fter the isolation of this everlasting third lockdown, the upcoming Easter weekend is likely to feel a particularly special one. The rule of six is here, so friends can finally catch up again (the death of Zoom may be mercifully close), including in private gardens. Make it a weekend to remember with the capital’s top Easter treats, from legs of lamb to, er, Creme Egg brownies.
Falling in spring, Easter meals at their best are ones of fresh, green flavours, of salmon at its peak, of wild garlic and simmering roasts. While last year marked most meal kits getting into gear, this weekend starts a wind down as places turn their efforts to reopening on April 12. This will be the last of Ollie Dabbous’ successful Hide at Home, with the Mayfair spot plating up four-courses with Dabbous’ typical twists, including salmon cured with elderflower and roast lamb with the mint sauce swapped for salsa verde. It can be ordered until Easter Sunday for same-day delivery (£75pp, hide.co.uk).
There’s also no cut-off for Dinner by Heston, which is out for delivery on Sunday and Monday. The five-course menu includes Blumenthal’s signature “meat fruit” — chicken liver parfait that looks like an orange — as well as salmon, lamb and the extraordinary-looking Egg in Verjuice, inspired by a dish from 1730 (£160pp, dinnerbyheston.co.uk). Stoke Newington locals can collect the last of Alexis Noble’s Wander at Home boxes across the weekend; her Easter banquet includes burrata and honey ravioli with wild garlic, a slow-roasted lamb shoulder soaked with a lamb jus and a violet crumble cheesecake (£35pp, wanderxwine.com).
Those who can’t hang on a little longer for pub grub — albeit the Michelin-approved kind — should get an order in with The Marksman on Hackney Road before 4pm tomorrow. Pea and mint soup is followed by a lamb and potato pie, with seasonal wild garlic thrown in, and optional wine and cocktail pairings available (£65 for two, marksmanpublichouse.com). Optimistic types hoping the heatwave hangs around until the weekend, meanwhile, should swap pub comforts for grilled goodness: Smokestak is doing a choice of barbecued specials, including sausages, pulled pork with pickled cucumber and beef brisket. Whole smoked lamb shoulders and legs are available too. Last orders tonight at 8pm (from £65, boxedbysmokestak.co.uk).
The Spanish go big for Easter, so no surprise Iberica’s box is bursting. Their masterpiece is a milk fed roasted lamb, and it comes in a kit stuffed with hams, cheeses, salads, shrimp, octopus and more (£130 for two, ibericarestaurants.com). Last orders tomorrow. Le Swine, which turned hot cross buns into bacon sarnies, with the rashers slathered in bacon butter, has the same cut off (£15 for four buns, leswine.co.uk).
Those who get in quick will also make last call for any of the 14 Easter deliveries offered by the D&D group, with cut-off at midnight tonight. Our pick is Francesco Mazzei’s Italian-inspired feast from Savile Row’s Sartoria (£70pp), or Bluebird’s three-course lunch, where a rack of lamb comes with morels, wild garlic and potato gratin. There’s an impressive-looking egg, too (£38pp, both at-home.danddlondon.com).
1. Crosstown Spiced Hot Cross Bun Doughnuts
Not content with the classic hot cross bun line-up, Crosstown is debuting a limited-edition flavour sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. Using a spiced dough, each doughnut is filled with cinnamon custard, ladened with a Seville orange glaze and topped with a spiced cross and candied orange peel. Order alone or as part of the Easter selection boxes.
2. Jack and Beyond Easter Macarons
Macarons aren’t traditionally associated with Easter but when they look this good, we really don’t mind. Each is adorned with a cute baby animal motif and the almond-based treats are delicate and light but pack a flavoursome punch with salted caramel, raspberry and lemon, and elderflower to choose from.
3. Hot Cross Bun Bread & Butter Pudding
Marry two very British sweet stalwarts and you get this Easter-ready dessert from Hackney sugar specialists The Proof. Sure to spice up your celebrations, the panettone pudding is packed with soft fruit, coated with French butter, topped with double cream custard and then baked. They also do a vegan version.
4. Shuk Hot Cross Babka Kit
Get your rolling pin out: Borough Market-based Shuk is thinking outside the box this Easter with an at-home kit for you to craft one very unexpected but welcome mash-up. The box includes everything you need to make a hot cross bun-spiced babka, including their brioche-like dough, earl grey-infused dried fruit, crème pâtissière and cookie crumble.
5. Love Brownies Limited Edition Easter Brownies
For the ultimate chocolate indulgence this Easter, look no further than Love Brownies’ double chocolate and crème egg brownies. The decadent, gooey batch are made up of dark Belgian chocolate with milk chocolate chunks and — yes, you’re reading this right — a whole mini Crème Egg baked into each and every slice.
Perhaps it’s no surprise that chocolate is the key drinking inspiration this weekend. Choc-tails are the thing, and it’s all a matter of how sweet your tooth is. Crouch End cocktail bar Little Mercies is keeping things relatively sane with its two takes on an Old Fashioned — one made with white chocolate (£29) and one meant to mimic a Snickers bar, with peanut butter mixed in (£32). Both make up to eight drinks and bottles can be kept for a year, just in case it’s a little much in one go (littlemercies.co.uk). Alternatively, opt for a classic with Sendanoldfashioned.com (£10).
Alongside whisky, coffee is another ready partner for chocolate. If in doubt, mix an Espresso Martini (good general life advice, this). Otherwise, Mr Black’s and FAIR make excellent liqueurs, while Cazcabel does one of the better coffee tequilas — for Easter, it suggests mixing up a double with two shots of double cream, 10ml of white chocolate liqueur and serving it in a glass coated with a chocolate rim (£25.33, masterofmalt.com). Equally silly — and why not? — is Slingsby’s suggestion to stir up a large pour of their rhubarb gin (£36, tesco.com) with a splash of crème de cacao, 150ml of milk and 20ml of chocolate sauce; coat a rim with chocolate and get drinking.
It needn’t all be sweet dreams. If you’re keeping it traditional, wine always works well with lamb. “Lamb is a sommelier’s dream — a great meat to pair wines, from bold Bordeaux expressions to the fruit-driven New World wines,” says 67 Pall Mall’s Stephanie Barnett. “[The best choice] comes down to the additional ingredients, sauces and cooking time, but thinking about a medium rare roast lamb cooked with garlic and rosemary, we would reach for a glass of Château Musar. The rustic, earthy flavours of the wine pair perfectly with this hearty, flavoursome dish.” The famous Lebanese wine is readily available online and in Waitrose (£27.99, waitrosecellar.com). Musar has famously unique flavour, but if a bottle is hard to come by, it’s 80 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon and a spicy Cab Sav from southern France will offer a rough approximation. That said, if you’re stuck, Tesco have launched a “text a sommelier” service: message WINE to 82228 between midday and 7pm for a suggested wine pairing for your meal.
Crack Yourself Up
1. Parker’s Tavern
Tristan Welch, chef director at Cambridge-based destination restaurant Parker’s Tavern, crafts this Ferrero Rocher-inspired creation which combines hazelnut and dark chocolate, is finished in gold and then filled with five hazelnut praline truffles.
2. Fortnum & Mason
Old favourite Fortnum & Mason always knocks it out the park at Easter and this year is no exception. The newest egg on the block is a creamy white chocolate number sprinkled with Sicilian pistachios, hazelnut gianduja from Piedmont and Tuscan black truffle flakes. Bravissimo.
Found in the dessert department, this Easter treat is one to make people look twice. It resembles a pomegranate but is, in fact, a chocolate egg. Created with caramelised white chocolate and given a pomegranate twist, the result is tangy, tasty and sure to tickle your taste buds.
4. Joe & Seph’s
Hit the jackpot this year with this egg-squisite chocolatey goodness. This is no ordinary popcorn. No, this is salted caramel popcorn that’s been covered in mouth-watering milk chocolate by the experts over at Joe & Seph’s. Far too good to share.
5. Melt Chocolates
There’s something of a fruit theme running through the Easter offering this year. From Notting Hill-based chocolatiers Melt, this vegan “strawberry egg” is practically a piece of art. It’s been handcrafted with 70 per cent dark chocolate and coated with fresh strawberries. The icing on top of the… egg comes with the realistic leafy finish, made from a passion fruit chocolate.