The launch of UberEATS in Tampa earlier this month got us thinking about how it would compare to other existing food delivery services, from the biggies like GrubHub to more locally based services like Doorstep Delivery. The result is this week's cover story (Page 4E), in which three Tampa Bay Times writers try four services and review the experience.
The process was illuminating, and not just because I realized that poutine — a mound of french fries topped with cheese curds and gravy — is just about the most unappetizing thing that can come in a foam container.
What was most clear was that the recent growth of these delivery services has changed what the term "delivery" means. It has evolved from the times when most of the stuff you could have delivered was mediocre to begin with: pizza, Chinese food, the kind of greasy fare ideal for plunking down on the couch during movie night. Bonus: This food also tasted good cold, so you didn't have to worry about how long it took to get to you.
But now, some of these services (particularly UberEATS and FoodNow) deliver food from a large variety of places, including some where the in-person experience could easily turn into an hour-plus of table service and a large bill. These aren't just sub sandwich shops. They are places like Piquant in Hyde Park, which has $12 appetizers and $18 burgers, and Grille 116, where there is a $35.50 Chilean sea bass on the menu. Is that the kind of food you want to eat while you're sinking into your couch wearing yoga pants?
Maybe it is. Some restaurateurs think this sort of delivery service is an inevitable step for all restaurants. When everything is just a tap away, a meal from that hip new spot down the street should be, too.
But these services remove the special, eventlike quality of dining out, and I wonder what that may do to the way we relate to a certain kind of food, the kind that has been prepared thoughtfully and in ways that may not hold up if your food takes 90 minutes to reach your door.
Start the day with a healthy muffin
One of my favorite recipes I've featured in this space is for Olive Oil Zucchini Muffins. I've heard from readers that they like simple, healthy muffin recipes, too, which make for a satisfying quick breakfast when you don't have time to sit down and eat a bowl of cereal. (I like mine with a swipe of protein-packed peanut butter.) As we head into fall (I swear I felt a slight breeze today!), my thoughts have turned back to muffins.
This week's recipe for Mini Quinoa-Carrot Cakes is similar to the one for those zucchini muffins in that it's low in sugar and relies on fruit or vegetables to bulk up the "cakes," which are made in a mini muffin tin. Dress the cakes up with an optional cream cheese frosting or leave them plain and make them your new breakfast go-to.
Contact Michelle Stark at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8829. Follow @mstark17.