Stumbling upon yet another grand opening of a fast-food- or coffee-chain franchise, it’s not uncommon to hear passersby exclaim, "Not another one?!" So it goes without saying that it’s refreshing when an independent neighborhood restaurant and community staple opens an auxiliary shop. In the case of Lionette’s Market, the emphasis is on "fresh." Bob Lionette has been luring us into the Garden of Eden, his chic and cozy European-style South End bakery/café, and tempting us with gourmet salads, sandwiches, and rarefied beers since 1995. As if the ever-changing salad selections, glistening pastries, and shelves of fancy jars of marinated morsels and French jams weren’t reason enough to consider Eden a paradise, last June Lionette opened a European market a few doors down. Here are all the scrumptious salads and panini we’ve come to expect from Eden, without the café seating beckoning us to while away the hours. But beware: loitering is a risk, as the aromas that wallop upon entering are an open invitation to indulge your nose.
With the expanded selection of imported groceries — not to mention the case crammed with blocks of artisanal cheeses and vats of cured meats (all from naturally raised animals and for sale by the pound) — we wondered whether the new venue offers more ingredients so clients can bring them home and whip up a dish inspired by Bob Lionette’s creations. Then we tasted the prepared offerings for sale, take-out-deli style, and decided, "Why bother?" Especially when platters arranged in the case — from basic lasagna ($7.99/pound), cod cakes ($9.99/pound), and Italian roasted peppers ($8.99/pound) to imaginative concoctions like saffron couscous ($8.99/pound) and acorn-squash halves finished with maple butter ($6.99/pound) — have the polish of an artistic exploit. All the dishes are made in Garden of Eden’s kitchen and shuffled off to the market for us to import to our own kitchens. It appears that paradise is now portable.
Lionette’s Market, located at 577 Tremont Street, in Boston, is open Monday through Friday, from noon to 9 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Call (617) 778-0360.