Fresh to go

Fresh to go

A great new addition to the take-away scene

By Maureen Foley 04/19/2007

The SideCar Restaurant is known for its farmers market-fresh ingredients. Now the former train car-turned-restaurant has a new addition that is perfect for lunch. Tucked away in the parking lot behind the SideCar is a gourmet deli and take-out restaurant called Gourmet To Go. Last week, I decided to try out their mix of sandwiches, salads and desserts.

The most difficult thing about Gourmet’s lunch was finding the front door. First, I walked into the SideCar. The host graciously directed me behind the building to the humble Gourmet To-Go venue. Fighting the day’s strange gale-force winds, I quickly assessed the surroundings. The owners have made the best of the slightly industrial building, transforming what looks like a storage area into an attractive mini-deli, with a few tables on which to eat the food. The restaurant’s Tuscan colors warm the space nicely and the small patio outside (beside a budding garden) will be perfect for summer, once the wind dies down and the sun warms up.

Glancing over the menu, I was impressed by the range of sandwich options, from the extremely gourmet (pâté sandwich, with romaine, cornichons and grain mustard) to the traditional (prime rib sandwich, with horseradish sauce and onion salad) to Italian-inspired (prosciutto di Parma sandwich, with fresh mozzarella and olive oil). I chose something in between them all: the smoked salmon sandwich.

For a mere $1.50 more, I added a house side salad to my choice. Then, I tacked on the crème brûlée for good measure and a bottle of water. When she rang in my grand total, I couldn’t believe the total only came to $11. In a sit-down restaurant, such high quality fare usually adds up to much more.

As promised, my midday meal arrived packaged “to go.” But the kind woman who took my order said it was okay to eat at the table rather than leave the premises. The sandwich was exactly what I had been promised: smoked salmon; capers; goat cheese; romaine lettuce; lemon juice; and pepper. Unfortunately, the bread was slightly tough (but not stale) and the abundance of smoked salmon overpowered the goat cheese’s subtlety. But I still ate the sandwich happily.

The simple house salad turned out to be the star. The light red wine basil vinaigrette tasted perfect with the organic greens, dried cranberries and sunflower seeds. It always amazes me how simple ingredients can alchemize into food magic when combined well in a salad.

The only real low point of the whole culinary experience was my carefully packaged crème brûlée. Balanced inside a little clear plastic box, it had all the makings of a true delight. Its color looked perfect, that lovely yellow custard perched inside a tan pastry shell. Unfortunately, perhaps due to Mercury’s relation to the moon or some other astrological imbalance, the crème brûlée’s glorious custard was mysteriously liquid. The buttery flavor with just the right amounts of vanilla and sugar were spot-on, but I couldn’t quite get over the runny texture. At one point, I broke off a piece of the crust and the insides oozed out, like a microscopic version of the blob.

Oh, well. I’ll still be back to give them another shot. I’m looking forward to trying a different sandwich, or maybe I’ll just shoot straight for the salad next time — with a side of chocolate chip cookie instead.

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