Eating Out: Top Words to Look Out for on Restaurant Menus

When you head out to a restaurant, you know the basics: it’s probably a better idea to order the fish over a burger, and that creamy soup will probably pack a few hundred more calories than the broth-based one. But one stealthy, tiny adjective in the menu description can change all that: suddenly your fish is battered (instead of grilled), and it turns into a deep-fried, 800 calorie meal. The following words are red flags for restaurant choices that will most likely be high in calories and unhealthy fats; if they accompany your choice of entree, ask your server to substitute a healthier alternative (like poached, steamed and seared).

Au gratin: literally meaning “with gratings,” this French culinary style refers to foods that have been covered with cheese and breadcrumbs and then baked.

Aioli: aioli is essentially the French version of mayonnaise, consisting of egg yolks, oil, garlic, lemon juice and often spices or chopped herbs. In the US, it’s often served slathered on burgers and sandwiches and as a dipping sauce for fries.

Battered: a close relative to “fried,” battered foods have been dredged in eggs, flour, and often breadcrumbs and then fried in oil or butter.

Bisque: Traditionally, a bisque is a French soup made with crab or lobster, wine, and cream. Today, bisque often refers to any soup with a creamy base, including tomato, mushroom, and potato.

Breaded: the food, often a form of protein, has been coated in breadcrumbs and then either fried or roasted to create a crunchy coating. Ask your server whether the meat is fried or roasted, which will make a big difference in terms of fat and calorie content.

Crispy: unfortunately, this term doesn’t refer to a crisp apple: it’s a sneaky term for “deep-fried” — and filled with just as many unhealthy fats.

Crunch/Crunchy: often accompanying sushi rolls, “crunch” refers to bits of tempura (tempura-fried onions, shrimp tempura) that will add calories and fat to your meal.

Dynamite: most sushi joints offer their own versions of the Dynamite Roll, but in most, cases, it includes tempura shrimp, vegetables, and a spicy mayonnaise sauce. Depending on the ingredients, it will contain between 400 and 500 calories (compared with around 200 for a tuna avocado roll).

Hollandaise: most commonly served over eggs, this French sauce is made with butter, egg yolks, and lemon juice and adds a rich, creamy taste to any dish. Hollandaise can be used as a base for other sauces to look out for as well, including Béarnaise, Bavaroise, and Mousseline.

Loaded: often referring to baked potatoes, this red flag signifies that your entree or appetizer will come with a slew of unhealthy toppings: cheese, sour cream, bacon bits or bacon, mayonnaise, and butter.

Monster: a synonym for “huge,” “giant,” or “oversized,” this type of meal is too big for just about everyone! One Super Monster Burrito at FreeBirds will cost you 1,900 calories — and that’s without sour cream and guacamole. Also look out for supreme, grande, and jumbo.

Scalloped: also called “escalloped,” this term technically refers to the shell-shape of the dish, but it also refers to dishes baked with breadcrumbs, cheese and butter.

Tempura: tempura is the Japanese version of deep-frying; it often uses sesame oil and a light flour for its unique fluffy, crisp texture.

Volcano: the Volcano roll is another sushi dish that most restaurants personalize, but it often includes crab, scallops, and vegetables baked with spicy mayo and cream cheese. Most contain between 400 and 500 calories.


2 responses to “Eating Out: Top Words to Look Out for on Restaurant Menus

  1. Great post! Didn’t know japanese food was so sneaky. I gotta watch my sushi from now on!

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