Food Restaurant 'dine at home' boxes

St John and Dishpatch strike again....

My St John guinea fowl pie box has just arrived, but without the guinea fowl pie in it :rolleyes: there are various add ons in the box, not all of which I actually ordered, but no bloody pie!!

Much as I've enjoyed (most of) these, I think I might bow out at this point, it's reaching the point of being more hassle than it's worth.
I don't think I've ever had anything via Dishpatch, but they do seem to have more issues than most.

I had another Aktar last week (and am still eating it): only ordered it a few days before - I was getting a bit frustrated by looking at the Aktar at Home menus, thinking "I need that" only to find he'd sold out for the two weeks whatever it was was on, so I'm pleased he's sorted out capacity (though I hope order numbers aren't dropping off, having opened his new delivery kitchen). Several of the Aktar dishes this time have been notably spicy-hotter than in the early days, so I wonder if they've decided they can be braver.

Aktar at Home is still remarkable value. I was thinking about getting another delivey from Arabica, as they were really good in lockdowns, but by the time I'd put a few things in the basket, it was up to £140, so I abandoned that.
Did you have to go the toilet together? Do they have enough toilets to be able to do one per table, or is the "Russell" label just coincidental?

I struggle to see how they will keep going long term with just 16 covers max.

I finally ventured out the other day to the Parkers Arms (might do a separate post): I'm not sure how many covers they have now: it's fewer than they used to have, but it's a lot more than 16, and they've had to put prices up, and expect to have to put them up again before too long (though rising ingredient costs also play a part).
we were allowed to go separately
as it happens the 2 tables who were staying were asked to use the facilities in their room which are just on the left as you enter the restaurant. They also have 3 cubicles and yes each table had their own cubicle.
I suspect they do 12 covers x3 days and seem very happy with that. Money is not an issue I think.
they are opening two more rooms very soon and then it might become even more difficult to get a table.
it is a place to visit at least once. The menu doesn’t appear to have changed very much in 2 years so I wouldn’t go often
they are fully booked in the restaurant and rooms until October I think. The odd cancellation they get is filled very easily via social media

Tom Cannavan

The Modu box was OK. It's like all the Nico food in my experience. Wouldn't repeat it at full price, and would think twice (or three times) even with a substantial discount..

Aktar Smokey leg of lamb this evening with friends. A pretty large leg so will be eating this for a few days I suspect!

Opened a DDC Rouge 2002 which is ok but not quite right. I’ve had a few of these and this has a slight metallic/acidic taste. Other bottles have been quite soft and silky.

To go with the lamb and curry dishes I have opened a few bottles of Chave St Joseph Offerus 2016.
Another box from Lima last night.

Salmon ceviche was really excellent. Tbh it was more of a sashimi really, as the mango tiger's milk was served as a central puddle rather than actually curing the salmon. Nice texture from charred baby corn and raw okra, and a very good corn tuile.

Main was slightly disappointing, despite a very good piece of Iberica Presa, the demi glace and celeriac puree were a bit ordinary. There was also a side dish of pickled aubergine, which Vicki enjoyed but I found far too vinegary with a kimchi-like fermented flavour (I don't really like that kind of thing). The purple mayonnaise looked funky but didn't actually taste of anything.

Dessert was really superb, basically a brioche pain perdu served with a silky milk chocolate mousse. The pain perdu was slightly crisp and sticky on the outside and perfectly gooey in the centre. Unfortunately I forgot to photograph this...

Wine wise, we had this pair of trusty old faithfuls:

Instead of a dessert wine, I thought this banana rum would work well with the dish:

It actually was excellent with it IMO, though it has zero rum flavour and just tastes very strongly of bananas. Vicki absolutely hated it and said it was undrinkable, so I guess it isn't for everyone!

Tom Cannavan

I think I said a few weeks back that I'd been tempted to give one of Nico's £65 boxes just one more try by a £20 voucher that plopped onto my virtual doormat. To say it was a disaster is an understatement. Each of the four courses was smashed and mashed to a pulp - see photos below. Naturally I complained and the upshot was a voucher for £65 appeared. So I am spending it next week on a different box, but to be honest, I think it is certainly the end of the road for me and Nico, though I may be tempted by a Lima or Aktar, niether of which I have tried so far. On the left of each photo is what you purchase, on the right is what arrives. Please note instructions for potato terrine (picture #1) are to "lift terrine gently with a spatula. Be careful not to break". Also beetroot wellington and trifle for your enjoyment.



Our Home by Nico box was smashed to bits too (months ago), we had the same trifle and it was just totally destroyed. Tasted OK though. I assume it's still in the same stylish-but-unfit-for-purpose flat box??

Tom Cannavan

Our Home by Nico box was smashed to bits too (months ago), we had the same trifle and it was just totally destroyed. Tasted OK though. I assume it's still in the same stylish-but-unfit-for-purpose flat box??

Exactly the same. I told them first time round that it looked great but is a terrible idea for something meant to survive transport by the average courier. I wonder how many other people have advised the same?

Out of interest, the box I have just ordered with my £65 voucher is their "Amalfi coast" meal which, in their own mailshot, the claim was "enjoyed by 60,000 customers" last time it was on offer. Even if we assume one box is two customers, that's still a pretty astonishing number. The trick will be what the attrition rate is if people have the same experience that we have had....
That’s pretty bashed about, Tom. Last one of those we had was serviceable at half price, and it was only the trifle that was bashed about a little. I note their new chippy box claims to have been enjoyed by 500,000 — maybe they count all the servings in their restaurants as well as mail order, but even so…

On a happier note, we risked a couple of Tommy Banks boxes this month, our first return since the mushy puréed pie travesty of last year. Really very pleasantly surprised with the meals built around guinea fowl and poached cod both proving very decent.

We’re trying another Rogan one at the weekend…

Tom Cannavan

In the interest of fairness I should say that the 'Amalfi Coast' box that we got free thanks to mashup-gate above was probably our favourite Nico box yet. Crucially we had this in Glasgow and watched the delivery man carefully carry it, right way up, from van to door where he wished me a "happy dinner". Other meals have been delivered to us in Fife were the delivery guy basically throws it from a moving van.

As usual with Nico, there was nothing brilliant in the box, but it was all tasty, competent and arrived in tact. A starter of of aranci with a really nice fennel salad and a lemon gel was probably the best bit, but another lemony-flavoured take on trifle was very good. The main was a bit odd: some quite good slow-roast rump of lamb with mounds of accompaniments including a bean stew and risotto. I am left thinking you really could do just as well with an M&S "dine in for 2" deal for £12, but it makes a change.
We ordered a Mucca Wellington for my Mums birthday a couple of weeks ago. Ordered a couple of months in advance. One of the large ones to feed 12. On the day of delivery we didn’t hear anything and then eventually got a message from Mucca explaining that our delivery had been lost by DPD! Obviously not Mucca’s fault, but we were left running around on the Saturday trying to find a suitable centrepiece for the dinner. Unfortunately we had to do a lot more prep than we’d bargained for! One of the pitfalls of home deliveries I suppose. Full refund was processed quickly, but didn’t make up for the inconvenience
Rogan at home on Thursday — very decent and of restaurant quality. It is nice to be able to come down from ‘the office’ and have a smarter decent meal to go with some wine and an occasion with really only getting on the plate to worry about, and minimal prep/reheating time or washing up. A different solution to one’s own cooking, but an equally valid one occasionally.

An artichoke first course, pork main (shown pre-sauce) and muscovado and pear pudding…

Duly ordered as part of stay at home celebrations next weeked. Added the truffle, as Mrs C has a penchant for them.
Any wine matching recommendations, Simon?
Red burg went well with the first and main courses. We had CLF Chambolle 17 that had the right profile, but aim for something a bit more mature and sous-bois / autumnal flavours rather than vibrant red fruit.
Barring the fact Karen & I don't have much of an appreciation of artichoke, a thoroughly enjoyable meal: flavoursome & good textures. Straightforward to prepare.
Accompanied by a couple of wines.
I really enjoyed the Chambolle, Karen was less impressed. Maybe a younger Pommard or Vosne would have been a better match. The Dönnhoff was an excellent accompaniment to dessert.
  • 2009 Alain Hudelot-Noellat Chambolle-Musigny - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chambolle-Musigny (15/01/2022)
    Depth to classic colour; expressive, composed, stylish bouquet; lovely shape to palate, a meaty depth. Proper Chambolle. The angularity might be tricky for some but not for me. (91 pts.)
[*]2007 Dönnhoff Schloßböckelheimer Felsenberg Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel - Germany, Nahe (15/01/2022)
Pale gold; acacia honey, tropical notes including pineapple which carries through to the palate; slips down a treat, kiss of botrytis evident, med-sweet, neatly balanced; exquisite & effortless finish. (92 pts.)
Posted from CellarTracker

I'm always interested to see how H-Ns village wines are these days, they were a staple here around the turn of the millenium when they were still remarkably inexpensive. They were almost invariably delicious and equally invariably for more or less immediate consumption. I imagine they have changed considerably.
I drank 3 bottles of HN Chambolle '13 on my trip, the first (on the day the wines arrived) was pokey, angular and not great.

The second was much better with the fruit present and a much better sense of harmony.

The third, and final bottle of my trip, was the best of all. More energy and a sense of completeness.

Funnily enough I have both of the wines in Mark C's note above so will pop an '09 at some point too.