It won’t be long before restaurants and pubs start welcoming back customers after the end of lockdown. Outdoor hospitality will reopen on 12 April while indoor hospitality reopens on 17 May.
Ahead of that though many outlets across London will still be preparing delicious meals which can be delivered to your door.
Here is our pick of the bunch, from the high end to the cheap and cheerful.
Dinner at Home by Heston
There is no getting around it – Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner at Home is not cheap. But on the other hand, having a meal from one of the country’s greatest ever chefs delivered to your own home probably shouldn’t be. And what a meal it is – five courses of deliciousness and invention, featuring highlights of the famed west London restaurant’s menu. In fact, there are two menus to choose from, one with meat, one strictly vegetarian.
The star of the show on the meaty menu is the ingenious “meat fruit” (pictured) – a dish that looks like a mandarin orange, but when sliced open reveals a chicken liver and foie gras parfait core. It was initially developed at Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck restaurant, but became a centrepiece at Dinner.
Having been lucky enough to have had a few of meat fruits during several happy visits to Dinner back in the days when one could do things like visit restaurants, we instead opted for the fully vegetarian feast, which was filled with delights, including a saffron-infused risotto with pickled beetroot, a truffle parfait served deceptively simply on toast, and a main course of caramelised cauliflower, with charred broccoli and a wonderfully smoky shiitake dressing.
Both the menus culminate in the dessert that underpins the experience of being in the restaurant: tipsy cake with spit-roast pineapple. When it is open, Dinner features gears and pulleys all around the room which all lead back to the kitchen where a vast spitroast turns pineapples the whole night long; a foretaste of the restaurant’s signature dessert – and a frivolous conceit in its own right.
Dinner at Home isn’t available all the time – the restaurant picks special dates to offer its service. The next one is Easter, so mark it on the diary and get your order in early. It isn’t cheap, but it is most definitely worth it. £160 per person; dinnerbyheston.co.uk
The Chesterfield Mayfair’s Pies & Puds
Launched to celebrate British Pie Week (an important fixture on everyone’s calendar), The Chesterfield Mayfair quickly realised it had struck on genius with its home delivery Pies & Puds. The two workaday dishes have been here transformed into a more elegant affair, while still retaining their comfort food sensibility. The pies we tried came beautifully presented with a lovely glaze atop the Jacob’s ladder short rib and stichelton pie, and crunchy poppy seeds sprinkled over the roast chicken, truffle and chestnut mushroom pie.
Both came served with a side of buttery mashed potato, peas and richly hued heritage carrots, and a generous glug of gravy (matched, obviously, to your pie of choice). There would be more than enough food here for most hearty appetites even before you turn to the second half of the menu: the puds.
We opted for the sticky toffee pudding and a bread and butter pudding. Both arrive with thick oozing sauces – butterscotch and Gran Marnier respectively – and again the portions are hugely generous.
For a splash of extra indulgence, why not add a matched beer to your order, as we did. I mean it is British Pie Week, right? Oh wait, that’s over. Thankfully, however, The Chesterfield’s Pies & Puds delivery looks set to run and run. Prices start from £15 per pie and £10 per pudding; the-chesterfield-mayfair.slerp.com
Sushi lives or dies by its freshness, and Hot Stone’s “omakaze” experience ensures the very freshest rolls possible, given (when the place is open) their chefs prepare everything right in front of you, delivering your food straight to your plate. The ceremony of omakaze may not be directly reproducible in the restaurant’s home dining experience, but the spirit certainly is, and from the moment you open your delivery box, the freshness is immediately apparent.
Beautifully presented sushi pop with colour and variety. There is just so much here to admire, from popular classics with a modern twist such as Scottish salmon that has been glazed with three-year aged soy sauce, to gourmand’s favourites such as uni (sea urchin sushi) and fatty tuna with truffle and caviar. Each an exquisite mouthful, created carefully.
The meat is equally spectacular; Hot Stone is one of only eight restaurants in the UK to sell certified Kobe beef and their Wagyu is also delicious. The fat in Wagyu has a melting point lower than body temperature, meaning it quite literally melts in your mouth. The vegetarian dishes are also worthy of mention. In his review for The Telegraph, William Sitwell described the restaurant’s aubergine as being “so good that I would fight you for it”. Well challenge accepted, Mr Sitwell, I’ll see you on the eggplant battlefield.
Hot Stone also delivers cocktails which are well worth including in your order, the pick of the bunch is the Ume Martini with two types of sake (including plum sake, delicious) and a splash of Ketel One vodka. The only thing the restaurant can’t deliver are its hot stones, used in their Ishiyaki experience where punters cook on rocks at their own tables. For those we will have to wait until the end of lockdown. A date you will likely find us queuing at Hot Stone’s door. hotstonelondon.com
Everyone has their favourite pizza joint; a go-to restaurant discovered through years of carbohydrate-rich investigation and deliciously tomatoey refinement. Trying to break down that commitment would be tantamount to cheating. Yet every now and then a new place comes along that is worth throwing everything in the air for.
Napoli Gang’s pizzas present just such a challenge. The menu features impossible-to-resist offerings such as the “Hot in Here” pizza, an unctuous combination of nduja, tarragon, red onions, and salame piccante. Or the “Ninja Turtles truffle” – surely a more sophisticated pizza than the pies favoured by Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michelangelo – featuring ricotta and mascarpone, marinated grilled artichokes and lashings of fresh seasonal truffle.
The Gang’s starters and desserts are equally as good, including a world-class bolognese arancini, and if you have any room whatsoever, the “Lemon Pie XXL” is true to its name – a tower of meringue, stretching skyward. The Week would never advocate infidelity, but surely a little flirtation with a new pizza joint wouldn’t hurt anyone, would it? napoligang.co.uk
Hakkasan at Home
If you have ever dined at Hakkasan it is hard to imagine enjoying the food at home. Its menu seems intimately intertwined with its gorgeous interior design and sophisticated service. And yet much of the magic lingers in the home delivery experience.
The Week opted for the Dragon Menu for two which opens with the restaurant’s immaculately rendered dim sum, including a superb langoustine har gau with Prunier caviar. A tough act to follow, but the dumplings are yet upstaged by a series of knock-out mains including a rich black truffle roasted duck, lean-as-you-like rib eye beef in black bean sauce, and the restaurant’s rightly famed roasted silver cod in champagne and honey. I had doubts about how the fish in particular would travel – we needn’t have worried.
Turn the lights down and you are transported to Mayfair via Shanghai. The meal ends with an entire box of festive-themed macarons courtesy of Hakkasan’s sister restaurant Yauatcha – think gingerbread and mulled wine. If Michelin judges tested takeaway, they might be tempted to dole out stars to Hakkasan at Home. hakkasan.com
Rosa’s Thai Cafe
There is a lot of average Thai food on offer in north London, so when news came through that a new branch of Rosa’s Thai Cafe had opened in Finsbury Park not too far from this reviewer’s home, Tier 3 suddenly began to feel rather more survivable.
The menu is a whip through the best of Thailand, including – inevitably – chicken satay, Massaman curry and Pad Thai. But it is all done with precision and freshness, with flavours that zing with individuality rather than bleeding into one another, and evident freshness everywhere.
Vegetables crunch, fruit is fresh and the meat lean and well-cooked. Plus the portions are somehow just the right size, generous but unlikely to leave you feeling as though you have massively overdone it. And with branches scattered all over London, there is simply no reason to eat poor quality Thai takeaway anymore. rosasthaicafe.com
Barbecue obsessive David Carter opened Smokestak in 2016, following years of hard graft on the festival and street-food scene. Not every food truck operator with dreams of glory made it, but Carter’s attention to detail and evident love of fire and smoke turned his humble brisket bun into something resembling high art. No wonder his cult following; no wonder the successful transition to a fixed location restaurant.
Now, Covid has turned things around again with Smokestak’s barbeque hitting the road again, though this time it doesn’t come in a truck, but is delivered straight to your door via the restaurant’s pre-order service (available Friday and Saturday).
It is hard to go wrong here, from the glistening pork belly ribs to the 30-day dry-aged beef rib. There are veggie dishes here too that are worth a look in, such as the unctuous salt baked beetroot, with goat cheese and hazelnut, and not-quite-vegetarian options like the mushrooms on toast with beef dripping gravy.
Yes, this is largely a carnivore’s paradise – and it is hard to imagine how meat could be better respected or more thoughtfully prepared than this. smokestak.co.uk
One of the joys of eating at Park Chinois is the restaurant’s retro chic French/Asian Chinoiserie, not to mention on weekends the live music and stage shows. Also, is there a finer spot in London for people watching?
Last time The Week visited we were seated next to the UK’s then foreign secretary and a tableful of what we can only assume were Instagram influencers. And while the lavish decor and human traffic can’t be enjoyed at home, the spectacular dumplings certainly can.
Available via Supper and Deliveroo seven days a week, the expansive menu by chef Lee Che Liang offers everything from wasabi prawns and kimchi to vegetable spring rolls and the restaurant’s popular Duck de Chine. Or if you can’t choose, just pick from one of the four set menus on offer, which range from £45 for one to a massive family-style spread for four to share at £440. parkchinois.com
Benares’ takeaway menu is extensive and includes a wide range of tandoor dishes, curries, and biryanis as well as a selection of the restaurant’s exquisite signatures. Add to that a rotating list of specials of the day and there is plenty of deliciousness to choose from.
The Week tried the tasting menu for two, which offered a host of highlights, including a superb prawn kasundi – a marinated tandoor grilled prawn which travels surprisingly well – and an unctuous rogan josh, perfect for a cold winter’s night. The black dahl was also superb, as were the pair of soft, milky Gulab Jamun which finished the meal.
It isn’t cheap, as you might expect from a top-notch restaurant located in Mayfair, but the quality is sublime, the portion sizes very generous and the home delivery experience flawless. benaresrestaurant.com
From the team behind Michelin-starred east end restaurant Lyle’s and spin-off wine bar Flor, ASAP Pizza offers New York-style pies made with heritage British wheats and topped with exceptional produce. ASAP only delivers on Sundays (when Flor’s kitchen is otherwise closed) but it is worth putting a date in your diary and ending the weekend right.
The menu includes Flor head chef Pamela Yung’s much-loved signatures including the Porco Rosso with red pesto, mortadella, stracciatella and guindillas; Spice Grrl, with tomato and ’nduja sauce, caciocavallo, honey, sicilian oregano; and the Marg & Rita with tomato sauce, mozzarella, basil, and spenwood.
Lyle’s and Flor can do no wrong, and their classy pizzas are no exception. asap.pizza
There was a time when eating burgers meant a choice between McDonald’s or Burger King. Then everything changed and the “dude food” revolution dragged the humble burger into the mid- to upper-echelons of takeaway. Among the best to join the revolution was Honest Burgers which has quickly become a contemporary classic due to its high-quality meats and of course its scrumptious rosemary chips.
Now, the chain’s burgers can be delivered right to your door – a small upside of the pandemic. It is hard to go past the eponymous Honest burger with its red onion relish and smoked bacon, but the veggie alternatives are also exceptional. The coleslaw is also a must. honestburgers.co.uk
On the face of it, pasta is one of the world’s simplest and most democratic dishes. It is readily available, light on the wallet, and easy to prepare. And yet the gulf between good pasta and the merely adequate stuff you might whip up at home on a bog-standard Wednesday night can be vast.
This is where Officina 00 comes in. Not only can fresh pasta be delivered straight to your door that you can then finish yourself, Officina 00 also now offers its superb menu as takeaway, so all you need to do is open and eat. We tried the aubergine parmigiana and a burrata to start, both of which were cheesy appetite boosters, then a corzetti (a kind of flying saucer-shaped pasta) with sausage, mushroom and port and a pumpkin gnocchi, rich with gorgonzola.
The portion sizes are not massive, but the flavours are spectacular. If you are hungry/greedy, like us, you might want to order a bit too much. officina00.co.uk