If you want to have a latte with a confidante and then grab a gourmet meal for the family on the way out, there's a new place in town. While there is no table service, The Perennial Chef, which opened on Main Street on March 15, has cafe seating for anyone wanting a quick snack or simple lunch with a coworker.
But the true raison d'etre for going to The Perennial Chef is to bring food home. Its sibling in Bedford Hills was voted best takeout in northern Westchester by Westchester Magazine.
The decor is simple and cheery. The long, narrow space has gold-painted walls and glass counters showcasing the food.
And all the food behind those counters, other than the bread and muffins, is made from scratch in Mount Vernon. For those concerned about what they put in their bodies, the chef uses only "vintage" hormone and antibiotic-free beef and hormone and antibiotic-free chicken.
Most of the produce is also organic. In the summer, one of the owners, Leslie Williams, grows salad greens, cucumbers, tomatoes and other vegetables for the shop on her own property in Bedford Hills from organic seeds. And, adds Williams, because she raises the vegetables herself, she can grow many exotic and unusual varieties. Williams put up a new greenhouse this year to grow vegetables in the winter as well.
That kind of commitment to getting and growing the finest ingredients shows in the product. The pan-seared salmon was perfectly cooked and not at all dry, even after reheating. It was also wonderfully spiced and herbed. The bricked chicken was simple, yet the meat was moist and full of flavor—it was a far cry from the usual dry, bland supermarket chicken.
There are also plenty of main course offerings for vegetarians, including a vegetable gratin which is similar to lasagna but without the noodles. Layers of eggplant, zucchini, tomato, onions and summer squash are interspersed with cheese and breadcrumbs.
A simple salad of roasted beets with walnuts could have used a tad bit more of an acidic flavor, and I squeezed some lemon onto the sautéed broccoli raab, but the Moroccan couscous was worth a second helping.
You don't have to worry about getting tired of the offerings, since the menu changes daily and with the seasons. Special menus for takeout are also available for holidays such as Passover.
And if you're having a party, The Perennial Chef offers two kinds of catering, says manager Janie Nneji. You can get full-service catering with a chef and wait staff or do self-catering where you order the food to take home and re-heat it yourself.
The staff in the store is courteous and helpful. If you're unsure of anything, the staff will find out the answer for you. You can also ask for samples.
"We have great products and love when people sample," says Williams.
If you are meeting a friend for a gourmet coffee or tea, you may want to splurge on a meringue that melts in your mouth or a lemon tart that is just tart enough with a buttery crust. If you don't want to eat in, pick up a box of pastries or a mouth-watering cake to take to your next gathering.
The main complaint about the Perennial Chef is that prices can be a tad expensive for takeout. A small container of roasted beets cost close to $13 while another small container of mixed grilled vegetables was more than $9. But as the old saying goes, you get what you pay for, and what you get from the Perennial Chef is the best ingredients meticulously prepared.