Below is a copy of the review Casual Gourmet Express at the Cape Cod Mall received last week!! We wanted to share it with everyone….
Casual Gourmet Express brings creative touch to takeout
October 15, 2009
Sometimes lunch hour involves doing errands and grabbing something to eat — either on the run or at your desk.
The Casual Gourmet Express recently opened by founder Olive Chase and her crew in the Cape Cod Mall’s food court is a reminder that you don’t have to sacrifice taste and freshness on those days.
The Casual Gourmet Express
Cape Cod Mall food court,
769 Iyannough Road (Route 132), Hyannis
Plus, it’s kind of intriguing to try the informal offerings of a popular catering company whose food is often found at corporate gatherings and weddings, such as a recent weekend when our friends Jane and Joseph got married at the family’s summer home in the Chapoquoit section of West Falmouth. The wedding food — passed hot hors d’oeuvres and a buffet of beef tenderloin, seafood kebabs, bowtie pasta and crisp green beans with baby carrots — was fancier, of course.
But the catering did share some of the touches you’ll find at the mall — namely, amazingly good bread, vegetables so crisp they spray juice when bitten, and the ginger slaw, which came on ahi tarts as a wedding appetizer and is also part of the Thai Chicken Wrap ($6.49) at the Express.
The Express doesn’t have a huge menu, but there’s enough choice to make it a regular stop. It offers four panini, three specialty sandwiches on hearty seven-grain or focaccia bread, six wraps, four salads, quahog chowder, a soup du jour and chicken pot pie. There is also breakfast panini, quiche, pastries and — and this is big — an “Express-o Bar” that makes espresso ($1.75) and related hot drinks.
Drawn by both the ingredients (tuna, feta cheese, Kalamata olives, green beans, yellow peppers and red onion with lemon Dijon) and the name (French Kiss), I chose one of the wraps. The first bite offered a burst of fresh lemon and set the tone for a sandwich that tasted farm-fresh and just a little unusual. Wraps at the Express are fine and come in different flavors, but I’m not a huge wrap fan. Next time, I think I’ll see if this sandwich ($6.49) can be put on seven-grain bread or atop a salad.
I added a bowl of the soup du jour ($3.25 for a cup, $3.95 for a bowl), which was beef minestrone. There were, maybe, three bites of tender steak and every vegetable under the sun — just the way I like it. The broth was light with a complex flavor that said the ingredients had been simmering together for a long time. I wasn’t surprised to find what appeared to be a small sprig of fresh rosemary in with the veggies.
My companion tried the chicken pot pie ($5.95). It was a generously sized pie shell, maybe six or seven inches, filled with chicken and vegetables and topped with mashed potatoes that were piped on and perfectly browned. My friend said it was good, but a little bland. She thought it could use a little more gravy with a bit more spice in it.
We didn’t have enough appetite for dessert (although those huge whoopie pies at $2.50 each looked worth sharing!), but having — as I mentioned earlier — encountered Casual Gourmet’s offerings at many functions, I feel confident that you won’t be disappointed with the homemade cookies (89 cents,) cupcakes ($1.79,) or bars and brownies ($2.25-$2.95.)
Next time I go to the Express, I’m having the Thai Chicken Wrap ($6.49) — grilled chicken breast, jasmine rice, ginger slaw, peanut sauce and scallions on a tomato tortilla — and the time after that, the Pesto Chicken With Peppers ($6.99).
This is not the Casual Gourmet’s first outing into takeout — it runs a cafe at Cape Cod Hospital and formerly operated the cafeteria at Heritage Museums & Gardens in Sandwich. Its decision to keep the menu small with unusual touches is a good one. The fresh ingredients in creative combinations will bring me back whenever I visit the mall.