In our household we would consider ourselves to be ‘good home cooks’, so when looking for a treat it was with some scepticism that I looked at the pictures on the website and felt we could recreate exactly what Simon Rogan at home was offering – the real restaurant experience. There were two choices of 3 course menu – both of which looked equally delicious – so now daydreaming about when we could finally start to eat out again I went ahead and booked through the online system.
We were able to choose which day our food parcel would be delivered and after having been given an hour’s time slot the day before we were kept updated about when it would actually arrive – it came when expected. On arrival, from an eco point of view, although the food was vaccum sealed in plastic (undoubtedly unavoidable to keep the food really fresh), attention had been paid to the recyclable cardboard packaging and sheepswool insulation material in the box.
Impressively, there was a QR code printed on the front of the menu and after having taken a photo of this with the iphone, a short film popped up with a brief demonstration of how to prepare each dish. The technology was easy to use but if you prefer old-school options, the printed instructions were also clear and concise. So, information downloaded, it was time for us to have a go.
The stage was set. The table had been laid properly with linen napkins, we had dug out a couple of candles and had even changed out of lockdown loungewear. You can book to receive a specially curated wine flight to match the menu but I decided to order a bottle of Exton Park’s excellent English Sparkling Rosé as an optional extra, knowing that this was a wine that would work well with a multitude of food options, so we poured a couple of glasses to get the evening going. Hopefully the food would live up to our expectations.
The starter was a beetfoot and orange cured salmon with pickles. Delivery packaging to plate was approximately 2 minutes and yes it did look remarkably like the picture on the website – we even managed to make the quenelles of the crème fraiche bavarois roughly the right shape. All the ingredients had remained wonderfully fresh, inviting and flavoursome. The acidity of the Exton Park Rose paired beautifully with the richness of the salmon. One third of the way into the meal and at this point we both felt that this really was a treat and not just a high-end takeaway.
Before eating our starter we had put the glazed shortrib with confit shallot into the oven for the 15 minutes required and now a delicous smell was filling the house. We had opted for the added extra of truffle pudding on the side so whilst G plated the beef and I quickly fried off the four cubes of pudding. A quick warm through of the turnip purée, a spoonful black truffle purée on top of the truffle pudding and course 2 was ready to go. This is where the dining experience suddenly went up to the next level and by now we were both feeling rather smug that again the dish looked as it did online. It is the small details that you feel that are difficult to achieve without professional training and a kitchen full of specialist gadgets. The shortrib of beef was melt in the mouth with a glossy rich sauce but it was the truffle purée that had that unmistakable powerful luxurious lingering flavour that told us this was not your average meal. And who could believe that the humble turnip could be turned into something so unctuous and inviting? We were now convinced. Minus attentive waiting staff and the joy of a change of scene we really were experiencing the pleasure of fine dining.
The meal ended with a sticky date, poached pears and vanilla cream – a couple of minutes to heat up the pudding and caramel sauce, place the pears on top with another go at the quenelle – this time with the vanilla cream. A sumptuously moist pudding and perfectly poached pears that were impressively fresh after having been packaged and transported. Again, the Exton Park Rosé came into its own with this dish, having enough body and depth of fruit to balance with the rich pudding and acidity to cut through the cream and caramel.
Nothing can fully recreate the pleasure of the restaurant experience. However, when our choices are currently limited this is as good as it gets. Mr Rogan – we raise a glass to you and the team who have spread your culinary joy to households around the country and we both agreed that this was a highlight of the last year. As we wiped the last crumbs from around our mouths it was a lovely feeling to think that we didn’t have to book a cab or negotiate who was going to drive. We just topped our glasses up with some more Exton Park and relaxed into the rest of the evening.
Three courses at £45 per person
Truffle Pudding at £8 per person
Exton Park Rosé NV at £35
Total inc wine & delivery: £141
#supporthospitality Not only will you be in for a real treat but by buying a restaurant meal at home but you can enjoy the comfort of knowing that you are supporting the hospitality trade. And my goodness – it needs all the help it can get at the moment.