Compleat Cuisine's Curated Lunch Boxes Are Cute and Delicious

For more than two decades, the Shanahan family has been keeping Houstonians full through their home-grown catering business, Compleat Cuisine.  The full-service operation offers breakfast and lunch options tailored to customers' nutritional needs as well as special hot entrées that rotate monthly. 

We were recently invited to sample some March-only specials, such as the curated lunch boxes the "Rodeo Odelay" and the "Irish Green," as well as Compleat's Primavera Salad Trio, and found little wanting.

Comprising three delightful mounds of pecan chicken salad, tuna Waldorf salad and Southwest pasta salad, the Primavera ("Spring") Salad Trio also comes with a cup of seasonal fruit and a moist square of lightly frosted carrot cake. The textural and flavor contrasts in the different styles of salad are perfect for the indecisive diner, who will appreciate having multiple proteins, plus seeds (see the pecan chicken) and fruit (as per tradition, Compleat uses apples in its Waldorf salad) for a lunch that is both hearty and healthful. Because, remember, that carrot cake counts as a vegetable, natch.

Perhaps this reviewer's ethnic heritage led her to be biased toward the "Irish Green" lunch box; however, she is confident even those whose forebears do not hail from the Emerald Isle will be tickled by its components. Though the ciabatta proved a wee bit tough, the high quality of the other sandwich ingredients, specifically the tender grilled chicken meat dressed with an aromatic pesto plus juicy tomato slices and crisp lettuce, more than made up for this minor failing. Rounding out this St. Paddy's-inspired repast is a terrific zucchini salad, a tangy cup of green grapes and kiwi, and, in keeping with the color theme, an adorable shamrock cookie.  Do as the Irish do with this box and eat dessert first (and drink your Guinness).

Also deserving of a "yee-haw" is the "Rodeo Odelay" lunch box, if only for its amazingly tender, unctuous smoked brisket sandwich layered with pepper jack, smoky mayo and pickled red onions. Its heavy flavors are balanced well by cups of piquant chile slaw and black-eyed pea salad (a.k.a. "Caballero Caviar").  A sweet, crispy, slightly spicy ending comes in the form of an ancho chocolate chip cookie.

And while the aforementioned are available only throughout March (so, hop to it!), Compleat Cuisine also has an array of other delectable long-term menu items worth trying.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Joanna O'Leary