Lets Dish or Dinner Zen
I realize neither will provide an amazing culinary experience, but are they atleast OK? My mom is not a huge cook but I thought it would be something fun to do together. Has anyone tried either (Lets Dish or Dinner Zen in Reston) and if so can you please share your thoughts?
I am a regular at Let's Dish and I can say the over all quality is quite good. Some dishes translate to this format better than others. They use high quality ingredients which helps the resulting outcome.
A word to using this as an activity for you and your mother: depending on what time of day you go and the particular personality of the location you use, other 'dishers' can be rather pushy/grabby... shoving their way in while you are already using a station or leaving they garbage behind or hovering around behind you, urging you to hurry up and finish. My advice would be to go at a time when you know it is least crowded, you will have a much more satisfying experience- and perhaps some fun with mom!
FYI - I use the Let's Dish Baltimore location.
I've done Let's Dish several times, using the Alexandria location. I've always been happy with anything that's done in a crockpot, and any of their pork dishes, as well as their flank steaks.
I stopped getting any other beef "steak" dishes, though, because I thought the quality was lacking -- tough, and cut too thin to hold onto juices when thawing. The last 2 times I've done it, I've noticed the protein portions are getting a bit skimpier, maybe by an ounce or so per serving.
I prefer to cook from scratch, but it's nice to have some emergency rations in the freezer for those weeks when I can't get to the store as expected and don't want to lay out the cash for restaurant meals.
I 'Dished' in Rockville about a year ago and was pretty happy with it. I was with a group (turned out to be me and another girl) so it was empty. I liked most of the food. My wife had me make 2 servings of some French chicken dish but she didn't like it so I was stuck with it for myself. I still have the burgers and salmon in my freezer; they know they're days are numbered.
As a reference, I've bought some pre-made meals from Super Suppers in Crofton and I didn't find them to be as good. I haven't made anything there myself, though.
Now that I think about it, I know I bought a chicken satay from there and I don't remember eating it. I need to clean out my freezer....
Let's dish is quite good for what it is. The menu isn't sophisticated- and some of the dishes are hit or miss, but its quite comforting after a long day. I second the suggestion of doing it with someone. I have done it by myself a few times but it is tiring. Personally I like the salmon and pork dishes the best. Some of the "Asian" inspired dishes taste like something from lean cuisine.
I forgot to mention, be careful of ordering chicken with any sort of berry sauce/glaze (raspberry is worst for this). The berries break down too much from the freeze-thaw and it ends up tasting like chicken w/ cough syrup.