Cross Culture Indian Cuisine – Bariatric Bad News?

I just wanted to quickly wrap up my review of Cross Culture Indian Cuisine in Haddonfield, NJ with my spin for gastric bypass patients.  There are pros and cons to dining on Indian cuisine for those of us that are gastrically altered.

To start with, rice is a big component in a meal here.  The entrees that aren’t composed primarily of rice come with a steaming plate of basmati rice.  For many gastric bypass patients, such as myself, rice is not your friend.  For me, it tastes good, but once I have it in my stomach, it seems to expand to the size of a large beach ball, and makes it not only difficult to eat anything else, but it makes me seriously uncomfortable.

You can opt for things like the tandoori dishes and kebabs, but  keep in mind that unless they are expertly prepared, for many of us, shrimp and chicken can also be an issue.  I skipped the tandoori chicken on our appetizer sampler, heading for the much moister and Gastric bypass friendlier fish.

Lastly, bread is a problem for some gastrically altered folks.  Not for me.  I could have eaten the whole bread basket and been very happy.  But that’s not much of a meal, and for me, bread can be a slider food.  I can eat way too much of it, and come back for more later on.

So, Indian cuisine can be a hit or miss for gastric bypass patients.  Choose the primarily protein based dishes, skip the basmati rice, avoid the bread basket, and watch your proteins for texture.  You should be able to find enough to enjoy without going home regretting the meal.

Cross Culture Indian Cuisine – But Wait, There’s More! Dessert

Jim ordered the Indian rice pudding, kheer, which is more of a soupy version of what you expect rice pudding to be.  He loved the flavors, although admittedly, the lack of “pudding” was something to get used to.  This was not my Grandmother’s rice pudding, creamy and thick, then baked in the oven to get a nice golden layer on top.  It was tasty, though.

I opted for the kulfi, an Indian ice cream made with pistachios and walnuts.  I’ve never had this before, but found the texture a little off putting (like ice cream that has been in your freezer too long), and the taste overly sweet.  It did have some interesting flavors, but the texture kind of killed it for me.  The kids’ chocolate ice cream looked much creamier than what I was eating.  It was pretty, though.

Dinner for the four of us, including tax and tip, came to about $140.  This is way more than we would usually pay to just go grab dinner somewhere, but this was my birthday dinner, so we splurged.  We also came home with enough food to feed the whole family another meal – if the whole family was going to eat it.  Since it will likely only be Jim and I eating the left overs, we can eat all weekend!

You can find Cross Culture Indian Cuisine at

208 Kings Highway

Haddonfield, NJ

856-428-4343

Cross Culture Indian Cuisine – the Main Event

I knew Jim would want spicy, and I felt like the meals the kids and I ate had to be toned down – flavorful without burning our faces off.  We had thought we’d order only two entrees, but there was so much on the menu that looked like it would be delicious, we ended up ordering two entrees for the kids and I to share, and a chicken vindaloo for Jim.  He not only enjoyed the spiciness of the dish, but the sweat running down his head and his neck indicated that it was indeed spicy enough for him.  I took a small bite.  Yeah, it was spicy enough for him, because it nearly killed me.

The kids and I were going to tuck in to the Chef’s Special Biryani, which was basmati rice cooked with shrimp, chicken and lamb, cashew nuts and golden raisins, and combined with saffron and light spices.  It was delicious, with texture that was like a surprise party with every bit.  Wonderful dish!

I also opted for a traditional lamb rogan josh, which you can find on any Indian menu.  It was well prepared, although the amount of lamb was a little sparse.  The kids deemed it too spicy, but I enjoyed it very much.

What’s for dessert?  Find out next…

Cross Culture Indian Cuisine – The Bread

We ordered a bread basket, which came with Naan, onion Kulcha, and Puri.The least popular was the puri, which the kids thought was great fun to look at, as it came out like a large balloon on the plate, but once the balloon was deflated, it sort of became a soggy, flavorless bit of bread that no one wanted to eat.

The favorite by far for me was the kulcha.  I expected an overwhelming onion flavor, but I was so pleasantly surprised!  The onion added only a sweetness to this warm, delicious bread, and while I had been hoping to save my appetite for a pumpkin scone at the British pub a few doors down, I quickly gave up that idea to indulge in way more kulcha than I should have.  It was that good.

The Naan was typical, warm and delicate in flavor.  The kids ate it up.

My only disappointment with the bread basket is that the $8.50 charge didn’t include any additional dipping sauces or accompaniments.  I would have liked something to go along with the bread, but we did make use of the mint yogurt sauce and the sweet sauce.

Moving on to the Main Event!



Cross Culture Indian Cuisine – Spicing Up Haddonfield

For my birthday, I wanted to eat somewhere different.  I wanted to break free from the same old, same old, where we eat the foods we know, the kids try to convince us that burgers are health food, and we walk away thinking, “Yeah, it was good, but…”

So we decided to try another one of Haddonfield’s newish offerings.  Cross Culture Indian Cuisine is an understated but elegantly decorated restaurant located right on Kings Highway in the heart of Haddonfield.  We decided to go right after school – which for Eilis meant 4 o’clock because of play practice.  By the time we drive over there and find a place to park, it’s about 4:20, and even though the sign on the door says “Open”, the dimly lit restaurant has no one inside.  We stand, we pace, and the kids are even a little bit loud, so if someone is in the back in the kitchen, surely they’ll hear us.  Just as we were about to turn and leave, someone pops his head up from a booth.  Do they siesta in India?

Our sleep deprived host walks to the front of the restaurant, and points us in the direction of a booth, where we go to make ourselves comfortable.  He comes over to offer us the sparkling water on the table, which Jim accepts even though I don’t drink sparkling water, and we will soon discover that neither do the children.  No worries.  I order an iced tea, the kids each get a soda, and the world continues to turn.  Whew.

I make the executive decision that we will order appetizer samplers so that we can get a taste of everything they offer, and then we will choose entrees that are typical of other Indian restaurants, so if this experiment with a new cuisine works with our kids, we’ll be able to order the same items in other restaurants and compare.

Our first appetizer is the mixed Tandoori grill.  The fish tikka masala is moist and delicious, and the lamb in the mixed grill gets eaten up very quickly.  The girls begin tasting some of the spice in the food, and Eilis immediately starts balking about things being too spicy for her, the kid that could eat her father under the table with things like General Tso’s chicken, which is too spicy for me.  Overall, the grilled sampler is tasty and well cooked.

I much preferred the vegetarian sampler to the protein platter, as good as everything on the mixed grill platter was.  Vegetable samosas were crisp and delicious, filled with a delectably seasoned vegetarian stuffing.  The pakoras, assorted fried vegetables, were flavorful and a great way to get kids to eat their vegetables!  The girls happily dipped their veggies into the mint, coriander, and yogurt dipping sauce, and then they found the other sauce was sweet.  Fried and sweet – a winning combination.  Granuaile surprised me by how much she ate and enjoyed the appetizers – they were really a full meal for her!

Up next, the Bread Basket

Le Cellier Restaurant Gastric Bypass Restaurant Review – EPCOT Candlelight Processional Dinner Package

This is going to be kind of a mixed up review.  I want to comment on the fact that we are here as a result of the Candlelight Processional Dinner Package, and how that may effect our meal at this restaurant, and I want to give fair commentary on what it’s like to eat here as a gastric bypass patient.  So skip the parts that don’t pertain to you, but you might want to go over the stuff that will help you plan in the future.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Candlelight Processional, this amazing holiday event takes place at EPCOT at Walt Disney World each year from the day after Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve.  It is the classic retelling of the story of the nativity – the birth of Jesus Christ – performed by a celebrity narrator, and accompanied by a 150 voice choir and an orchestra.  For us, this is a must do.  I have loved this program since the very first time we saw it, back when Brighid was a baby, and it is well worth a special trip to Orlando just to witness the spectacle.  At least to me.  The Candlelight Processional is included with your park admission into EPCOT, but a while back, Disney introduced Candlelight dinner packages that gave you priority seating at the show if you purchased one.  You pay to get in the park, and then you make a reservation at one of EPCOT’s many restaurants.  Your meal is a fixed price meal that includes an appetizer, entree, and dessert, as well as soft drinks, coffee or tea, and then a special ticket/sticker/pass to get priority seating at the show.  In recent years, they have made it more complicated by separating the restaurants into three tiers – each tier is a different price.  And if that’s not complicated enough, a year or so ago, they made it so that you are required to eat prior to seeing the Candlelight Processional – so if you planned on seeing the 5 o’clock Candlelight Processional, then grabbing dinner, that’s not an option any longer – you have to eat prior to the show (which is performed 3 times each night).

Okay, so that’s the background on the show.  In years past, despite having a reservation, we often waited a very long time to be seated at the restaurants, and it really did seem one year that we might not make it to the show in time because our meal was so delayed.  It seems to have gotten better with the tiers and the scheduling of your meal prior to your show, but you really MUST book your package well in advance.  The most popular EPCOT restaurants book quickly for the Candlelight packages, and you would do well to book your reservation as soon as the packages become available in the late spring/early summer.

We have never, in all of our years going to EPCOT, eaten at Le Cellier, and it is one of the more difficult restaurant reservations to get during normal times.  I do not hold out much hope that I will get a table for a party of 7 when I call, but I do call the day the packages become available and I am able to secure an early dinner seating at Le Cellier for Jim, the girls, my in-laws, and myself.  I have heard rave reviews about this restaurant, and there are people who have said they would rather eat here than some of the other very high priced steak places in the Orlando area.  I am excited to have a table and look forward for months to eating there.

The restaurant, when we arrive, is very busy, but we have an early dinner time and we arrive early by about 25 minutes to make sure we get in on time.  We really only wait about 5 minutes when they are calling us to be seated.  I am surprised at how small this restaurant is!  The waitress tells us they can hold about 150 people, and for a theme park, that seems like a very tiny place.  No wonder they are always booked!!

The dinner package for adults is $47.99 per person, and I do not ask to negotiate down to a child’s price because then I will have to order from the children’s menu, which has nothing on it you want to eat if you’ve had gastric bypass surgery.  If you want to try on a normal visit to negotiate for a child’s meal, they offer pasta and sauce; a hot dog; and a grilled steak.  I could have taken a chance on the grilled steak, but honestly, I am more likely to have steak get stuck than anything else, and I don’t want to spend the night in agony.

The appetizer selection includes the famous Cheddar Cheese soup, and that is one thing I have been dying to try.  I know, however, that I will never be able to eat a whole bowl of what I imagine to be a rich, thick soup, so I talk Jim into ordering the soup.  I cannot eat shrimp comfortably, so that rules out the shrimp cocktail option; and I’m not in the mood for a salad, although they offer a mixed green salad, a steak house caesar salad, and a caprese style salad.  You could certainly eat any of those, and although the mozzarella in the caprese salad (I think they call it a beefstack salad) is probably not part skim, the protein is good.  They also offer a chipotle chicken sausage, which I do not try only because I don’t like spicy foods, so I settle for the other soup option – a beef barley.

Now, you know if you’ve had surgery,  you don’t eat as quickly as you may have at one time.  At least you are not supposed to.  So when I order soup, I like it to come out piping hot so that I still have warm soup by the time I get to the bottom.  I was so disappointed when my soup came out at barely room temperature.  The waitress is busy, and she seems like we are bothering her to be here, so I hesitate about asking for a hotter cup of soup, but Jim catches her eye and brings it to her attention, and she is soon back with a much hotter cup of the soup.  There are huge chunks of beef in this soup, and that is a good thing protein wise, but the meat in my soup is a little tough.  I can eat some of it, but I do have to leave some in the cup.  It’s also very bland.  I have to add salt – a lot of it – to make the soup palatable.  This is not a good start to the evening.

Just before we ordered anything, a chef came out of the kitchen and asked if there was someone at our table that had asked to see him due to food allergies.  I told him I had issues with food, but not allergies, so he must have the wrong table, and he asked me what my issues were.  I told him I had gastric bypass surgery, and he offered to look over the menu with me and work something out.  I had already browsed the menu on my own, and had almost resigned myself to having either the salmon or the chicken, when I asked him if he could do the shrimp and scallop pasta dish without the pasta or the shrimp.  He looked quizzically at me, but then said he could do something, serve it over vegetables, and figure something out.  I told him to give it a shot and I’d see what I ended up with.  Well, when the meal came, to look at it, it was a little unattractive.  These were not plump sea scallops, but rather small bay scallops that you would use in a salad or a sauce.  They were in a reddish colored sauce that was served over a julienne of fresh mushrooms and some other veggies.  It smelled so good that I had no trouble overlooking that it looked like an odd meal, and then the first bite removed any doubt that this was delicious.  The sauce is a little on the rich side – made from lobster stock with lobster oil – but it tasted soooooo good.  There were dozens of the little scallops, and the mushrooms were tender and perfectly cooked.  I’m so glad he made the mistake of coming to our table, and I hope someone at another table didn’t suffer some type of serious allergic reaction because the chef never got to them!

You will find this restaurant – a steak place – heavy on steaks.  There are two filet mignon dishes – one a mushroom filet that was really good – as was the mushroom risotto that accompanied the steak.  But even as tender as the filet is, I cannot in any way eat much of it without feeling ill.  There is a salmon dish, although it is served with maple butter.  You can opt out of the butter if you think it will cause you problems.  The other most friendly gastric bypass dish on the menu is the seared free range chicken, however, it is served with a corn pudding – something I cannot eat since my surgery.  You will also find a pork chop on the menu, but it’s a good sized chop and I just don’t see how they can prepare it so that it’s tender enough to eat.

Desserts – again, had I notified the restaurant in advance of a special dietary need, I’m sure they could have made accomodations for a sugar free dessert.  After the huge plate of scallops, however, I had no need or desire for dessert, and I ordered the chocolate mousse for the kids to share.

Overall, I was disappointed in the restaurant, perhaps because my expectations were so high after years of hearing how amazing it was and maybe because our first taste of the place occurred during the busy Candlelight Processional season.  But, if previous attempts at trying to book a meal here are any indication, this particular restaurant is this busy all of the time.  The food was okay – my scallops were really good, but they were the one standout among the crowd.  We might make an effort to eat here again in the future when it’s not Candlelight season, just to verify that while they are a nice restaurant, they certainly do not compare to anything like a Ruth’s Chris or Morton’s.

Liberty Tree Tavern – Gastric Bypass Restaurant Review

One of our favorite Walt Disney World restaurants has always been the Liberty Tree Tavern.  LTT is an all you can eat, family style dinner that features several of the popular Disney characters dressed in colonial garb.  The meal here is all traditional American fare, hearty and homestyle.  This does not necessarily bode well for those of us who have had Gastric Bypass Surgery.

We attended Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party recently, and while we had booked an advanced dining reservation for LTT months in advance, we debated over whether or not we should go.  Of course this is a great restaurant if you come with a big appetite, but I do not have that huge appetite anymore, so dining here doesn’t hold the same appeal for me.  But, this is a great place for character interaction, and Granuaile is seriously into characters this trip, so we make the decision to go ahead to the restaurant.

It should be said that Disney really does try to honor your compromised eating capacity.  This is the second all you can eat Disney restaurant I have been to since my surgery.  I asked the waitress when we sat down if they offered a discount for gastric bypass patients, and she asked to see my card.  I know many of you have dining cards from your surgeons that tell them you’ve had surgery, but my doctor doesn’t give them out.  That didn’t matter here.  I explained to the waitress that I could show her my scars, my sagging skin, my droopy boobs, and my medical alert bracelet, but I had no dining card.  She sent a manager over, who very quickly and politely offered to discount my meal to the children’s price.  That’s a $15 savings here!  Woohoo!!

You start the meal out with the Declaration Salad.  This is a salad of mixed greens – all the stuff you wouldn’t eat as a kid and can block you up big time now – with a strawberry viniagrette.  I love this salad, and I think I ate too fast or too much.  You’ll learn why I think that in a minute.  The waitress also brings out a plate of rolls with a honey flavored butter.  You know I skipped the bread, but those of you who do not have issues with bread may be tempted to use way more butter than your stomach can handle.  It’s delicious.

After the salad plates are cleared away, the waitress brings a bowl heaping with piping hot mashed potatoes; a generous sized portion of macaroni and cheese; a bowl of vegetables; and a platter that held large portions of roast turkey with stuffing, smoked pork loin, and beef.  I helped myself to the pork, a small piece of the beef, and a little of the turkey, and a small scoop of mashed potatoes.  It wasn’t long into the meal when I felt that feeling – you know, when it feels like the food won’t go down, and may not ever come back up?  I don’t know if I over did the salad or if the mustard sauce on the outside of the pork is doing a number on me, or maybe even the bite of mashed potatoes is revolting.  I make a couple of trips up to the bathroom, hoping something will come up, but nothing does.  I’m not sure what to blame – maybe I didn’t chew something small enough – but this is certainly ruining the meal for me.

The meal continues for a while with me bouncing back and forth, up and down the steps to the bathroom (word to those needing assistance – the bathrooms are on the second floor here, and you will need to climb the stairs to get there.  If you cannot climb the stairs, you will have to leave the restaurant and use a facility nearby.), hoping to dislodge whatever I have stuck.  It finally starts to calm down, just in time for dessert – NOT!!  The dessert is to die for, but not sugar free.  Tonight, it’s a warm apple cobbler, covered with a huge scoop of vanilla ice cream.  They are able to accomodate a special request, but you must contact them in advance to arrange for a sugar free dessert.  It doesn’t matter – I’m not going to try to put anything else in at this point!

There are certainly plenty of protein choices to be had here – especially if you have no trouble with things like beef.  The turkey was moist and tender, and certainly pouch friendly, but the smoked pork was a little tough.  That may have been the culprit in my incident.  Next time, I think I’ll stick with what I know will work, and avoid pushing my luck with the salad and tougher meats.

Liberty Tree Tavern is located in Liberty Square – Magic Kingdom

“Goofy’s Liberate Your Appetite Character Dinner”
DINING

Menu Date: December 2007

Characters are Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, Chip and Dale

PRICES have changed since October, 2007

  • Adults $28.99
  • Adults with medical proof who ask at the hostess station are charged for a Little Patriots meal $13.99
  • Little Patriots (ages 3-9) $13.99
  • 2 and under are free
  • For those Guests not dining, a $5.00 entertainment fee will be applied to your bill.

Serving from 4 p.m. – closing varies depending on park hours

Admission into the Magic Kingdom is required.

BILL OF FARE

  • DECLARATION SALAD – Tossed Mixed Greens, served with our special Tavern Strawberry Vinaigrette Dressing
  • PATRIOT’S PLATTER – A generous serving of roasted turkey breast, carved beef, and smoked pork loin, with mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables, herb bread stuffing, and Stouffer’s Macaroni and Cheese
  • Rolls and gravy also included
  • BEVERAGES included in meal price
    • Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, Orange, Lemonade, Birch Beer
    • Coffee, Regular or Decaffeinated
    • Hot Tea
    • Hot Cocoa
    • Milk, Whole, Low-fat, Skim or Chocolate
    • Nestea Iced Tea
  • Cappuccino, Espresso, Bottled Water and Tavern Punch are an additional charge
    • Bottled Water (Still or Sparkling) $3.25
    • Cappuccino $3.69
    • Espresso $3.19
    • Fresh Orange Juice $2.29
  • SPECIALTY BEVERAGES
    • Patriot’s Punch – Enjoy a frozen beverage from our Patriot’s Punch Bowl served with a Liberty Tree Tavern Collector’s Mug — Take home a piece of the Tavern $8.19
    • The Spirit of ’76 – Take home the spirit of Liberty, one of the Tavern Keeper’s Collector’s Mugs from the top shelf $5.00
  • DESSERTS
    • Warm cherry cobbler with vanilla ice cream included
    • Assorted fresh desserts from Martha’s kitchen additional $2.25 – $5.50 each

For your convenience, you may purchase film, disposable cameras, autograph books and souvenir mugs from your server.

Don Pablo’s Gastric Bypass Restaurant Review

Prior to having gastric bypass surgery, I might have LOVED eating at Don Pablo’s.  As with many Mexican restaurants, the portions here are large, generally covered in cheese, and served by request with a huge, fruit flavored Margarita.  Since having gastric bypass surgery, my success with finding things I can eat at Don Pablo’s – or many other Mexican restaurants – has been limited.

Today, fortunately, was a fairly successful visit.  To begin with, I have NO trouble eating the chips and salsa – not necessarily a good thing.  We were promptly seated at a booth in the nearly empty restaurant, and after taking our drink order, our waitress brought us a heaping basket of warm tortilla chips and two small bowls of salsa.  Jim quickly tucked in to one of the bowls, and I positioned the other in between Eilis and I, but soon found I was the only one dipping my chips.  The chips here are fresh, served toasty warm and pleasantly salted, and come with a mild, just chunky enough salsa. 

In my past experiences eating here, I have learned that the steak and chicken served with the fajitas is usually too tough for me to eat and digest properly, so I have to skip them.  The soups and the chilis are generally too spicy, and I was not a fan of spicy prior to gastric bypass surgery.  The surgery and the increased risk of stomach ulcers is a good enough excuse for me to skip the spicier foods here.  The guacamole shrimp cocktail the one time I had it proved to be tough to get down.  The shrimp was overcooked, rubbery and cold, and the guacamole reminded me of the gross green vomit from The Exorcist.  The fat content in the enchiladas and burritos frightens me away without even trying them, and on many of my other visits here, I have found myself eating just queso dip with more chips.  Today, I venture into Don Pablo’s world of salads.

Not being the adventurous type, I ask the waitress about the spiciness of the taco salad.  She says if I have no trouble eating the salsa, I should do fine with it, so I take a chance and order it.  The salad can be ordered with either the spicy ground beef or grilled chicken, but having struggled through chicken dishes here in the past, I opt for the ground beef version of the dish.  The salad – served in a crispy tortilla bowl (yeah, I had a bite or two) – is a very typical salad, but for my purposes, it was just perfect.  The lettuce was finely shredded, and all of the vegetables were diced small.  The dish is advertised with sauteed onions and peppers, but I only found a few strongly flavored onions and nary a pepper in mine.  I ordered ranch dressing on the side, in case the beef was spicy enough to need a ranch cool down, but the meat was mildly spiced – enough that you knew you were eating taco meat, but not so spicy you sat with your eyes watering down your iced tea as you gulped.  The dish also contains what Don Pablo’s refers to as “refritos” – refried pinto beans – although the portion in mine was limited to a thin coating on the bottom of the tortilla bowl.  It comes with one small scoop of sour cream and another of guacamole, but if you are watching your fats closely, you can either easily scoop those off yourself or ask that they be left off of the dish.  I mixed the guacamole in with my salad, while leaving the scoop of sour cream pretty much intact.

After eating about half of the salad, I was definitely full.  I recommend that you ask for a box immediately, and remove half of the salad for later.  If you eat your taco salad like I do, you mix all of the ingredients together to eat them, and that doesn’t make for good left overs.  Take half away before you mix the wet tomatoes in with the crisp lettuce, and you have a chance of making this last for another meal.

I cannot rave about Don Pablo’s restaurant because I find it difficult to find food there that works for me, however, by sticking with something simple and basic like the taco salad, I was able to eat a pleasant – although nothing spectacular – meal with my family. 

And for the record – the steak and chicken served with the two orders of fajitas WAS overcooked, and would have been virtually impossible for me to eat. 

Cafe TuTu Tango A Gastric Bypass Restaurant Review

As a person who has had a gastric bypass procedure, it can sometimes be challenging to find something on the menu at a mainstream restaurant that I can – or want to – eat.  As an overweight person, I didn’t realize how absolutely HUGE the portions can be at restaurants, so no matter where I go now, I end up taking most of my meal home with me – and even doing that, much of it ends up going to waste.  I try to steer clear of the things that are fried, things that have rice or pasta, anything with bread.  It really does wake you up to the fact that my options are limited wherever we go.

Cafe TuTu Tango was one of our favorite places to get a bite to eat when we lived in Orlando.  Jim even organized an office Christmas party there one year, and everyone had a blast.  While driving down International Drive in Orlando during our recent trip, thinking we might find a new restaurant to try, Cafe TuTu Tango popped up and a quick decision was made to revisit our old stomping grounds.

The “theme” of Tutu Tango is “Food for the Starving Artist”.  Everything here is served tapas style – or appetizer sized.  This keeps the cost of getting something to eat at a reasonable level, and it allows you to try a couple of things, or a table to try several things, that can be passed and shared.  This place is a gastric bypass patient’s dream come true!

On our lunch visit, we walked in to find the restaurant virtually empty.  We were quickly seated, and both girls given crayons and pictures of Backyardigans characters to color.  Granuaile LOVES the Backyardigans, and she was thrilled.  Jim and I browsed the menu, and quickly discouraged Eilis from ordering off of the children’s menu and allowing us to pick some things we thought she might like to try.  The kids’ menu at Cafe TuTu Tango is similar to every other children’s menu you’ve seen – heavy on the fried and fatty.  Any kid would be glad to have something – corn dogs, chicken strips, the usual fare.  But we’re emphasizing healthy eating, and the adult menu has a bigger variety of better for you choices.

The specials menu features a hummus with pita chips, and it’s only $3 for a good sized portion.  I order that, as I currently love hummus, but Eilis apparently enjoys it as well and is scooping up quite a bit of it on the tiny pitas and pita chips.  Jim orders a bowl of black bean soup for he and I to share, and I have to say, of all the foods we ate, this was the one disappointment for me.  There was an overwhelming citrusy taste to it, and very little of any other flavor.  I felt like I should add salt, but then didn’t want to add salt because it tasted so citrusy that I thought the salt would make it taste funny.  Jim ended up with the whole bowl after I braved a second bite to determine I really didn’t like it.

The kids practically devoured the shrimp and chicken potstickers, which you can order steamed like we did or deep fried.  Eilis didn’t even try the sauce until the very end, and then was dipping everything into it.  We also ordered a chicken pizza to give the kids something familiar.  The flavorful, thin crusted pizza had chunks of chicken, carmelized onion, and three cheeses.  The chicken pizza is a white pizza with a nice garlicky flavor.  Another big hit was the scallops – broiled to perfection and with a lime sauce that was really tasty.  Scallops are one of the foods I can easily eat, and after sharing one of the large scallops between Granuaile and Eilis, I ate one whole one myself and split the last one with Jim. 

With drinks – a very nicely flavored unsweetened ice tea for me, and sodas for the kids (Jim only drinks water), and a magnificent looking dessert of banana pizza (bananas, caramel, and ice cream atop a pizza crust), the bill came to about $50 for the 4 of us.  Because the portions are smaller sized, there really is no waste for someone who has a compromised gastrointestinal tract like we do after weight loss surgery, and you really can choose from a good selection of proteins, salads, the soup (there are two on the menu).  I would have been more than content with the scallop dish and a small salad (there are 5 salads on the menu, and 3 contain some form of protein) if I was there eating alone, but had PLENTY to eat even in choosing foods I knew the kids would like.  The pizza crust is thin enough that I could easily eat it without getting sick, which a lot of pizza crust can do to me, and there are many other options on the menu I could have tried with a table full of WLS patients that would have skipped any type of bread/crust at all. 

The added bonus to Cafe TuTu Tango is they feature art work throughout the restaurant from local artists.  You can purchase any of the pieces on display, and you really get a good sampling of local talent – in everything from sculpture to painting. 

This is definitely a must do restaurant for Gastric Bypass patients – and anyone who is looking for a menu filled with delicious surprises, international flavors and eclectic flair.

CiCi’s Pizza Gastric Bypass Restaurant Review

CiCi’s Pizza, for those unfamiliar with the place, is a pizza buffet restaurant.  For a set price – around $6 or $7, depending on the CiCi’s you go to – you can eat as much as you want of their many varieties of pizza, macaroni with a red gravy or an alfredo sauce, and two or three kinds of pasta.  They also have a small selection of desserts – a dessert pizza, that is kind of like an apple pie on a pizza crust; cinnamon buns; and chocolate brownies. 

In terms of the gastric bypass patient, CiCi’s might not be your first choice.  Pizza is high in fat, after all, and fat is one of those foods we should avoid.  Pizza rests on pizza crust, and that is another thing that for many gastric bypass patients is not a safe food.  But I say go, my fellow WLS buddies!  Enjoy the pizza, have some salad, skip the pasta, and you’ll come away happy.

The pizza at CiCi’s is mostly thin crusted (although you will see one or two Sicilian varieties), and if you don’t eat the back of the crust, you really shouldn’t have any trouble at all with the bread part of the pizza.  You can skip the pizza with tomato sauce (although I do not know if CiCi’s uses sugar in their sauce, I always assume that any place that serves red sauce uses sugar), because you will find many options without red sauce.  But even the pizza with the red sauce doesn’t overload the crust with the sauce, and for most of you, it should still be a safe bet.

The cheese, as we all know, is chock full of protein, and some of the CiCi’s toppings are added protein.  There is a ham and cheddar, chicken, BBQ chicken, as well as the more traditional pepperoni, sausage, beef, and ham and pineapple pizzas.  You can make a good choice even at the pizza buffet, and they are really very accomodating, so if you want them to make you something, they will. 

The salad bar varies from restaurant to restaurant.  Some of them have two or three pre-made, pre-dressed salads, usually including a pasta salad, a caesar salad, and a mixed green salad.  Other CiCi’s have a regular salad bar.  This one we went to had the pre-made, pre-dressed salads, and I stuck with the mixed green salad with an Italian type dressing.  You can certainly skip the salad if you fear the fat content in the pre-dressed salads, but I had no trouble with it.  I even had a little bit of a bacon ranch salad that was offered – a mixed green vegetable salad with bacon, a little cheese, and ranch dressing.  It tasted good and I didn’t dump, so I was pleased with that.

If you’re craving dessert, this is not the place to find happiness.  Your options on the dessert buffet are limited to ooey gooey chocolately delicious looking brownies; ooey gooey sticky sweet cinnamon buns; and ooey gooey caramely delicious apple pie type pizza.  I would guess that the sugar content in any of the desserts is enough to send you into some kind of serious, laying on the floor, begging for mercy dumping situation, and if the sugar doesn’t bother you, the fat likely will.  But if you are the kind of WLS patient that can handle that stuff, they do cut the brownie pieces into small squares, and the apple pie pizza thing into thin slices, so you may be able to get away with a taste of either of those.  The cinnamon buns are much smaller than those you would get at the mall Cinna-Bon store, but they are the most generously sized dessert, so you might want to skip those.

You can add whatever kind of drink you want to the buffet, and they do have water at no additional cost.  I stick with unsweetened iced tea.

CiCi’s is certainly not gourmet pizza, but it is good tasting pizza, and it’s a great restaurant to take a family with kids.  For those of you who hesitate to go to a buffet with your family because you know you can no longer eat your money’s worth, CiCi’s is a reasonably priced enough option that even if you can only eat one or two slices and a bit of salad, you won’t feel you’ve wasted money. 

I highly recommend CiCi’s pizza to those of you who have had Gastric Bypass surgery – and to those who haven’t.  It’s enjoyable for the whole family.