Do it yourself

Cooking dinner gets easier.

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click to enlarge APRONS ON: Weekday Gourmet is one of many places that take the guesswork out of cooking. - Joe Bardi
Joe Bardi
APRONS ON: Weekday Gourmet is one of many places that take the guesswork out of cooking.

I like to cook, but rarely have the time or energy to truck all the way to the grocery store, back to my house and into the kitchen. Being unattached and without kids, I don't often feel pressure to cook, so it generally works out. But when I'm in the mood for something more than a can of soup or leftovers, things get a little trickier. Luckily for me and those like me, clever people have come up with a system that makes it easier.

Weekday Gourmet to open in St. Pete

Like many things trendy, the idea originated on the West Coast and spread eastward. These days, places that lessen the fuss of preparing a meal at home have become a convenient alternative for busy couples and families.

For around $150, you can order eight meals that feed 4-6 people, pick up the pre-packaged, sliced, diced and chopped ingredients and bring them home to your freezer. No wandering the aisles of the supermarket wondering what to buy; just thaw when you want and cook.

Weekday Gourmet and others of its ilk have become popular in the area over the past year. Weekday Gourmet opened its first store in Tampa (3605 Henderson Blvd.) back in July, and is opening its second store, in St. Petersburg, on May 3. Let's Eat, which opened a branch at 4946 Fourth St. N. in October, offers a similar concept. Let's Eat has four other locations throughout the Bay area, with another opening soon in New Tampa (17024 Palm Pointe Drive).

The new Weekday Gourmet, located at 750 Fourth St. N. (next door to Chipotle), will begin booking sessions April 1. Patrons usually choose eight meals from a rotating menu of 16 options every month, said Glenda Montemayor, a partner at WG. You can sign up for a session at the store to pick which meals to take home and gather the ingredients. That process takes about an hour and a half. Or you can choose your meals online and everything will be ready for pick-up at the hour of your choosing. The store will also have single meals available for purchase at the store for last-minute options.

"We consider ourselves different in that we offer a lot of familiar dishes, but we've taken meal selection into a more gourmet field," said Montemayor.

Weekday Gourmet is open 8 a.m.-8p.m. Wed.-Fri. and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat. Call 727-254-7143 or 813-875-3663 or visit [email protected]. For information about Let's Eat locations, check out www.letseatdinner.com.

Moxie's opens in Tampa

Moxie's Café and Coffee Bar, which opened in early March, held its grand opening last week. The new breakfast and lunch locale features gourmet pastries, salads, sandwiches, soups and wraps as well as coffee, espresso and lattes.

This is the third restaurant in the Bay area for Chicago natives Jim and Sandy Venetos. They previously owned and operated Moxie's Café at 4329 W. Kennedy Blvd., which they sold last fall. This most recent incarnation is meant to have an "old world Tuscan style." Breakfast is served all day and catering options are available.

Located at 514 N. Tampa St. in downtown Tampa, Moxie's is open from 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Mon.-Fri. Call 813-221-4510 or visit www.moxiesdowntown.com.

Chipotle coming to SoHo

After the closing of the popular lunch spot, the Ho Ho Chinese restaurant, earlier this month, word has arrived that the latest in a string of Chipotles will open in its place. Construction crews have been clearing out the building at 533 S. Howard Ave., and a burrito in the window with the word "Soon" written across it heralds Chipotle's arrival.

This, the fifth Chipotle in the area, is supposed to open within the next two months. A sixth location is set to open sometime this summer at 2576 E. Fowler Ave., Tampa. For information, visit www.chipotle.com.

Meanwhile, Ho Ho Chinese is slated to reopen this month at the corner of N. Armenia and Columbus avenues.

Know of restaurants opening or closing? Have news of new chefs, new dishes or other culinary gossip? E-mail [email protected].

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