Grab-and-go options from Pat’s kitchen will satisfy even the pickiest of eaters
By Brooke Geery
Behind a plastic curtain in Lamere Square in Ludlow, Pat [who asked to keep her last name private] is serving up some of the best grab-and-go food imaginable. The curtain, is of course a symptom of the global pandemic we’re all coping with, and the food at Cookster was there before Covid-19 and will be there long after. In fact, after stumbling upon it by dumb luck (Tacos Tacos, our original destination in downtown Ludlow, was closed for the day) we opened the next door over from it to find this even better option.
The Cookster is, and has always been, a take-out restaurant of prepared foods for home. After a storied career in New York City, Pat packed up her dog, Cookie, and headed for the hills, settling in Ludlow about seven years ago. So when Covid hit, she was also able to quickly adapt, adding the aforementioned plastic curtain, donning a mask, and keeping things rolling with only a brief pause.
“Because we were take out, we didn’t have a question,” Pat said. “There was only probably about a five-hour period of time when I wondered if I was gonna get shut down or not.”
They did not get shut down, even during the initial lock down. “The governor was great and I’m an essential business,” she said.
Vermont’s measured Covid-19 approach is not the only reason the restaurant is successful, though. That credit should go to Pat and her incredible food.
Our meals, carefully packed and served in compostable containers with biodegradable wood flatware, were the real highlight of our visit. The menu changes daily, depending on what Pat feels like cooking that day, and also what’s fresh and available in the area. She will also create special dishes on request “with a little notice” so you can never really know what you might find. In the case daily is a selection of soups, sauces, entrees, salads, etc. There are options for gluten free, vegetarian and omnivore dishes, as well as some baked goods for sides and dessert.
Since I believe you can’t truly know if you like something until you try it, I requested a little bit of everything in the case. My friend opted for a hearty serving of each meat dish in the case (Parmesan and panko crusted chicken breast, maple-marinated top sirloin from near-by Robie’s Farm and pan-seared salmon with Indian spices.) Although if I’m being honest, I knew I was going to like the food when “fried mac and cheese balls” were the first item on the menu for April 12.
Everything is local and high quality, so we held our breath as Pat punched in each item to the register. But the numbers were not big.
“It’s very inexpensive,” Pat explained as she could sense our apprehension.
Our total came to about $40. She also mentioned that today’s tips would be going to an employee who had to call out with an emergency, so we added a generous one, bring it to $50 for two gourmet meals that we could never cook ourselves. And we would have had leftovers, if it wasn’t so darn good.
According to the Cookster’s Facebook page, “Our food is handmade on the premises. We put time, patience, years of craftsmanship and love into to what we do,” and that was not an exaggeration. While the name Cookster does imply the service of cooking for you, it’s actually named after Pat’s dutiful guard dog, Cookie.
After a brief break in April, Cookster reopened for business on May 3 at 11 a.m. So next time you find yourself hungry in downtown Ludlow, head to 1 Lamere Square and pick yourself up something amazing to eat. You can also place special orders by calling 892-228-4983 or emailing [email protected] Cookster is on Facebook at facebook.com/thecooksterludlow.