Friday, February 6, 2009

Eating Out Without Breaking the Bank

By Millicent K. Brody

Maybe its’ been a while since you’ve been out to dinner with friends. Secretly, you’re craving a meal in a restaurant, but your budget and wallet are screaming, “NOT YET!”

“Well, why not?” says I. You can do it! Change your dining patterns. Instead of going to dinner, meet for breakfast.

Most neighborhood diners offer daily breakfast specials. If that doesn’t work, head over to Mama’s Caboose in Berkeley Heights for a hunk of Kim’s delicious sour cream coffee cake with apricots and a cup of illy coffee. Or stop by Culinary Creations in Hillsborough for one of Andrew Pantano’s breakfast specials. Visit your local bagel place. Grab a table, order a bagel with lox and a smear of cream cheese with tomato and onion, and a cup of coffee. Livingston Bagel in Livingston offers all you’d ever want to eat for breakfast. You take your place on a queue, place your order, and pay for exactly what is on your tray. That way, YOU are in control of YOUR bill.

Dinner options could easily begin with drinks and hors ‘d'oeuvres at your house. Then on to a restaurant where you may order several appetizers, dessert, and coffee. Or, you could easily share a couple of appetizers, an entree, an order of pasta, one dessert, and coffee. Or simply, go out for dessert and coffee. If you’re wandering around Westfield, stop in at the Chocolate Bar. Not only will you love a cup of Neil’s Belgian hot chocolate and a dish of his house-made gelato, you’re sure to enjoy the art of dining out.

$$$$: Consider asking for separate checks. Although this practice is not exactly in vogue today, it's certainly acceptable.

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