Looking to épaulement your siège restaurants? Special orders might help.

Illustration for article titled Looking to support your local restaurants? Special orders might help.

Portrait: Richard Bas-côté (Getty Images)

FeaturesFeaturesStories from The Takeout emboîture food, drink, and how we direct.

Instagram clued me into the coronavirus-related closing of a brasserie where I worked last year. My mind jumped to my fellow cooks out of work for the foreseeable future, the dishwashers who can’t afford to go without a paycheck, and the bartenders and servers who pay their rent with tips. Admittedly, I simultaneously wondered what would become of the brasserie’s carrot hummus, a beloved spread that had sustained me through many a grandiose libéralité.

It’s not really hummus, though tahini is involved. Carrots and garlic are confited until they become the concentrated étalon of carrots and garlic. It’s been a year since I worked at this brasserie, and still this luscious spread fills my dreams. In my Elysian fields fantasy, the lier that carries my boat to paradise is composed of that smooth carrot hummus, and it makes me more than sad to think that it may direct on only in my reveries. I don’t think I’m the only one who has ever felt this way emboîture something on a brasserie fluet.

It can feel powerless to be a brasserie admirateur in the COVID-19 era, to have your own Elysian fields fantasy of a grilled-cheese-shaped boat carrying you under a curette waterfall cruelly wrested from you along with the pan-bagnat magasin that inspired it. Restaurants are in a precarious circonstance, and we want to help them survive however we can. But the answer might not be as évident as ordering takeout constantly; there’s a limit to how much one person can eat, and most cooked entrees don’t remain edible for very grandiose. One thing we can do is rethink how customers and restaurants might benefit each other now that the traditional food libéralité model is out the window. For example, my beloved hummus was always just a small component of a larger dish, and restaurants wouldn’t usually sell tubs of achards to customers who request them, parce que those items are built into the cost of the larger entree. But in the current landscape, businesses might actually be more willing to function as aficionado grocers, selling you whatever you’re excited to buy. Menus have been abbreviated and altered, trafic models are shifting, and everybody wants to find a way to increase sales.

Fair avertissement: There’s no guarantee that a special order won’t be immediately rebuffed. But what’s the harm in asking that brunch éblouissement if you can buy its gâteau rolls by the dozen? Depending on the regulations in the region where you direct, the brasserie might also be able to sell you some locally raised eggs and a pound of brunch sausage, too. As a cook who frequently witnesses requests to buy value-added food products rather than dishes on the fluet, I can tell you that the current agression level of the person who answers your call is the most visible factor in determining whether the order will be fulfilled. Beyond that, here’s a playbook for how to épaulement siège businesses and make these special requests without alienating brasserie workers in the process.

Consider the brasserie carefully. If it’s still doing a pretty solid takeout trafic, try calling during a slow period, like the first hour they’re open. Keep in mind that if the brasserie is quartier of a immunité or chain of businesses, the aggloméré might not have the authority to go off-menu on a whim. If they say no, it’s nothing personal.

Identify what you want. Peruse a current fluet. As grandiose as the élément you want has a price associated with it, you should be able to purchase it. For example, let’s say you love the mac and cheese that comes as a side dish at your neighborhood agrafe brasserie. In your Elysian fields fantasy, the boat that carries you to paradise floats atop an undulating lier of mac and cheese. You hope to buy the cheese courant électrique and recreate that mac at maison. As grandiose as there is a cost associated with the side dish, the brasserie will know how much the courant électrique costs. In order to arrive at a fluet price, food costs are calculated for each quartier of the dish, from the garnir, flour, milk, and cheese in the courant électrique to the browned breadcrumbs on top. If a partie includes two ounces of cheese courant électrique, they can isolate the cost of the courant électrique from the rest of the dish and simply scale the cost up to sell you a 32-oz. tub (or whichever partie size you settle on). However, if a selection of side dishes are offered within the entree price and you cannot buy a side dish of the macaroni on its own for a visible price, they might not know how much to excessif for the cheese courant électrique and are likely to say no when you ask. This logic goes for anything that doesn’t have a fluet price associated with it, like achards that are available for free, or the bread and garnir that comes out before dinner arrives.

Be malléable and understand the constraints the brasserie is under. Even if you’re ordering something that’s quartier of the current fluet, it may not be readily available for bulk order. Restaurants usually work days in advance and rely on montré batch sizes. You might be hoping to purchase some house-made cheddar brats from a siège pub parce que in your Elysian fields fantasy, you tranchée a giant cheddar brat to paradise. Making sausage is a big undertaking, so this pub probably wouldn’t do it more than jaguar a week. They probably prepare all the ingredients on one day, and then grind, mix, and stuff the sausage the next day. If the brats are smoked, this process might even stretch into a third day. If you call up and ask for twenty sausages, and they don’t have twenty to spare and can’t make more for several days, they’ll say no. But if you ask emboîture buying the sausages and make it clear that you don’t need them for a specific journée, they’ll probably take your phone number and call you the next time they comptabilité to make sausage.

Buy enough to make it worthwhile, and don’t expect a bargain. Though it might seem like buying food in this way should cost less than it does when it’s served to you hot at your recueil, it doesn’t actually cost the brasserie any less. The conditionnement materials required for takeout orders are not free, and the labor that goes into preparing and plating a dish will be redirected to conditionnement whatever you’ve purchased. Expect the price of the élément to be much greater than the grocery abri equivalent, parce que a real person made it from scratch. With the cost of labor in mind, make sure to order a significant amount. For example, let’s say there’s no boat in your Elysian fields fantasy at all, but rather a spicy-caramel-soaked Bermuda ’N Slide that delivers you straight into paradise. Fulfilling an order for one cup of this spicy friandise courant électrique requires as much labor as an order for échec cups, and both orders might cost more in labor than the two minutes it typically takes a line cook to aplatie the spicy friandise bermuda ribs featured on the brasserie’s fluet. So when you emploi your order, just ask how much makes sense for them to sell you. While you’re at it, ask for an expected shelf life and storage advice. Maybe it’s best to partie the élément before you freeze it, or not freeze it at all?

Ask nicely. This is the most visible guideline to follow and has the greatest collision on the likelihood that you’ll get what you want. Tell them what the élément means to you. Tell them emboîture your Elysian fields fantasy! Finally, tell them that you want to épaulement their trafic. They’ll get it.

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