Upgrade Your Dinner With Creative Pairings

From the unexpected to the sublime.

13 min read
top down

Food and wine may be the obvious pairing when it comes to amplifying a meal, but it’s hardly the only pairing available. Curating an entire meal—of pairing it with similar elements throughout or of pairing desserts with entrees—is an overlooked art. A simple meal delivered to your doorstep can rise to the height of sublime with a little foresight. DoorDash has recently launched a product feature called DoorDash Pairings, where customers can get two deliveries from two separate merchants with one order, making it easy to add a special dessert, coffee, tea, or bottle of wine to the main order. We’ve asked a chef to help us think of some inventive pairings, which you can test out for yourself right on DoorDash. 

Cherry Jones Pizza (no tomato sauce, cherries, Prosciutto di Parma, honey sauce, blue cheese, pork)

Bring on the Fruit 

It may sound like an unlikely pairing, says private chef Shannon Llewellyn, but berries can actually pair well with fish. “When I private chef, my guests like to see something take them by surprise, and I feel obligated to offer up a little bit of wow factor that still makes culinary sense,” she says. “I make salmon croquettes and serve them with a marionberry mint crème anglaise. The croquettes are shaped into balls and served on a skewer with fresh marionberries between them.” Although berries may be associated most often with breakfast or dessert, Llewellyn says they make a compelling addition to the main course table. “Macerated berries are often perfect sauces to fish, pork, chicken,” she says. Cherries and beef, she adds, are an exceptional pairing, too. 

You don’t necessarily have to make a sauce out of cherries yourself and spoon it atop the beef. You can explore this sublime pairing in a different way. Try a 14-ounce New York Strip from STK Steakhouse in New York, for instance, followed by a sour cherry pie from Petee's Pie Co. on Delancey Street. 

Iced matcha latte

Thread the Needle 

“I think a proper menu has to have an edible thread that runs through the first course to the last,” chef Llewellyn says. “Anything you would eat in the first course could be tied into dessert.” Consider threading a single ingredient through your meal, which you can do by ordering from different restaurants through DoorDash. 

In San Francisco, Z & Y Restaurant's iconic tea-smoked roast duck sets the mood for a celebratory dinner. Be prepared to feed a crowd; this entree can feed up to four. Carry the theme of tea throughout the entire meal with a paired drink from Boba Guys. The classic black milk tea, made with Tea People’s premium loose-leaf tea and a brown sugar-based simple syrup, is a fun take on tea, and serves as both beverage and dessert. 

verve coffee

Pass the Coffee

Coffee, chef Llewellyn says, is a cornerstone to excellent cooking and pairing: “It gives the same depth of flavor that cocoa gives to a quality mole. Espresso is the foundation of a solid Espagnole, and its slightly acidic bite is a welcome turn in a lot of recipes. Even meatloaf.” And although coffee paired with red meat may be outside of the traditional cooking narrative, chef Llewellyn says that it’s a complex and delicious pairing that is worth exploring. 

The slightly bitter notes in coffee draw sweet and savory notes from protein like pork and beef. Philadelphians can pair an Americano from One Shot Coffee with the iconic meatloaf from Race Street Café for a surprising, upscale diner-type pairing. 

Forno Rosso

Try the Sorbet

“Wine and food have been paired since time immemorial,” chef Llewellyn says. “To me, it’s overworked.” Chef Llewellyn likes to serve dessert wine sorbets instead. “Kind of like the intermezzo stage in a meal, only at the end,” she says. These sorbets, she says, “are bright, with floral notes on the front, but heady and rich without being cloying.” Chef Llewellyn makes her own sorbets, but you don’t have to, with DoorDash at your fingertips. 

Imagine a perfect meal from Dirty French in New York, the Côte de Porc, dusted with Tasso spices and cooked Basquaise style. Pair it with a finishing sorbet from Ample Hills, perhaps the King of Mangoes, a refreshing coda to a rich and hearty meal. This sorbet, made from coveted Alphonso mangoes, is completely vegan, and the ideal, bright finish to one of the city’s best plates.