Restaurants may not be open for dining just yet, but you can still transport the work of the UK’s top chefs to the comfort of your own home this Easter – in the form of delicious seasonal meal kits.
If you’ve ever eaten at Ollie Dabbous’ Hide you’ll know what a complete treat it is. Every dish is deliciously flavoursome without being too rich, hugely imaginative, exquisitely presented and incredibly fresh.
I was anxious at whether the magic could be transferred into my home, but re-assured by the fact that no assembly would be required. Everything would arrive cooked and ready to go so the team encouraged us to book for exactly the time we wanted to eat, although they made a point of saying warming up wouldn’t ruin it either, should a delay in eating time require it. Of the four courses, only the main was to be hot anyway.
We kicked off with individual Wye Valley Asparagus, ricotta and nut praline tarts. These were the prettiest looking things you’ve ever seen, decorated on top with thin strips of cucumber and delicately elegant pink and white edible flowers. The filo-like pastry was light and crunchy, the asparagus perfectly steamed and the ricotta decadently delicious.
Next up was the freshest tasting Elderflower cured salmon with kohlrabi (a sort of wild turnip), broad beans and lightly smoked crème fraiche – all scattered with tiny elderflower blossoms.
The main course, whose centrepiece was a roast rump of Herdwick lamb, came as a generous stack of perfectly-roasted pink slabs to be served up between us – and sides of tasty Grilled calcot onions (like spring onions but larger) and a fresh and zingy white bean salad. This course came with two little pots, one of salsa verde, the other a decadent violet mustard yoghurt, both of which went brilliantly with the lamb.
Dessert, after a very necessary break, came in two little boxes. Inside each was an exquisite little Easter egg (bigger than a chicken egg, closer to a goose) in a white chocolate shell. We had no idea what to expect inside and were delighted to discover a moussey centre that felt part apple pie, part cheesecake, complete with biscuity bits. Heaven!
The restaurant’s main backer is Mayfair wine merchant Hedonism and Dabbous offers wine pairings from them (for example, a bottle of Vina del Olivo Rioja, for £72.80, to go with the lamb), which can be ordered together with the food and delivered at the same time. Francesca Syz
Four-course Easter Lunch, £75 per person, hide.co.uk
I’ve been to Sketch a number of times as it combines everything I love: food, drink, music and art. That being said, I was a little sceptical about how remarkable a risotto can be for a special occasion – this was to be the centrepiece of the vegetarian version of the restaurant’s Easter meal which I opted for (it replaces duck magret with red cabbage compote, red fruit bigarade and pomme gaufrette).
To say I was pleasantly surprised undermines the deliciousness of the main course, which was rich and flavoursome while still having a slight sweetness to it, thanks to lashings of piquillo peppers its wine pairing – a fruity Sauvignon Blanc.
The starter came in the form of a vegetable tartelette with a pea purée, which was a bounty of seasonal baby vegetables such as beets, carrots, leeks and turnips. For the middle course, a Mozzarella and pesto black croque monsieur delighted. And for dessert, Sketch’s chocolate, coconut and lime crémeux with red fruit coulis brought the whole affair home. Precious Adesina
Spring MMmm… Menu, £75 per person. Wine pairing is £55 per person, 100ml per bottle. shop.sketch.london
Antona at Home
A mushroom soup is hardly revolutionary, but Andreas Antona’s version delivers. The owner and chef patron of Birmingham’s four-Michelin starred Simpsons brings five-star food to your door, requiring only a little reheating and a smidge of ‘in the pan’ action. In terms of faff, you’ll be happy to hear it’s extremely minimal.
Back to the soup: light and creamy, it’s brought into the 21st century with exciting garnishes. The wild garlic and truffle pesto sneaks in another funghi dimension while a smattering of pickled mushrooms give it that trendy umami quality. Plus croutons for crunch.
The main is a classic roast lamb dinner. Having initially raised an eyebrow at the meagre-looking number of baby potatoes, I found that after the richness of the soup (which was accompanied by a mini-loaf of milk bread and Jersey butter), the total dinner portions were perfect. The Cornish rump of lamb was tender and perfectly pink; the peas and asparagus à la française had bite. There was a roasted mini gem lettuce for more added crunch which could have done with a sprig of thyme or rosemary.
To finish off, a faultless treacle tart. Buttery and comforting, with lemon crème fraiche to lift it. And of course, what’s Easter without a chocolate egg? From Herefordshire-based La Fleur de Chocolat, these aren’t just normal Easter eggs – one is a praline mousse while the other contains popping candy. Now that’s a stellar finish. Aisling O’Leary
£60 per person; antonaathome.co.uk
Another year, another Easter in lockdown. Last year meal kits weren’t really a ‘thing’ seen as we all thought we’d be out of this within three months… After 12 months in the game, there’s no better way to celebrate Easter, and a long weekend off work, than with a luxurious breakfast feast.
Selfridges is offering an Easter Breakfast box that serves four people, and is suitable for grownups, kids and grown up kids. The box contains everything you need for a tasty and fun Easter breakfast. First, for the adults, there is a big bag of fresh Colombian ground coffee, which is rich and smooth but packs a punch; complete with creamy milk from Ivy House Farm, it’s just the thing to get you going in the morning.
There are four Celtic Bakers Organic hot cross buns, which are gorgeous simply toasted and slathered with the butter and / or the apricot jam provided. But it’s far from that simple: there are also four English muffins, a large packet of smoked salmon, Daylesford Organic eggs and a pot of gorgeously creamy Delouis hollandaise sauce. All you have to do is toast the muffins, cook the eggs and serve, which is the perfect way to have a fuss-free Easter breakfast.
A total bonus is the packet of Tony’s Chocolonely Easter eggs and a pre-made Easter Egg hunt kit complete with stickers, clue cards, signs and little bags to hide eggs in. All in, this meal kit delivery box is one of the simplest and most fun boxes ever. Helen Gibson
At Home with Selfridges Bank Holiday Breakfast Box for £70, selfridges.com
If you have been missing your favourite table at the Wolseley, have the famed Piccadilly restaurant come to you this Easter. Three courses of classic brasserie cookery, plus hot cross buns and mini valrhona chocolate eggs, make a generous delivery to serve two. All the dishes come sealed in plastic ready-meal packaging but the standard of fare is anything but supermarket.
The first course is asparagus (with a very superior tarragon vinaigrette), which can be eaten cold or hot. It’s already cooked, so we made a start on it while the mains – a portion of New Season Leg of Lamb Marinated with Rosemary and Garlic – heated up in the oven for 40 minutes. Before it went in, honestly, the meat looked rather unpromising, but by the time it hit our plates it was a delicious caramel colour, pink on the inside, with a glossy rosemary gravy to serve.
Sides are similarly high-quality, with marble-sized Jersey Royals and slices of butternut squash sweetened by an Amaretto glaze. All that is quite filling, but we made room for the strawberry and champagne trifles which, although difficult to transfer out of their plastic pots into proper dishes, were a fitting flourish to the end of meal.
The kit is easy to heat up, with all the dishes, including potatoes, ready-cooked, and comes with an instruction card and – rather alarmingly – a nutritional breakdown, so you can count exactly how many calories you’ve scoffed. Susie Rushton
Easter Holiday Celebratory Meal for Two, £125, thewolseley.com
Oblix at The Shard
Oblix at The Shard has put together the ultimate Afternoon Tea for an Easter feast you can take to the park, or serve up in your garden. Delivered to your door with a chilled bottle of champagne, the package includes an abundance of delicacies.
To kick start, there are four varieties of quintessential finger sandwiches; Wagyu beef and horseradish, lobster mayonnaise, egg and truffle and smoked salmon and cream cheese. Following on from this are eight freshly baked scones, neatly packaged with mini jars of raspberry jam, fresh honeycomb and clotted cream along with a selection of teas, including green, white and herbal tea, from The Rare Tea Company.
Last but definitely not least, there is a selection of mini patisseries, including raspberry and white chocolate macaroons, blueberry and vanilla tarts, chocolate and caramel mousse, plus lemon and poppy seed drizzle cakes topped with white chocolate flowers, which lasted a but a few minutes in our presence. Tona Stell
Easter Weekend Afternoon Tea Experience, £115, oblixrestaurant.com
Riding House Cafe’s Easter box is the perfect fusion between a fine dining experience and a comforting home cooked meal, but without any fuss and bother, making it the ideal choice for foodies that want to make an occasion out of the weekend. The box contains a five course menu, two different cocktails, a custom playlist, an Easter card plus an Egg-hung themed game.
To kick start the event, you’ll find a chilled bottle of champagne, blood orange liqueur and blood orange tea to create your aperitif cocktail, a refreshing Champagne punch.
The seasonally inspired menu begins with a parmesan and artichoke dip served accompanied by a warm grilled flatbread and salt and sugar cured salmon with cucumber, radish, cider & chervil dressing topped with poppy seeds. The main event is a herb-crusted rack of new season lamb with port jus, buttered colcannon and charred spring greens. The lamb needs a small amount of prepwork, but you certainly don’t need any chefs skills, as it comes equipped with foolproof heating-up instructions.
Dessert comes in the form of a decadent Easter chocolate pudding, after which I would recommend playing the Easter game in order to make room for Riding House macarons and a nightcap cocktail of spiced rum & cacao nib lattes. Tona Stell
Riding House at Home’s Easter Box , £120, ridinghouseathome.com
Of all the premium home restaurant deliveries, Occasions by Hakkasan is right at the top, costing a shade under £200. Mine arrived last Friday night – a decadent treat to close out the last week of full lockdown.
A gigantic, cooled box contained all of the prepped ingredients, chopsticks and jasmine incense to burn, which, when I dimmed the lights, gave my home that other-worldly feeling you get in really special restaurants. Classic dim sum to start included king crab and peppercorn dumpling, wild mushroom dumpling, langoustine har gau with prunier caviar and halibut shui mai. It took just six minutes to warm them using the bamboo steamer provided.
The main course contained the single most brilliant dish I’ve consumed in the past year – a generous chunk of grilled Chilean sea bass in honey that was perfectly sweet – which I devoured in minutes. Along with the saucy smoked beef ribs with jasmine tea, the seabass was already prepared and simply required a 15 minute blast in the oven. These were accompanied by ‘Hakka noodles’, which I stir fried with the shimeji mushroom and bean sprouts provided, as well as the greenest, most fresh baby broccoli ever seen.
If you’ve got any room left, the chocolate and hibiscus soufflé is a delightful dessert – although my partner and I consumed ours the following day. We toasted our decadent Chinese meal with Champagne, but a selection of sparkling, white and red wines are also available to add to your order should you wish. Eiligh Hargreaves
Occasions by Hakkasan £175, hakkasan.com
Although I love cooking, there are some occasions that call for something a little more special, and my best friend’s wedding was one of them. Not only are we in lockdown, but the wedding took place in Austin, Texas. I was devastated not to be there, and I was really devastated to be missing a good old Texan party full of whiskey, country music and of course, barbeque food.
I had total FOMO, until Smokestack, a BBQ joint in East London, came through. It is offering an Easter Box for two; a huge meaty BBQ meal delivered to your door. I ordered it to arrive on the day of the wedding and the meal kit came in a no-frills box, tapped up with black gaffer tape, giving it a very authentic Texan vibe.
We started off with cocktail hour on the balcony, sipping a grapefruit and mint Collins – fruity, fresh and fizzy – and nibbling on starters of flatbread (which we grilled, as instructed) and asparagus, with creamy and tangy smoked cod’s roe and refreshing wild garlic and chive soured cream.
Next came the sit-down meal, which was a feast of pulled pork and beef brisket (both of which you simply wrap in the baking paper provided and put in the oven for 30-40 minutes) alongside new potatoes in a wild garlic aioli, spring greens (which you pan fry in a bit of butter) and salsa verde. The pulled pork was some of the best I’ve had: moist, rich and full of flavour, enhanced by the house BBQ sauce.
The night was finished off with whiskey, more music, a dance around the living room and a beautiful wedding-worthy white chocolate cheesecake, with poached rhubarb, which came ready to eat. While we couldn’t be in Austin, Smokestak’s meal kit was the closest and tastiest thing we could get to it. Helen Gibson
Easter box for two, £115, boxedbysmokestak.co.uk
Until we can travel to Sicily, a visit to Norma is the next best thing. Ben Tish’s Fitzrovia restaurant is high on my list of places to book post-lockdown, so I was beyond excited to try its Easter feasting box – and I wasn’t disappointed. I don’t eat meat, so I ordered the vegetarian box, and ‘feast’ is an apt word for the contents (the restaurant also offers a classic option with slow-cooked spiced lamb). It contained the ingredients for five courses of sublime Sicilian comfort food, with more than enough to keep two people grazing all of Easter Sunday.
I am no kitchen whizz, and intimidating meal kits with dozens of fiddly ingredients and complicated plating instructions send me reaching for a delivery app. But this is, thankfully, idiot-proof. We kicked off with rhubarb sours while I plated up the antipasti selection: focaccia and Nocellara olives, burrata with datterini tomatoes and pesto, and a delicious whipped ricotta with lemon, broad beans and mint. A simple and fresh primi piatti of spaghetti with asparagus, peas, pecorino and basil required little more than three minutes of boiling the pasta and sautéing the veg; the ideal accompaniment to the bottle of Feudi di San Gregorio Aglianico that’s included in the box.
After this it was rather a relief to realise, when my timer went off, that I’d forgotten to actually turn on the oven, so the main course of roasted and stuffed courgettes was a little delayed. Another fresh and unfussy dish, these little ricotta-stuffed delights come with wild rice, chickpeas, pistachio pesto and pecorino, plus roasted potatoes and spring greens to boot. We were both convinced we couldn’t manage another mouthful, until we tried a spoonful of the frankly evil cassata siciliana, washed down with marsala. A box of almost-too-pretty-to-eat marzipan fruits served as a midnight snack – no need for chocolate eggs. Sarah Royce-Greensill
The Norma Easter Feasting Box (vegetarian or classic). £140 for two or £180 for four, delivered nationwide; normalondon.com
Gladwin Brothers are the Sussex siblings behind The Shed in Notting Hill, The Rabbit in Chelsea and two other London restaurants, all known for their countrified aesthetic and seasonality. The star of the show in this kit is a large lamb wellington, which serves four and arrives partly cooked. It looks amazing in the photographs, and makes a change from the usual leg of lamb or chops; inside the packaging, the latticework pastry is still raw but as we only need to cook it for 20 minutes I assume the lamb inside is already cooked.
On the side are 700g of Jersey Royals and a large bunch of pleasingly fat asparagus spears, but in both cases the vegetables are raw and unprepared, so you’ll need to do that yourself. The instructions tell us not to steam the asparagus, but sauté them in oil, which I obediently try; the red wine jus is heated up in a couple of minutes.
There are no starters or dessert – aside from mini-eggs – but the centrepiece wellington more than makes up for that. Tender and aromatic, with a layer of wild mushrooms encased by foraged wild garlic, and the pastry just right, it makes a perfect casual Easter lunch. Susie Rushton
Easter Sunday Meal Kit, £85, gladwinbrothers.com
The River Cafe
Ruth Rogers, chef patron of The River Cafe, confesses that Shop The River Cafe – the Thames-side restaurant’s deli – is what’s seen her through lockdown. Hardly surprising… if I had the choice I’d never eat anywhere else, and the delivery of an Easter Box with the Cafe’s signature brightly coloured branding has been the biggest treat of 2021 so far.
To start with, it stocks the absolute finest, best ingredients in existence. And that’s exactly what this box is stuffed with. So, the tagliarelle are organic and come from Cipriani. And I’m afraid they make even the nicest supermarket pasta look very silly indeed. These come with a mascarpone sauce and breadcrumbs. Who’d have thought that the quality of a breadcrumb was easily discernible? Not me, til now.
Unlike many meal kits the River Cafe doesn’t fill its box with single-use plastic. The osso buco with spring peas, and the John Dory with potatoes, black olives and oregano, came in reusable glass dishes that you could pop into the oven. (If you don’t want to keep them, just hand them back when you get your next delivery.) And the creme fraiche, anchovy butter and chard were packaged in nice glass jars. It all looked so good it was a shame to break it open, but then, when you’d started eating, you couldn’t stop.
The ‘cooking’ was simply a matter of boiling up the pasta and asparagus and heating the meat, fish and chard. The pressed chocolate cake is completely obscene but somehow we still had room for a couple of absurdly delicious La Molina Easter Eggs. Feasting on the River Cafe’s terrace on a sunny Sunday lunchtime is one of the great joys in life. I never imagined that was a pleasure you could bottle and bring home. But it is. Sasha Slater
Easter menu for four, £190, shoptherivercafe.co.uk
If there’s one thing the Nordic-inspired Aquavit does correctly, it’s flavour. The entire Easter hamper is filled with an array of unusual tastes that will transport you from lockdown. For starters, there is a Gubbrora – an egg salad on rye bread perked up with a salty kick of anchovies. This is served alongside another entrée of cream cheese, baby beetroot and pickled ribbons with a sweet purée: a sweet relief for those who find the Gubbrora overpowering (I did not).
There are two options for the main: slow roasted pork belly or liquorice-glazed salmon, both served with seaweed and kale gremolata. Dill roasted potatoes, roasted asparagus, mustard infused sandefjord sauce, fried anchovies and toasted hazelnuts make for satisfying sides. These options feel perfect for the time we’re in, where dining with guests not in your household requires eating in the garden. The selection feels as if it is made for spring weather, due to its lightness. For dessert, there is Semla, a traditional sweet roll filled with almond cream and chantilly, alongside a selection of cheeses and a spicy quince jelly. Precious Adesina
Easter DIY Box, £105, aquavit.com
Tom Aikens was the youngest British chef ever to win two Michelin stars before setting up Daylesford Organics. He’s brilliant, but also noted for being a perfectionist who doesn’t suffer fools at all, let alone in the kitchen. So a delivery of a meal kit from him is a challenge… you’d better be good enough and you’d better do exactly what the instructions say, or all hell could break loose.
The Easter feast is a lavish box featuring a soft scrambled egg with herb sabayon, asparagus and edible flower salad with quail eggs, leg of lamb with roasted garlic plus peas and wilted little gem, followed by a chocolate egg with white chocolate mousse, poached rhubarb and meringues. It’s all meticulously organised with each little vacuum-packed foodstuff labelled, and accurate timings for everything.
There’s a whole sheaf of instructions on cards and you’re clearly expected to follow them to the letter. It’s rare, even with the best will in the world, that you can recreate a really high-end restaurant meal at home, but with this box you do exactly that. The asparagus salad came with two separate sauces and looked as beautiful on my plate as it would have if it had issued from a professional kitchen.
Aikens’ standards are so high that I would have felt I’d failed if I’d deviated even slightly from his recipe cards. Up ’til, that is, the pudding. Here he relaxed and, with inspiration from his own young daughters, he offered up a chocolate egg that you basically stuff with outrageously sweet white chocolate mousse and lots of other naughty added extras, and then smash up to share together for a lighthearted finale to an otherwise seriously delicious dinner. Sasha Slater
Boxes will cost £165 for two people, or £285 for four people. Jelly rabbits are a £9 supplement. starchefs.co.uk
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