It’s been a rough day of working from home while juggling newly homeschooled kids and a bored spouse and confused pets, and all you want is a giant ribeye with a filet mignon chaser.
But then you remember that, like your workplaces and your kids’ schools and your doggy daycare, your favorite spot for steak—as well as pasta, sushi, pho, and a good-old juicy burger, for that matter—is also shuttered.
What’s a gourmand to do?
Call for takeout.
While just about every industry has been trying to figure out how to survive the coronavirus pandemic, some of the country’s most revered restaurants have tinkered with their business models to stay afloat and keep patrons smiling and satiated. Some of the most celebrated restaurants in the country are doing brisk business with their rejiggered gourmet fine dining model, turning to takeout to keep the doors open.
Today’s hottest spot: Your home’s dining room, where the special of the day is a Michelin-starred meal prepared in house and presented curbside. It’s confirmed: Prix Fixe takeout is the new fine dining.
In Los Angeles, you can’t drink in the ambiance of Vespertine’s strikingly sparse yet sculptural dining room, which the late Jonathan Gold, legendary restaurant critic for the Los Angeles Times, likened to an art installation. But you can enjoy chef Jordan Kahn’s fare, which catapulted the two-Michelin-starred L.A. eatery to the top of Gold’s annual Best Restaurants List in 2017.
Vespertine’s famed $250 tasting menu is not currently offered, but, in its place, you’ll find a weekly menu of prix fixed provisions you can enjoy at home. At press time, the weekly special was the Vespertine Southern Supper, a $65 per person “celebratory feast, comprised of 12 recipes” Kahn grew up eating—”some modern, some old—featuring an abundance of seafood, vegetables, greens, and heritage grains resurrected from over 2 centuries ago. For me, they are the flavors of home,” he said.
Spago of Beverly Hills has never before offered takeout, but today you can order a variety of options, including the multi-course CUT dinner highlighted by a 14-ounce, 35-day, dry-aged ribeye and a 16-ounce, 28-day, dry-aged New York sirloin steak, for $90 per person.
Pre-quarantine, you could dine on 14 courses of modern French cuisine at revered chef Dominique Crenn’s three-Michelin-starred Atelier Crenn in San Francisco for $345 per person. Now, Farm-fresh “Crenn Kits” offering vegetarian comfort meals to enjoy from home (vegetable soup, stuffed cabbage, sliced brioche, and dessert from pastry chef Juan Contreras) are selling out at $38 per person. The enhanced, $55 “Crenn Kit Plus” option adds a cheese course.
“In early March, we shut down our dining room. Fine dining is not what Seattle needs right now. Instead, we’re bringing the food to you. We’ve got this, Seattle.” That’s the message from the Canlis family, owners of Seattle’s landmark fine dining establishment, Canlis, and they’ve come through with a variety of to-go options to keep hungry diners happy.
Rotating, multi-course family meals include Nana’s Italian sausage with onions & peppers for $52 per person, pork shoulder Bo Ssam with all the fixins’ for $65 per person, and dry-aged cote de boeuf for two for $92 per person. They also have Community Support Agriculture Boxes with a curated mix of farm-fresh produce that support a local farm, plus bottle service to go, and two livestreaming entertainment options: piano and Friday night bingo.
Alinea, the only three-starred restaurant in Chicago and one of only a dozen to earn the distinction across the country, typically has a two-month wait for a reservation. While diners await the day they can once again sink their teeth into the 18- or 22-course tasting menus, they can order comfort food to go. On the menu at press time: osso buco with risotto alla Milanese for $42.50 per person and duck cassoulet for $34.50 per person.
Washington, D. C.
You have two opportunities to feast on lauded chef Aaron Silverman’s Michelin-starred fare in Washington, D.C. during the quarantine. Rose’s Luxury is preparing a four-course menu (lychee salad, pasta, kung pao tofu or BBQ chicken, and flourless chocolate cake) for $45 per person. At Silverman’s acclaimed Little Pearl, themed prix fixe meals including Tex-Mex Fiesta and Italian Spring Feast are also priced at $45 per person.
Several hotspots in New York have launched take-out options to satisfy your gourmet cravings, such as Benjamin Steakhouse, considered one of the top steakhouses in NYC. Their full menu is available to go, and you can also purchase cuts of meat to cook at home.
If you happen to be in London, you’re undoubtedly regretting not being able to experience the uber-luxurious private dining room at Hide, which you ascend via a magical, unfurling, laminated timber staircase (or by private limousine elevator). But you can still enjoy the gourmet food, with their Hide at Home menu. The large takeout menu comprises starters, mains, sides, and desserts, with an extensive wine menu and a kids’ menu.
Keep in mind that these daily offerings are limited, and if you don’t reserve one early enough, you may be having pizza for takeout. Again.