Home food delivery is one of the very few businesses that have actually thrived during the pandemic. The thousands of vans and scooters that constantly criss-cross the capital’s streets, delivering recipe boxes and takeaways, have become a regular feature of life under Covid.
But what about the fine dining market? Gourmands have been locked down and out of their favourite high-end restaurants, meaning that many of London’s finest eateries have had to pivot their operations to cater for a new business model where luxury is served up at home. And whilst nothing can replace the thrill of going out somewhere special to eat on a Friday or Saturday evening, several upscale establishments have come up with an experience that, for the moment at least, is almost as good as being in the restaurant itself.
So, forget bingeing in front of the telly with a curry or pizza that’s been schlepped across town on the back of a moped. It’s time to put on those glad rags, get the best cutlery out and light a candle or two. Dinner is served and your table awaits.
For the serious foodie: Elystan Street
Serial award-winner Phil Howard is often described in the press as ‘the chef’s chef’. He doesn’t have his own reality TV show and you won’t see him fooling about in the celebrity gossip pages but that’s because he’s too busy getting on with the serious business of “delivering pleasure through harmony of flavours” as he puts it.
Arguably one of the finest chefs in the world, his restaurants have won multiple Michelin stars over the years and Elystan Street in Chelsea is no exception. Their cook-at-home hampers, which aim to replicate the excitement of unwrapping an exquisite gift, actually require very little cooking at all; just a little re-heating here and a bit of sauce drizzling there to add the finishing touch to one or two of the dishes.
My own hamper reflected the typically unfussy approach – putting quality of ingredients and taste above all else – which Phil is famous for. I chose the cured Cornish sea bream with dressed fennel, tardivo, blood orange, olive oil and chilli for starter, followed by haunch of venison with roasted pear, celeriac, sprout tops, red wine and pickled walnut. My dining companion opted for the salad of marinated mushrooms with shaved cauliflower, garlic leaf pesto and Marcona almonds, followed by salt baked celeriac with winter greens, calcot onions and truffle and hazelnut pesto.
Dessert was a delightfully light and delicate ‘Islands’ chocolate mousse with nut clusters and candied orange, rounded off with a cheese board served alongside walnut bread and a spiced pear chutney. Forget TV dinners; this is superlative food from a real master chef.
elystanstreet.com / 020 7628 5005
For the sushi connoisseur: Hot Stone
Chef-patron Padam Raj Rai has over 19 years’ experience in Japanese cuisine, having worked at some of the UK’s most prestigious restaurants including Nobu, Zuma and Tsukiji in Mayfair where he was head chef. His Islington eatery, Hot Stone, which is one of only seven in the country to serve certified Kobe beef (those are the cattle who get massaged and fed beer whilst listening to classical music – although apparently that’s all just a myth!), was voted Best DIY restaurant in London by the Evening Standard and will be joined at the end of February by a sister branch in Windmill Street, Fitzrovia.
My delivery was an Instagrammer’s dream, featuring an omakase box wrapped in a covetable Japanese-print furoshiki cloth, containing beautifully presented pieces of nigiri and maki laid out in elegant rows. There were mouth-watering cuts of delicately marbled Wagyu beef tataki, perfect rolls of prized fatty tuna topped with truffle and caviar as well as a scallop carpaccio and slices of tender butterfish sashimi served with home-made truffle and onion ponzu salsa. Side dishes included a spinach gomae as well as preserved pickles and vegetables plus a variety of soy sauces ranging from three to 30 years old, all brewed by the Okada family of Japan in a century-old cedar barrel. Oishii!
hotstonelondon.com / 020 3302 8226
For the king or queen of bling: Novikov
Russian restaurateur Arkady Novikov’s three-storey Mayfair emporium has long been famed as one of the places to see and be seen in the capital. And, like the restaurant itself, its Novikov 2 Go menu offers both Asian and Italian cuisine fit for a king or queen (or oligarch). Everything about their home delivery service shouts premium, from the boutique-like bags that the driver hands over (printed with ‘Novikov’ in big, bold lettering so your neighbours are in no doubt that you’re a person of wealth and taste) to the finely crafted chopsticks and logo-embossed containers that contain your aspirational aperitifs. I adored the one called ‘Don’t Call Me Baby’ made with Ketel One vodka, peach bitters and honey water.
Unlike some fashionable haunts, however, Novikov is not a case of style over substance. This is seriously good food, prepared and presented with passion and care. My steak tartare, from the Italian starters section – and quite unusual to see on a home delivery menu – was total and utter perfection whilst the roast truffle duck, served as an Asian main dish with duck fried rice, was decadent bliss.
Article Source: Luxury Lifestyle Magazine