Take-out from Bar Bouchée in Madison

When you think take-out, you typically think pizza or Chinese. It’s a simple meal, or at least quick. But for the last six months, many other sorts of restaurants have been trying to change that. Fine dining restaurants like Bar Bouchée in Madison adapted their menus and meals for taking home.

I have to admit, I was skeptical about gourmet to-go, but in mid-August I decided to give it a try.

Instead of calling close to the dinner hour, as you might with pizza, at Bar Bouchée you select your pick-up time hours – or even days – ahead to fit in with your commute and family.

Instead of a waiter, the experience started with ordering online and honestly, I loved that. I had as much time as I wanted to look over the menu without feeling hurried by a waiter or my companions.

I ordered the soup du marche, pan roasted chicken breast, hanger steak with gratin dauphinois, sautéed murshrooms and a molten chocolate cake.

And when I arrived at Bar Bouchée, it was actually ready.

The boxes were almost like a giant puzzle piece. I had to figure out what each container was and where it should go in the meal. If I had wanted, I could have started with the cake. I instead opted for bread, then soup.

The soup was cool and acidic — perfect for the summer. One bowl was plenty to share and the perfect complement to the chicken served next.

The first course won the prize for best presentation. Nestled in the aluminum container, it was still warm nearly an hour after pickup and not over-cooked as I had feared. Instead it was moist, with a tarragon-flavored sauce and creamy mashed potatoes.

The jaw-dropping moment of the meal was the second course.

You always order take-out thinking there’s no way it could be better than dining in, but I’m not sure that is true for the hanger steak. A crispy exterior gave way to a tender, medium-rare interior.

After the steak, even if the dessert was disappointing, I would have been satisfied. And to be honest, at first I was not at all impressed by the small, round cake accompanied by a plastic container of sauce. I closed my eyes as I dug my fork in, and I’m so glad I did…

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