Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Date Night Direction

Forrest and I have weekday date night every Thursday. We do it in order to break up the mundane work week and to give us something to look forward to during the hustle and bustle of real life weekdays. Thursday date night is not what you would probably expect of a regular date night. This isn't the stuff that weekend date nights are made up of. Thursday date night has certain criteria. First, it has to be cheap. Like "less than 25 dollars for the both of us" cheap. It is a weeknight after all. Now considering the dollar threshold of the first criteria you can probably imagine that this isn't a fancy candlelight dinner date night at all. Second, it has to be ok that I wear my work clothes. I pick Forrest up on the way home from work and we head straight to dinner. So no time to change, spruce up or spritz perfume. Because of the first two requirements, our choices are limited. There aren't very many places that aren't drive through fast food joints that you can dine for 25 bucks a couple in the DC area. So we are pretty much stuck with Chipotle, Jason's Deli, Pot Belly's and Panera. And that brings me to the third weekday date night criteria. It can't be Panera.

Panera is the first choice of catering at my job when we have working lunches or all day reviews and they have to bring in sandwiches for lunch. The whole point of date night is to break up the work week. So I can't have date night remind me of work. It defeats the purpose. It would make date night pointless - and we can't have that! Every week when deciding where we should eat, Forrest suggests Panera. We have one directly across the street from our house and it is in the price range. But every week I pass on the option. The sad part is that I actually like Panera and I love their Roast Beef and Cheddar Sandwich on Asiago bread with horseradish. So this weekend I decided to recreate something similar at home for Forrest since he will never have the chance to have the real thing with me on date night.

Does anyone have any other suggestions for a cheap weekday meal while dining out?

Roast Beef and Cheddar Panini
Adapted from Southern Living September 2005


Makes 4 servings

  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup prepared creamy horseradish sauce, divided
  • 8 slices whole wheat bread
  • 1 pound deli roast beef slices
  • 4 Sharp Cheddar cheese slices
  • Cooking Spray

Sauté first 3 ingredients in a lightly greased skillet over medium-high heat 8 minutes or until onion is tender.

Spread 1 tablespoon horseradish sauce on each of 4 bread slices;

top evenly with roast beef,

cooked onion, and cheese.

Top with remaining bread slices.

Cook in a preheated panini press that has been sprayed well with cooking spray for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve with remaining horseradish sauce.

One Year Ago Today: Ham and Gruyere Potato Gratin - note to self: use that mandoline again soon


Dave said...

There are a number of ways you two can go out and eat for cheap.

Try ordering one appetizer and one main dish and sharing them.

I get a lot of buy one main dish and get one free coupons. TGIF had a very good deal last week. You can do an internet search for restaurant coupons.

Anonymous said...

Oh that looks SOOOO delicious!!

Elizabeth said...

I found your blog on the nest, and I love your recipes!

I'm also in Northern Virginia, and there is a great burger place (if you like burgers) in Falls Church called Elevation Burger. Quick and cheap with all natural ingredients!

Jessica said...

Here are my suggestions with the disclaimer that I live in Georgetown and I rarely leave my little bubble here (even though I like to -- I'm just lazy!) so I'm not sure if they're a really great option for you guys or not.
Jetties on Foxhall Rd makes really yummy sandwiches and salads and it runs about $21 for 2 people. They also own Surfside on Wisconsin and it's a little bit pricier but you can definitely eat there for about $25 as long as you stay away from the really expensive entrees. If you guys usually do sandwiches, The Tombs (over by GU) has almost all of their sandwiches and burgers for under $10.
5 Guys? La Madeline?
Those are my suggestions. I agree with you that it's ridiculously expensive to eat out in this city so I don't do it as much as I'd like to.

Joelen said...

What a delicious looking paninin and now I'm craving one for lunch! :)

Debbie said...

Panera is one of the few "chains" that I really like. Their tuna is great also.

teresa said...

I haven't had many Panera sandwiches, but I've really enjoyed the ones I've had. This looks fabulous!

Peggy said...

I love your chat, you have accomplished your own bookmark in EVERY browser of mine, so here are my suggestions:
How about Ray's Hell Burgers in Arlington? Red Robin, if you don't mind noisy kids; Hard Times if you skip alcohol, Pei Wei Bistro in Fair Lakes, Whole Foods has great salad bars (at least the ones I have been to), Wegmans has little restaurants inside and the list can go on and on and on. You can always check out the Washingtonian online the night before, they have lists of cheap eats in this area.

Elizabeth said...

Thanks for all the suggestions guys. We are set with new places for date night for months now!

We tried Ray's Hell Burgers last night for date night and it was delicious. The root beer on tap was a pleasant surprise! I am a big root beer fan and theirs was delicious.

Thanks again!

The Cooking Photographer said...

My favorite part, "note to self: use that mandoline again soon". I do things like that all the time lol.