Sometimes, it's better to take in take-out than to dream the impossible dream. Herewith, a guide to selected take-out places. Follow it and in a half hour or less you can buy all the ingredients for a dinner party--ready to serve!
Sometimes it's better to take in take-out than to dream the impossible dream. Unless you have the oven for it (and you don't), pizza is better purchased than produced. The same can be true for Double Chocolate Mousse Cake or Catfish with Ginger-Garlic Sauce. So if entertaining at home is your idea of a class act, but cooking's not your forte and time is a problem, upscale takeout food can be your salvation. A couple of quick stops at nearby establishments can provide you with the elements of a complete dinner menu. You then personalize the culinary statement with a creative selection of your own china and accessories. Sound interesting? We thought so. Herewith, a sampling of area takeout firms that will show you how easy entertaining at home can be, especially when your abilities may not be as great as your ambitions.
Trendy Montana Avenue and environs offer a multitude of dinner opportunities. Stop at 7th Heaven for black-bean chili, corn-bread casserole and Louisiana baked chicken. It also offers bread pudding with vanilla sauce to serve for dessert. If you don't plan to serve the food immediately, they'll provide directions for reheating the chili and casserole.
Down the street--at Fireside Market and Cellars--you can pick up beer or soft drinks, along with sour cream, green onions, shredded cheese and black olives to top the chili. Then there's a rich vanilla ice cream that can be served with the bread pudding.
This down-home food calls for casual serving dishes and wicker baskets. Set the table with a blue-and-white-checked tablecloth and napkins, simple dinner plates, flatware and glasses.
7th Heaven, 710 Montana Ave., Santa Monica , (213) 451-0077. Open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Fireside Market and Cellars, 1421 Montana Ave., Santa Monica, (213) 393-2888. Open Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
A spectacular Japanese meal can be collected in minutes during a single stop at Little Tokyo Square. Yaohan, the food emporium in this complex, offers a virtual gold mine of menu possibilities.
All types of beautifully prepared sushi come prepacked. Six prepared dinners--vegetable, shrimp, salmon teriyaki, beef teriyaki, chicken teriyaki and salmon--are sold in round cardboard containers that resemble the traditional bamboo steamers. Japanese-style fried chicken and vegetable tempura are offered in the hot deli case, and there's roast chicken for the less adventurous. The market offers a good selection of Japanese tea, beer, wine and sake to go.
Yaohan has a bakery, but you might also want to check out Ginza Ya Fresh Bakery, located just inside the 3rd Street entrance of Little Tokyo Square. An assortment of its pastries, artfully arranged on a lacquered tray, would make an ideal finale to dinner.
This is the type of meal to serve casually around a coffee table. Spread a large tatami mat under the table and supply plenty of pillows for the comfort of guests. Since the food is so artistic in itself, use simple, solid-colored or slightly patterned dishes for serving. Chopsticks and tea and sake service sets will carry through an Oriental theme.
Yaohan, Little Tokyo Square, 333 S. Alameda St., Los Angeles, (213) 687-6699. Open daily, 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Ginza Ya Fresh Bakery, Little Tokyo Square, 333 S. Alameda St., Los Angeles, (213) 626-1904. Open daily, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
One stop at Bristol Farms is all it takes to collect the makings of a casual Italian meal. Let guests graze on antipasto, roasted peppers and eggplant, marinated artichokes and pasta salads from the deli case. You'll also find Italian wines and sparkling Italian mineral water.
After such hearty appetizers, the store's prepared minestrone soup and a loaf of crusty bread can suffice for the entree. Reheat the soup in a kettle on top of the range or in a Crock Pot, the bread in the oven.
In the frozen-food case you'll find Italian ices and ice creams, and just above, packaged Italian cream cake and an assortment of cookies. The store sells coffee beans, but you can also walk across the parking lot to Euro Coffee Roasters and pick up some espresso coffee beans to brew .
Since this is a trattoria-type meal, keep dishes and accessories simple. Some traditional tumbler wine glasses (rather than stemmed) and Italian colors--red, white and green--might be used effectively.
\o7 Bristol Farms, 606 Fair Oaks Ave., South Pasadena, (818) 441-5450. Open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.