Order In: Greg Vernick Is Rethinking His Restaurant For Takeout
Roasted chicken, handmade soups, and more of the restaurant’s classic dishes are now available for curbside pickup.
Welcome to Order In, our new coronavirus-related column where we reach out to restaurant owners and chefs to talk about what they chose to do with their businesses during the crisis, how they made that choice, and what delicious foods you can still get from them via takeout to offer support in this difficult time.
We’re open … for take-out, which you can order here, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. We’re doing a daily set menu that feeds two for $70 which you can find on our Instagram, plus a lot of a la carte options like ice cream, salads, soup, jam, ice cream and other stuff, based on customer request and what ingredients we have in the house.
The menu is … comfort food that isn’t something you’d want to prepare at home, but that’s also easy to reheat. I wasn’t really looking to translate anything from our normal dinner menu. I think people who know our food will see a connection, but it’s not the same menu at all. There are things that cross over, like our roast chicken. We have a good reputation for our roast chicken, so when we do that, we’re getting a really good response from people. I think it’s comforting but also really, really delicious.
You should order … Soup. At the restaurant, we serve a shot of soup at the beginning of the meal, and people have been asking me for years to sell the soups, so we’re selling a lot of soups by the pint, as an a la carte option. We’ve got a bunch of flavors of soup, and that’s been really fun to give people those familiar flavors in a way that is easy to take home and reheat.
I’m getting creativity from … getting back to the stuff I used to do when the restaurant first opened, like ordering and menu development. It’s been a healthy exercise for me. We have to be really smart and diligent about how we spend money, so it’s been a good lesson in how much you can do with little. There’s so much more we can do with what we have — we’ve been taking deep dives into what we have in the house, how do we apply it, how do we make it delicious.
Vernick Wine is … continuing to do what it does best, which is offer a variety of wines in popular styles from lesser-known regions. We’ve got affordable daily wines, as well as some more expensive, celebratory bottles, because birthdays and anniversaries and other occasions are still happening, and we should all take advantage of those moments when we can.
The biggest lesson has been … how to cook food in a way that it will reheat well. Every dish we do, we run through the reheating process, and we edit the dish to make sure its going to be just as good in your house as it is in the restaurant. A few weeks ago, we did a grilled halibut, and when we went to reheat it the skin didn’t re-crisp in the way that we wanted it to, so we had to change the dish a little. That’s not something we had to worry about before, but some things just don’t reheat well.
We’re preparing for the long-haul because … I don’t know how long it is going to be until we can fill the restaurant with seated guests, and even when we can, it’s going to be at a smaller capacity. We’ll have maybe fifty percent of the dining room, so in order to keep our numbers somewhat balanced, I think this curbside pick-up model is going to be important.