Restaurants with terraces may be open again, but bagging a reservation is another matter. With the best part of a year’s worth of pent up demand, that outdoor space is at a premium and those who don’t book ahead are likely to be disappointed. But don’t panic: you can get restaurant quality food delivered straight to your door, thanks to these amazing meal kits, reviewed by our Life & Style editor Steve Dinneen. Now all you need is someone to do the dishes for you…
Oblix Finish at Home
Last month Oblix, a restaurant as famous for its commanding views from The Shard as it is for its menu of international comfort food, started sending its dishes down 32 flights of stairs and across London.
Offering a stripped back version of its restaurant menu, you can order classic dishes including barbecue black cod, whole lobster or a whole roast chicken, with mains coming in at around £20 to £40 and sides between £5 and £8.
I pushed the boat out with wagyu burgers for two (£26 for both), burrata and tomatoes (£10) and wagyu beef wellington (£71 for at least two, three or four at a push). This lot ended up feeding me for three meals. The burgers are up there with the best I’ve had delivered over the last 12 months, with the truffle mayo giving it a nice, luxurious twist; the burrata was a decent specimen, and therefore very nice in the way good burrata is very nice. And the wellington was a triumph, a tremendous slab of meat covered in pastry that baked to a perfect golden sheen. This is very much a “finish at home” spin on the delivery box and therefore swift and painless to prepare. Not cheap, but recommended for when you crave a decadent serving of calories. Order here.
Six by Nico
Nico at Home is bringing the globetrotting ethos of Six by Nico to the delivery market with a “concept” offering cuisine from 12 regions in 12 menus each lasting a month. Nico opened its London outpost in the summer in that brief sliver of no man’s land between lockdowns, meaning very few people have been able to try its high-concept ever-changing, six course tasting menu, which dives around global cuisine in a way that that no restaurant could reasonably be expected to do very well.
But, based on the Mexican leg of the tour that was available when I ordered, Nico does manage to pull it off. My feast for two started with chicken tostada, followed by flat iron steak with sides of refried beans, aviator salad (lettuce, anchovy and pecorino), elotes (corn on the cob) and finished with arroz con leche. Nothing disappointed although the tostada set a bar so high it was difficult to match, and special mention goes out to the excellent aviator salad. It’s all simple to prepare, although the fact you’re juggling six courses does make it a little more involved than some other finish-at-home kits. And at £65 for two, it feels like an absolute steal. Order here.
I have eaten a lot of things out of boxes over the last 12 months. Unless it comes sealed in a large corrugated cardboard box, it’s not on the menu at chez Dinneen. But none come close to the sheer profligate luxury of the Occasions by Hakkasan, which shares the fine balance of minimalist chic and maximalist drama of the restaurants themselves. Inside the black presentation box you’ll find chopsticks, incense, a bamboo steamer and a dozen or so reusable glass ramekins, a link to a (genuinely pretty good) playlist designed to mimic the atmosphere of the restaurant, as well as the inviting black boxes containing some of Hakkasan’s signature dishes.
The £200, six course feast consists of dim sum, grilled sea bass in honey, smoked beef ribs with jasmine tea, noodles, stir-fried broccoli and chocolate soufflé. It’s all incredibly easy to finish off at home – just stick the dim sum in the steamer, the fish and beef in the oven and the rest in a wok and you’re good to go. The highlight for me was tasting freshly prepared dim sum for the first time in a year, although the sea bass comes a close second.
Hakkasan made the news this week after it was acquired by Tao Group, but the launch of the Occasions by Hakkasan box will be the real news for those in the mood for some superlative Cantonese cuisine. Order here.
Wild Radish is the foodie’s food box, providing you not with a meal to heat up, but a bunch of the highest quality ingredients for you to create your own gastronomic delights. At £55, or £70 with patched wine, it’s very reasonable, although you do have to factor in over an hour’s worth of preparation and cooking time.
I went for a Sam Ashton-Booth recipe for wood pigeon with lovage emulsion, black pudding crumb, caramelised apple, charred spring vegetables and truffle dressing. The first job was to carefully slice off the pigeon’s legs and scoop out its innards, with the next hour a fun, involved and low-key stressful management of various tasks that reminds you how militantly organised chefs need to be to repeat this with 100 covers instead of just two.
The hard work certainly pays off, with the result a genuinely impressive meal that you would be pleased to be handed in a top restaurant. Wild Radish is a great pick for an evening cooking with a friend or partner, just make sure there’s some of the wine left for when you’re ready to eat the meal. Order here.
The Cinnamon Club
City A.M. favourite The Cinnamon Club celebrated its 20th anniversary in March and all year it will be offering a special menu that you can enjoy from the comfort of your own kitchen table. The gigantic feast includes canapes, cured salmon carpaccio, sandalwood flavoured tandoori chicken, tandoori spiced grilled king prawn, tamarind glazed seared duck breast, lamb leg ‘Raan’ and mango shrikhand. All of the dishes are simple to finish at home, with ingredients bagged ready to pipe or boil and comprehensive instructions to ensure everything is (*almost*) as good as it is in the restaurant. With the amount of food on offer, which was enough for dinner, breakfast and half a lunch, £160 for two seems eminently reasonable. Order here.
London is home to some of the finest restaurants in the world, but sometimes you just crave a really, really good burger. With Honest Burger’s home delivery serivce you’ll receive all you need to replicate its excellent burgers. Pick from the classic Honest Burger, the Tribute Burger or the Plant Burger and open your windows and doors, because things are about to get smoky. The detailed instructions ensure you get everything just so, from searing the patty to setaming the bun and getting the perfectly melted American-style cheese squares. These things really hit the spot. Order here.
Rudy’s Vegan Diner
Rudy’s Vegan last week launched a trio of plant-based picnic baskets available for home delivery. Three new picnic baskets are filled with planet-friendly, ready-to-eat essentials starting from £39. In the Basic Basket you will get freshly baked baguettes, vegan butter, peppered plant-based salami and Apricolina cheeze. Upgrade to the Premium Picnic (£69) and get olives, fig balls and a pepper and tomato spread, as well as five cans of Frizzenti sparkling wine from drinks experts Liberation Cocktails. Or you can dial it up to full volume with the Super-Premium Picnic (£82) for more bread, cruelty-free ‘camembert’ and mortadella. Order here.
Flesh & Buns
A longstanding City A.M. favourite, Flesh & Buns has joined the restaurant-in-a-box game, delivering its delectable steamed buns alongside a steamer, should your kitchen be ill-equipped. I went for the classic fried chicken and buns for two, with the distinctive Flesh & Buns marinated thigh meat served with BBQ mayonnaise and red chilli. It’s a cinch to make and the result is exactly like you get in the restaurant, albeit you have to wash your own dishes afterwards. I paired mine with an udon delivery from Koya (see below). It’s available through Restaurant Kits.
The Japanese Udon noodle specialist, which has a branch at Bloomberg Arcade, has launched a Koya Mail delivery service, sending out freshly-made udon in handy packages that will fit through your letterbox. Made each morning, the noodles come with fresh dashi broth and can be eaten either as a noodle soup or made into a more elaborate English Breakfast noodle dish, with instructions for both included.
As is the Koya way, the noodles are made with love and demand to be treated with respect, with the cooking process involving heating, cooling and reheating to get the taste and texture just right. At £14 for two portions, it’s a great lunchtime treat or accompaniment to a bigger Japanese feast (I paired mine with the Flesh and Buns delivery above). More elaborate at-home boxes are also available. See here for more information.
As the heat picks up, my mind wanders towards Caribbean food. Great British menu judge Andi Oliver recently launched his Wadadli delivery box, sending a finish-at-home feast that’s perfect for gorging on a sunny afternoon. Arriving in sealed bags that you just need to gently heat in hot water, you can look forward to eight-hour cooked goat curry, a surprisingly subtle concoction that’s been perfected by Oliver over the course of more than 20 years.
Also on the menu is gooey, Caribbean-style mac & cheese, orange and ginger chicken wings, golden tamarind chicken and sides including fried plantain and green slaw. It’s a cinch to prepare and would make for excellent, if rather messy, picnic fodder.
At Home by Mark Birchall
For those seeking a taste of fine dining at home, Mark Birchall, the two Michelin starred chef patron of Moor Hall Restaurants with Rooms in West Lancashire has just launched his spin on the restaurant-in-a-box concept. This one involves a little preparation time, but the final product is up there with the best I’ve tried.
The menu will change regularly but my meal started with a creamy celeriac soup with chorizo and parsley oil, followed by an incredible salt-baked beetroot dish that lets you get creative with some piped beetroot puree. The main was an exceptional Herdwick lamb rump – at its best at this time of year – with sprouting broccoli, turnip, anchovy emulsion and ewe’s curd. The portions are generous enough that I saved the rice pudding with chocolate ganache and hazelnut praline for breakfast the next morning. Highly recommended.
My quest to try each and every home delivery restaurant-in-box operating in and around London this week brings me to Sri Lanka, courtesy of Hōtal Paradise.
One of the most interesting things about sampling such a wide variety of restaurant deliveries is discovering how each chef has approached the dilemma of how to translate a complex meal created and served by a team of professionals into what is, in essence, just a fancy take-away. Simon Rogan’s At Home service (see below) is a surprisingly stripped back affair, heat-it-and-eat-it, home-cooking style food that’s the Platonic ideal of the food your mum might cook.
The food from Hōtal Paradise, distributed through Dishpatch, comes at the problem from the opposite end, meticulously bagging semi-prepared ingredients and providing comprehensive instructions on how to combine and prepare them. It means you have to work (a little) for your food, but it’s certainly worth it.
I received a feast that lasted two of us for two meals, including creamy dahl, fiery pulled pork and a killer rice pudding. The extra effort on the customer end ensures the plated meal looks fantastic, with the pork served on a banana leaf and sprinkled with crispy curry leaves. With a host of sides and dips and sauces, this is the most diverse and interesting meal I’ve had since lockdown began, and one I’d heartily recommend.
£55 for two people. Order here.
Dinings SW3 At Home
Restokit has emerged as one of the top finish-at-home, restaurant quality meal delivery options, working with top chefs and restaurants including Jose Pizarro and Kolamba. This week we tried the excellent offering from Dining SW3, the Knightsbridge restaurant by renowned chef Masaki Sugisaki specialising in Izakaya-style cooking that combines elements of Japanese and European cuisine.
After eating more restaurant-in-a-box meals than we can comfortably count over the last 12 months, this stands out as one of the best. There are two tasting menus available – “dinner” and “celebration” – of which we went with the slightly-more-modest five course option.
The dishes super-easy to finish at home; the first course of sea bass ceviche entails just scattering the ingredients across the plate. It’s all impeccably sourced, with the kind of buttry fish we remember from the days when we used to eat in restaurants.
Highlights from the menu included wagyu beef carpaccio, and a steamed bun with a generous portion of lobster. The main was a beautiful slab of salmon, lightly fried, in a teriyaki sauce, with a selection of mochi to round things off. There wasn’t a dud note in the entire meal – this is how you do restaurant-quality home delivery. The dinner kit for one will set you back £75.
The home delivery market continues to expand despite the promise of eased lockdown restrictions, with the excellent “home-style” indian restaurant Gunpowder launching its at-home service Empire Biryani.
The main event, of course, is Gunpowder’s signature biryani, the result of a 36-hour ‘dum’ preparation technique that leaves the rice and meat fragrant and tender. The rice is then topped with shortcrust pastry, making a wonderful carbohydrate pie. Sides include a sublime Hyderabadi Egg curry and beef Boti Kebab, all of which hit the spot unlike any Indian food we’ve eaten in the last 12 months.
Simon Rogan at home
One of the world’s top chefs Simon Rogan is offering delivery from his restaurants, including a three-course ‘at home’ winter menu available Friday to Sunday, changing weekly.
Even more exciting, Aulis London has also launched delivery for the first time, with its outre menu available for collection at the restaurant in Soho as well as delivery to zones 1-3.
HAME by Adam Handling
The chef behind the The Frog restaurants is offering a “finish at home” restaurant experience, with four menus available (Sunday Lunch, £130 for 2 people; Dine in Style, £200; Dine in Style vegetarian, £110; Who are you trying to impress?, £305). The slick operation allows you to scan a QR code to access a video of Handling preparing the ingredients you have been sent.
Willie’s Cacao Launch Chocolate Tasting Box
Those with a sweet tooth can order this Chocolate Tasting Box containing 10 artisan chocolate bars. Each month chocolate pioneer Willie Harcourt-Cooze will devise two unique chocolates made from unusual ingredients or rare beans, with the first month inspired by Japan. You can also organise a virtual chocolate tasting session to make it a more social experience.
London’s premier jazz lounge-cum-Scottish restaurant is running a delivery service for its unbeatable produce, with the best beef, cheese and wine available to be delivered straight to your door. While you’ll have to hang on a few weeks before you can listen to live jazz or relax on the cigar terrace, biting into a rare Boisdale steak will certainly take the edge off.
Made In Oldstead
World renowned chef Tommy Banks’ nationwide delivery service, Made In Oldstead, offers premium meals featuring produce grown both on and around the family farm.
Options include the Made In Oldstead Food Box, with the option of three different, three-course menus, and the Classic Weekend Food Box, which includes two different three-course menus, each serving two people. Alternatively there’s the Signature Menu, a five-course menu and bottle of wine, perfect for extra-special occasions.
Philip Warren Butchers
Cornwall-based family business Philip Warren Butchers supply some of the country’s best restaurants including Kitchen Table, Paul Ainsworth at No. 6, and Smokestak. People at home can now buy their expertly dry-aged meat previously destined for these restaurants.
Homeslice Take & Bake
Homeslice recently announced its Take & Bake pizzas are now available nationwide. Customers across the country can now get their hands on an authentic 12” Homeslice pizza, prepared using the highest-quality ingredients and ready to bake at home. Also available are Homeslice’s range of sauces for fans to drizzle over their pizzas.
Craft Whisky Club
From casks to pairings, locally-produced to the exotic, the resident experts at the Craft Whisky Club have something for you. Handpicked from the finest small batch and artisan whiskies from Scotland and beyond, this is an exciting way to create home tasting sessions over lockdown. Each box includes up to two full size bottles, as well as recommended food pairings and information about the booze.
SMOKESTAK at Home
Our favourite smokehouse in London is now delivering smoked meats across London and beyond. The meat is sourced from long-standing suppliers Philip Warren Butchers (see above) and Swaledale, before being gently smoked over kiln-dried English oak for up to 15 hours in a wood-fired smoker.
Nine top chefs including Angela Hartnett (Café Murano) and Tom Cenci (formerly of Loyal Tavern and Duck & Waffle head) are serving up their inimitable menus through delivery service Dishpatch. Delivered every Friday with prices ranging from £31 to £55.
Restaurant Kits specialises in sending out ingredient boxes allowing you to create signature dishes from beloved restaurants. Pick from favourites including Calum Franklin, Supa-Ya, Flesh & Buns, and Scotland specialists Mac & Wild. Created by Mac & Wild co-founders, Andy Waugh and Calum Mackinnon along with Edward Alun-Jones, the kits have been a huge success since their launch during the pandemic.
Vallebona’s selection of Grazing Boxes promise to inject some excitement into lockdown life. The company is offering home delivery on the same foods it usually supplies to the likes of the River Café, Bocca di Lupo, Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester and Le Gavroche, right to your door.
Stein’s at Home
For a taste of Rick Stein’s famed seafood dishes at home, look no further than Stein’s at Home. Each box contains all you need to feed two people a delicious three course meal. All the preparation has been done by the Rick Stein team – you just need to cook it and plate up.
Dishes include grilled scallops with a hazelnut and coriander butter, Indonesian seafood curry with pilau rice and lobster thermidor. To round off the experience, add a bottle or two to the box, chosen by head of drinks and sommelier Charlie Stein.
Indian-inspired Kricket will be running a Call & Collect Service at their Soho and White City restaurants. They will also deliver signature dishes such as their Keralan Fried Chicken, Hyderabadi Aubergine and King Prawn Moilee across London, as well as “Feast” menus for one or two people.
If you’re missing the mixologist in your life, head to the website of Crockers Henley, where you can find home-batch bottled cocktails available for home delivery. Crockers at Home cocktails are mixed by ex-Fat Duck mixologist Ryan Osnowski, who has been crafting mixes including Old Fashioned, Espresso Martini, Margarita, Negroni, Manhattan, Maverick Martini, Cosmopolitan and Daiquiri. There are also seasonal bottles of Gingerbread sours and eggnog mix ready to spice up a wintry evening. Prices start from £12 a bottle.
Pied à Terre
Michelin-starred Pied à Terre in Fitzrovia has launched a Vegan Feast home delivery. For £50, receive a three-course menu designed for sharing in the comfort of your own home. Dishes include Globe Artichoke & Pink Peppercorn Soup, Vegetable Green Curry with Lemon Pilau Rice, and Chocolate Mousse with Bananas & Toasted Desiccated Coconut.
The sustainable restaurant on Heddon Street will deliver a host of signatures dishes throughout the month. On the menu will be its much-loved Corn Ribs, the Ex-Dairy Cow Burger, and Kombu Fries. Don’t forget to order some homemade sriracha sauce on the side.
Top Cuvée’s Take Cuvée
The team behind Highbury food and wine emporium Top Cuvée launched spin-off venture Shop Cuvée just as coronavirus really started to bite. As well as selling their expertly curated wine list by the bottle, the team has developed a line of home delivery meals.
Under the helm of head chef Will Blank (ex Lyle’s), menus will change daily and will be available to order for same-day delivery in London. They will also select natural wine pairings to complement each menu, and even send you a Spotify playlist to accompany your order. Meals, priced at £35 for dinner for two (before wine), come with simple heating instructions.
The St Martin’s Lane restaurant this week launched a home delivery service allowing you to “celebrate the wealth of flavours and diversity of regional dishes of Iran” from the comfort of your sofa. Delivery will be available every Thursday and Saturday from their website or for local London pick up, and will offer a special home kit for two, featuring seven dishes from their winter menu.
This week you’ll find Bazaar Bread with Zaytoun Barvedeh, an olive tapenade with pomegranate and walnut and their Mushroom Kotlets with barberry and burnt yoghurt; Mazandarani Lamb Halibut Mast; and a warming toasted flour tart with pistachio and spiced clotted cream. You can also order wine, cocktails or a house infused gin. Meals for two start at £55.
Arros QD DIY Paella Kit
These DIY paella kits are delivered nationwide by the three Michelin-starred chef Quique Dacosta. They include his secret recipe stocks, specialist bomba rice and famous paella pans with which to practice the art of paella making!
Your one-stop-paella-shop should be with you in 3-4 days after ordering, with kits starting from £76. If you’ve been promising yourself you’ll learn a new skill over lockdown, this could be for you.
Pali Hill at Home
The last few years have seen London’s Indian dining scene transform into one of the most vibrant and varied outside of the subcontinent itself. Joining that esteemed crowd this autumn – objectively the worst time to open a restaurant since WW2 – was Pali Hill, a fragrant paean to the home-cooked small plates found in the home kitchens of Mumbai.
Usually to be found in Fitzrovia, you can now order food cooked by head chef Avinash Shashidhara (previously River Café and Hibiscus) straight to your door. We managed to sneak in before lockdown and can highly recommend the marinated lamb cutlets and tandoori monkfish.
Rico! Rico! by Sabor
Every now and then there comes a restaurant that literally everybody agrees is the bees bollocks, and Mayfair’s Sabor is one of them. Now you can get a little taste of that Spanish magic at home through the wonder of Deliveroo. Chef Nieves Barragan says the Rico! Rico! menu is inspired by the Spanish comfort food he’s been cooking for himself during lockdown, and includes crispy croquetas, tortillas, chicken stew and spicy albondigas.
Wine & Rind
It’s not just slap-up meals that we’re being denied – it’s the little things from speciality shops that aren’t able to open; artisan butchers, your favourite fishmonger. If it’s cheese you crave, then you’re in luck – Tottenham’s first and finest cheese shop Wine & Rind is now offering home deliveries.
Featuring “DIY @ home boxes” full of artisan cheeses from the UK, homemade family-size sourdough loaves and independent matching wines, you can treat yourself from Tuesday to Saturday for next day delivery.
The Cocktail Delivery Company
If all else fails, you can always just get sloshed on your sofa – and The Cocktail Delivery Company lets you do that in some style. Created by serious mixologists with decades of cocktail experience, the delivery service couriers freshly made cocktails straight to customers’ doors – all you need to do is shake and serve.
Each comes with garnishes and a handy ‘how to’ guide, allowing customers to pour like a pro.
Berry Bros. & Rudd
A brand that most readers of City A.M. may already be well acquainted with, Berry Bros. & Rudd is this week launching an at-home fine dining delivery serivce to compliment its exceptional wine offering. Britain’s oldest wine and spirits merchant will offer a series of four regional menus and accompanying wine pairings from Burgundy, Bordeaux, Italy and Spain.
Each week a different three-course menu devised by Executive Chef Stewart Turner will be available to order for delivery. Available on Thursday and Friday. for delivery within eight miles of St James’s.
The Gentlemen Baristas’ Afternoon Tea at Home
If you’re missing the finer things in life, then why not indulge in a spot of afternoon tea, courtest of The Gentlemen Baristas. It’s all here: little cucumber sandwiches, smoked salmon, tiny cake. And tea, of course.
HIDE at Home
Mayfair’s Hide was among the first restaurants to jump head-first into this brave new world of home delivery, and they remain one of the best. There’s lobster on the menu this weekend, with three courses setting you back a very reasonable £59. Throw in some cocktails or a nice bottle of wine and you can pretend lockdown isn’t happening at all.
ASAP pizza is offering weekly delivery of their New York style pies from Flor in Borough Market, running Thursday to Sunday weekly. Made with heritage British wheats and topped with exceptional produce, pizza lovers can pick from a menu of Pam Yung’s much-loved signatures including the “Porco Rosso” with red pesto, mortadella, stracciatella & guindillas; “Spice Grrl” with tomato and ‘nduja sauce, caciocavallo, honey, sicilian oregano; the “Marg & Rita” with tomato sauce, mozzarella, basil, and spenwood; as well as new seasonal combinations.
Fitzdares at Home
We can vouch that Fitzdares beef wellington package for two, which includes wine and a sweet pear frangipane, is an exceptional take on this classic dish. It’s delivered cooked and ready to heat up, and costs just £100 for two. Just dim the lights, set a fire and enjoy. Order it here.
Chef Richard Corrigan’s famed 100-year-old fish restaurant is available from the comfort of your home. Mr Oyster Boy offers a range of the most renowned dishes Bentley’s Oyster Bar and Grill has to offer, such as The Bentley’s Fish Pie, Cornish dressed crab, the classic Bentley’s Shellfish Cocktail and 6/12 Rock Oysters with Champagne Mignonette. It’s available Nationwide. Order here.
Iberica at Home
If you have a hankering for ham, then this could be manna from heaven. Michelin-starred Nacho Manzano, who grew up in the tiny village of La Salgar in the northern Asturias mountains, is now bringing his tasty Spanish tapas straight to your door.
If you live within 2.5 miles of any Iberica restaurant (Victoria, Farringdon, Marylebone and Canary Wharf), then you can gorge yourself on top-notch hot tapas, cheese, meat and charcuterie. Order here.
Family-run Italian business Vallebona has a selection of Grazing Boxes to inject some excitement into the last weekend of lockdown. It delivers the same charcuterie, cheeses and Italian pantry goods they supply to the likes of the River Café, Bocca di Lupo, Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester and Le Gavroche, including Sardinian pasta, Tuscan sausages, jarred artichokes, antipasti and a delicious selection of cheeses. Order here.