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Choose a ‘Benchmark Dish’ to Evaluate New Restaurants

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Photo: Southern Light Studios (Shutterstock)

When dining out or ordering in, I rarely order the same dish every time. There’s a whole menu to enjoy, and I consider myself a flavor explorer. But, when trying a new establishment, I’ll often get something I’ve had many times, at other, similar establishments. I call these “benchmark dishes,” and they’re very important.

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My benchmark dishes are usually iconic dishes that represent their genre, and can give me a bit of insight into the restaurant or bar’s philosophy and style. For example, there are a lot of fancy doughnut places here in Portland and—even if they’re famous for their maple bacon bar or hibiscus glazed—my first order will always be a plain raised glazed.

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A plain raised glazed doughnut reveals all. You can’t hide a stale doughnut or poor technique with a simple glazed doughnut. With one bite, I can tell if I’m going to vibe with this particular purveyor of doughnuts. This is why I don’t care for a certain expensive doughnut spot that everyone who visits seems to adore—they add cinnamon to their plain glazed, which isn’t needed, and which communicates (to me) that they don’t think their combination of yeasted dough and sugar is “enough.”

Similarly, it’s how I know I love Pinolo Gelateria. Their fior di latte (flower of milk) is even plainer than vanilla—it’s just sweetened dairy—and it absolutely rules. There’s nothing to hide behind with fior di latte, so your technique and recipe have to be perfect.

Other benchmark dishes of mine include Italian sandwiches (no matter what they call them), fried catfish, and martinis. If those come out great, I know I can probably branch out and not be disappointed.

Is it a perfect system? No. One has to be on alert for the odd restaurant/food cart/bar that harbors secret gems. The cocktail bar that makes terrible drinks but has great wings, the pizza place that has great fries, etc. But in most instances, a benchmark dish will tell you what you need to know, allowing you to explore the rest of the menu with confidence.

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Charge Your Phone Wirelessly With 50% off a Multifunctional LED Lamp

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Best Tech DealsBest Tech DealsThe best tech deals from around the web, updated daily.

White Wireless Charge Lamp | $18 | Amazon | Clip coupon + code ABC88699
Black Wireless Charger Lamp | $20 | Amazon | Promo code ABC88699

When you’re ready to turn in for the night, you don’t want to forget to charge your phone— especially if your mobile device doubles as your alarm clock.

With this wireless charger lamp, you can make this crucial step of your nightly routine even easier by just setting your phone on the wireless charging pad and… well, that’s all there is to it!

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Other functions include multiple lighting modes as well as a sleep timer option for auto shut-off of the light after 30 or 60 minutes.

This lamp can be yours in white for $18 if you clip the coupon on Amazon (it’s below the original $40 price) and add promo code ABC88699 at checkout.

You can snag the black version for $20 using the same code—no coupon though, sorry.

Don’t sleep on this deal! Who knows how long stock or the coupon code will last?

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Keep That Hotdish Hot With 65% Off a Luncia Casserole Carrier, Only $11 With Promo Code

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Luncia Double-Decker Dish Carrier | $11 | Amazon | Promo code SDDU9S7F

It has been a long time since the days we could safely have a potluck or other gatherings, but we have a fantastic deal perfect for once those times return. These double-decker Luncia dish carriers can be had for 65% off when you add promo code SDDU9S7F at checkout and clip the coupon on the site (it’s just below the price). These holders fit 9″x 13″ sized baking dishes.

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That means you can insulate and keep two dishes of food warm for only $11 instead of $30. What’s more, your Luncia carrier will arrive by Christmas if you order today as a Prime member.

Just add promo code SDDU9S7F and clip the 5% off coupon to bring the price down to $11 for the blue or the grey option.

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Grab this offer while it’s still around!


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Conquer Your Pup’s Dander and Fur With $700 Off a Cobalt or Charcoal Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Cobalt) | $200 | Best Buy

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Charcoal) | $200 | Best Buy

Allergies can be bad enough as the seasons change. Don’t let pet hair and dander add to that by vacuuming it up early and often. That chore is easier said than done— unless you have a robot vacuum to do the work for you. This lovely bright cobalt Bobsweep PetHair Plus robot vacuum and mop, only $200 today at Best Buy seems like an ideal option. That’s a whopping $700 off, by the way.

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You can get the same deal for the charcoal version of the robot vac, too. This model is not only specially made for picking up pet hair, it self docks and charges when it’s finished with the work.

It also comes with a mop attachment, so it can take care of those kitchen floors for you as well. Grab it while it’s still available for this fantastic price!

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