More Take-Out

Usually we’re too cheap to do a lot of take-out. Well, too cheap but also health-conscious, since anything you don’t cook yourself is likely to be more indulgent than what we’ll just make in the kitchen. And, in normal times, take-out is often something fast-casual that we’re squeezing in between activities: Chipotle, Panera, Subway are go-tos.

But now, in the age of COVID-19, take-out has become our own personal local economic stimulus initiative as well as an opportunity to do something different. So we’ve dropped the chain restaurants and upped the take-out to twice a week. That means we’re trying a bunch of new places.

We did Johnny’s as take-out for the first time. We’ve all gone out to eat a Johnny’s at one time or another because it is the type of place that you go to for a date or a birthday celebration. But we hadn’t ordered take-out because in normal times we’re like, “Meh, Italian? We know how to cook that.”

The food was all pretty tasty, and I was a particularly big fan of two of the appetizers: the Greens & Beans and Johnny’s Italian Nachos. Yes, okay, as expected, the Greens & Beans was one of those dishes where you can’t help chuckling that yes, it is possible to make a greens-based dish that seems heart attack-inducing, but I think it may inspire us to try our own version sometime soon. The nachos were just plain clever. Fried pasta for chips? Fabulous! I was particularly glad that the dish arrived deconstructed so that it wasn’t a gooey mess by the time it got home.

(deconstructed nachos)

I especially liked Johnny’s Chicken Piccata and the Chicken Cognac, although I wished there were more mushrooms. We’d ordered Eggplant Rollatini, which everyone else liked, while I remained firm in my opposition to eggplant. We got a couple of side salads, and I felt pretty brutally disappointed in the dressing, which tasted like it came straight from a bottle. Which I put in italics, because surely, that’s not possible, is it? And, I mean, it tasted like it came from a cheap, 1970s bottle of Zesty Italian dressing, not even, like, Newman’s Own or Brianna’s or something. I know I’m dwelling a bit on this, but I am such a fan of the homemade basic Italian vinaigrette, so I was bummed.

Altogether, everyone enjoyed it, but the girls decided that it was all just too heavy for them to want to do very often.

The Stuffed Rooster was completely new to us, but we ordered from there after some Yelp searching. It’s another one that we’d normally skip because we can make our own sandwiches and wraps, but I can see how this would be a nice be-lazy-and-go-out-to-brunch choice in more normal times.

I didn’t do such a great job with the photos and fact-finding for this one because we ordered on a day when I was fully swamped with work and had a long Zoom meeting to attend for a volunteer organization, so I basically popped into the dining room just long enough to fill my plate, then scooted out to hunch over my food while surrounded my computers. But here’s what I’ve got:

I ate a cheeseburger and part of a Buffalo chicken eggroll, both of which I liked very much. Everyone was pretty happy with their food and the leftovers were gone quickly, which always means good things. Now that I look back at the menu, I’m sort of surprised that neither of the girls chose to make their own salads, because that seems like that would appeal to them. Now that it’s getting warmer, I’m hoping to shift them into Salad Mode because the girls have been obsessed with eating roasted vegetables, and I’m pretty sure that within the next couple of weeks, the process of heating the oven up to 400-plus degrees will start feeling like a worse and worse idea. Thinking it might ease the transition, I ordered up the grilled vegetable salad, and it was fine, but a little too basic for them. We need some spice in our lives. Or maybe it’s just tough to choose grilled yellow squash over curly fries no matter how virtuous your food choices usually are. Anyway, the overall bill was better than most of the ones we’ve been racking up, too, so this might be a good alternative to “fast casual” for a while.

It’s also excellent that lately it’s been warm enough to start sitting in our screened porch for dinner. The only trouble is that through the spring months, that territory was entirely ceded to the cats, so here’s what I found the first time I started to carry plates out there for a meal:


  1. Claire

    Love those lilacs! I’m always sad when lilac season ends.

    I recently found out that a restaurant near us called Zaitoon is owned by the parents of my son’s homeroom/math teacher. So last week we got take-out there, and I was really impressed! I don’t usually think to get that kind of food (middle eastern), but it was delicious!

  2. Oh, hey! I just yelped it and I think we have to put Zaitoon on our to-take-out list!

    I love the lilacs, too, and it is interesting that you mention “sad” and “lilac” in the same sentence, because I feel like I love that particular tree in a bittersweet sort of way. When my wonderful neighbor Mary was dying, it was about this time of year and I had been so sorry that she’d been missing the blooming season. Then they brought her home via ambulance and stretcher, and I rushed out of the house to yank one of the blooms off the tree and drop it on her chest before they wheeled her inside. So I love that tree, but every year I think of that last time I saw Mary outside.

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