I’ve had this discussion on numerous occasions and thought I’d write a bit about it here on the ol’ Drew Cooks! food blog. The question is pretty simple:
Is life too short to eat out at chain restaurants?
Let me get this out of the way first, I am not completely anti-chain, stick it to the man, against corporate North America, or whatever you want to call it. Hey, I’ve even worked in more than one chain restaurant over the years. As with anything, there are good ones and there are definitely bad ones.
But at the end of the day, if forced to give an answer, mine would have to be yes. Life IS too short to dine at chain restaurants for all our gatherings, special occasions and those times when we just don’t feel like cooking.
We are creatures of habit, we know we like that 6″ roasted chicken with southwest sauce from Subway on our lunch break, so we don’t want to risk trying that little deli around the corner with the cured meats and cheeses and grilled paninis. Hey, we may not like it. On the flip side, it could be the greatest sandwich we’ve ever eaten and we’ll never go back to boring mass produced subs ever again. At the very least, we may discover an ingredient, a method, a condiment or even a vegetable we never even knew existed, or thought we enjoyed. Wouldn’t that alone make trying a new place worth it?
Wouldn’t you rather give your business to a place where the head chef doesn’t get his new menu items from the “head office” but toils, perfects them and cooks them with passion? Don’t get me wrong, there are some extremely talented head chefs working at chain restaurants, but if you asked them I would bet nearly all would love to have their own little restaurant somewhere, complete control over their ingredients and food and glowing reviews. The reason many don’t do this is simple: it takes a lot of money and it’s hard. Very hard. Putting yourself out there on the chopping block (bad pun alert), going for it, being married to your restaurant for 16 hours a day, trying to turn a profit; like I said before, one thing makes that happen: passion.
This hard work and dedication is exactly the reason why we should visit the little guys instead of the big guys and see what we’re missing. Get a wood fired pizza from Commercial Dr. instead of Panago. Try some West Coast Italian cuisine from Vita Bella Ristorante on Hastings instead of Olive Garden, I could go on for hours.
Vancouver is a restaurant and foodie hot-bed waiting for your empty bellies, so get out there and try something new!