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The perfect desktop picnic

Empire State South Tiffin

Who’s in the mood for a picnic? This time of year I just want to get outside. It’s picnic time.

No peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for me. I’ve found the perfect take-along lunch that will have me inventing excuses for picnics.

Have you tried the tiffin lunch box at Empire State South? When the restaurant first opened, I noticed the tiffins on its website (“coming soon”) and couldn’t wait for them to become available. I was drawn to the tiffin box itself — a perfect little package complete with silver rolled in a dish-towel napkin that could have jumped right off the pages of Martha Stewart Magazine.

So, that’s my disclaimer –I was enchanted by the packaging from the start. Thankfully, the contents did not disappoint.ESS Tiffin 2

Last week, I picked up my first tiffin lunch ($15). I placed my order that morning and picked it up promptly at noon. As soon as I got to my car, I pried the lid from the top of the box, impatient for a peek.

The snacks in the top compartment included a hefty mound of mouth-tingling Maytag blue cheese with a toast point, dried cherries, pistachios and apricot preserves. Some may wish for additional bread to accompany the cheese but as I try to keep my bread-habit in check, I was content to gouge bits of the cheese from the mound with the pistachios and cherries.

The lower tiffin levels contained a fresh salad with turnips and sweet-pickled stems, a muffin sized quiche and a decadent house-made ESS Tiffin 4nutter butter. The quiche, made with salty Benton ham and Grafton cheddar, might be considered small in comparison to an average restaurant portion. I, however, found it to be perfectly satisfying for lunch.

I just wish the boxes were available on weekends for actual picnics. Until then, I will be content with the kind of picnics I often enjoy at my desk beside my computer.

Boxes are available Mondays-Fridays. Orders must be placed by 10:30 a.m. and picked up at noon. Tiffin boxes should be returned within 48 hours (keep it for $20). Or, do as I did and pay for the box the first time and trade it out on your next visit. Check the website for weekly menus. Empire State South, 999 Peachtree St., Atlanta, 404-541-1105.

Jenny-Turknett-Tagline–by Jenny Turknett, Food & More blog

– Jenny Turknett writes about Southern and Neighborhood Fare for the AJC Dining Team. She also publishes her own blog, Going Low Carb.

17 comments Add your comment

Carolyn

April 19th, 2011
8:37 am

Cute but pricey for lunch.

Denise

April 19th, 2011
9:20 am

I bought my own tiffin lunch box at World Market, and pack my own! Trader Joe’s has great items to pack inside!

apennysaved

April 19th, 2011
9:20 am

Agree that this is very pricey for lunch. Also, tiffin’s are not a Martha Stewart invention or discovery, much as she might like to take credit for that. Tiffins are from India and are used by multi millions of people on a daily basis to bring lunch from home. I realize that the columnist thinks that this is some new fangled idea but it’s not. If people want to buy tiffins to put their home made lunches, you can pick the containers up from many Indian grocery stores in Decatur. Taj Imports on Briarcliff and N. Druid Hills and Cherian’s on Dekalb Industrial Way are 2 good places to start.

Jenny Turknett

April 19th, 2011
9:28 am

I don’t actually think this is a “new fangled idea” and am aware of the origins of the tiffin. I appreciate that a restaurant in town is trying something new and I think it’s charming and well done. Kudos to Empire State South. Having said that, it’s a great idea to point folks to shops that sell tiffins. What would you guys pack in your own tiffin boxes?

James

April 19th, 2011
9:41 am

Looks delicious..and cool packaging!

@pennysaved – where did you read the columnist saying this was a new fangled idea?? Or were you just looking for an excuse to dazzle us with your wordliness ;) Consider me super impressed!

Mary

April 19th, 2011
9:49 am

Resemble the Japanese bento boxes that are works of art also. Artistically arranged lunches are always welcome.

Jenny Turknett

April 19th, 2011
9:58 am

Good point, Mary! Agreed!

Tomeka L Ivory-Reid

April 19th, 2011
10:09 am

I am going to try it for lunch and buy the tin. Can’t wait!!!

Lorenzo

April 19th, 2011
11:00 am

Yeah, apennysaved, when I first saw the pic I thought it looked like an Indian lunch box. I had no idea they are called “tiffins” or that they’ve become Martha Stewart-ized.

James

April 19th, 2011
11:14 am

$15 would be pricey for a lunch at McDonald’s. For a four star restaurant, seems like a good deal to me. All “lunches” aren’t created equal, ya know.

Matt

April 19th, 2011
11:32 am

I’ve wanted to try one of these lunches, but don’t work close enough to pick it up by noon. They look delicious. Do you keep the tiffin or return it to them?

Kar

April 19th, 2011
11:59 am

Wait, you have to pick up your own tiffin? I guess something’s are lost in the translation.

Carla Roqs

April 19th, 2011
12:05 pm

actually, it resembles the lunch tins school kids carried during earlier times.

Jenny Turknett

April 19th, 2011
12:17 pm

Kar, the restaurant will provide them if you order a lunch. We moved into another discussion about people who liked to prepare their own.

tyler

April 19th, 2011
12:24 pm

Zifty.com delivers these tiffins for Empire State South as well!

Becky

April 20th, 2011
11:05 am

I might try one if I worked anywhere near soemwhere that had them..So, is the cost based on what you pick for your lunch?

@James, I also didn’t read in the article that Jenny said it was a Martha Stewart invention..Of course, I could of read it wrong..

Art

April 20th, 2011
3:50 pm

What a cool idea! The tiffin networks that they use in India and Asian countries are amazing. I’m certainly going to give it a try.