Since Covid-19 is still here and restaurants continue to stress alternative options to dining in, we’ll bring you each week a roundup of takeout (and in this case, one al fresco) meals recently enjoyed by dining editor Timothy Malcolm. 

Get the Le Riel Mac through Louie's Sandwiches at Riel.

Image: Shelby Janik

Riel

There's a lot happening right now at Riel. On Tuesday the restaurant celebrated its four-year anniversary by bringing in former sous chef EJ Miller. Recently it announced that guests can order take-and-bake casseroles (pierogi casserole, baked ziti primavera with vodka sauce) for up to six people. Plus, Ryan Lachaine's restaurant has a new sous chef in Peter Nguyen, who led a pop-up on Sunday at East End Backyard.

All of this news was a good excuse to get some food there recently, so I stopped by to pick up some lunch. From its sandwich outfit, Louie's, I picked up a Le Riel Mac, Lachaine's version of a Big Mac but boosted with so much more flavor (better beef patties, a soft potato bun, a good and messy helping of special sauce). I added an order of pierogis from the Riel menu just because. Delish.

Top Sushi

Here's another entry in the "huh, I've never been to this place" list. Top Sushi is a small chain with locations outside the Inner Loop, including Cypress, Missouri City, Richmond, Tomball, and the closest to me (by a hair) on Westheimer near Fondren. There's a long list of specialty maki rolls here, and they get wild: Big Boy Country has fried chicken and cream cheese and no fish, while Louis V would make a great sandwich, with smoked salmon, cream cheese, avocado, white tuna, ponzu, and spicy mayo. Next time I'll probably go bigger on the seafood, though the Golden Pig roll (pork belly with eel sauce) is calling to me too. 

Click Virtual Food Hall

Thursday night was fried chicken night in the Malcolm house, and Click Virtual Food Hall supplied the goods. Click, which operates about a dozen ghost-kitchen-style concepts for takeout and delivery only, offered on January 21 a special $65 package with a whole broken-down bird (10 pieces), gumbo, collard greens, mashed potatoes, maque choux, beans and rice, and smoked corn gravy. I ordered online, then we picked up the goods and brought it home. The chicken came in a pizza box, and the sides were in individual containers, and everything was set inside warming bags. No need to reheat, just serve and eat, and everything was pretty dang good. The chicken, cooked by chef Gabriel Medina and his staff, stayed crispy on the outside and juicy inside, the potatoes—mashed with some gooey cheese—were a hit, and the gumbo was perfect as a day-after lunch treat. I hope we can see more of this from Click.