Reviewing one week of Branson box lunches


By Ellis Keeffe

Since the commencement of Branson hot lunches, we have tasted everything from quesadillas to paella, each with their own unique flavors. The food is served in boxes to mitigate COVID transmission risk, with a main area for the entree and two smaller areas for the side dishes.

The lunches are served warm from the Commons. Though there is plenty of food within each box, on the occasion that I am still hungry, I have been able to return and grab extra food. During the week of March 21 to April 2, we were served three different meals all from various cuisines.

Monday: free-range garlic & herb roasted chicken with saffron vegetable rice pilaf and sauteed spring vegetables

In the main entree box, there were two thighs of garlic and herb roasted chicken and the vegetable rice pilaf. In the two side areas of the box, one was also filled with rice pilaf and the other with the sauteed spring vegetables. Garlic and herb roasted chicken is a famous American household food that many of us grew up eating, with different variations created along the way. Branson’s classic garlic and herb chicken is a staple of our lunches: simple yet flavorful. The chicken is coated in a green, garlicky crust, with tender, dark meat. The chicken is so tender, in fact, that I was able to slide the meat right off the bone without much effort. After eating the chicken, the rice pilaf was a great way to soak up the garlic and herb juices. The rice pilaf was a simple white rice, with soft carrots and peas. By itself, it may have lacked flavor, but with the chicken juices and sauce, it was tasty.

Tuesday: chicken tandoori with cucumber raita sauce and garlic basmati rice

The main portion was filled with chicken, and the two side portions held basmati rice. The tandoori chicken was a hearty and authentic treat, and the rice had a nice hint of garlic to match the chicken sauce. Although the chicken was delicious, the star of the dish was the cucumber raita sauce. The cucumber raita sauce mixed perfectly, perhaps better than the chicken juices, with the rice. After soaking in the rice while I was waiting in line, the sauce almost melted in my mouth. I would go so far as to say that this has been my favorite dish of all year. A bite of the chicken, sauce and rice together worked simultaneously to create an authentic dish. The cucumbers inside the sauce were a great touch because they provided a difference in texture, a crunch to contrast with the soft, tender texture of the chicken.

Thursday: steak burrito

This was, from whom I talked to, the community favorite of the week. The burrito was in the large part of the box, with some chips and pico de gallo salsa as sides. Personally, pico de gallo is my favorite type of salsa, so I was excited to be able to put some in the burrito and dip chips in it. The steak burrito had Spanish rice, pinto beans, shredded steak and guacamole. As a regular burrito consumer, it was clear that this burrito stood out. The seasoning on the steak was flavorful, yet not overpowering. The beans and rice were a classic combo, and the guacamole was smooth and creamy. One of my favorite things to do when I have chips and a burrito is to dip my chips into the burrito, and I did this when I ran out of pico de gallo.

These three lunches depict the hard work in adaptability of our kitchen staff. Each dish came with its own unique flavors and cultural authenticity, and every other week of lunch have stood up to these high standards.