During the last few weeks of quarantine, I've gotten to know this new age of take-out, delivery and drive-through pretty well. I've admired the ingenuity of some of my favorites and discovered a few new places that are thriving under these unique circumstances. While my family and I have figured out the places that work best for us, we've found ourselves going back to the family-style meals at Gourmandise (multiple locations) for those evenings that require takeout that doesn't feel like takeout.
If you're a fan of pastries, cakes and other French-inspired goodies and you live in the Salt Lake area, you've at least heard of Gourmandise. Its downtown location (250 S. 300 East, 801-328-3330) in the Broadway area has long been a local favorite for those jonesing for carefully crafted European favorites. There's always something lovely to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner—and that's just the croissants. Since establishing themselves as Salt Lake's go-to French bakery, the enterprise has expanded to Draper (725 E. 12300 South, 801-571-1500) and into a popular catering service, which is slowly taking over the commercial area on 10th south and Main Street, one store at a time.
Since storefronts have gone on lockdown and are only offering takeout and curbside pickup, it's clear that the catering aspect of the operation has taught Gourmandise a few tricks that are coming in very handy at the moment. The entire menu is available for carry out—the ham and Gruyère croissant ($4.50) and their bacon cheddar chive scone ($2) are flavorful and affordable breakfast bites that'll infuse your stay-at-home mornings with some continental flair.
The Gourmandise panini menu is known for its creative reinvention of classic sandwiches like the beef brisket grilled cheese ($12) and the curry chicken salad ($11). Though the beef brisket grilled cheese is on the lunch menu, it's equally qualified to be a dinner entrée. It's a sourdough panini piled high with pulled brisket and pickled red onions slathered with melty jack cheese. It's the sweet acidity of the red onions that makes this sandwich shine as it cuts through all that rich brisket and cheese. The curry chicken salad is a lighter counterpart to this sandwich, taking the classic chicken salad recipe of mayo, celery, almonds and red grapes and spikes it with smoky curry flavor.
I've liked to grab a few of these familiar items just to maintain a sense of pre-COVID-19 normalcy, but now that my family and I have gone full shut-in, their family-style meals ($37.50) are perfect for something quick and take-outable but also require the use of the oven making it feel slightly more homemade than the alternative. There are three options that come with a main course like crispy chicken cutlets, gluten-friendly beef stew and grilled chicken breast along with mashed potatoes or pasta, roast veggies, rolls and frozen balls of chocolate chip cookie dough.
The Draper location conveniently has a drive-through, which means you can place an order online, choose your pickup time and then zip right by where a considerate Gourmandise employee wearing protective gloves will hand you a wonderfully aromatic bag of food. It's all packaged in aluminum and comes with reheating instructions. For example, the grilled chicken breast with butternut squash pasta needs to be popped into the oven for about 10 minutes.
Usually, a meal of this magnitude that's prepared beforehand and is then transported back home has its share of issues—dry chicken, stodgy potatoes, stringy vegetables—but the Gourmandise crew knows what they're doing. The grilled chicken is tender enough to cut with a fork, and it's swimming in a delicious herbed sauce that melds very nicely with the butternut squash pasta. The crispy chicken cutlet and mashed potatoes comes with a brown butter sage sauce that livens up the chicken and potatoes. We've tried this option a few times over the past few weeks, and it's always been quick, consistent, delicious and enough for lunch the next day. Plus, the bag of ready-to-bake chocolate chip cookies is a great touch for dessert—the smell of fresh-baked cookies is always welcomed after dinner.
The family-style meals from Gourmandise turned into an unexpected hit for us while we're keeping our distance from, well, everything. There was something initially exciting about that first order since everything is concealed in aluminum boxes. When we pulled everything out of the oven and saw a balanced, colorful and delicious meal assemble itself on our plates, we had to rethink everything we knew about takeout dining. Considering the ease of order and pickup, the strategic thinking behind heating everything up in your home oven and a dozen chocolate chip cookies to boot, these meals are perfect options for families—or singles who don't want to worry about food for the next three days.