If another week of pandemic life has left you too tired to cook, you’re in luck. Family Meal, a pop-up takeout restaurant in Jamaica Plain, is offering convenient, delicious meals that probably taste better than anything you would have cooked, anyway.
This operation is a one-woman show, run by Eliza Purvis-Lemasters, an out-of-work chef who was looking for a way to bring in income and help busy families during the winter. The result is a once-a-week meal service operated out of Little Dipper, a local restaurant that is hibernating for the winter and supporting several local pop-ups in the meantime.
Family Meal is run almost entirely through Instagram, so follow @familymealjp to see what Purvis-Lemasters has in store each week. She announces menus on Tuesday and you order online then pick up your food on Sunday between 2 and 4 p.m. at Little Dipper on Centre Street.
I lucked out ordering the week she cooked an Italian feast of pasta fagioli, antipasto salad, eggplant and chicken Parmesan, rigatoni marinara, and broccoli rabe.
The food comes neatly packed with instructions on how to heat it. Most things took about 20 minutes in the oven.
The antipasto salad looked so good that I couldn’t wait until dinnertime. I ate it as an afternoon snack, then saved the rest of the tangy dressing for my own salads later in the week because it was so delicious.
The chicken Parmesan was rich, with huge slabs of mozzarella cheese and lots of fresh basil. The pasta wasn’t soggy at all, and the marinara sauce was bright red with a deep flavor. The broccoli rabe came bright green and garlicky.
The real test of the meal came not from me but from my partner, a New Jersey native with high standards for Italian food. “This is so good!” he proclaimed, then went back for seconds.
Family Meal JP, run out of Little Dipper at 669A Centre St., Jamaica Plain, @familymealjp, www.littledipperjp.com. Appetizers and sides $10-$12; entrees $13-$30. Dinners serve 2-3 people.
— LAURA KRANTZ, Reporter
GHOST KING THAI
It launched cheekily, mysteriously. I first spotted it earlier this month on the Instagram account of Jamie Bissonnette, chef and co-owner with Ken Oringer of Toro and other spots around town. A brown cardboard box with a sticker affixed: two fire-breathing tigers, tails linked, surrounding groovy bright pink letters that said “ghost king.” Beside it was some extremely appealing fried chicken with sticky rice, green papaya salad, shrimp chips, and a little tub of dipping sauce. I didn’t need to taste it to tell that the craggy chicken, glistening with chile jam and smattered with fried garlic, was spicy as heck.
Of course, I wanted to taste it. I wanted to taste it as soon as possible. What was this Ghost King Thai that Bissonnette and — hmm — Oringer too were posting about? The website I was directed to was overstimulatingly bright and flashy. The food was available for delivery or pickup at a suspiciously familiar South End address. And I could get an order that very night: One $17 boxed meal coming right up.
The extra-crispy chicken was as good as it looked. It was not mild. I texted a friend: “Can eyeballs sweat? I think my eyeballs are sweating.” I crunched shrimp chips. I drank an ice cold Singha beer I’d added to my order. I was full, but I ate a few more chile-slathered bites just to feel something. A little mystery, a little endorphin rush, and leftover fried chicken for breakfast: What’s not to like?
Ghost King Thai, 1704 Washington St., South End, Boston, 617-536-4300, www.ghostkingthai.com. Boxed meal $17; buckets of chicken $15-$60; sides $3.95-$4.75.
— DEVRA FIRST, Food Writer and Restaurant Critic
MASALA BAY INDIAN KITCHEN
For Indian food enthusiasts searching for something beyond the typical chicken tikka masala and palak paneer, Masala Bay in Littleton is worth the trip. They serve some of the best Indian food I’ve had outside of the restaurant my mom owned when I was a kid in New Jersey (and I’m pretty picky about Indian food).
The mainstays are on the menu, but chef-owner Parvin Gill offers dishes you don’t see every day, like pineapple curry ($15), naan stuffed with figs and dates ($6), and bhindi kurkori ($15), a tricky dish of okra dredged in chickpea-flour batter. A special goat curry ($18) features tender pieces of pleasantly gamey meat, still on the bone, in a rich tomato-based sauce redolent with ginger and garlic. Malai kofta ($16), hefty minced-vegetable dumplings, come bathed in cumin-and-coriander-scented cream.
Chicken korma ($16) has a twist: pistachios instead of more-traditional cashews to thicken the sauce. Lamb balti ($18) mixes morsels of lamb with slabs of bell peppers in a curry spiked with cinnamon, garam masala, and ginger. Overstuffed samosas, triangular pastry bundles filled with potatoes ($6) or minced lamb ($7), are savory and flaky. Tandoori chicken ($22) is a little on the dry side, but the chicken pieces are deeply spiced and delicious. There are vegan and gluten-free options available, and the food can be made mild, medium, or hot — the vindaloo dishes start out hot and seem to get hotter, as they should. Those with sensitive palates may want to choose mild, then use the chile-onion chutney to add heat.
Masala Bay Indian Kitchen, 501 Constitution Ave., Littleton, 978-800-0059, https://masalabayik.com. Appetizers and soups $5-$12; entrees $15-$22; desserts $5-$6.
— LYLAH M. ALPHONSE, Editor, Rhode Island
Laura Krantz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @laurakrantz. Devra First can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @devrafirst. Lylah Alphonse can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @WriteEditRepeat.