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"Meal Once Removed," by Anne Marson


marsonanne
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I am a food writer for the Washington City Paper--thanks to mdt for posting my last piece. Even if I did get a YAWN. [WINKING EMOTICON] Anyway, I'm doing a piece on the effects of takeout on food--particularly from upscale places. I know some restaurants won't do to-go orders because they like to control the quality/presentation of their dishes, but I'm fascinated by the fact that most *will* accomodate takeout orders, even though it might mean that a $17 scallop appetizer's dainty portion ends up smooshed against one side of a styrofoam container (or something might get soggy/overcooked in transit).

Anyone out there eat pricey takeout? What are your favorite places to order from? Does the lack of presentation bother you, or is it all about the food? Weird as it sounds, do any of them wrap things particularly well/inventively? Have you ever encountered a place that wouldn't do takeout (I know that none of the Great American Restaurants will do it)? Anyone willing to talk to me specifically for my piece can also reach me directly at the paper at 202-332-2100 x456. Thanks! Anne

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I don't like to do take out for anything except Chinese food and pizza. My experience is that the containers trap heat and moisture which usually causes the food to continue to cook longer than intended and makes the it somewhat soggy. By the time you would get a medium rare Ray's ribeye home, it could be medium or worse and the crumbled bleu cheese would be all melted.

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I don't like to do take out for anything except Chinese food and pizza.  My experience is that the containers trap heat and moisture which usually causes the food to continue to cook longer than intended and makes the it somewhat soggy.   By the time you would get a medium rare Ray's ribeye home, it could be medium or worse and the crumbled bleu cheese would be all melted.

Actually, whether one is getting Heritage or not, I've always found that Indian food in general lends itself to carryout. And you can eat the poppadums on the way home, just like steeling your family's french fries when you're picking up at McDonalds.

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Some things travel better than others.

Pretty much anything stew-like or that is meant to retain moisture will both travel and also reheat well.

For my two cents, I think the phenomenon of upscale restaurants doing takeout is generally a capitulation to that segment of their clientele who demand to do things their way rather than do the food justice.

Dammit, I don't care what you think, you only cooked the food! Now gimme!

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I'm fascinated by the fact that most *will* accomodate takeout orders, even though it might mean that a $17 scallop appetizer's dainty portion ends up smooshed against one side of a styrofoam container (or something might get soggy/overcooked in transit).

Money travels well. :)

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Money travels well.  :)

hat's what's so interesting to me about the few places that won't. thanks for the hints/comments, guys. indian food is undoubtedly one of the best cuisines for takeout, i think. unless they use a crappy clamshell container and you get a spill.

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(I know that none of the Great American Restaurants will do it)

This is not exactly correct. You can order anything on the menu "for later" and then ask for a take out container when you are ready to leave. Ergo: take out that's not exactly take out. Of course, you end up paying for something while you are there, and you're sitting down so they get you for some food item or drink and the corresponding tip. Hmm, I've never tried this at the bar at Mikes, but buying an iced tea at the bar just to order a Santa Fe Chicken Salad to eat at home might be worth the investment.
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Interestingly Houstons won't do take out. You can at some locations order at the bar and then ask for a to go AFTER they have delivered it to you.

On the other hand, it surprises me that there are not more "upscale" meals to go places in DC. Eatzis (a chain from TX) does huge business in Atlanta. and it is all upscale. http://www.eatzis.com/ I live in Virginia so had no idea (even though I put the link in the message) that there is an eatzis in rockville!

Other upscale places to get take out: Balduccis

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Galileo is by far the most expensive & also the best restaurant on the Take-Out Taxi menu, but I've never ordered from them because the cheap food Ive ordered from them has taken so long. Ive always wondered who actually does order from them using this service, and how it is. It might even be worth it as a curiosity if I wasn't so sure it would arrive completely cold. They have been in the Take-Out Taxi catalogue for at least a couple years, so someone must be getting this stuff delivered.

Edited for spelling.

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Galileo is by far the most expensive & also the best restaurant on the Take-Out Taxi menu, but I've never ordered from them because the cheap food Ive ordered from them has taken so long.  Ive always wondered who actually does order from them using this service, and how it is.  It might even be worth it as a curiosity if I wasn't so sure it would arrive completely cold.  They have been in the Take-Out Taxi catalogue for at least a couple years, so someone must be getting this stuff delivered.

Edited for spelling.

nteresting that you mention galileo. i actually ordered from them (from the a la carte service), and it was that order that got me to thinking about who might order swanky takeout. the food was neither cold nor overcooked (well, the veggies were a little kaput), but my "smooshed scallop" scenario was a nod in their direction.

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We did takeout from Palena once when Derek was still working there. It was a few days before our wedding and it was our last dinner at home (plus the results show/finale of American Idol 3). Mr. BLB called and while Derek said they didn't like to do it (for all the above stated reasons) they would do it for us this one time.

We ordered the burgers plus some other things I don't remember.

Damn fine meal and it all traveled the five blocks back to our apartment without damage.

I can't think of any other upscale takeout that I've done in recent years.

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I did takeout of three different seafood stews from BlackSalt, when I was having a serious craving for something I had not cooked myself, my husband refused to go out, and I could not bear the thought of Listrani's pizza or carry-out Chinese. The meal was expensive, considering that I had to pick it up, bring it home, set the table and wash the dishes afterward. But the food travelled well, and the folks at BlackSalt were very accomodating.

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I work for a large delivery service and often see orders for food placed by large law firms, which vary in size from 3 or 4 meals to food for 20 or 30. Im often amazed that places where the partners make millions order from places where I wouldn't pay money to eat. I understand that they dont have Citronelle cater every lunch, but people pay 30 or 40 dollars to have us deliver 3 meals from very average places. There is one place where the one of the partners often pays us to walk his lunch from the Palm to him, but the rest of the stuff is pretty pedestrian. I guess this isnt swanky takeout as much as a swanky way to get takeout.

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We had takeout from Passage to India tonight--see separate post in Restaurants and Dining forum--and the only thing that suffered from taking it home was the naan. There's just no way to keep it as hot and crisp as it comes straight from the tandoor. The rest of the food lost nothing en route to our table. Dee-licious. :)

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This is not exactly correct. You can order anything on the menu "for later" and then ask for a take out container when you are ready to leave.  Ergo: take out that's not exactly take out.  Of course, you end up paying for something while you are there, and you're sitting down so they get you for some food item or drink and the corresponding tip.  Hmm, I've never tried this at the bar at Mikes, but buying an iced tea at the bar just to order a Santa Fe Chicken Salad to eat at home might be worth the investment.

eah, this is kind of curious to me. have you done this before?

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yeah, this is kind of curious to me. have you done this before?

I've ordered items for "later" while I was eating lunch and then asked for a "take-out" box so I could pack up the later stuff. I've never tried sitting at the bar and ordering a glass of water and a Santa Fe Chicken Salad..."oh, and a take out box while you're at it"...next time, I'll try this (and the people with whom I go to lunch will then have definite proof that I'm strange)...(wow! lots of " " marks in this one).
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We did takeout from Palena once when Derek was still working there.  It was a few days before our wedding and it was our last dinner at home (plus the results show/finale of American Idol 3).  Mr. BLB called and while Derek said they didn't like to do it (for all the above stated reasons) they would do it for us this one time. 

We ordered the burgers plus some other things I don't remember. 

Damn fine meal and it all traveled the five blocks back to our apartment without damage.

I got through my last semester of grad school by ordering the burger to grab on my way home from campus about once a week. I'm pretty sure it's a rare occurance because by early November if Kelly answered the phone I just had to say I wanted to order "a burger for take away" and she knew it was me :angry:

The fries, unfortunately, don't travel as well. They become mushy and are hard to recrisp in the oven :)

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I'll have to agree with hillvalley. I got Palena chicken takeout a few times in the last couple of months, and all I had to do was ring them up and name the time. In general, depending on the nature of your relationship with the restaurant, you should be able to order takeout of dishes from places that were never meant to be taken out. I won't even go into details of my poshest takeout. All my advice is to invest in friendships that nourish your stomach.

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I am a food writer for the Washington City Paper--thanks to mdt for posting my last piece. Even if I did get a YAWN. [WINKING EMOTICON] Anyway, I'm doing a piece on the effects of takeout on food--particularly from upscale places.
Looks like Anne's piece is in the May 12th City Paper.

Did anyone catch the April 30th NYTimes article about San Francisco's take-out friendly Ferry Building on the Embarcadero? OK, another cool dining option we don't have in metro DC. More info in the Ferry Building's web site.

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A few weeks ago I walked into Harry's Tap Room, and ask for a slice of cheesecake to go. I told by the host that Harry's was a "dine in restaurant only"....WTF. All I wanted was a damn slice of cheesecake, for some reason this really Jerked me off!

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Did anyone catch the April 30th NYTimes article about San Francisco's take-out friendly Ferry Building on the Embarcadero? OK, another cool dining option we don't have in metro DC. More info in the Ferry Building's web site.

the wine merchant is pretty good too, not that good california wine is hard to find in this neck of the woods, so that you can gather everything you need for a picnic. the coit tower is within walking distance, and you may run into the parrots on your way up telegraph hill, as we did by accident. off the piers in the vicinity you can watch locals haul in illegal baby sharks and throw them back in if they think someone might be watching. the water may not be as pristine as it appears. my wife reminds me not to forget the imperial tea court.

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