Eating Out—At Home


Originally published in EAT Oct|Nov issue.

Are you missing those romantic date night dinners, a favourite dish from a local chef, the fluffy brunch pancakes of your dreams?

These days, everyone has something they’re craving, but thanks to our creative chefs, there are new ways to take away those addictive flavours and enjoy dining in the safety and comfort of your own space.

Takeaway gave shuttered dining rooms an immediate lifeline, but it seems here to stay even as restaurants reopen.

“I definitely did a lot of in-home meal kits,” says Rob Cassels, chef/proprietor at Saveur Restaurant, describing his pre-cooked, sous-vide dinners for two, available to pre-order and reheat at home. “It’s been quite up and down, but it helped us stay afloat.”

Take home meal kit from Saveur

Though demand for take-out dropped as restaurants reopened, Cassels says he will continue his weekly, three-course meal kits, ranging from local ling cod with corn velouté, crispy polenta, Silver Rill Corn ragout and Mason Street Farm greens, to spicy soy-glazed Cowichan Valley chicken with sesame Silver Rill carrots, miso-dressed cold soba noodles, and braised cabbage with mushrooms. Staples “to stock the fridge” include his house-made sesame dressing, Korean barbecue sauce, and bone broth to go.

At the House of Boateng, chef/owner Castro Boateng switched gears quickly, too, adding take-out pantry foods, three-course “take and bake” meals, and barbecue dinner kits for four. As well, he’s been grilling his jerk chicken on the outdoor patio for takeaway lunches.

Boateng leaned on his catering skills with weekly “date night” dinners to take home—including a multi-course Japanese dinner, a vegetarian feast, and a family picnic. At the same time, he expanded the HOB Pantry, with take-out à la carte salads, proteins and side dishes, plus house dressings, jerk marinade, pickled fiddleheads, eggs and gourmet greens from his local farm suppliers.

House of Boateng’s offerings

Takeaway kept kitchen staff employed and “the supply chain open for the farms selling their vegetables,” he says.

And though creating an ever-changing takeout menu requires more work, there’s an upside. By the time restaurants re-opened, Boateng had a raft of new customers for his Langford café and was able to expand beyond his popular brunch offerings into regular weekend dinner service. Now the three-course Take and Bake meal changes weekly—think ancient grains salad with sea asparagus, harissa baked eggplant with halloumi and berbere fried chicken—with a new HOB Dinner Kit (for four) every month. Recent menus for the latter included a southern fried chicken, jambalaya and cornbread feast, and a vegetarian burger meal with grilled naan, potato, and roasted beet salads.

While stressful, the pandemic has been a blessing in disguise, says Boateng. “We always thought about catering to go, but never really acted on it,” he says. “Now it’s part of the business.”

With social distancing rules limiting the number of diners in restaurants, takeout has helped small independents compensate for dwindling receipts and may remain in place for some time.

Little Jumbo picnic

Little Jumbo put its menu online, with curbside pickup orders of food and cocktails, and created a special takeaway picnic with rabbit rillettes, chicken liver parfait, charcuterie and cheeses, complete with a branded canvas tote and fleece blanket. 10 Acres built an online market for fresh produce from their farm and pantry staples, Cook at Home chicken curry, shepherd’s pie, and family meal kits. Agrius reopened with a pared-down weekend dinner menu, while continuing to offer its new organic pizza-to-go daily.

Provisions at Nourish

At Nourish Kitchen + Cafe, the online market for house-made “provisions”—from cashew cheese and seed bread to bone broth and vegan hollandaise sauce—flourished, and owner Hayley Rosenberg re-imagined her post-pandemic business model to emphasize this service.

“Initially, it’s the survival instinct—‘How do we keep going?’—but then it’s, ‘Where do we want to go?’” she says.

The answer has been to return to the concept of nourishing her customers with a focus on takeaway, from ingredients to takeout picnics and brunch “bundles” with their famous Sleeping Beauty pancake breakfast for two. Half the dining room is now a market, the shelves and coolers filled with herbs from their gardens, house-made food products, and those from other local makers. There’s also online ordering—and delivery via local—whether you need healthy baking supplies or a bottle of Unsworth Sparkling Rosé.

“What was a little part of our business became our business while the restaurant was closed, and now it’s the focus,” says Rosenberg.

There have always been popular spots for takeout food in Victoria— whether it’s La Pasta in the Victoria Public Market, Superbaba, Tacofino, or Foo—but now there are new businesses designed entirely around takeaway.

One of CUBE’s selections

Cube Food Box is the latest innovation from restaurateur Anton Ihl and Nubo Group—chilled, Japanese-style takeout meals, from sushi to unagi poke and karaage chicken with rice, packed in simple black boxes and ready to grab from the cooler and go to the office or the beach.

For stocking the fridge with restaurant-style meals, there’s It’s the brainchild of Darren Cole and features proteins and sides that are vacuum-sealed and cooked sous-vide, ready to heat and eat. Choices range from grilled prawns and pork tenderloin to jumbo scallops or flat-iron steaks, with fingerling potatoes, risotto, and cauliflower mash.

“It’s not the cold burger and soggy fries,” says Cole, who is running the You Chef You! business out of the restaurant kitchen he now oversees at the Hotel Rialto.

“The goal is to deliver restaurant-quality food options directly from our chef’s kitchen to your kitchen,” he says. “We have reinvented the takeout food industry.”

Though takeout is not a substitute for the restaurant dining experience—or a long-term solution for independent operators—it may be a big part of how we enjoy our favourite chefs’ creations for some time.

10 Acres take home and market offerings



Jacqueline Downey10 Acres, Saveur, House of Boateng, Nourish, CUBE 

Kyle GuilfoyleLittle Jumbo 


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