Raise your hand if you are a food voyeur. What is a food voyeur, you ask? Even if you didn’t, a food voyeur is someone who loves to look at food. In pictures, in real life, on my plate in front of me. One of life’s most simple pleasures is sitting in a restaurant, facing the kitchen so you can gaze upon every dish that gets paraded through the restaurant; to either help you make your dining choice or give you instant food envy. And if you have ever worked in a restaurant or known a chef, you know that speed in which the food gets from said kitchen to your table is of utmost importance. Presentation is key as we eat with our eyes first.
So in this age of takeaway dining, how does the presentation hold up? I was tasked with the assignment of ordering a similar meal from 3 different locations that all used different methods for their takeout containers. I choose to eat cheeseburgers and fries. A horrible sacrifice, I know, but we all have our struggles. I let each order sit in the container for 25 minutes, because, well… science.
First up, the ‘reusable/recyclable’ plastic container, very popular with chain restaurants of the family dining nature. This container kept the food the warmest because the container is totally sealed. However, this also made the food soggy, especially the bun. Add the patty and fries to the container and put the bun on the side in a bag, that would be a game-changer.
Up next, the compostable clamshell container. This one is a winner for the environment however scored the lowest in my very scientific trials. The food was temped at best and also soggy. The reason it did not score well is, unlike the plastic container, I did have to reheat the food which meant deconstructing the burger so the lettuce and other toppings didn’t get zapped in the microwave. I lived on the edge and microwaved the burger even though it had mayonnaise on it, always risky behaviour.
Finally, and my pick for the winner, drum roll please…the paper take out boxes. Also a win for the environment, this packaging both kept my food hot and really cut down on the sogginess of the product. Not only did I not have to reheat this meal, the hamburger bun still had a great texture to it and the french fries still had a bit of a crunch.
The quality of your takeout will never match that of dining in person. However, in this day and age, if your favourite place to eat isn’t quite cutting it with their takeout, don’t you owe it to them to let them know they have options?