Metro's Blue and Orange lines lead to Rosslyn. That's where a time-pressed homebound commuter can hop off the train, ascend to the street and find chef-prepared takeout food a few steps away.
The doorway under the big red awning leads to a pastry shop and deli that sells components for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Two stories up is the venerable Tivoli restaurant, where Klaus Helmin's kitchen also fills the platters headed downstairs.
Walk past the pastry cases to the rear, where the action is. For dinner food, you can't do better than the beef stroganoff: Large, tender chunks of meat, perfectly cooked and still rosy inside, share a deeply flavorful sauce with mushrooms and pearl onions ($13.75 a pound). It comes with rice on the side. Chicken with dill sauce ($12.95 a pound) is rich and creamy but still manages to seem light.
A standout cold salad combines loads of plump, fresh-tasting mussels with paper-thin cucumber slices, chopped tomato and a restrained dressing that lets the bivalves do the talking ($9.35 a pound).
Among the sides, an individual potato flan ($1.75) is creamy, custardy and good. And there's pretty and colorful roasted butternut squash ($5.95 a pound) sprinkled generously with plumped dried cranberries.
A word to the wise: Someone in the kitchen likes to wield the salt shaker. Quiche Lorraine ($2.45 a slice) and a cold chicken tarragon salad ($12.95 a pound) have nice flavor that is nearly obliterated by salt. A few other dishes teeter on the edge. If you have doubts, ask for a taste first.
The crew that dishes up the prepared foods also makes a variety of sandwiches ($4.95 to $6.95). The Baltimore-made liverwurst ($4.95), mild and pleasantly flecked with herbs, is great with spicy mustard. But the baguette's tough crust defies chewing. Pick a different bread.
On the way out, that pastry counter beckons. But only a few choices are worth the calories. There's a tender-crusted apricot tart and a lovely lemon-white chocolate mousse tart (both $3.50 a slice), crisp and chewy almond horns ($2.95) and delightful small tea cookies filled with raspberry jam ($12 a pound). Grab some for dessert.
Then a few more steps and you're back on the train home, dinner accomplished.
-- Jane Touzalin (Wednesday, May 14, 2008)