Every now and again, I’ll get asked to go on a date, and although I’m really not looking for a man right now, it’s a rule for me to never turn down a free meal. In fact, this is where most of my Instagram foodie pictures come from, and yes, I do Instagram on the first date. But when I’m not being wined and dined, I am eating on a budget and by that I mean at all times my bank account is one McDonald’s Dollar Menu trip away from an overdraft fee and I’m usually subsiding on peanut butter, cheap wine and a stockpile of restaurant breath-mints.
So when my parents come in to town from Philadelphia, it’s like having tons of date nights in a row except that I don’t have to pretend to like them, or even talk to them really. My fam recently came in to town and I took it as an opportunity to go to some of my favorite, most expensive places in Florida and order a banquet’s worth of food. And this is what I call the BRAT diet.
BRAT diet. You may have heard of it in reference to the foods you eat when you have an upset stomach (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce and Toast), but I have taken the BRAT diet and made it legit AF.
B – Binge (order as much food as you can get away with – multiple appetizers, salad, soup, entree are more than appropriate).
R – Rally (if you’re getting full, deal with it. Rally and order more. Even if you don’t eat it in the restaurant, leftovers are a key part of this diet).
A – Alcohol (On Jilly’s normal budget = smuggling in a water bottle full of vodka and ordering the cheapest beer on Happy Hour. On parents’ budget = specialty martinis, and keep ‘em coming).
T – Thank. Well, you don’t want to seem ungrateful do you?? Plus this is your best bet for sticking to the BRAT diet – don’t let that gravy train run out. Parents love when their kids are grateful, they eat that ish up more than you eat up a free meal.
So now to the #foodporn portion. Here’s where we went, and what we ate:
Mussel Beach, Delray Beach, FL – IMO, Mussel Beach is one of the most underrated restaurants on the Ave. They have truly some of the best seafood in Delray Beach. And, did I mention that they give you truffle fries to start your meal FOR FREE?? Yes friends, this place serves truffle fries the way other places serve bread. It’s like they took a piece of my soul and turned it in to reality. Not to be dramatic or anything. Besides that, they have 12 different varieties of mussels, making it very difficult to choose! We went with the French Onion which was good, but not as good at the Prosciutto which I had tried previously when I went on a date there. Date bad, mussels good, I still call it a win.
We also did an order of the Peel and Eat Old Bay Shrimp, which if you read my blog, you know I’m a fan of Old Bay seasoning, and I ate these up, shell and all. Yes, while some of my friends find this to be quite the phenomenon that I discard the “peel” part of “Peel-And-Eat-Shrimp”, I don’t like to lose any of the flavor, and also someone once told me that the shells have vitamins in them so it must be true. Anyways. It was delicious.
Then came time for the main course. And when you are with parents who are paying at a seafood place, you’d be a fool to not order LOBSTER. And boy, did I. I got the Angry Lobster Tail dish which is 2 pan fried lobster tails with lemon, white wine, garlic, crushed red pepper and served with risotto and sautéed spinach. A total win. A dish fit for a King or Queen. Decadent, cooked to perfection and with all the right flavors.
My brother got the Skirt Steak Tacos, Dad got the Ahi Tuna and Mom got the Sweet Potato Crusted Grouper, which is one of my favorite things about the menu. They have 6 different recipes (Pretzel Crusted, Sweet Potato, Nut Crusted, Sweet BBQ Rubbed, Oscar and Lobster and Crab Crusted) that you can choose from to go over either Grouper, Mahi Mahi, Salmon or Swordfish. It’s like a choose your own adventure book. If I were a better mathematician, I would tell you the number of possible combinations that can occur, but clearly I’m not good at math, otherwise I would be far better at budgeting.
Event though we were stuffed, we still ordered dessert, because remember the “R” in BRAT stands for Rally. We split doughnuts bites which were sugary, soft and so good! Everyone loved their meal and since Mom eats lighter, I was able to take home her leftovers and I will say that they were delicious even days old. Thumbs up Mussel Beach, they really know how to flex ‘em!
DaDa, Delray Beach, FL – If you’ve been to Delray Beach, you’ve probably been to DaDa. If you haven’t, that’s like going to Philly and not trying Pat’s or Geno’s. It’s a staple in this town. Besides the awesomely cool vibe (yes, they have a see-saw on the front lawn), they have THE BEST mojitos in town. Event the ‘rents who don’t drink much appreciated those. The favors are so inventive, from Apple Ginger to Wolfberry, and trying only just one would be a sin (plus it’s important to remember that the “A” in BRAT Diet stands for Alcohol). I started with the “Gingers Have More Fun,” a concoction of Skyy Ginger vodka, fresh ginger and ginger shrub. I was hoping they would throw a side of Prince Harry in, but I guess not all gingers are perfect. I honestly prefer DaDa for their appetizers versus their entrees, and our choices did not disappoint. I started with the Gazpacho of the Moment which that night was made with mango and cucumber and topped with avocado sour cream. Once again, so inventive! And you cannot go to DaDa without getting the Bacon Wrapped Dates. Dates stuffed with goat cheese and chorizo and wrapped in bacon. 4 of them and 3 of us (my brother is too picky to eat that) but when you’re on the BRAT diet, that second one obviously goes to you. Thank goodness because even two wasn’t enough; I’d actually prefer a movie theater popcorn tub full of them to pop in my mouth while watching a Channing Tatum movie. We also all split The World is Flatbread which is topped with blue cheese, braised short rib, guava and a sweet soy drizzle. Everyone agreed that this too was a winner.
For my entree I got their Swordfish special – the fish was cooked perfectly but honestly I wish I had gone with the grilled cheese as DaDa is known for it. I’ll of course be back for it though, because grilled cheese I can afford.
To end the meal, we got the Warm Banana Bread which is served with caramelized banana, caramel sauce and butter flavored gelato. Yes, BUTTER FLAVORED. I am not a huge dessert person but this butter flavored gelato I would literally trade my brother in for a lifetime supply. The taste of the gelato over the warm banana bread and caramelized bananas is such a perfect combination of flavors. I really did not want to share but that is definitely part of the deal when on the BRAT diet; denying the parents a dessert this good is considered parental neglect and abuse in some countries.
Oceans 234, Deerfield Beach, FL – I’ll admit, I love to impress my parents. And Oceans 234 was definitely the place to do it. Not only is the food delicious, but you can’t beat the beautiful view of the ocean. I gotta tell you, I studied the heck out of this menu. Normally when I know I am eating somewhere, I prep by looking at the menu ahead of time, because it usually takes me about an hour to narrow down which appetizers I want and what entree to pair it with and what amount of food will make me ridiculously happily full while also not appearing to eat like a 400 pound truck driver. I looked this menu over and over and over and could not narrow down the appetizers – I really wanted them all! Cue BRAT diet. We ordered the Fried Calamari, the Lobster Potato Skins and the Tropical Shrimp Tempura sushi roll. The calamari had an ancho honey drizzle and a smoky jalepeño dipping sauce that were both delicious and made stand out from typical fried calamari dishes that are served with marinara. The Lobster Potato Skins were a little disappointing – not in flavor but in portion. They only came with 2 and there was not much lobster. The taste was good but I was only able to get a few bites as everyone wanted in on them. But the sushi – that was like starting a fireworks show with the Grand Finale. Wow. It was served with macadamia nuts, coconut and tropical salsa. Such a unique dish with great flavors.
We all enjoyed it so much that we ordered a second roll (this is where the beauty of the great view comes in – when mom and dad are happy and relaxed, the food and drink flow even more freely. Surroundings are key).
For my entree I had the Local Snapper which was shrimp and corn crusted and served with seasonal veggies and mashed potato. It was very good – I love seafood dishes that are crusted in other seafood – it’s like getting a two-for-one deal and we all know how much I love a good bargain. For me, “eat smarter” has a whole different meaning than being healthy.
For dessert, we got the Chocolate Trilogy, which is Oreo cookies baked in between chocolate chip cookie dough and fudge brownie and served with pistachio ice cream and hot fudge. I actually make a very similar recipe at home but I call them “Slutty Brownies” because everyone loves a good food innuendo. Dessert was decadent and delicious and the perfect finish to the meal as the sun was setting. I know I will be back because I can’t stop thinking about that sushi roll. So if anyone wants to take me on a date there, I will make myself available and even pay the $1 fee for us to walk along the pier after.
50 Ocean, Delray Beach – The last day of my family’s trip allowed time for brunch, and if there is one thing I am good at, it’s brunch. I even have it listed under my skills on my resume. A few months ago, I discovered the brunch at 50 Ocean where I had one of the best dishes I have ever eaten, hands down (I’ll get to that shortly). 50 Ocean is located above Boston’s on the Beach and I love that only locals know about it, so it never gets too crowded (until this post goes viral, of course). It overlooks the beach and on a typical day, not only do you get a gorgeous view of the ocean, but you get to watch all the crazies on the beach. They have an incredible Build-Your-Own-Bloody-Mary bar, by far the most extravagant that I have seen. So many different kinds of hot sauce (I put bacon hot sauce in mine) and garnishes like curried pickled cauliflower, cheese, asparagus, marinated mushrooms, and more – plus the bar is an actual fish tank so it really nails the wow factor!
We started with the Sweet Potato Hummus which is served with five spice crème fraîche and maple peppered walnuts. I truly love foods like this that are so inventive with bringing different flavors together! It was fantastic.
And then, my dish. My dish that I go to bed dreaming about every night. Some girls grow up fantasizing about their wedding. Me? I knew that one day, my soulmate dish would come along. And this is it. Sunrise Lobster Tacos. 2 ginormous soft taco shells filled with scrambled eggs, avocado relish, crispy potato pancakes, thickly cut bacon, huge butter patched lobster claws and topped with chili aioli. And talk about not scrimping on the lobster – the claws are as giant as they are tasty. I don’t need to wake up to a man for the rest of my life – I need to wake up to these tacos. Seriously just thinking about them right now is making me sweat a little. I’m going to give all you readers a little alone time with this picture. You’re welcome.
The crazy fan bam.
So that’s the BRAT diet – combine with a steady dose of asking mom and dad to borrow money along with constant emotional support and you’ve got the typical life of a millennial. But it’s okay, because they have to be nice to you – after all, one day you’ll be the one choosing their nursing home.