Let’s go somewhere new tonight

“Where do you want to eat?”

“I don’t know; where do you want to eat?”

Familiar scenario? You’re not alone. All too often, we end up dining somewhere we’ve been many times before. Familiarity is soothing. Predictability is comfortable — like an old pair of shoes you love to wear but hope no one scrutinizes too closely.

Although I have no surplus of disposable income, I have trouble driving past one of my favorite restaurants, Seviche, when my boyfriend John and I have the wherewithal for a special-occasion dinner. It’s only blocks from our apartment.

And then, to compound the problem, I seem to order the same entrée every time we visit. I’ll peruse the menu, decide to order something new, and then when the server comes to take our order — although I’ve sincerely planned to try something I’ve never had before — somehow my brain hijacks my tongue, and I blurt, “Churrascos!” (That’s marinated skirt steak served with horseradish-chimichurri sauce, mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus.)

Discriminating diners in Louisville are lucky on two fronts. First, we have more than 1,800 restaurants in the Metro area to choose from (granted, that number fluctuates virtually each week — but still). That means you could conceivably dine at a different restaurant three meals a day for more than 18 months and never darken the same doorway twice. So why are you eating at the same two restaurants every week?

Of course, it’s good to become a regular at your favorite few establishments (I’ve written about this before). They know your drink order. You can get a coveted reservation on a busy night. But there’s something to be said for being adventurous. You just might find your next beloved favorite. And you might enjoy something new.

We Louisvillians have access to fabulous resources that can help us choose a new restaurant. Besides listening to what your friends tell you about unfamiliar venues, you have the Internet at your disposal. Do some research.

LouisvilleHotBytes.com (Robin Garr is the ringmaster) features weekly restaurant reviews and a lively forum that includes member reviews (raves and pans both). Many other restaurant-review websites will try to steer you to the best and away from the worst. Locally produced TV shows can help as well. “Dining with Steve” (www.diningwithsteve.com) features local restaurants weekly, with coupons to boot. “Secrets of Louisville Chefs” (www.newlocaltv.com) features local restaurant chefs demonstrating cooking methods and recipes for their favorite and most popular dishes.

And if you’re leaving town, exercise a little due diligence and visit other cities’ food forums and restaurant-review websites before you travel. Support independent restaurants wherever you go. You’ll be glad you did.

Marsha Lynch has worked at many Louisville independent restaurants including Limestone, Jack Fry’s, Jarfi’s, L&N Wine Bar and Bistro and Café Lou Lou. She is currently a teaching assistant at Sullivan University, her alma mater.