half for another taste of cilantro-lime rice. It was torture.

I dig Chipotle’s emphasis on buying naturally raised meat (including gearing up to serve 100 percent Polyface Farm pork at its Charlottesville location) and organic beans. I’m not aware of any other fast-food chain whose Web site describes Concentrated Animal Feed Operations and suggests Omnivore’s Dilemma and Fast Food Nation for further reading (under the “manifesto” tab). Not only do I not mind that Chipotle is was owned by McDonald’s, I like the fact that a big, bad corporation like McD’s is pioneering once supported (see comment below; after Chipotle went public, McD’s apparently sold its stake) a company pursuing positive industrial-scale practices (I like Wal-Mart, with obvious caveats, for similar reasons).

My one reservation about Chipotle was a seeming lack of transparency about its menu’s nutritional information. While the big fast-food chains like McDonald’s, Burger King, and Taco Bell have nutrition pages linked prominently on their home pages, for the longest time Chipotle seemed to be hiding that its fare isn’t as healthy as some think (not least because each burrito is 1.5 to 2 meals worth of food). I was all set to write a post about how Chipotle needs to put its nutritional info where its mouth is, but then I discovered that they have put the information on their Web site.

I wish it were more obviously placed — you have to click on the FAQ page to find the link — but it’s better than nothing. So good for them, but they should move it onto the home page — and then stop making us overdose on sodium every time we want a burrito.