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?
you may want to consider EntreeVous in Ashburn- www.entreevous.com zip code 20148. so clean, friendly help to make your meals and clean up behind you, music and nice atmosphere. we usually bring wine, they serve samples of dishes while we create and socialize, and they have a great menu to choose from.
NO MINIMUM number of meals!
I have only been to Dinner Zen and really like it. The quality is excellent and the variety of foods is very much to my taste. I chose this because the food seemed less Heartland and a little more adventurous. And - it allows me to make 2-3 portions rather than always 4-6 that the other dinner assembly kitchens seem to favor. There are also pre-assembled meals in the freezer that I sometimes buy to supplement what I make there. I also customize my meals to my diet (low-sodium - most them are already low fat).
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 '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....
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 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.