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Coronavirus and Cooking: Bring Your Restaurant Favorites Home With These Meal Kits

Coronavirus and Cooking: Bring Your Restaurant Favorites Home With These Meal Kits


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Photo Courtesy Kings BBQ Restaurant

What is a meal kit anyway?

Photo Courtesy Veselka

Meal kits are packaged, pre-portioned food items shipped from a restaurant to a customer's doorstep. In most cases — like pizzas and desserts— the food is assembled for preparation, frozen to retain quality, and requires heating or baking to recreate the dish you love most. And when meats are involved, throwing it on the grill or using the stovetop is necessary to attain a delicious, savory taste.

Bartolini’s (Chicago, Illinois)

Photo Courtesy Bartolini's

If you miss dining at your favorite pizza joint on Chicago-style favorites like gooey deep-dish pizza and saucy meatball submarines, Bartolini's Restaurant offers a meal kit. Located on the South Side of Chicago, Bartolini’s has been dishing up noteworthy pizzas and meatballs since 1995. The restaurant’s kit gives home cooks across the nation a choice between a four-pack deep-dish and thin-crust combo, or mix things up with a thin-crust pizza and meatball combo pack at bartolinis.com.

Trejo’s Tacos (Los Angeles, California)

Photo Courtesy Trejo's Tacos

Before making legendary tacos, actor Danny Trejo was most known for starring in famous Hollywood films like “Con Air,” “Once Upon A Time In Mexico” and the “Spy Kids” movies. Now, with Los Angeles-based Trejo’s Tacos, he’s serving up some of America's best tacos. You can bring a taste of Trejo’s Tacos home with the carnitas, barbacoa or vegan jackfruit taco kits. Find yours at trejostacos.com/tacostogo.

Southside Market & Barbeque (Elgin, Texas)

Photo Courtesy Southside Market & Barbeque

Texas is famous for many of its iconic recipes like Texas barbecue. When you’re craving savory sauces and smoked meats, Southside Market & Barbeque could have the meal kit you need. Nationwide, customers can order goods like the Sausage Sampler Pack or the Texas Trinity Gift Set, a combination of sausage, brisket and ribs. More than 10 barbecue sets are available at southsidemarket.com.

Commander's Palace (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Photo Courtesy Commander's Palace

Famous for resembling an enchanting castle and serving some of the most iconic dishes in New Orleans, Commander’s Palace is offering meal kits so guests can feel like a king or queen even when eating on their couches in pajamas. The award-winning restaurant is selling three-course dinner meal kits with garlic bread, turtle soup, bacon-braised cabbage, quail, sugarcane molasses glaze and a pecan pie. Choose your next dinner at commanderspalace.com.

St. Elmo Steak House (Indianapolis, Indiana)

Photo Courtesy St. Elmo Steak House

St. Elmo Steak House is one of the best steakhouses in America. And now, whether you live in Indianapolis or not, you can bring a piece of the steak house to your home. Use St. Elmo’s meal kits to cook up dinners like a New York strip and shrimp cocktail for two or a filet and shrimp cocktail for four. While you're at it, try to spot a mention on "Parks and Recreation," a great happy show to stream during the coronavirus pandemic. St. Elmo's shrimp cocktails and steaks can be purchased at store.stelmos.com.

Veselka (New York City, New York)

Photo Courtesy Veselka

For over 60 years, Veselka — which means “rainbow” in Ukrainian — has delighted residents of New York City’s East Village with authentic Ukrainian favorites. Pierogies, borscht and goulash are just a few of the treats served fresh at this cozy coffee shop. Customers across the nation can bring these Ukrainian comfort dishes to their homes thanks to Veselka’s meal kits. Choose between a complete Ukrainian dinner kit, a grilling pack, three dozen pierogies or veal goulash, among many other options at veselka.com/store.

Ugly Drum (Los Angeles, California)

Photo Courtesy Ugly Drum

The Ugly Drum in Los Angeles is where you go to curb the ultimate pastrami craving. Ugly Drum’s pastrami is taken from USDA prime briskets, brined in a seasoning blend for a few days and pit-smoked for at least 10 hours. Pastrami lovers can choose from packages like the Ugly Buns "Burnt End" Sandwich Kit with over a pound of burnt ends and 8 ounces of sauce. Ugly Drum's pit-smoked pastrami can be ordered at uglydrum.com.

Detroit Style Pizza Co. (Detroit, Michigan)

Photo Courtesy Detroit Style Pizza

You don’t have to live in Detroit to taste some of the best pizza in the country. Named “World’s Best Pizza” at the 2012 International Pizza Expo, Detroit Style Pizza Co. is selling pizza kits for delivery nationwide. Pizza kit options range from Motown Meat Supreme to classic cheese. Purchase all the pizza you could ever need at detroitstylepizza.co.

Topsail Steamer (Surf City, North Carolina)

Photo Courtesy Topsail Steamer

Nationwide, seafood lovers can enjoy fresh Signature Bay Buckets prepared by Topsail Steamer. This North Carolina establishment is best known for creating steamer pots, a mix of local seafood, meats, vegetables and homemade seasonings that you can steam at home. Buyers can choose between seven Signature Bay Buckets, like the Low Country Shrimp or the Crabby Jimbo Steamer Pot. And to make it taste just as if it was cooked in the Topsail Steamer kitchen, buyers can choose seasonings to add to their kit that range from Cajun to herbal blend. Fulfill those seafood cravings at topsailsteamer.com/how-it-works.

Kings BBQ Restaurant (Kinston, North Carolina)

Photo Courtesy Kings BBQ Restaurant

If you’re prone to making grilling mistakes and want to leave most of the work to the pros, Kings BBQ Restaurant may be able to help. Founded more than 75 years ago, Kings is a Kinston, North Carolina, barbecue hotspot. Available meal kits include the Carolina Oink Sampler — a combination of hand-chopped pork barbecue, pork ribs, Brunswick stew, vegetables of your choice, hushpuppies and King’s Delight BBQ sauce. Or opt for the Meat Lover’s Special — pounds of ribs, sausages and hand-chopped pork. King's savory meal kits are available at kingsbbq.com/shop/.

Buona (Multiple locations, Illinois and Indiana)

You don’t have to live in the place nicknamed the Windy City to enjoy a Chicago-style Italian Beef. Buona, known for creating “the original Italian beef” more than 30 years ago, offers Italian beef kits for lovers of the sandwich nationwide. The kit includes 4 pounds of beef and gravy, eight french rolls and a jar of Giardiniera peppers. Get your Buona beefs shipped nationwide at buona.com/shop-and-ship/.

Katz’s Delicatessen (New York City, New York)

Photo Courtesty Katz's Deli

Katz’s Delicatessen is a legendary restaurant that has been a staple in Manhattan's Lower East Side neighborhood for 132 years. Katz’s is known for whipping up pastrami sandwiches, ladling matzo ball soup and dishing out fried knish. Although the restaurant is not open to dine-in, Katz’s fans around the nation can still grab a bite from the East Coast favorite. Shoppers can order complete three-course dinners, Reuben packages, miniature latkes and more. Bring New York to your doorstep by visiting katzsdelicatessen.com/shipping.html.

Honolulu Fish Company (Honolulu, Hawaii)

You don’t have to travel to the colorful beaches of Hawaii to order a catch of the day. The Honolulu Fish Company delivers premium Hawaiin fish to your doorstep. When you want to get creative with your fish, the Ichiban Home Sushi Kit is the perfect way to recreate your sushi favorites with the entire family. Find today's catch at honolulufish.com/collections/.

Parkway Bakery and Tavern (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Even if you don’t live in Louisiana, you can still enjoy a po’boy sandwich from New Orleans favorite Parkway Bakery and Tavern, which has been serving up the sandwiches for more than a century. Now you can bring one of the most iconic foods from Louisiana to your dinner table. Meal kit options include roast beef po’boy dinners, and chicken and sausage jambalaya. Ship your po'boy meal kit at parkwaypoorboys.com.

Coney I-Lander (Tulsa, Oklahoma)

Coney I-Lander has been serving coneys — a grilled wiener in a perfectly steamed bun covered in chili — for more than 50 years. Coney I-Lander has, arguably, one of the best hotdogs in America. Wherever you live in the U.S., you can bring a taste of this Tulsa staple to your home. Recreate the famed dog with the coney dog kit or mix things up with the coney dog and Frito pie combo kit at coneyi-lander.com/about/.

Vienna Beef Hot Dogs (Chicago, Illinois)

Hot dogs are the perfect quick dinner dish that’ll remind you of your childhood with every bite. When you want a Chicago-style hotdog, you can turn to Vienna beef. The Chicago-style hot dog kit brings a Chicago favorite to your doorstep — relish and celery salt included. And when you want to learn how to cook up a hot dog like the pros, Vienna Beef has an online step-by-step tutorial. Order your Chicago-style hot dog at viennabeef.com/shop-now/.

Mike’s Pastry (Boston, Massachusetts)

A homemade cannoli is a dessert recipe that is difficult, but will impress. With the cannoli kit from Mike’s Pastry, one of the best dessert shops in America, you can dazzle your family without all the work. Sold nationwide, the kit includes cannoli shells, chocolate chips, pistachio nuts, confectioner’s sugar and your choice of plain or chocolate ricotta cheese filling. And if you want to diversify your dessert tray, Mike’s Pastry also has lobster tail kits, assorted macaroons, ricotta pie and more. Order tasty pastries for your home at mikespastry.com.

I Trulli (New York City, New York)

East Coasters know that I Trulli Ristorante in New York City is great for authentic, fine Italian dining. Experience the handmade pasta with meal kits that include Sunday Meatballs and the Gnocchi Dinner. Bring home Nonna Dora's dinners by visiting itrulli.com.

Jack Stack BBQ (Kansas City, Missouri)

Jack Stack BBQ/Yelp

From smoked ends to slabs of barbecue ribs with gooey macaroni and cheese and baked beans, Jack Stack BBQ in Kansas City, Missouri, has a myriad of meal kits to fulfill your barbecue needs. Jack Stack BBQ delivers a taste of Kansas City straight to the door of barbecue enthusiasts at jackstackbbq.com/category/sides-bbq-sauces-rubs.

Tony Boloney's (Hoboken, New Jersey)


At-home meal kits: the gift of your favourite restaurant during lockdown

L eft completely to my own culinary devices during Lockdown 1.0, I forlornly accepted that, despite my collection of recipe books that threatens one day to topple and half-kill me, my kitchen routine revolves around the same four or so recipes, two of them featuring pasta bow-ties in some sort of slippery sauce. I may once have been a ferocious screen-grabber of recipes, saved to make “when there’s more time”, but what March-August 2020 taught me was that no amount of languorous house arrest would see me acquiring, scraping and braising my own artichokes, or fashioning a beurre noisette at 6pm, after I’d spent the day waving a Wi-Fi router in the air and mooing like a cow.

And how Elite Bistros’ beef dish looked once the Dents had had their way with it. Photograph: The Dent family/The Guardian

Home-delivery restaurant kits weren’t quite a thing back then, and sometimes lockdown dinner was just a handful of dried fruit out of the packet, eaten standing by the sink. Or a large bowl of Nestlé Curiously Cinnamon with oat milk: these vibrant, sunset-coloured, exhilaratingly sweet bullets of carbohydrate with a zippy, maltodextrin kick are an utterly perfect transference of solace and hope directly into the gullet.

Thank heavens, then, that this time around, hundreds of restaurants across the UK have plotted ways to stay in my life. The delivery kit era is here, with names such as Hoppers, Dishoom, Patty & Bun, Padella – in fact, anyone who is anyone in the food world – joining in. Some are offering more of a ready-meal scenario: I’ve already got Indonesian chef Lara Lee’s kit on order for next week, greedily bagsying two, because I want my fridge full for a week with recipes from her book Coconut & Sambal spiced corn fritters, sweet potato satay, nasi goreng and plenty of tomato sambal. Many other kits, meanwhile, require a little chopping, frying and building to bring out your locked-down soul’s inner René Redzepi.

Elite Bistros at Home’s sumac-roasted cauliflower with almonds.

The Elite Bistros’ boxes, for example, are like an emergency delivery of happiness to anyone who is missing the Sunday pub lunch. I sent my younger brother the braised featherblade of beef, creamed potato and glazed carrot package, bunging in a banana loaf to stack up with candied pecans and clotted cream.

Elite Bistros’ banana loaf with butterscotch sauce, candied pecans and clotted cream, as constructed by the Dents.

There are Instagram videos to show you the ropes if the instructions are too taxing. Rarely – in fact, never – have I felt so appreciated as a sibling, and heavy hints have already been dropped about Elite Bistros’ “Christmas Day Boxed Off” kits, which chef Gary Usher and the team behind, among others, Sticky Walnut in Chester and Hispi in Didsbury will send out filled with turkey (or stuffed butternut squash) and all the trimmings it also features potted mackerel with sourdough crisps, a very boozy Christmas pudding with cultured brandy butter and some pistachio fudge.

Back in April, I’ll admit to thinking that most, if not all, of these DIY kits were costly and gimmicky, the final gasps of good restaurants fighting for survival. Why, I grumbled, would anyone want to pay “going out” prices to stay in and build their own bao, say? And could a Smokestak beef brisket bun ever taste the same when you’re eating it in your living room with a row of pants drying on a radiator?

Meatliquor’s chilli hotdog – how it’s meant to look …

But I’ll eat those words. I now cannot quite imagine the restaurant landscape without them, even when things do get back to “normal”. Brands can these days reach places they’d never previously dreamed of. A week or so back, I spent an evening making Meatliquor’s chilli dogs (vegan dogs are also available) in a remote corner of the Lake District National Park, when, at the best of times, I’d have had to drive 116 miles to Manchester for anything remotely like this sort of high-quality, fancy hotdog loaded with chilli, jalapeños and onion.

… and Meatliquor’s chilli dog as assembled by the Dents.

The Meatliquor kit – like all the others currently being despatched nationwide – allows us to send the gift of a night out at our favourite restaurants to those who are shielding, or who live miles away from a city, or who have recently had a baby, or who are just gloriously antisocial. It’s a genuinely useful present that sparks joy in even the grouchiest heart and supports an industry that’s on its knees. The £30 hotdogs at-home box contains four large white rolls and five Big Apple beef hotdogs, because they assume you’ll mess one of them up, which made me smile, because I did.

Sure, many of these kits require a modicum of grunt work in the kitchen, but the results are impressive, especially once you’ve daubed French’s American mustard in “a tight zigzag” over your DIY dog. Incidentally, I advise getting some of Meatliquor’s pre-bottled cocktails, too, especially the one called Game Over, because it contains vodka, rum, tequila, triple sec and absinthe, and because I can think of no better way to totter merrily through Lockdown 2.0. The good news is, it’s not game over for restaurants just yet.


At-home meal kits: the gift of your favourite restaurant during lockdown

L eft completely to my own culinary devices during Lockdown 1.0, I forlornly accepted that, despite my collection of recipe books that threatens one day to topple and half-kill me, my kitchen routine revolves around the same four or so recipes, two of them featuring pasta bow-ties in some sort of slippery sauce. I may once have been a ferocious screen-grabber of recipes, saved to make “when there’s more time”, but what March-August 2020 taught me was that no amount of languorous house arrest would see me acquiring, scraping and braising my own artichokes, or fashioning a beurre noisette at 6pm, after I’d spent the day waving a Wi-Fi router in the air and mooing like a cow.

And how Elite Bistros’ beef dish looked once the Dents had had their way with it. Photograph: The Dent family/The Guardian

Home-delivery restaurant kits weren’t quite a thing back then, and sometimes lockdown dinner was just a handful of dried fruit out of the packet, eaten standing by the sink. Or a large bowl of Nestlé Curiously Cinnamon with oat milk: these vibrant, sunset-coloured, exhilaratingly sweet bullets of carbohydrate with a zippy, maltodextrin kick are an utterly perfect transference of solace and hope directly into the gullet.

Thank heavens, then, that this time around, hundreds of restaurants across the UK have plotted ways to stay in my life. The delivery kit era is here, with names such as Hoppers, Dishoom, Patty & Bun, Padella – in fact, anyone who is anyone in the food world – joining in. Some are offering more of a ready-meal scenario: I’ve already got Indonesian chef Lara Lee’s kit on order for next week, greedily bagsying two, because I want my fridge full for a week with recipes from her book Coconut & Sambal spiced corn fritters, sweet potato satay, nasi goreng and plenty of tomato sambal. Many other kits, meanwhile, require a little chopping, frying and building to bring out your locked-down soul’s inner René Redzepi.

Elite Bistros at Home’s sumac-roasted cauliflower with almonds.

The Elite Bistros’ boxes, for example, are like an emergency delivery of happiness to anyone who is missing the Sunday pub lunch. I sent my younger brother the braised featherblade of beef, creamed potato and glazed carrot package, bunging in a banana loaf to stack up with candied pecans and clotted cream.

Elite Bistros’ banana loaf with butterscotch sauce, candied pecans and clotted cream, as constructed by the Dents.

There are Instagram videos to show you the ropes if the instructions are too taxing. Rarely – in fact, never – have I felt so appreciated as a sibling, and heavy hints have already been dropped about Elite Bistros’ “Christmas Day Boxed Off” kits, which chef Gary Usher and the team behind, among others, Sticky Walnut in Chester and Hispi in Didsbury will send out filled with turkey (or stuffed butternut squash) and all the trimmings it also features potted mackerel with sourdough crisps, a very boozy Christmas pudding with cultured brandy butter and some pistachio fudge.

Back in April, I’ll admit to thinking that most, if not all, of these DIY kits were costly and gimmicky, the final gasps of good restaurants fighting for survival. Why, I grumbled, would anyone want to pay “going out” prices to stay in and build their own bao, say? And could a Smokestak beef brisket bun ever taste the same when you’re eating it in your living room with a row of pants drying on a radiator?

Meatliquor’s chilli hotdog – how it’s meant to look …

But I’ll eat those words. I now cannot quite imagine the restaurant landscape without them, even when things do get back to “normal”. Brands can these days reach places they’d never previously dreamed of. A week or so back, I spent an evening making Meatliquor’s chilli dogs (vegan dogs are also available) in a remote corner of the Lake District National Park, when, at the best of times, I’d have had to drive 116 miles to Manchester for anything remotely like this sort of high-quality, fancy hotdog loaded with chilli, jalapeños and onion.

… and Meatliquor’s chilli dog as assembled by the Dents.

The Meatliquor kit – like all the others currently being despatched nationwide – allows us to send the gift of a night out at our favourite restaurants to those who are shielding, or who live miles away from a city, or who have recently had a baby, or who are just gloriously antisocial. It’s a genuinely useful present that sparks joy in even the grouchiest heart and supports an industry that’s on its knees. The £30 hotdogs at-home box contains four large white rolls and five Big Apple beef hotdogs, because they assume you’ll mess one of them up, which made me smile, because I did.

Sure, many of these kits require a modicum of grunt work in the kitchen, but the results are impressive, especially once you’ve daubed French’s American mustard in “a tight zigzag” over your DIY dog. Incidentally, I advise getting some of Meatliquor’s pre-bottled cocktails, too, especially the one called Game Over, because it contains vodka, rum, tequila, triple sec and absinthe, and because I can think of no better way to totter merrily through Lockdown 2.0. The good news is, it’s not game over for restaurants just yet.


At-home meal kits: the gift of your favourite restaurant during lockdown

L eft completely to my own culinary devices during Lockdown 1.0, I forlornly accepted that, despite my collection of recipe books that threatens one day to topple and half-kill me, my kitchen routine revolves around the same four or so recipes, two of them featuring pasta bow-ties in some sort of slippery sauce. I may once have been a ferocious screen-grabber of recipes, saved to make “when there’s more time”, but what March-August 2020 taught me was that no amount of languorous house arrest would see me acquiring, scraping and braising my own artichokes, or fashioning a beurre noisette at 6pm, after I’d spent the day waving a Wi-Fi router in the air and mooing like a cow.

And how Elite Bistros’ beef dish looked once the Dents had had their way with it. Photograph: The Dent family/The Guardian

Home-delivery restaurant kits weren’t quite a thing back then, and sometimes lockdown dinner was just a handful of dried fruit out of the packet, eaten standing by the sink. Or a large bowl of Nestlé Curiously Cinnamon with oat milk: these vibrant, sunset-coloured, exhilaratingly sweet bullets of carbohydrate with a zippy, maltodextrin kick are an utterly perfect transference of solace and hope directly into the gullet.

Thank heavens, then, that this time around, hundreds of restaurants across the UK have plotted ways to stay in my life. The delivery kit era is here, with names such as Hoppers, Dishoom, Patty & Bun, Padella – in fact, anyone who is anyone in the food world – joining in. Some are offering more of a ready-meal scenario: I’ve already got Indonesian chef Lara Lee’s kit on order for next week, greedily bagsying two, because I want my fridge full for a week with recipes from her book Coconut & Sambal spiced corn fritters, sweet potato satay, nasi goreng and plenty of tomato sambal. Many other kits, meanwhile, require a little chopping, frying and building to bring out your locked-down soul’s inner René Redzepi.

Elite Bistros at Home’s sumac-roasted cauliflower with almonds.

The Elite Bistros’ boxes, for example, are like an emergency delivery of happiness to anyone who is missing the Sunday pub lunch. I sent my younger brother the braised featherblade of beef, creamed potato and glazed carrot package, bunging in a banana loaf to stack up with candied pecans and clotted cream.

Elite Bistros’ banana loaf with butterscotch sauce, candied pecans and clotted cream, as constructed by the Dents.

There are Instagram videos to show you the ropes if the instructions are too taxing. Rarely – in fact, never – have I felt so appreciated as a sibling, and heavy hints have already been dropped about Elite Bistros’ “Christmas Day Boxed Off” kits, which chef Gary Usher and the team behind, among others, Sticky Walnut in Chester and Hispi in Didsbury will send out filled with turkey (or stuffed butternut squash) and all the trimmings it also features potted mackerel with sourdough crisps, a very boozy Christmas pudding with cultured brandy butter and some pistachio fudge.

Back in April, I’ll admit to thinking that most, if not all, of these DIY kits were costly and gimmicky, the final gasps of good restaurants fighting for survival. Why, I grumbled, would anyone want to pay “going out” prices to stay in and build their own bao, say? And could a Smokestak beef brisket bun ever taste the same when you’re eating it in your living room with a row of pants drying on a radiator?

Meatliquor’s chilli hotdog – how it’s meant to look …

But I’ll eat those words. I now cannot quite imagine the restaurant landscape without them, even when things do get back to “normal”. Brands can these days reach places they’d never previously dreamed of. A week or so back, I spent an evening making Meatliquor’s chilli dogs (vegan dogs are also available) in a remote corner of the Lake District National Park, when, at the best of times, I’d have had to drive 116 miles to Manchester for anything remotely like this sort of high-quality, fancy hotdog loaded with chilli, jalapeños and onion.

… and Meatliquor’s chilli dog as assembled by the Dents.

The Meatliquor kit – like all the others currently being despatched nationwide – allows us to send the gift of a night out at our favourite restaurants to those who are shielding, or who live miles away from a city, or who have recently had a baby, or who are just gloriously antisocial. It’s a genuinely useful present that sparks joy in even the grouchiest heart and supports an industry that’s on its knees. The £30 hotdogs at-home box contains four large white rolls and five Big Apple beef hotdogs, because they assume you’ll mess one of them up, which made me smile, because I did.

Sure, many of these kits require a modicum of grunt work in the kitchen, but the results are impressive, especially once you’ve daubed French’s American mustard in “a tight zigzag” over your DIY dog. Incidentally, I advise getting some of Meatliquor’s pre-bottled cocktails, too, especially the one called Game Over, because it contains vodka, rum, tequila, triple sec and absinthe, and because I can think of no better way to totter merrily through Lockdown 2.0. The good news is, it’s not game over for restaurants just yet.


At-home meal kits: the gift of your favourite restaurant during lockdown

L eft completely to my own culinary devices during Lockdown 1.0, I forlornly accepted that, despite my collection of recipe books that threatens one day to topple and half-kill me, my kitchen routine revolves around the same four or so recipes, two of them featuring pasta bow-ties in some sort of slippery sauce. I may once have been a ferocious screen-grabber of recipes, saved to make “when there’s more time”, but what March-August 2020 taught me was that no amount of languorous house arrest would see me acquiring, scraping and braising my own artichokes, or fashioning a beurre noisette at 6pm, after I’d spent the day waving a Wi-Fi router in the air and mooing like a cow.

And how Elite Bistros’ beef dish looked once the Dents had had their way with it. Photograph: The Dent family/The Guardian

Home-delivery restaurant kits weren’t quite a thing back then, and sometimes lockdown dinner was just a handful of dried fruit out of the packet, eaten standing by the sink. Or a large bowl of Nestlé Curiously Cinnamon with oat milk: these vibrant, sunset-coloured, exhilaratingly sweet bullets of carbohydrate with a zippy, maltodextrin kick are an utterly perfect transference of solace and hope directly into the gullet.

Thank heavens, then, that this time around, hundreds of restaurants across the UK have plotted ways to stay in my life. The delivery kit era is here, with names such as Hoppers, Dishoom, Patty & Bun, Padella – in fact, anyone who is anyone in the food world – joining in. Some are offering more of a ready-meal scenario: I’ve already got Indonesian chef Lara Lee’s kit on order for next week, greedily bagsying two, because I want my fridge full for a week with recipes from her book Coconut & Sambal spiced corn fritters, sweet potato satay, nasi goreng and plenty of tomato sambal. Many other kits, meanwhile, require a little chopping, frying and building to bring out your locked-down soul’s inner René Redzepi.

Elite Bistros at Home’s sumac-roasted cauliflower with almonds.

The Elite Bistros’ boxes, for example, are like an emergency delivery of happiness to anyone who is missing the Sunday pub lunch. I sent my younger brother the braised featherblade of beef, creamed potato and glazed carrot package, bunging in a banana loaf to stack up with candied pecans and clotted cream.

Elite Bistros’ banana loaf with butterscotch sauce, candied pecans and clotted cream, as constructed by the Dents.

There are Instagram videos to show you the ropes if the instructions are too taxing. Rarely – in fact, never – have I felt so appreciated as a sibling, and heavy hints have already been dropped about Elite Bistros’ “Christmas Day Boxed Off” kits, which chef Gary Usher and the team behind, among others, Sticky Walnut in Chester and Hispi in Didsbury will send out filled with turkey (or stuffed butternut squash) and all the trimmings it also features potted mackerel with sourdough crisps, a very boozy Christmas pudding with cultured brandy butter and some pistachio fudge.

Back in April, I’ll admit to thinking that most, if not all, of these DIY kits were costly and gimmicky, the final gasps of good restaurants fighting for survival. Why, I grumbled, would anyone want to pay “going out” prices to stay in and build their own bao, say? And could a Smokestak beef brisket bun ever taste the same when you’re eating it in your living room with a row of pants drying on a radiator?

Meatliquor’s chilli hotdog – how it’s meant to look …

But I’ll eat those words. I now cannot quite imagine the restaurant landscape without them, even when things do get back to “normal”. Brands can these days reach places they’d never previously dreamed of. A week or so back, I spent an evening making Meatliquor’s chilli dogs (vegan dogs are also available) in a remote corner of the Lake District National Park, when, at the best of times, I’d have had to drive 116 miles to Manchester for anything remotely like this sort of high-quality, fancy hotdog loaded with chilli, jalapeños and onion.

… and Meatliquor’s chilli dog as assembled by the Dents.

The Meatliquor kit – like all the others currently being despatched nationwide – allows us to send the gift of a night out at our favourite restaurants to those who are shielding, or who live miles away from a city, or who have recently had a baby, or who are just gloriously antisocial. It’s a genuinely useful present that sparks joy in even the grouchiest heart and supports an industry that’s on its knees. The £30 hotdogs at-home box contains four large white rolls and five Big Apple beef hotdogs, because they assume you’ll mess one of them up, which made me smile, because I did.

Sure, many of these kits require a modicum of grunt work in the kitchen, but the results are impressive, especially once you’ve daubed French’s American mustard in “a tight zigzag” over your DIY dog. Incidentally, I advise getting some of Meatliquor’s pre-bottled cocktails, too, especially the one called Game Over, because it contains vodka, rum, tequila, triple sec and absinthe, and because I can think of no better way to totter merrily through Lockdown 2.0. The good news is, it’s not game over for restaurants just yet.


At-home meal kits: the gift of your favourite restaurant during lockdown

L eft completely to my own culinary devices during Lockdown 1.0, I forlornly accepted that, despite my collection of recipe books that threatens one day to topple and half-kill me, my kitchen routine revolves around the same four or so recipes, two of them featuring pasta bow-ties in some sort of slippery sauce. I may once have been a ferocious screen-grabber of recipes, saved to make “when there’s more time”, but what March-August 2020 taught me was that no amount of languorous house arrest would see me acquiring, scraping and braising my own artichokes, or fashioning a beurre noisette at 6pm, after I’d spent the day waving a Wi-Fi router in the air and mooing like a cow.

And how Elite Bistros’ beef dish looked once the Dents had had their way with it. Photograph: The Dent family/The Guardian

Home-delivery restaurant kits weren’t quite a thing back then, and sometimes lockdown dinner was just a handful of dried fruit out of the packet, eaten standing by the sink. Or a large bowl of Nestlé Curiously Cinnamon with oat milk: these vibrant, sunset-coloured, exhilaratingly sweet bullets of carbohydrate with a zippy, maltodextrin kick are an utterly perfect transference of solace and hope directly into the gullet.

Thank heavens, then, that this time around, hundreds of restaurants across the UK have plotted ways to stay in my life. The delivery kit era is here, with names such as Hoppers, Dishoom, Patty & Bun, Padella – in fact, anyone who is anyone in the food world – joining in. Some are offering more of a ready-meal scenario: I’ve already got Indonesian chef Lara Lee’s kit on order for next week, greedily bagsying two, because I want my fridge full for a week with recipes from her book Coconut & Sambal spiced corn fritters, sweet potato satay, nasi goreng and plenty of tomato sambal. Many other kits, meanwhile, require a little chopping, frying and building to bring out your locked-down soul’s inner René Redzepi.

Elite Bistros at Home’s sumac-roasted cauliflower with almonds.

The Elite Bistros’ boxes, for example, are like an emergency delivery of happiness to anyone who is missing the Sunday pub lunch. I sent my younger brother the braised featherblade of beef, creamed potato and glazed carrot package, bunging in a banana loaf to stack up with candied pecans and clotted cream.

Elite Bistros’ banana loaf with butterscotch sauce, candied pecans and clotted cream, as constructed by the Dents.

There are Instagram videos to show you the ropes if the instructions are too taxing. Rarely – in fact, never – have I felt so appreciated as a sibling, and heavy hints have already been dropped about Elite Bistros’ “Christmas Day Boxed Off” kits, which chef Gary Usher and the team behind, among others, Sticky Walnut in Chester and Hispi in Didsbury will send out filled with turkey (or stuffed butternut squash) and all the trimmings it also features potted mackerel with sourdough crisps, a very boozy Christmas pudding with cultured brandy butter and some pistachio fudge.

Back in April, I’ll admit to thinking that most, if not all, of these DIY kits were costly and gimmicky, the final gasps of good restaurants fighting for survival. Why, I grumbled, would anyone want to pay “going out” prices to stay in and build their own bao, say? And could a Smokestak beef brisket bun ever taste the same when you’re eating it in your living room with a row of pants drying on a radiator?

Meatliquor’s chilli hotdog – how it’s meant to look …

But I’ll eat those words. I now cannot quite imagine the restaurant landscape without them, even when things do get back to “normal”. Brands can these days reach places they’d never previously dreamed of. A week or so back, I spent an evening making Meatliquor’s chilli dogs (vegan dogs are also available) in a remote corner of the Lake District National Park, when, at the best of times, I’d have had to drive 116 miles to Manchester for anything remotely like this sort of high-quality, fancy hotdog loaded with chilli, jalapeños and onion.

… and Meatliquor’s chilli dog as assembled by the Dents.

The Meatliquor kit – like all the others currently being despatched nationwide – allows us to send the gift of a night out at our favourite restaurants to those who are shielding, or who live miles away from a city, or who have recently had a baby, or who are just gloriously antisocial. It’s a genuinely useful present that sparks joy in even the grouchiest heart and supports an industry that’s on its knees. The £30 hotdogs at-home box contains four large white rolls and five Big Apple beef hotdogs, because they assume you’ll mess one of them up, which made me smile, because I did.

Sure, many of these kits require a modicum of grunt work in the kitchen, but the results are impressive, especially once you’ve daubed French’s American mustard in “a tight zigzag” over your DIY dog. Incidentally, I advise getting some of Meatliquor’s pre-bottled cocktails, too, especially the one called Game Over, because it contains vodka, rum, tequila, triple sec and absinthe, and because I can think of no better way to totter merrily through Lockdown 2.0. The good news is, it’s not game over for restaurants just yet.


At-home meal kits: the gift of your favourite restaurant during lockdown

L eft completely to my own culinary devices during Lockdown 1.0, I forlornly accepted that, despite my collection of recipe books that threatens one day to topple and half-kill me, my kitchen routine revolves around the same four or so recipes, two of them featuring pasta bow-ties in some sort of slippery sauce. I may once have been a ferocious screen-grabber of recipes, saved to make “when there’s more time”, but what March-August 2020 taught me was that no amount of languorous house arrest would see me acquiring, scraping and braising my own artichokes, or fashioning a beurre noisette at 6pm, after I’d spent the day waving a Wi-Fi router in the air and mooing like a cow.

And how Elite Bistros’ beef dish looked once the Dents had had their way with it. Photograph: The Dent family/The Guardian

Home-delivery restaurant kits weren’t quite a thing back then, and sometimes lockdown dinner was just a handful of dried fruit out of the packet, eaten standing by the sink. Or a large bowl of Nestlé Curiously Cinnamon with oat milk: these vibrant, sunset-coloured, exhilaratingly sweet bullets of carbohydrate with a zippy, maltodextrin kick are an utterly perfect transference of solace and hope directly into the gullet.

Thank heavens, then, that this time around, hundreds of restaurants across the UK have plotted ways to stay in my life. The delivery kit era is here, with names such as Hoppers, Dishoom, Patty & Bun, Padella – in fact, anyone who is anyone in the food world – joining in. Some are offering more of a ready-meal scenario: I’ve already got Indonesian chef Lara Lee’s kit on order for next week, greedily bagsying two, because I want my fridge full for a week with recipes from her book Coconut & Sambal spiced corn fritters, sweet potato satay, nasi goreng and plenty of tomato sambal. Many other kits, meanwhile, require a little chopping, frying and building to bring out your locked-down soul’s inner René Redzepi.

Elite Bistros at Home’s sumac-roasted cauliflower with almonds.

The Elite Bistros’ boxes, for example, are like an emergency delivery of happiness to anyone who is missing the Sunday pub lunch. I sent my younger brother the braised featherblade of beef, creamed potato and glazed carrot package, bunging in a banana loaf to stack up with candied pecans and clotted cream.

Elite Bistros’ banana loaf with butterscotch sauce, candied pecans and clotted cream, as constructed by the Dents.

There are Instagram videos to show you the ropes if the instructions are too taxing. Rarely – in fact, never – have I felt so appreciated as a sibling, and heavy hints have already been dropped about Elite Bistros’ “Christmas Day Boxed Off” kits, which chef Gary Usher and the team behind, among others, Sticky Walnut in Chester and Hispi in Didsbury will send out filled with turkey (or stuffed butternut squash) and all the trimmings it also features potted mackerel with sourdough crisps, a very boozy Christmas pudding with cultured brandy butter and some pistachio fudge.

Back in April, I’ll admit to thinking that most, if not all, of these DIY kits were costly and gimmicky, the final gasps of good restaurants fighting for survival. Why, I grumbled, would anyone want to pay “going out” prices to stay in and build their own bao, say? And could a Smokestak beef brisket bun ever taste the same when you’re eating it in your living room with a row of pants drying on a radiator?

Meatliquor’s chilli hotdog – how it’s meant to look …

But I’ll eat those words. I now cannot quite imagine the restaurant landscape without them, even when things do get back to “normal”. Brands can these days reach places they’d never previously dreamed of. A week or so back, I spent an evening making Meatliquor’s chilli dogs (vegan dogs are also available) in a remote corner of the Lake District National Park, when, at the best of times, I’d have had to drive 116 miles to Manchester for anything remotely like this sort of high-quality, fancy hotdog loaded with chilli, jalapeños and onion.

… and Meatliquor’s chilli dog as assembled by the Dents.

The Meatliquor kit – like all the others currently being despatched nationwide – allows us to send the gift of a night out at our favourite restaurants to those who are shielding, or who live miles away from a city, or who have recently had a baby, or who are just gloriously antisocial. It’s a genuinely useful present that sparks joy in even the grouchiest heart and supports an industry that’s on its knees. The £30 hotdogs at-home box contains four large white rolls and five Big Apple beef hotdogs, because they assume you’ll mess one of them up, which made me smile, because I did.

Sure, many of these kits require a modicum of grunt work in the kitchen, but the results are impressive, especially once you’ve daubed French’s American mustard in “a tight zigzag” over your DIY dog. Incidentally, I advise getting some of Meatliquor’s pre-bottled cocktails, too, especially the one called Game Over, because it contains vodka, rum, tequila, triple sec and absinthe, and because I can think of no better way to totter merrily through Lockdown 2.0. The good news is, it’s not game over for restaurants just yet.


At-home meal kits: the gift of your favourite restaurant during lockdown

L eft completely to my own culinary devices during Lockdown 1.0, I forlornly accepted that, despite my collection of recipe books that threatens one day to topple and half-kill me, my kitchen routine revolves around the same four or so recipes, two of them featuring pasta bow-ties in some sort of slippery sauce. I may once have been a ferocious screen-grabber of recipes, saved to make “when there’s more time”, but what March-August 2020 taught me was that no amount of languorous house arrest would see me acquiring, scraping and braising my own artichokes, or fashioning a beurre noisette at 6pm, after I’d spent the day waving a Wi-Fi router in the air and mooing like a cow.

And how Elite Bistros’ beef dish looked once the Dents had had their way with it. Photograph: The Dent family/The Guardian

Home-delivery restaurant kits weren’t quite a thing back then, and sometimes lockdown dinner was just a handful of dried fruit out of the packet, eaten standing by the sink. Or a large bowl of Nestlé Curiously Cinnamon with oat milk: these vibrant, sunset-coloured, exhilaratingly sweet bullets of carbohydrate with a zippy, maltodextrin kick are an utterly perfect transference of solace and hope directly into the gullet.

Thank heavens, then, that this time around, hundreds of restaurants across the UK have plotted ways to stay in my life. The delivery kit era is here, with names such as Hoppers, Dishoom, Patty & Bun, Padella – in fact, anyone who is anyone in the food world – joining in. Some are offering more of a ready-meal scenario: I’ve already got Indonesian chef Lara Lee’s kit on order for next week, greedily bagsying two, because I want my fridge full for a week with recipes from her book Coconut & Sambal spiced corn fritters, sweet potato satay, nasi goreng and plenty of tomato sambal. Many other kits, meanwhile, require a little chopping, frying and building to bring out your locked-down soul’s inner René Redzepi.

Elite Bistros at Home’s sumac-roasted cauliflower with almonds.

The Elite Bistros’ boxes, for example, are like an emergency delivery of happiness to anyone who is missing the Sunday pub lunch. I sent my younger brother the braised featherblade of beef, creamed potato and glazed carrot package, bunging in a banana loaf to stack up with candied pecans and clotted cream.

Elite Bistros’ banana loaf with butterscotch sauce, candied pecans and clotted cream, as constructed by the Dents.

There are Instagram videos to show you the ropes if the instructions are too taxing. Rarely – in fact, never – have I felt so appreciated as a sibling, and heavy hints have already been dropped about Elite Bistros’ “Christmas Day Boxed Off” kits, which chef Gary Usher and the team behind, among others, Sticky Walnut in Chester and Hispi in Didsbury will send out filled with turkey (or stuffed butternut squash) and all the trimmings it also features potted mackerel with sourdough crisps, a very boozy Christmas pudding with cultured brandy butter and some pistachio fudge.

Back in April, I’ll admit to thinking that most, if not all, of these DIY kits were costly and gimmicky, the final gasps of good restaurants fighting for survival. Why, I grumbled, would anyone want to pay “going out” prices to stay in and build their own bao, say? And could a Smokestak beef brisket bun ever taste the same when you’re eating it in your living room with a row of pants drying on a radiator?

Meatliquor’s chilli hotdog – how it’s meant to look …

But I’ll eat those words. I now cannot quite imagine the restaurant landscape without them, even when things do get back to “normal”. Brands can these days reach places they’d never previously dreamed of. A week or so back, I spent an evening making Meatliquor’s chilli dogs (vegan dogs are also available) in a remote corner of the Lake District National Park, when, at the best of times, I’d have had to drive 116 miles to Manchester for anything remotely like this sort of high-quality, fancy hotdog loaded with chilli, jalapeños and onion.

… and Meatliquor’s chilli dog as assembled by the Dents.

The Meatliquor kit – like all the others currently being despatched nationwide – allows us to send the gift of a night out at our favourite restaurants to those who are shielding, or who live miles away from a city, or who have recently had a baby, or who are just gloriously antisocial. It’s a genuinely useful present that sparks joy in even the grouchiest heart and supports an industry that’s on its knees. The £30 hotdogs at-home box contains four large white rolls and five Big Apple beef hotdogs, because they assume you’ll mess one of them up, which made me smile, because I did.

Sure, many of these kits require a modicum of grunt work in the kitchen, but the results are impressive, especially once you’ve daubed French’s American mustard in “a tight zigzag” over your DIY dog. Incidentally, I advise getting some of Meatliquor’s pre-bottled cocktails, too, especially the one called Game Over, because it contains vodka, rum, tequila, triple sec and absinthe, and because I can think of no better way to totter merrily through Lockdown 2.0. The good news is, it’s not game over for restaurants just yet.


At-home meal kits: the gift of your favourite restaurant during lockdown

L eft completely to my own culinary devices during Lockdown 1.0, I forlornly accepted that, despite my collection of recipe books that threatens one day to topple and half-kill me, my kitchen routine revolves around the same four or so recipes, two of them featuring pasta bow-ties in some sort of slippery sauce. I may once have been a ferocious screen-grabber of recipes, saved to make “when there’s more time”, but what March-August 2020 taught me was that no amount of languorous house arrest would see me acquiring, scraping and braising my own artichokes, or fashioning a beurre noisette at 6pm, after I’d spent the day waving a Wi-Fi router in the air and mooing like a cow.

And how Elite Bistros’ beef dish looked once the Dents had had their way with it. Photograph: The Dent family/The Guardian

Home-delivery restaurant kits weren’t quite a thing back then, and sometimes lockdown dinner was just a handful of dried fruit out of the packet, eaten standing by the sink. Or a large bowl of Nestlé Curiously Cinnamon with oat milk: these vibrant, sunset-coloured, exhilaratingly sweet bullets of carbohydrate with a zippy, maltodextrin kick are an utterly perfect transference of solace and hope directly into the gullet.

Thank heavens, then, that this time around, hundreds of restaurants across the UK have plotted ways to stay in my life. The delivery kit era is here, with names such as Hoppers, Dishoom, Patty & Bun, Padella – in fact, anyone who is anyone in the food world – joining in. Some are offering more of a ready-meal scenario: I’ve already got Indonesian chef Lara Lee’s kit on order for next week, greedily bagsying two, because I want my fridge full for a week with recipes from her book Coconut & Sambal spiced corn fritters, sweet potato satay, nasi goreng and plenty of tomato sambal. Many other kits, meanwhile, require a little chopping, frying and building to bring out your locked-down soul’s inner René Redzepi.

Elite Bistros at Home’s sumac-roasted cauliflower with almonds.

The Elite Bistros’ boxes, for example, are like an emergency delivery of happiness to anyone who is missing the Sunday pub lunch. I sent my younger brother the braised featherblade of beef, creamed potato and glazed carrot package, bunging in a banana loaf to stack up with candied pecans and clotted cream.

Elite Bistros’ banana loaf with butterscotch sauce, candied pecans and clotted cream, as constructed by the Dents.

There are Instagram videos to show you the ropes if the instructions are too taxing. Rarely – in fact, never – have I felt so appreciated as a sibling, and heavy hints have already been dropped about Elite Bistros’ “Christmas Day Boxed Off” kits, which chef Gary Usher and the team behind, among others, Sticky Walnut in Chester and Hispi in Didsbury will send out filled with turkey (or stuffed butternut squash) and all the trimmings it also features potted mackerel with sourdough crisps, a very boozy Christmas pudding with cultured brandy butter and some pistachio fudge.

Back in April, I’ll admit to thinking that most, if not all, of these DIY kits were costly and gimmicky, the final gasps of good restaurants fighting for survival. Why, I grumbled, would anyone want to pay “going out” prices to stay in and build their own bao, say? And could a Smokestak beef brisket bun ever taste the same when you’re eating it in your living room with a row of pants drying on a radiator?

Meatliquor’s chilli hotdog – how it’s meant to look …

But I’ll eat those words. I now cannot quite imagine the restaurant landscape without them, even when things do get back to “normal”. Brands can these days reach places they’d never previously dreamed of. A week or so back, I spent an evening making Meatliquor’s chilli dogs (vegan dogs are also available) in a remote corner of the Lake District National Park, when, at the best of times, I’d have had to drive 116 miles to Manchester for anything remotely like this sort of high-quality, fancy hotdog loaded with chilli, jalapeños and onion.

… and Meatliquor’s chilli dog as assembled by the Dents.

The Meatliquor kit – like all the others currently being despatched nationwide – allows us to send the gift of a night out at our favourite restaurants to those who are shielding, or who live miles away from a city, or who have recently had a baby, or who are just gloriously antisocial. It’s a genuinely useful present that sparks joy in even the grouchiest heart and supports an industry that’s on its knees. The £30 hotdogs at-home box contains four large white rolls and five Big Apple beef hotdogs, because they assume you’ll mess one of them up, which made me smile, because I did.

Sure, many of these kits require a modicum of grunt work in the kitchen, but the results are impressive, especially once you’ve daubed French’s American mustard in “a tight zigzag” over your DIY dog. Incidentally, I advise getting some of Meatliquor’s pre-bottled cocktails, too, especially the one called Game Over, because it contains vodka, rum, tequila, triple sec and absinthe, and because I can think of no better way to totter merrily through Lockdown 2.0. The good news is, it’s not game over for restaurants just yet.


At-home meal kits: the gift of your favourite restaurant during lockdown

L eft completely to my own culinary devices during Lockdown 1.0, I forlornly accepted that, despite my collection of recipe books that threatens one day to topple and half-kill me, my kitchen routine revolves around the same four or so recipes, two of them featuring pasta bow-ties in some sort of slippery sauce. I may once have been a ferocious screen-grabber of recipes, saved to make “when there’s more time”, but what March-August 2020 taught me was that no amount of languorous house arrest would see me acquiring, scraping and braising my own artichokes, or fashioning a beurre noisette at 6pm, after I’d spent the day waving a Wi-Fi router in the air and mooing like a cow.

And how Elite Bistros’ beef dish looked once the Dents had had their way with it. Photograph: The Dent family/The Guardian

Home-delivery restaurant kits weren’t quite a thing back then, and sometimes lockdown dinner was just a handful of dried fruit out of the packet, eaten standing by the sink. Or a large bowl of Nestlé Curiously Cinnamon with oat milk: these vibrant, sunset-coloured, exhilaratingly sweet bullets of carbohydrate with a zippy, maltodextrin kick are an utterly perfect transference of solace and hope directly into the gullet.

Thank heavens, then, that this time around, hundreds of restaurants across the UK have plotted ways to stay in my life. The delivery kit era is here, with names such as Hoppers, Dishoom, Patty & Bun, Padella – in fact, anyone who is anyone in the food world – joining in. Some are offering more of a ready-meal scenario: I’ve already got Indonesian chef Lara Lee’s kit on order for next week, greedily bagsying two, because I want my fridge full for a week with recipes from her book Coconut & Sambal spiced corn fritters, sweet potato satay, nasi goreng and plenty of tomato sambal. Many other kits, meanwhile, require a little chopping, frying and building to bring out your locked-down soul’s inner René Redzepi.

Elite Bistros at Home’s sumac-roasted cauliflower with almonds.

The Elite Bistros’ boxes, for example, are like an emergency delivery of happiness to anyone who is missing the Sunday pub lunch. I sent my younger brother the braised featherblade of beef, creamed potato and glazed carrot package, bunging in a banana loaf to stack up with candied pecans and clotted cream.

Elite Bistros’ banana loaf with butterscotch sauce, candied pecans and clotted cream, as constructed by the Dents.

There are Instagram videos to show you the ropes if the instructions are too taxing. Rarely – in fact, never – have I felt so appreciated as a sibling, and heavy hints have already been dropped about Elite Bistros’ “Christmas Day Boxed Off” kits, which chef Gary Usher and the team behind, among others, Sticky Walnut in Chester and Hispi in Didsbury will send out filled with turkey (or stuffed butternut squash) and all the trimmings it also features potted mackerel with sourdough crisps, a very boozy Christmas pudding with cultured brandy butter and some pistachio fudge.

Back in April, I’ll admit to thinking that most, if not all, of these DIY kits were costly and gimmicky, the final gasps of good restaurants fighting for survival. Why, I grumbled, would anyone want to pay “going out” prices to stay in and build their own bao, say? And could a Smokestak beef brisket bun ever taste the same when you’re eating it in your living room with a row of pants drying on a radiator?

Meatliquor’s chilli hotdog – how it’s meant to look …

But I’ll eat those words. I now cannot quite imagine the restaurant landscape without them, even when things do get back to “normal”. Brands can these days reach places they’d never previously dreamed of. A week or so back, I spent an evening making Meatliquor’s chilli dogs (vegan dogs are also available) in a remote corner of the Lake District National Park, when, at the best of times, I’d have had to drive 116 miles to Manchester for anything remotely like this sort of high-quality, fancy hotdog loaded with chilli, jalapeños and onion.

… and Meatliquor’s chilli dog as assembled by the Dents.

The Meatliquor kit – like all the others currently being despatched nationwide – allows us to send the gift of a night out at our favourite restaurants to those who are shielding, or who live miles away from a city, or who have recently had a baby, or who are just gloriously antisocial. It’s a genuinely useful present that sparks joy in even the grouchiest heart and supports an industry that’s on its knees. The £30 hotdogs at-home box contains four large white rolls and five Big Apple beef hotdogs, because they assume you’ll mess one of them up, which made me smile, because I did.

Sure, many of these kits require a modicum of grunt work in the kitchen, but the results are impressive, especially once you’ve daubed French’s American mustard in “a tight zigzag” over your DIY dog. Incidentally, I advise getting some of Meatliquor’s pre-bottled cocktails, too, especially the one called Game Over, because it contains vodka, rum, tequila, triple sec and absinthe, and because I can think of no better way to totter merrily through Lockdown 2.0. The good news is, it’s not game over for restaurants just yet.


At-home meal kits: the gift of your favourite restaurant during lockdown

L eft completely to my own culinary devices during Lockdown 1.0, I forlornly accepted that, despite my collection of recipe books that threatens one day to topple and half-kill me, my kitchen routine revolves around the same four or so recipes, two of them featuring pasta bow-ties in some sort of slippery sauce. I may once have been a ferocious screen-grabber of recipes, saved to make “when there’s more time”, but what March-August 2020 taught me was that no amount of languorous house arrest would see me acquiring, scraping and braising my own artichokes, or fashioning a beurre noisette at 6pm, after I’d spent the day waving a Wi-Fi router in the air and mooing like a cow.

And how Elite Bistros’ beef dish looked once the Dents had had their way with it. Photograph: The Dent family/The Guardian

Home-delivery restaurant kits weren’t quite a thing back then, and sometimes lockdown dinner was just a handful of dried fruit out of the packet, eaten standing by the sink. Or a large bowl of Nestlé Curiously Cinnamon with oat milk: these vibrant, sunset-coloured, exhilaratingly sweet bullets of carbohydrate with a zippy, maltodextrin kick are an utterly perfect transference of solace and hope directly into the gullet.

Thank heavens, then, that this time around, hundreds of restaurants across the UK have plotted ways to stay in my life. The delivery kit era is here, with names such as Hoppers, Dishoom, Patty & Bun, Padella – in fact, anyone who is anyone in the food world – joining in. Some are offering more of a ready-meal scenario: I’ve already got Indonesian chef Lara Lee’s kit on order for next week, greedily bagsying two, because I want my fridge full for a week with recipes from her book Coconut & Sambal spiced corn fritters, sweet potato satay, nasi goreng and plenty of tomato sambal. Many other kits, meanwhile, require a little chopping, frying and building to bring out your locked-down soul’s inner René Redzepi.

Elite Bistros at Home’s sumac-roasted cauliflower with almonds.

The Elite Bistros’ boxes, for example, are like an emergency delivery of happiness to anyone who is missing the Sunday pub lunch. I sent my younger brother the braised featherblade of beef, creamed potato and glazed carrot package, bunging in a banana loaf to stack up with candied pecans and clotted cream.

Elite Bistros’ banana loaf with butterscotch sauce, candied pecans and clotted cream, as constructed by the Dents.

There are Instagram videos to show you the ropes if the instructions are too taxing. Rarely – in fact, never – have I felt so appreciated as a sibling, and heavy hints have already been dropped about Elite Bistros’ “Christmas Day Boxed Off” kits, which chef Gary Usher and the team behind, among others, Sticky Walnut in Chester and Hispi in Didsbury will send out filled with turkey (or stuffed butternut squash) and all the trimmings it also features potted mackerel with sourdough crisps, a very boozy Christmas pudding with cultured brandy butter and some pistachio fudge.

Back in April, I’ll admit to thinking that most, if not all, of these DIY kits were costly and gimmicky, the final gasps of good restaurants fighting for survival. Why, I grumbled, would anyone want to pay “going out” prices to stay in and build their own bao, say? And could a Smokestak beef brisket bun ever taste the same when you’re eating it in your living room with a row of pants drying on a radiator?

Meatliquor’s chilli hotdog – how it’s meant to look …

But I’ll eat those words. I now cannot quite imagine the restaurant landscape without them, even when things do get back to “normal”. Brands can these days reach places they’d never previously dreamed of. A week or so back, I spent an evening making Meatliquor’s chilli dogs (vegan dogs are also available) in a remote corner of the Lake District National Park, when, at the best of times, I’d have had to drive 116 miles to Manchester for anything remotely like this sort of high-quality, fancy hotdog loaded with chilli, jalapeños and onion.

… and Meatliquor’s chilli dog as assembled by the Dents.

The Meatliquor kit – like all the others currently being despatched nationwide – allows us to send the gift of a night out at our favourite restaurants to those who are shielding, or who live miles away from a city, or who have recently had a baby, or who are just gloriously antisocial. It’s a genuinely useful present that sparks joy in even the grouchiest heart and supports an industry that’s on its knees. The £30 hotdogs at-home box contains four large white rolls and five Big Apple beef hotdogs, because they assume you’ll mess one of them up, which made me smile, because I did.

Sure, many of these kits require a modicum of grunt work in the kitchen, but the results are impressive, especially once you’ve daubed French’s American mustard in “a tight zigzag” over your DIY dog. Incidentally, I advise getting some of Meatliquor’s pre-bottled cocktails, too, especially the one called Game Over, because it contains vodka, rum, tequila, triple sec and absinthe, and because I can think of no better way to totter merrily through Lockdown 2.0. The good news is, it’s not game over for restaurants just yet.



Comments:

  1. Khnemu

    I apologize that I interfere, I too would like to express my opinion.

  2. Gardalar

    Here there's nothing to be done.

  3. Volmaran

    I mean, you allow the mistake. I can defend my position.

  4. Bernlak

    You are right, there is something in this. Thank you for the information, maybe I can also help you with something?

  5. JoJosar

    I believe there is always a possibility.



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