We strive to stand out from the crowd. To make our mark on the world. But in a world where customers have so many choices, how do we make our meals memorable?
We researched, we polled and we eavesdropped to create – our Three Point Formula For A Memorable Meal. Just in time for Valentine’s Day.
1. Trying something new
I’ll never forget the time I ordered the swordfish with homemade pumpkin stuffed ravioli, smothered in a sauce with crispy sage. What made it memorable wasn’t the swordfish. Don’t get me wrong, it was seasoned and seared to perfection, but it was the ravioli that made the dish. Sweet squash nestled in tender pillows, topped with aromatic sage, fried crispy. The combination of flavors and textures was classic, yet I’d never tried it before. Though I’ve now had this combination again in soups, roasted sides and casseroles, I don’t remember the dishes like I did that first time.
I’m not alone in this. So many of us go to the same restaurants and order the same thing over and over. But when encouraged to try something new, and the chef hits it out of the park, it becomes an unforgettable meal.
“It was almost twenty years ago. I was twenty four years old and an ultra-picky eater. I liked about five things, including burgers and fries, or crab cake sandwiches and fries. I hated pasta, anything green and anything with a weird texture, so I was totally out of my comfort zone when my my friend Barbara dragged me out to this Italian place. No burgers and fries on this menu. I had to order something new. She ordered chicken fettuccine alfredo and I ordered it too. It totally changed my life. It was delicious, the pasta was so creamy, I was in heaven. The meal made me feel like an adult. I’ve loved fettuccine alfredo since then and we always go back to that little restaurant when we’re in Virginia beach.”- Jinger T.
2. The details (along with an incredible meal)
Years ago I overheard two women talking – one an obvious foodie. “In my opinion, a great restaurant is one that takes the time to make the dressings and sauces in house. Actually, it’s usually not the salad that makes the biggest impact. It’s the house-made dressing and the salad together that I remember about the meal. There’s this one hole-in-the-wall near St. Augustine that’s my favorite. I get this one cajun wrap that comes with this incredible side salad with sweet potato, sprouts and avocado, and I get a house made mustard vinaigrette that’s to-die for.” – unknown
Though not everyone notices details like dressings made from scratch – everyone notices the symphony of details.
Maybe it’s the garnish on the plate and the way the napkins are folded. Maybe it’s the fact that the lights are at the perfect level and there’s fresh flowers on the table. It’s that unique combination that lets customers know you really care about them.
3. Going the extra mile for dietary preferences
In today’s world, everyone’s something. Paleo, vegan, gluten-free – many times for medical reasons, and sometimes it’s just preference. It’s up to the chef to figure out how to accommodate customer requests without sacrificing flavor.
“Every time I’ve been to [this one particular restaurant, it] has been a great experience. I love that they’re locally owned, and the dedicated plant-based menu really makes ordering effortless. I took my visiting mother-in-law for lunch twice and had the pan-seared Brussels sprouts, which are to die for. And I tried both tempeh dishes…so fresh. Now that I think about it, I’ve had all but maybe one thing on their plant-based menu and I’ve loved all of it.” – Anna R.
Customers say that even having one well-thought-out option makes, not only the dish, but the entire establishment stand out in their mind.
Sarah B. from My New Roots notes her experience of traveling as a vegetarian. “If you’re a vegetarian traveling through Indonesia, gado gado will save your life. It’s the dish that is on every single menu, a veggie-loaded, protein-rich salad drenched in the most flavourful, luscious peanut sauce that you’ve ever tasted. ”
“There is something incredibly satisfying about the dish, something that grabs a hold and makes you coming back for more – I believe it is the exquisite balancing act of flavours and textures.”
In celebration of her experience she even re-created the meal until she can get back to Indonesia. I hope her recipe inspires you! Click here for the recipe.
Aside from the specialty produce on tap for Valentine’s Day, here’s what’s fresh:
Boynton Farms- Hastings FL
- Green Cabbage
- Red Cabbage
LM Farms – Elkton FL
- Green Cabbage
LM Farms – Labelle FL
- Yellow Squash
- Vine Ripe Tomatoes
Voyager Farms – Parrish FL
- Yellow Corn
- Snap Beans
- Spaghetti Squash
- Acorn Squash
- Butternut Squash
- Green Bell Peppers
- Jalapeno Peppers
- Poblano Peppers
- Red Radishes
Naturipe Farms Plant City
Sandoval Farms Immokalee
- Grape Tomatoes
- Cherry Tomatoes
Harlee Tomatoes – Palmetto FL
- Roma Tomatoes
- Round Tomatoes
Gargiulo Farms – Immokalee FL
- Round Tomatoes
- Roma Tomatoes
Red Potatoes coming 2/13!
We wish you luck and “best meal I ever ate” dishes!
The Garden Produce
5400 Longleaf St
Jacksonville, FL 32209