If you go to a restaurant, maybe going to a tapas place is best since they have small plates with smaller quantities, right? Well, maybe. Last night, I went to eat with my husband and cousin to a new tapas restaurant at Jacksonville Beach. It's called The G.O.A.T. Tapas and Bar and it was delicious. However, this is not a restaurant review. It is more of a menu analysis for people who need to eat healthy. Pictured below is our menu for the evening. Let's go through the dining experience step by step and see if there were better choices,
Drinks: The server came and asked what we wanted to drink. I chose a bottle of sparkling water. No need to waste any of the calories I've been saving for dinner on drinks. Was this a good decision? Definitely!
From the garden: There were six choices here. We chose the potatoes (sliced potato fingerlings fried with paprika and garlic aioli sauce on the side). They were tasty but knowing fried potatoes are full of fat, I chose to only eat two pieces without the sauce. The guys I was with had no problem finishing it up. I focused mostly on the next garden choice, the crispy brussel sprout salad. The brussel sprouts were cooked perfectly with soft centers and crispy outsides. I ate almost the whole thing and then I realized that the Nuoc Mam sauce (Vietnamese fish sauce) the brussel sprouts were coated in was probably loaded with salt. Sure, enough, when I looked it up, the sauce has about 1500mg of sodium per tablespoon. The third thing we got from the garden was a pair of mushroom and corn empanadas. They were super tasty, and my favorite dish of the night, but again, fried. I only ate half of one. Were these good decisions? No they weren't.
From the sea: The choices here were crispy whole fish, a couple of shrimp dishes, one mussel dish and one octopus dish. Nothing in this section really screamed out to me so the guys chose the octopus and ate it. Was this a good decision? Yes. Don't eat something just for the sake of eating.
From the land and air: There were seven choices here: chicken liver mousse, Wahoo tartar, charred quail, a short rib, hanger steak, grilled chicken and pork belly. We chose the Short rib and the grilled chicken. The rib looked amazing sitting in that sauce and I was told it was. However, I knew a healthier choice was coming, grilled chicken, so I waited. The chicken came out and it was good and had a smoked paprika sauce on the side. Was this a good decision? Yes, a lean protein with just a dab of the sauce was enough to satisfy.
We all chose to forego the meat and cheese appetizer place full of saturated fat and processed meats. We also did not get a dessert. So those were definitely good choices.
All in all, I was able to manage fairly well (except for the sodium levels) so my choices were okay. Would I have been able to eat more with better choices? Definitely. I did not leave hungry though. Would I recommend a tapas restaurant to someone who is new to trying to eat healthy? No. It's much easier to manage what you're eating in an environment that gives you the necessary nutrition information before you eat. Otherwise, you get hit with surprises. Still, going out to eat isn't always about the food. Sometimes it's about just getting out with people and being happy. Overall health is both physical and mental. So, if you find yourself in a situation that might put you in a panic over the menu, just take a deep breath, do the best you can with the food, and enjoy your night with good people.
Lisa Pleasants is a Nutrition Consultant certified by the American Fitness Professionals & Associates. Nutrition is her passion and the articles you find here are just some tips on achieving better nutrition.