We eat pretty well at my house. I love to cook and try new recipes, and my family is willing to go along for the ride. We have several grocery stores nearby, including that food-mecca, Wegman's. On the weekends, we take advantage of the local farmers markets to get fresh produce and home-made items.
Still and all, there is a real difference between what I churn out in my kitchen, and what I call "really good food". Sunday night we took our parents out to celebrate my dad's birthday and my mother-in-law's birthday. We went to a local restaurant, Petit Louis. It's french food, but as my son says, its not "snooty french".
It was "really good food". No, it was really food porn. I started out with a lovely tart: caramelized onion, morels, grilled asparagus, with slivers of roast duck. The tart was surrounded by a tarragon cream sauce. Unbelievably good. My son had a brochette of shrimp, with red pepper dice and a light lemon sauce. Also wonderful, judging by the 10 seconds it took him to inhale almost a dozen shrimp. He ate a small loaf of bread mopping up the sauce.
For our main dishes, we ordered several and shared tastes. Steak au poivre with a wine and mushroom sauce was meltingly tender and poppingly spicy. I had rabbit with peas, onion and lardons. Lardons are small cubes of salt pork (bacon) that are cooked until crispy and used as a flavoring agent. The rabbit was meltingly tender and the accompanying sauce was so good I almost repeated my son's feat with another loaf of bread. My husband had roast duck with beets and walnuts. Very good -- even the beets. My son had another brochette (keeping to a theme of food on a stick!), this time chicken breast, peppers and onions, with a vegetable saute. This also disappeared, though he had to have some help with the sauteed vegetables.
Of course, we also made room for dessert. Dark chocolate pot de creme for me [think a big dish of truffle], profiterols with vanilla ice cream and chocolate ganache, a flight of 3 homemade ice creams, fresh berries with mint and fresh whipped cream.
"really good food" is food you actually remember eating, whose tastes you can recall days or weeks or months later.