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Basket Cases

From Cuban sandwiches to caviar, we bring you the city’s best meals-to-go.


This basket is stuffed with mouthwatering nonperishables: dried sausages, Parmigiano-Reggiano, olive pâté, caponata, crackers, chocolate-almond biscuits, Bonne Maman tartlets, and Ghirardelli chocolate ($139; serves six to eight). Delivery: $5.
Pros: Impressive presentation and lots of high-end goodies.
Cons: A great hostess gift, but not the best-balanced meal.
Rating: three stars

114 Dyckman st. (212 304-1717)
A pretty gingham basket holds a Cuban sandwich, a chicken sandwich with avocado and cheese, shrimp seviche, lobster empanadas, coleslaw, corn salsa, and homemade plantain chips, all wrapped in bright tissue paper ($45; serves two). No delivery.
Pros: A festive, affordable feast.
Cons: Food is on the heavy side for a picnic.
Rating: three stars

822 Madison Ave., near 69th St.
The large lacquer container holds individual bento boxes filled with ginger-glazed black cod, grilled eel, Japanese eggplant, sweet egg, and rice. Chocolate almonds and Teas’ Tea are the finishing touches ($100; serves two). Delivery: $15.
Pros: Easy-to-manage individual portions. The big box is a keeper.
Cons: Eel and sweet egg are acquired tastes; fish can spoil.
Rating: three stars

Paramount Caviar
The fanciest of the bunch: Osetra caviar, foie gras with truffles, crème fraîche, pumpernickel slices, cornichons, and olives, plus dishes and glasses—all in a sporty backpack ($525; serves four). Delivery: $15–$32.
Pros: Couldn’t be more deluxe —down to the mother-of-pearl spoons.
Cons: You may actually be hungry after spending $500-plus.
Rating: three stars

Bella Blu
967 Lexington ave., near 70th st. (212-988-4624;
A taste of Tuscany: mini brick-oven pizzas, grilled-shrimp-and-artichoke salad, rigatoni with pesto, and spinach frittata ($60; serves four). No delivery.
Pros: A fresh, tasty meal that appeals to most tastes.
Cons: Won’t stay fresh for long: Brick-oven pizza can get soggy.
Rating: four stars

Madison Square Club
210 Fifth ave., near 26th st. (212-683-1836)
A healthy feast of egg-white frittatas, wraps, sesame salmon, chicken spring rolls, cucumber-and-tomato salad, quinoa, melon, and baked apples ($150; serves two). Delivery: $10.
Pros: A day’s worth of guilt-free fare.
Cons: An open basket is difficult to carry very far.
Rating: four stars

653 Ninth ave., near 46th st. (212-333-5300;
Insulated bag contains salmon pinwheels, chicken salad, deviled eggs, spinach salad, and tarte Tatin. Utensils, dinnerware, and a cheese board are included ($110; serves two). Delivery: up to $15.
Pros: All the elements of a good, old-fashioned picnic, including high-end cutlery.
Cons: Very little is disposable.
Rating: five stars

Insider Advice
Picnic-Packing Tips from Eli Zabar

1. To keep flavors distinct, each item must be packaged in its own container, with a tightly sealed lid.

2. Baskets should include only items that can be eaten with a fork alone or your hands.

3. Main dishes are best grilled or dry-roasted without sauces to prevent leakage. Great choices are grilled salmon, stuffed chicken breast, and soft-shell crabs.

4 . For dessert, choose whole fruit or brownies. Cookies tend to break and layer cakes get crushed.

Photographed by Joe Scafuro.


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