A new meal delivery service has officially launched in Portland today and the jury is still out on why it matters.
Caviar is a San Francisco-based meal delivery service, now in 10 major cities, that sets itself apart from companies like Delivered Dish and Portland Pedal Power by partnering with (typically) trendy restaurants that don't normally deliver. The selection is small and, as they say, "curated." Caviar also offers a flat-rate delivery fee (so far it's cheaper than the others), and the online/app user experience is a cut above. There are simple pictures of every dish, the option to schedule delivery, and GPS tracking so you can obsessively watch your meal make its way to you.
It's easy to see why Caviar is popular among San Francisco's sea of young elites living well off their Google and Facebook salaries. The delivery service fee ($5 for Portland,
$10 in bigger cities and now all cities Caviar serves) and automatic 18 percent gratuity added to your bill is no big whoop. The time it takes to get your food, which, let's face it, will steam to lukewarm on its way to you, is a small price to pay for not having to fight traffic and search in vain for parking (and not having to turn to pizza for the umpteenth night in a row).
But who is Caviar catering to in Portland, where salaries aren't as plush, and nothing's more than a 15-minute car ride away? The delivery window for each restaurant is 60 to 80 minutes. As cool as it is to get dishes from PaaDee or Little Bird delivered to your door, it would be far cheaper and faster to pick up your take-out yourself.
Still, we can see why the service makes sense for some people. Maybe you don't like to eat alone in nice restaurants. Maybe you don't have a car, which makes bringing food in more trouble than it's worth. Maybe you're inebriated and must. have. Lardo. Maybe you've got an expense account and a conference room full of hungry executives.
So for those of you, there's Caviar. There are 15 restaurants to start and a few more will be added, though even in big cities the list rarely surpasses 50. You can read Eater New York's experience using the service here. Keep in mind, Caviar's coverage area covers most of Portland (from the West Hills east to 82nd Avenue, and all the way south to Johnson Creek Boulevard), but much of North and Northeast Portland get the shaft. The northern boundary hits NE Mason, which is oddly several blocks shy of NE Alberta, where Aviary, one of the participating restaurants, is located.