Lunch for One: Radish
I only come to Radish in Williamsburg on sunny days. There's no seating inside this prepared food shop-market-coffee bar except for a single bench in front of the shop. And that is where I like to eat my lunch. To begin, a cup of housemade soda—the Ginger Ale ($3) is the best, spicy and bright, but seasonal sodas ($4) are excellent as well; go today and you'll find a bold Concord Grape and a sweet, mellow Apple soda. I've yet to have a bad flavor.
Do note that there are two types of straws on hand—ordinary plastic straws, and fun red and white stripey straws by Jack and Lulu, a North Carolina-based stationary business. The paper stripey straws are certainly more attractive, but if you're a straw biter like me, the ordinary plastic ones are more sensible, lest you chew up the paper straw and then have to pull it out, trash it, and drink straight from the cup. That's what happened to me on the first visit.
At the sweets counter are cupcakes from from Robicelli's and marshmallows and cookies by Whimsy & Spice, with housemade desserts like Lavender Shortbreads tucked in between. For savories, head to the back, towards the large quartet of Stuab dutch ovens housing warm, comforting dishes, and then even further back for the salads and cold dishes. Food is sold by the pound, and prices are not cheap for a takeout spot. But the food is certainly of a high quality, fresh and tasty. If the only way to stay in budget is to have smaller portions, Radish is still worth at least one visit.
The signature Radish Salad (pictured at top) runs $13 a pound, coupling fresh mango with red onions, green peppers, and of course, radishes, sliced paper-thin and tossed with black sesame seeds in the lightest of vinaigrettes. It tastes as good as it looks, and almost makes you want to eat healthfully. But then you'll need to pair the salad with heavier dishes to make complete meal. There's a Shepherd's Pie ($15/lb), a savory, meaty, warming affair with a jolt of horseradish blended into the top layer of mashed potatoes, or Mac & Cheese ($9.50/lb), made with four types of cheese, with a toasty pimenton-herb breadcrumb top. The Mac & Cheese could have afforded more cheese, a shake of salt and less roux on one visit, but then was finely balanced on another. A consistency issue? Perhaps. But the Shepherd's Pie you can always depend on, and I have a feeling there's going to be plenty of that in my life as we head towards winter.