Vacuum-packed, expensive food you've had to cook yourself has never tasted so good, says Emily Rookwood
The London food scene is fast reaching saturation point. With so many restaurants – and good ones at that – competing for customers, a straight forward dine-in option is not always enough to sustain a business.
Diversification is the watchword of the moment. There are several options available: branch out in to takeaways – Lardo launched Lardo Bebe as a wine bar and takeaway outpost, get yourself a pop-up – Bone Daddies have launched Shackfuyu in Soho or create a DIY delivery option.
The DIY delivery route is one that city restaurant One Lombard Street have decided to take. They have created the 'Goose Box', which contains prepared and vac-packed ingredients from their restaurant suppliers, along with recipe cards with the hope that even some hapless City-boy will be able to wow his date with a home cooked two-course meal.
Delivered in a rather lovely box, the ingredients inside really are very high quality; the king prawns (heads and tails still on) and scallops were huge, beautifully fresh and without doubt the best I've had in my kitchen. As a keen cook, I do somewhat object to the pre-measured, pre-prepared ingredients as in my opinion it is the work of but a moment to chop off the correct amount of cucumber and in doing so you can save yourself a lot of money but for the short of time and interest I can see the appeal.
The menu delivered to me was a salad of pear and manchego with a hazelnut and honey dressing, followed by scallops and prawns with black rice, a coconut salsa and chilli jam. It was simply to pull together, took about 30 minutes for the whole thing and really was very tasty. Had someone made it for me, I would have been impressed.
Unlike many of these recipe deliveries it actually made a very tasty meal, however, it would have set you back ’70 (’60 for a regular box with a ’10 supplement for the scallops and prawns). If you are a relatively capable cook, though, then you can make the box go further with a little ingenuity; I used the shells of the prawns to make a shellfish stock for a risotto the following evening.
’70 for a dinner for two that you've cooked yourself – and have to clean up after – isn't cheap but if you are not a regular in your own kitchen and want to make something special with restaurant quality ingredients then you really can't fault the Goose Box.