Saturday, July 19, 2014

Misadventures in Dining

This restaurant's fish filet basted in butter uses lots of butter.
Last night my husband and I dined at a new-to-us restaurant. It's called Tao Yuan, which certainly sounds interesting enough although a bit confusing. The food is called "Asian Fusion," which brings to mind a rock band rather than a kind of food, but regardless, it's quite "in" right now. In fact we ran into friends who were on their way out of the place and they claimed it was the best place in all of Maine (!), and that they had eaten there upwards of 75 times since it opened two years ago.

In search of a healthy meal, we had purposefully driven away from the chaos of the Fattening Fried Foods Festival to the neighboring town of Brunswick. The restaurant fairly reeked of digestive health--at least judging from the little glass jars of lucky bamboo on each table and the pervasive Buddhist sensibility that wafted like incense through the open floor plan, from room to adorable room. It seemed like a monastery that served food, and how could that be bad for even the most sensitive stomach? (Apparently it could, and I spent the following morning in bathroom hell paying the proverbial piper.)

Each of the precious little dishes--the suggestion is made that you order four per person and share-- were served beautifully, masking the ugly truth of just how much butter, oil and salt each delightful morsel had soaked up back in the kitchen before our waitress, dressed like a Zen master all in black, brought it out to us with a beaming, Zen-like smile.

Over at the Yarmouth Clam Festival, the grease-stained paper plates your food is served on leave no doubt you're eating badly, still you do it for sport, fully expecting some discomfort later. But at Tao Yuan you feel confident you're "eating clean" because the china dishes--each one artfully different --are so pretty, and the walls are silk-screened with images of lovely pink flowers and the lights are dim and the music is soft, and besides, the chef is a woman from Paris, or she studied in Paris or went there once, something like that; how could her food hurt anyone?

It can and it did. Take it from me: Those evil triplets, Greasy, Fatty and Fried, often sneak in unannounced.

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