We would be the first ones to argue that nothing can truly beat a home-cooked meal, skillfully created and lovingly prepared. Sometimes, however, you and your partner just want to change into comfy inactive-wear, open a bottle of Ribera del Duero, recline on the sofa, review your restaurant apps… and order in for a relaxing “lockdown date night”.
The COVID era of curfews and other social confinements has not only transformed the kitchen/dining area into an even more important hub of communal family life, but also revolutionised restaurant home delivery services and menus.
No longer does it have to come down to a decision between the customary takeway pizza, curry or sushi. Today, there are multi-course restaurant banquets, gourmet DIY kits, dessert smörgåsbords and elaborate cocktail ensembles.
Ideal if you are tired of cooking but still want something a little more extravagant than a basic burger, kebab or fish and chips… or if neither of you is exactly Masterchef material, even after several months of enforced practice.
They are also an excellent option for wedding anniversary parties if you somehow found yourself volunteering to do the catering after a few drinks too many one night, then started panicking the next morning while nursing a monumental hangover and recalling your misplaced enthusiasm from the evening before.
To avoid having to dwell too long on the subject, and your menu choices, you could mix-and-match from various different sources, and conveniently cater for all diverse tastes and dietary requirements.
New trends in home delivery and restaurant kits are becoming more creative and innovative throughout the world, but here for starters we check out a selection of the best wedding anniversary feasts for couples in the UK…
D&D London at Home
Several top D&D London restaurants – including Coq d’Argent, Sartoria, Orrery, Radici and 14 Hills – offer home meal kits featuring dishes and menus that are updated from week to week and are available by courier delivery around the UK. The meals arrive prepared, marinated and in portions, and “only” have to be re-arranged, re-heated or (in some cases, such as cod) cooked from the raw ingredients. Most couples, with the possible exception of those who also struggle with IKEA furniture conundrums, should have little trouble putting together the kits.
For the forthcoming Easter period, they include a lamb rack kit from 14 Hills, comprising a starter of pork, rabbit and apricot terrine, frisse and herb salad, cornichons and sourdough bread; a mains of herb-crusted four-bone rack of lamb, glazed carrots, potato dauphinoise, fricassee of peas and baby gem lettuce and mint lamb jus: and, for dessert, pineapple tarte tatin, spiced caramel sauce and crème fraîche, plus petit fours.
Alternatively, from Coq d’Argent you could indulge yourselves with: starters – seven bouquet prawns, homemade mayonnaise and lemon, duck liver ballotine, fig chutney and homemade brioche, and smoked salmon, blinis and crème fraîche; mains – Pyrenees milk-fed leg of lamb, gratin dauphinoise, garlic and rosemary jus; and dessert and petit fours – baked chocolate soufflé tart, crème anglaise, and dark chocolate truffles, opera cake and chocolate macaroons.
Vegetarian and vegan dishes are also available from the participating restaurants, including Sartoria’s saffron brioche bread, pasqualina cake, peas and marjoram sauce (antipasti), smoked burrata tortelli, Amalfi lemon and sun-blushed tomatoes (primo), spring vegetable stuffed peppers and Grana Padano fondue (secondo), and cherry and pistachio tart with almond sauce (dolce).
Offering delivery services from a diverse array of leading restaurants around the UK, Dishpatch provides fully-prepared and ready-to-go meals, with all the cooking and preparation done by chefs and delivered cold, in insulated boxes, on Fridays. The kits can then be finished at home, following simple heating and serving instructions.
One popular option is Som Saa’s Thai red curry feast, “a vibrant sharing menu designed to balance the sweet, spicy and salty flavours of Thai cooking”. The kit includes miang of rosella leaf, crispy shrimp, northern Thai sausage, aubergine relish, green papaya salad, red beef sirloin curry and jasmine rice, and (for dessert) mango and coconut caramel sweets and sticky-rice toasted oolong tea.
Another excellent, easy-to-prepare dish for the home is Marksman’s spring chicken pie, comprising spring pea and lovage soup, potted hot smoked salmon and milk loaf, chicken and wild garlic pie, Cornish new potatoes and chervil butter, baby gem salad, and hot chocolate pudding and hazelnut custard.
Après Food Co.
Committed to “making healthy living exceptionally tasty and easy”, Après Food Co. brings together the expertise of nutritionists and chefs to create health-focused “Better Box” options that have the added benefit of helping to improve sleep, clarity of mind and immunity.
“We believe food should have the power to make us feel amazing every day,” they explain, “so we created Après to encourage everyone to ‘Make Friends with Food’… The food you eat and how you feel are inextricably linked. We’re here to help make that connection – between the food we’re eating and how we are feeling – easy to understand and easy to introduce sustainably into a busy lifestyle.”
Après Food Co.’s meals are all hand-crafted, and they also offer recipe kits (cauliflower pilau rice, chocolate chunk and banana cake and sticky toffee) and pantry items (including gluten-free bread, organic dark coconut blossom syrup, barbecue sauce and red pepper chilli jam).
Coya en Casa
Currently only available across London, Coya en Casa offers a Peruvian-Japanese fusion “Weekend Feast Box” for home delivery. The four-course finish-at-home menu is ideal for two people, and includes aperitifs, ceviche, tiraditos, and a choice of two main courses with sides and a dessert – all “easy to finish at home”.
For Easter, the “Almuerzo de Pascua” is a four-course home luncheon feast including a ready-to-pour lavender and honey cocktail, a bottle of Champagne, red or white wine, and a choice of two main courses (from baked sea bream, duck leg and braised lamb rump), with a lemon meringue pie for dessert – and a chocolate egg for each guest.
The ingredients used for meal kits prepared by Lyle’s Provisions are sourced from farmers and producers “who follow ethical and sustainable practices”. The restaurant says it also focuses on ingredients that are more difficult to obtain. “We then work hard to maximise and focus the flavours of those ingredients and we hope the honesty of the process shines through on the plate… We buy what is best in any given season. We don’t waste any by-products and we find ways to incorporate them back into the food.”
The Lyle’s Provisions “Easter Box” features Cornish cull yaws (slow-cooked mutton shoulders and neck, and loin and leg cuts prepared to roast), a steamed mussel dish that only takes five minutes to prepare, and new-season white asparagus from the Loire. For dessert… chocolate tart and crème fraîche, rhubarb pastille and brown butter cake.
One Fine Dine
After providing executive and private aviation dining options for a decade, On Air Dining was expanded to cover homes, boardrooms and exclusive events through One Fine Dine. DIY dining kits can be delivered seven days a week within London areas and the Home Counties, while orders elsewhere are sent out with next-day courier partners and are available for delivery Tuesday-Saturday.
All meals are delivered fresh and chilled, with “easy-to-follow heating and plating instructions on video or printed cards, making the whole experience fun and interactive for you and the whole family”.
Plus… Moore House Cocktail Company
Of course, any of these gourmet food kits prepared and served alone would be missing at least one vital ingredient. Apart from the wine (which can be included in most restaurant orders or arranged from another source), cocktails will add an even more sumptuous touch to wedding anniversary celebrations – or other lockdown date nights.
Moore House Cocktail Company offers a range of pre-mixed cocktails, as well as cocktail gift sets with three ready-made cocktails or a personalised cocktail for the ultimate luxury present.
Even though preparing great cocktails can be part of the fun, notes Moore House, “there does come a point when the investment and time becomes a serious challenge. That’s where Moore House steps in. You need do little more than open the bottle. We prepare handcrafted cocktails made with the highest quality ingredients so all you need for the perfect cocktail is the right glass, the right ice and the right garnish. We can’t emphasise enough how important these three elements are to your enjoyment of the perfect cocktail at home.”
- Main photo by Fran Hogan on Unsplash
- Thai red curry – Photo by emy on Unsplash
- Bread loaf – Image by Couleur from Pixabay
- Easter eggs – Image by silviarita from Pixabay
- Vegetables – Photo by Sharon Pittaway on Unsplash
- Kitchen – Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash