Take-out food is a wonderful thing — if you’re the person doing the taking out. But imagine you’re the chef who must interrupt the usual flow of food on the line to tuck an order of sole meuniere into a plastic container. It must make the kitchen nuts.
Chef Jordan Bailey of Lumiere in West Newton had a better idea. He would offer two set take-out menus Tuesday through Thursday, designed with a family of two adults and two children in mind. Customers would call in on the afternoon of the day they want dinner. Pick-up would be during evening commuter hours, so they’d be stopping by on the way home.
He put the word out on Facebook and it took off. There’s no hunting and pecking on Lumiere’s menu to fine-tune the dinners. And the menu is off-limits if you’re seated in the restaurant dining room. Currently, you get a choice of roast chicken or salmon as the centerpiece, each packed with its own array of sides and sauces, and big cookies for dessert. The price is a flat $65.
“The idea was to really find a way to have good ingredients and have something nutritious and prepared properly,” says Bailey, 30, who bought Lumiere three years ago from chef Michael Leviton, known in the industry for his exacting standards. Bailey had worked for Leviton for more than four years, at Area Four and Lumiere. “I’m living the dream,” says Bailey, the dad of a toddler. Sometimes at home the chef and his wife would order take-out they regretted afterward. It was expensive and not particularly healthy.
When you get Lumiere take-out into your own kitchen, you start unpacking a box of treasures. Some things are inside rectangular plastic containers, others in Kraft boxes — those brown biodegradable rectangles that have no wires, so you can put them in the microwave — and nothing leaks. You can’t see through the brown boxes so they’re labeled with a Sharpie. Plenty of thought has gone into this.
Here’s what comes with your roast chicken: Crudites and a sauce, with slices of baguette. (This is the only skimpy part of the meal; one carrot and cucumber baton apiece, one slice of bread apiece). Then generous servings of grilled broccoli with pecorino, garnished with a grilled lemon half; roast potatoes with caramelized onions; Brussels sprouts that are exceptionally crisp, with a nicely seasoned salsa verde and aioli to drizzle on them; a box packed with Drumlin Farm watercress garnished with carrots, radishes, and red onion and a really nice vinaigrette; the right-size Giannone (Canada) roast chicken, cut up for easy serving; four big chocolate-chip cookies studded with bittersweet chocolate, perfectly crisp on the outside and a little chewy in the centers.
If you do the math, this menu is about $16 per person. Not what food of this quality typically goes for.
Your other choice, Scottish salmon, is slow-roasted so it has lots of flavor and breaks apart into moist flakes. One pound of skinless, boneless fish is divided into four portions. Bailey says that he’d like to offer local fish, but customers only want salmon. So do their kids.
Crudites, bread, salad, Brussels sprouts, and cookies are the same as in the chicken menu. Sides are lentils with roasted carrots and a salad of cucumber and kohlrabi with yogurt dressing (the kids will never know they ate kohlrabi because it has a similar texture to the cukes).
Let’s say a meal like this, if you made it yourself, would cost about $30. That’s without your time factored in. So you do nothing but sit back and read Instagram posts, dash out to pick up the food, and settle in to dine like kings. Bravo to chef Bailey for figuring this out.
Family Meal at Lumiere ($65) available for take-out Tuesday through Thursday. Call after 3 p.m. on the day you want to order; pick-up 5 to 7 p.m., 1293 Washington St., West Newton, 617-244-9199, www.lumiererestaurant.com.Sheryl Julian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @sheryljulian.