Last week my wife and I were blessed with the rare opportunity to have a highly coveted date night – something that has become a rarity since having a child.
For this date night, my wife suggested that we modify our typical dinner and a movie with a progressive dinner and a movie.
At first, I was kind of confused and thought that she was suggesting that we go somewhere to harvest our own veggies, etc. and then cook them. I know that some people enjoy doing that but it is winter in Wisconsin – kind of – so, needless to say my man brain was baffled.
My wife then enlightened me to something she had read about, in which you eat each course at a different restaurant, progressing through your appetizer, entrée and dessert.
After doing a little research online I found that a progressive dinner is something many people do through foodie tours or a dinner party, with each course served at another friend's house.
With the weather being so nice I decided to not be a curmudgeon and to indulge my wife and her adaptation of dinner, because honestly it did sound like something pretty fun to do for a change of pace – and my wife typically has good ideas, so I went against my growling bear-like hibernation ways.
My wife wrote down a list of dozens of different places and then threw them into a jar to draw from – something we of course let our son do.
After having to chase down our boy a few times to actually see what he drew, we had our plan set. I should note that we only put local places or very small regional "chains" into the jar and we only wanted to go to new places that neither of us had been to before.
Being all set, we handed off the boy to his grandma and off we went, ready for adventure and food.
One of the nice things about the places that were drawn is that all of them were close to each other. We could take advantage of the abnormally warm January night and actually walk around for a moment or two before needing to duck into our place of destination.
Upon arriving at our first destination, we immediately learned that we were going to have to be flexible with our plan and not be so legalistic about the rules that we set for our journey. Nothing can throw a kink in the works like a closed establishment.
That's right, our appetizer place no longer existed. Whoops!
Well thankfully we were downtown with a plethora of places to choose from in walking distance so we hopped across the street to a place we've been before due to being hungry and after a little walking around we were finally cold enough to want to be inside.
Our entrée spot went off without a hitch, but our second stick in the spokes of the night hit us shortly after we finished our entrée round.
We were stuffed!
Taking that time to talk and relax at the appetizer spot, when coupled with the wait and subsequent dining at our entrée spot, gave our stomachs more than enough time to relay a message of being full to our brains.
We needed a break in our plan and that's luckily where our movie came in. Nothing helps digestion like staring glassy-eyed at a giant screen of activity. Maybe it was the two-and-a-half hour break that actually did the trick in allowing us to be ready for our dessert course, but I like the idea of thinking I was somehow burning calories by watching other people do vigorous physical activity (movie of the night was "MI:4").
By the time the movie was done, our next moment of pause hit us.
We were tired!
It was a little later than we had expected and so instead of venturing to a new place that may or may not have been open, we went for the fail-safe dessert option – Perkins.
By the end of our dessert and night we felt surprisingly refreshed by the date.
We didn't have to chase down our son to make him sit still. We didn't have to oblige others' conversation. We could just sit, relax and talk about casual topics and not bills, parenting techniques, family gossip or anything that had a tinge of stress within it.
If you have kids and rarely get a date night, or if your date nights have become a little stale and repetitive, I highly encourage you to try this method of dining, because a little adventure seems to be exactly what the doctor ordered – for us at least.
There are a bunch of other ways that this idea could be modified, too. For the drinkers of the world an alcohol course could be added by grabbing a glass of wine or a brandy at a new bar prior to the appetizer or after. Coffee could be put in place of alcohol as well, trying a new roaster or coffee shop that you've never been to before. If you're really adventurous, you could work backwards through the meal doing dessert, entrée, appetizer.
Have you ever done a progressive dinner or would you be willing to try it out, or does it sound extremely stupid to you?
Born in Milwaukee and raised in the Milwaukee suburb of Brown Deer, Concordia University Wisconsin alumnus Poppe has spent the majority of his life in or around the city and county of Milwaukee.
As an advocate of Milwaukee's hip-hop community Poppe began popular local music blog Milwaukee UP in March 2010. Check out the archived entries here.
Though heavy on the hip-hop, Poppe writes about other genres of music and occasionally about food, culture or sports, and is always ready to show his pride in Milwaukee and Wisconsin.