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Ordering PB&J at restaurants ...

.. do you?

Occasionally, I'll see a PB&J sandwich on a menu and wonder why people would ever order such a thing at a restaurant (esp. when more often than not the PB&J will be as expensive, or nearly as expensive, as the other sandwich offerings).

Reason I am curious is because it is such a simple thing to make and generally the ingredients used at a restaurant will be equal to what is used at home. Sometimes, the restaurant version will actually be inferior because some folks like to use organic or all-natural PB or some artisan-type bread, etc.

If you do order PB&J at restaurants, why do you do so?

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  1. I certainly wouldn't! Maybe for someone who has a kid who absolutely refuses point blank to eat anything else... I don't really 'get' why someone would order a house salad ('bowl'o'lettuce), or a grilled cheese sandwich either, but it's a free world!

    1. Sometimes that's about the safest thing for a vegetarian to order. If it's not a vegetarian-friendly menu and you don't feel like having a salad, it's an option.
      And if they have vegetarian tomato soup to go with it you have a tasty lunch after all!

      3 Replies
      1. re: xena

        It's certainly a shame that a restaurant wouldn't be able to accomodate a special request for a vegetarian diner. How hard could it be to grill or roast up some veggies ...?

        1. re: ipsedixit

          Harder than you might imagine in some places! I will never forget my experience at The Cranford Hotel (Cranford, NJ) when I ordered the "Chef's Sauteed Veggies" as an appetizer. After a very long wait, the waitress returned to the table to announce, "the chef doesn't have any vegetables to sautee". A few minutes later, she returned to tell me that I couldn't have the entree that I had ordered, namely veal and mushrooms, because they had no mushrooms. Really good management, wouldn't you say?

          Hint: If you go to that place, don't order anything other than a hamburger. Actually, I don't recommend going to that place anyway.

          1. re: ipsedixit

            You might be surprised and probably also appalled at how many restaurants have only frozen vegetables on hand, sometimes in pre-measured, pre-mixed portions. Frozen vegetables roast very, very badly.

        2. a regular old jiffy and welches PB and J no. I would not order. however If it were a "gourmet" one, with organic, crunchy PB, bananas, local jam, fresh berries, great bread....yes, I would order. Especially if toasted.

          1. I do. Sometimes it's the only vegetarian item on the menu. The same applies to the house salad (not always!) and grilled cheese. Now if they're offering house-made bread, jam, or some really interesting cheese combo in the grilled cheese I'll be quite happy!

            Why am I at a place w/out vegetarian offerings? Unfortunately I don't always have the option - work meeting, meeting a group of friends and everyone wants to try the "new" restaurant in town, only to discover there are no vegetarian items ... family members who are obtuse (I've been vegetarian for 15 years)

            1 Reply
            1. re: odkaty

              "family members who are obtuse" :-)

              It never ceases to amaze me that any self-respecting restaurant couldn't whip up a vegetarian pasta of some sort ...

            2. I have never ordered PB&J in a restaurant, though I might if it was made with some special ingredients (like artisanal bread or something), fully understanding that it wouldn't be the traditional experience.

              Otherwise, I could imagine some of my pickier relatives ordering PB&J in a restaurant, given how they tend to bring one to every family party.

              1. Maybe someone at home has a nut allergy.

                1. When I was in high school Denny's was the go-to place at 3am for my classmates and myself. I do not tolerate greasy, fried, or excessively salty food well which really eliminated a lot of the Denny's menu for me, not a terribly lamentable situation IMO, haha. One of the few things I could actually tolerate AND enjoy was a good ol' PB & J. I was always teased because I would specify that I wanted "modest" amounts of PB & J on "lightly" toasted wheat bread. Sometimes there is just nothing more satisfying.

                  1. this also brings up the question... does anyone actually buy the ready made PPJ sandwiches they sell at the grocery store? i think they are in the freezer aisle? and what do you guys think of them? i just don't get it!

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: cincomomo

                      You mean Smucker's Crustables?

                      I've wondered the same thing myself ... who would buy such a thing??

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        I've ordered the PB & J at Johnny Rockets just because I was there with friends and didn't feel like anything else. It was so good! Maybe it's the theory that if someone else makes it for you, it's somehow better.

                        Oh, and I've bought the "uncrustables" for road trips. So ashamed that I really like them. Yum.

                        1. re: Oh Robin

                          My kids like the uncrustables and while I concede it's just as easy to make a pb&j from scratch often times it really is easier to not argue with what they want and just go with it, lol.

                        2. re: ipsedixit

                          ipsedixit, probably the same people who would order pbj in a restaurant. some people have a one-track palate.

                        3. re: cincomomo

                          I didn't even know pre-made PBJ existed.

                        4. There was a seared foie gras on brioche with peanut butter and jelly appetizer at Veil in Seattle that was pretty good.

                          Otherwise, no.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: babette feasts

                            The only time that adults would order a PB & J was at a tea parlour that I worked at. Only because it was offered on the kids "Young Royal" tea menu (a sampler of pb & j, strawberry jam and cream cheese, and egg sandwiches). It initially suprised me that adults desired this sandwich, but at the same time a egg-salad sandwich was offered (on the regular menu). Maybe it is the nostalgic of the pb&j. Not sure. I would never think to order this in any other type of restaurant (whereas the tea parlour had the "Young Royal" offered on the everyday menu). I did see a fois gras pb&j offered at Cyrus, in Healdsburg...definitely would order that!!

                          2. One of the bar's in Waitsfield, VT (Gallagher's, long-gone) used to have pbj on their menu with a $25 price tag. Nothing else was more than $12 I recall. It was some kind of a joke. When people drank enough, they ordered it expecting, without asking, to be charged $2.50 and to be told it was a joke. They weren't.

                            Has anyone been to Peanut Butter and Co. in New York? The restaurant that sells nothing but peanut butter sandwiches? I haven't, but I somehow found it repellently gimmicky.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: thinks too much

                              Haven't been to Peanut Butter & Co restaurant, but we buy their "Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter" in a jar at Whole Foods. Really yummy. About 90% of what we use is right off the spoon, only 10% makes it onto a sandwich.

                            2. Years ago we had a small vegetarian place that had the "PB & J" of the day. The bread changed daily (but was always homemade) the peanut butter and jellies/jams were also and one day it might be "Homemade crunchy pb with cinnamon and homemade apple jelly on whole grain bread" and the next might be "Smooth pb and homemade raspberry jam on Challah" You could get them untoasted, toasted or grilled.

                              1. At Bouchon Bakery in New York, they feature a cashew butter and jelly sandwich on buttered brioche bread which is pretty popular. Personally, I would not order it (because I was never crazy about PB&J in a sandwich, even as a kid - unless it was an open-faced sandwich), but DH has ordered it a couple of times. It's very rich and indeed tasty.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Miss Needle

                                  I've ordered peanut butter on a bagel, occasionally--I wasn't patronizing the place (Able Bagel in Princeton, NJ) for the quality of the pb but because they have wonderful oatmeal flour bagels and whole wheat cin. raisin bagels there.

                                  I'm a vegetarian, mostly vegan (I do eat eggs and small amounts of milk but can't tolerate cream cheese), and p.b.has protien.

                                  Cashew butter btw is the best--I must check out Bouchon!

                                  I have seen cream cheese sandwiches at diners, btw, which I suppose 'begs' the same question, although I adored cream cheese on toasted rye, plain, as a kid.

                                  1. re: Miss Needle

                                    There was a great restaurant in downtown Boston (must be close to 20 years since I've been there) that had a homey vegetarian buffet for lunch. It was so good but my favorite part was the nut butter section and home made bread. Mmmm. I can't remember what it was called anymore but what a great lunch place.

                                    1. re: Miss Needle

                                      honestly? cashew butter and jelly sandwich on buttered brioche bread (organic free-trade cashews, no doubt)? how it irks me when comfort food gets all fancied up and fussy. (like how we have taken down the simple pleasure of a good old-fashioned cupcake..i won't get myself started...) cashew butter, so avant garde, but ordering peanut butter in a restaurant? how gauche! i am sure it was delicious, but i am even more sure that it was so popular because it sounds so "innovative" on a menu. and then there's the current flip over mac and cheese! ok i said i wouldn't get started....

                                    2. I have definitely ordered PB on a bagel at numerous bagel shops, but I am pretty sure that is not odd. I have also had it at Panera due to being one of the "heathier" options. Being the PB-junkie that I am, I can say with some certainty that I would order it more often if I was to see it on a menu other places. I love to experiment with different PB options so if a place was to have something I had not thought of, I would go for it!

                                      1. I order BLTs for lunch all the time, and those are ridiculously easy to make at home too. I guess it's just nice and comforting to have someone make it for you.

                                        1. Once on a ski trip, my boyfriend's family and I all ordered pb&j sandwiches in the late afternoon to eat on our ride home. I have to say, the best thing about getting pb&j was the fact that they put WAY more of both pb and j on the sandwich than I ever would have at home. Calorie bomb extrordinaire, but fantastic after a full day of snow recreation!

                                          1. I suspect that those who have difficulty understanding why there is PB&J on a restaurant menu don't have to deal with children on a regular basis. You might be shocked to see how many kids there are who eat little else. So I think these restaurants are smartly accommodating their most finicky patrons.

                                            Another reason: The ingredients generally last forever in the pantry, so it's simple to keep in stock - and a good, inexpensive business practice - even if it's just to satisfy and ingratiate the limited number of people who order it.

                                            "...more often than not the PB&J will be as expensive, or nearly as expensive, as the other sandwich offerings." This no longer surprises me at all. Ever order a plain cheese sandwich at a restaurant? They are often as expensive as a meat sandwich topped with cheese. What's really scary is that grilled cheese sandwiches at diners are quite often MORE expensive than cheeseburgers.

                                            Flipping the topic on its head, I think the real question is: What is it about PB&J that makes it so surprising as a menu item? Why not have the same reaction about other ridiculously simple-to-prepare foods, like bagels with cream cheese? Or scrambled eggs? Etc.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Arthur

                                              Properly executed scrambled eggs are not easy to make (granted, much of the scrambled eggs on menus are NOT properly executed).

                                              I can understand bagels and cream cheese more than I can PB&J. Sometimes the bagels a restaurant has is not widely available in markets and sometimes bagels are ordered as a complementary item during breakfast for example; whereas PB&J is often ordered as the main entree item.

                                            2. Actually, here in Colorado, in the city of Aurora, there is a place called P.B. Loco cafe... It's a very fun place, with thirteen different flavours of peanut butter to work with in making your PB&J masterpiece. Raspberry white chocolate, Sumatra cinnamon and raisin, curry spiced, mocha, and more. There are lots of other ingredients you can use, from honey and bacon to M&Ms and Granny Smith apples. They'll even toast them on a Panini grill if you like. The drink selection is simple, from milk to real fountain soda. They also have Jones soda, for those that are familiar with it (all natural cane sugar sodas, not a thing nature didn't make in them).

                                              A great place to take the kids, or to just throw back time and be a kid yourself. The wife and I try to make it there once every other month at the least, just to have a little fun.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: parkco

                                                Hmmm... I wasn't really counting PB Loco, so I do order PB&J more often than just when I am on a long vacation!! We have one in Scottsdale, too. My fave there is crunchy PB, raspberry jam, and sliced bananas on Multigrain bread, GRILLED! It makes for a good, quick lunch while shopping.

                                              2. I can't keep peanut butter in the house because it calls to me in the middle of the night! I eat it in gobs with a spoon- not good for the figure! So when my daughter was growing up, she never had PB&J at home. All sorts of exotic food, yes, but not peanut butter. So for her, a PB&J in a restaurant was a special treat.

                                                1. My hubby orders them fairly often. It's as simple as the fact that he really likes PB&J, and if he's eating lunch out, and he's in the mood, he'll order it. I doubt he'd make a special trip to a restaurant to buy one though. It never crossed my mind that it was unusual. Lots of things are easy to prepare at home, but folks eat them in restaurants (my weakness is grilled cheese...mmmm!)

                                                  1. I happen to know that a soon to open restaurant in north fresno will be serving up PBJ sandwiches on a late night menu. High end PB and artisan breads, along with various jams, marshmallow fluff, and bananas will be included.

                                                    1. "Sometimes, the restaurant version will actually be inferior because some folks like to use organic or all-natural PB or some artisan-type bread, etc."

                                                      What's inferior about any of that? I try to eat mostly organic, and love pb on good crusty bread. Your inferiority sounds like a perfect sandwich to me!

                                                      1. As someone mentioned earlier, I don't think I'd go out speceifically with the intention of ordering a PB&J sandwich, however, sometimes, you'll sit down and find you have a craving.

                                                        Here in London (Clapham) there's also a great breakfast restaurant where you can pay a little extra to get unlimited "toast" with your breakfast of choice - they have bagels, breads, brioche etc and you can toast it at the table with any spreads you choose, peanut butter being one of them.

                                                        However, this is reasonably priced - I'd never pay extortionate prices for a PB&J sandwich.

                                                        1. Nope. Not against it, just think the ones I make at home are better.

                                                          1. There's a restaurant in New York where that's all they serve. The peanut butter is made in six varieties in the restaurant, and served in oodles of varieties, such as peanut butter with vanilla cream cheese and tart apple slices.

                                                            1. The only time I have ordered a PB&J at a restaurant was for lunch when I was on vacation. After eating every meal out for a week, I really just wanted some "plain" food, something I could get at home. And let me tell you, it was the best PB&J ever... sitting in a lounge chair at the Maui Four Seasons, looking out over the beautiful Pacific Ocean, palm trees swaying... You get the picture!!

                                                              1. Although I can say that I have never had a PBJ becuase the combo just does not sound good, my sister has ordered one when she has been in an 'iffy' restaurant and does not want to get food poisoning. She is sensitive and gets ill easily from mishandled food so PBJ is safe for her. More than once we have been out with friends and can smell the fish or whatever else is what we consider bad and wonder how sick they will get. Lo and behold they do not get sick but my sister or I would be worshipping the procelean god.

                                                                1. I ate a bunch of pbnjs from the little grocery/deli next to an old job. The thing is,
                                                                  they would make them in the morning, wrap them, and put them in a cooler with
                                                                  other prepared sandwiches.

                                                                  While a fresh-made pbnj is great, one that's been sitting wrapped in plastic
                                                                  for three hours is fantastic. The peanut butter has soaked in, the jelly's been
                                                                  absorbed by the other slice of bread, the pure nostalgic joy of pulling one out
                                                                  of a lunchbox in the school cafeteria.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                                                    Mmmm yes! The cold makes it even better.