- Alex Springer
In the nine—or nine hundred—months that have passed since we've been locked in the unforgiving grip of a massive pandemic, our relationship with takeout has changed considerably. What was once something we did out of a desire for convenience became a fight to preserve our favorite restaurants, while limiting our own contact with the outside world.
In order to adapt to this horrific new reality, restaurants found themselves pivoting to the curbside pickup model with varying degrees of success. The establishments that were most impressive were those who could whip up and package family-sized meals for the grab-and-go crowd—something I've come to rely on as a way to both support our local restaurants and enjoy some gourmet food with my family. With yet another round of holidays upon us, I can safely say that we'll be hitting up at least one of the following local joints for some yuletide eats.
Saffron Circle (4594 W. Partridge Hill Lane #140, Riverton, 801-206-4115, saffronvalley.com): While you could get consistently flavorful and aromatic Indian food from any Saffron Valley location, Saffron Circle's Curry Combo ($34.99) has been one of my go-to takeout picks. This dinner-for-two option comes with two curries of your choice, two orders of naan and two veggie samosas. The protein and curry mix is completely up to you, but I'm a sucker for the saag with paneer and the coconut korma with chicken. Something about the chopped and stewed greens that make up Saffron Circle's saag and the cubes of mildly flavored paneer cheese hits all the comfort food bases for me, and the creamy coconut korma livens up the flavor of tender roasted chicken. I've lately been veering into the smoky depths of Saffron Circle's Chettinad curry; its heavy notes of anise pair well with just about any protein on the menu.
Sauce Boss Southern Kitchen (877 E. 12300 South, Draper, 385-434-2433, saucebosssouthernkitchen.com): Every so often, you need a takeout meal that just whacks you over the head with cheesy, buttery and deep-fried goodness. When you're in that kind of mood, it's time to snag one of this Draper favorite's family meals. They come in different tiers based on the protein—pork chops are $40, chicken fried chicken is $45 and catfish is $55—and they come with two large sides and six slices of their thick cornbread. It's a tough call between the pork chops and the chicken fried chicken for me and my family, because they're both hearty proteins that stick to the bones and help you buttress yourselves against the icy weather. One thing we cannot do without is an order of Golden Splendor, Sauce Boss's luxurious heap of pasta shells and thick, melty cheese. Oh, and that cornbread. In retrospect, slice is not an accurate term—they're straight up wedges of cornbread slathered in gooey honey butter. This is what you want when winter is trying to kick down your door.
Red Maple (2882 W. 4700 South, 801-747-2888, redmaplechinese.com): The team at Red Maple is no stranger to the takeout crowd. Their menu is packed with such a wide variety of a la carte options that it's easy to get something for everyone at this local Chinese favorite. However, when you and the people you've holed up need a bit of handholding when it comes to making a decision, Red Maple's Chinese Cuisines for Two ($35.95) give you a well-curated choice of appetizers and entrees. The dim sum sampler is always an excellent pick in the appetizer arena, since it includes a tasting menu of Red Maple's most popular dim sum items. Any of the traditional entrees are great bets here, but there's enough variety with options like the Dragon and Phoenix, a heavenly combo of chicken and prawns stir fried in one of Red Maple's many special sauces. For bigger families, Red Maple's family dinners are fixed menu all-stars filled with dishes like clams in black bean sauce or golden pumpkin seafood soup. This place is great for those after something fast, delicious and generous with their portion sizes.
Provisions (3364 S. 2300 East, 801-410-4046, slcprovisions.com): When you're looking to capture the fine dining experience at home, the team at Provisions has some nifty ideas up their sleeve. When you land on their homepage, a welcoming pop-up briefs you on their daily take-home special ($20). It's always a three-course meal, but the courses change from, for example, grilled organic salmon to braised Kurobuta pork shank. While you'll want to order one of these per interested party, the food tastes just as good as if you were to get it served up tableside. I recently got the aforementioned pork shank—complete with sweet potato puree and braised kale—and it was a tender, lovingly-prepared entrée that didn't seem to lose any of its flair during the drive home. Takeout dining has been a tricky beast to tame for most fine dining establishments, but Provisions seems to be leaning into the versatility that has made it into one of Salt Lake's most fascinating destinations.