The pandemic is progressing from bad to worse, and the current third lockdown is especially difficult for the restaurant sector. Benedict is no exception, and like its counterparts, it has had to be creative in order to survive, in light of all the suffocating restrictions. The chain’s delivery menu is understandably not as extensive as the usual menu, but it introduces a new star among its eight food sections: a Picnic category, comprising three baskets/boxes (NIS 229-279), plus a “birthday” box (NIS 139) that looks tempting even in the absence of a special occasion. The remaining sections, even in their temporarily abbreviated forms, may be familiar to previous Benedict customers, or even to just those who have read reviews of the chain on these pages over the years. They include Breakfast in Bread (NIS 51-56), Grill and Eggs (NIS 57-59), Fresh Morning from the Field (NIS 52-54), Classics (NIS 57-64), Small Plates and Sides (NIS 8-24), Pancakes (NIS 32-44) and Sweet Morning (Pastries, NIS 12-13). Most sections include vegetarian or vegan options.The Jerusalem Post was invited to sample Benedict’s signature Winter Picnic Box (for two), a handsome, sturdy, branded cardboard box filled to the brim with main courses, extras and breads. In the “they thought of everything” category is a sleek metal thermos containing a choice of coffee or hot chocolate, along with dessert – a mini-loaf of chocolate babka. The centerpiece of the picnic is a selection of two colorful varieties of shakshouka from a list of three: red, yellow and green. Since the red is the more or less commonplace spicy tomato version, we elected to try the other two.Both the yellow and green shakshoukas feature two large eggs, poached medium; the former has them submerged in a porridge of polenta studded with kernels of grilled corn and enhanced with slices of savory bacon. Naturally, the bacon is optional. A different meat substitute is chorizo sausage, while vegetarians may opt for eggplant and Bulgarian feta cheese. Whichever extra topping you choose, this hearty dish is sure to be satisfying. Meanwhile, the Benedict green shakshouka is arguably the best of the verdant genre: the eggs are drenched in a chard and spinach cream sauce, with added florets of broccoli, peas, olive tapenade, red onions and feta cheese. All in all, a delicious mélange that cries out to be mopped up to the last drop by one of the fresh breads in the picnic box: a small individual loaf of challa, and three pretzel rolls.The one cold dish in the picnic box is a large, multihued Greek salad, topped with creamy slabs of feta cheese and perfectly seasoned with sumac and hyssop (za’atar). There is no other dressing, and it is not really necessary, although the salad may also be enjoyed with a drizzle of the rich tehina that is included in the picnic, along with a relish tray encasing kalamata olives, pickled cucumber and a grilled hot chili pepper (packaged separately are tiny containers of ruby red harissa and chopped cilantro). A good accompaniment to the salad is the sesame-encrusted burekas filled with salty white cheese. Finally, the picnic concludes with dessert, an entire small loaf of crunchy chocolate yeast cake, washed down by hot coffee in a handy metal thermos that is yours to keep. For those choosing hot chocolate instead of coffee, there is even a pair of plump, fluffy, snow-white marshmallows.Benedict. Not kosher. Nine branches in central Israel. Tel. (03) 510-7507.The writer was a guest of the establishment.