How to Eat Out, In, during Covid-19 Lockdown 2.0

This is Part 2 of the Lockdown 2.0 directory series. This time it’s ‘How to Eat Out, In’. Part 1 covers ingredient shopping.

Back to Strange Times, then.

I’ve reconsidered the original ‘Eating Out, In’ list from the Spring. This new version is focuses mostly on Assemble at Home Meal Kits, rather than delivery or takeaway.

This is so that it’s relevant and useful to as many people as possible: on the whole I have selected kits that are available nationwide (marked with an asterisk), or at least across Greater London. Some deliver relatively immediately, but many (understandably) run with a order in advance for delivery on a set day (often Friday) system.

To cover fully-prepared and still warm meals would have been a fairly impossible task, and this directory unusably long (even longer than it already is…). So on this front: support your favourite locals! We really need to. You’ll know who you like and it’s generally best to check their social media for an update as to whether they’re trying to push through.

That said, there is a little list at the end of this directory referencing a handful of places suited to those living as I do in Centre-East-ish London. For other sources of (London, sorry) restaurant delivery / takeaway info, try:

  • For restaurant-industry news, maps and features, try Eater London;
  • Also head to Hot Dinners;
  • @ClerkenwellBoyec1 previously organised a useful spreadsheet. I imagine he will do again and I’ll add a link accordingly (or keep an eye on his instagram feed).

Platforms

If you’re not a fan of lists or too much choice, try one of these platforms:

Dishpatch* — Feature a monthly changing menu of restaurant kits for delivery nationwide, every Friday. November’s includes the excellent Bubala (vegetarian middle eastern-ish), Angela Hartnett’s Cafe Murano (simple and classy Italian four courser), and Supa Ya Ramen (extremely tasty inauthentic ramen).

Big Night — Have compiled meal kits and menus from a strong selection of East and South East London restaurants. They’re all contemporary in style: from those with an Italian bent, such as Legare (I received a meal from them in the first lockdown and it was beautifully conceived, prepared and packaged) and Luca, to Tacos Padre’s taco packs, through chicken in various formats (Royale’s rotisserie and Two Lights’ fried), Salon, Levan and Larry’s South London bistronomy, Laughing Heart’s invention and SnackBar’s killer buns, baguettes and burritos for a working lunch. Have a browse. There’s more to come, I believe. London only (you’ll need to add postcode to check).

Great Food 2 U* — Some strong street food / once street food names with their ‘icon’ dishes in assemble at home form (for e.g. MEATLiquor, Bleecker, White Men Can’t Jerk &etc).

Restokit — Smart and classy assemble at home menus from quality restaurants, including Kolamba (Sri Lankan), Legare (Italian) and a number of the JKS restaurants (see below). Great London delivery radius.

Sacred cows

These much-loved restaurants and brands are forging their own paths (and are all excellent):

Padella pasta kits* — Fresh pasta and good sauces from the hugely popular Padella, delivered nationwide.

Pizza Pilgrims* — Neapolitan pizza, delivered in kit form through the post, cooked by you in a frying pan.

Monty’s Deli* — Truly superb re-heat at home pastrami and salt beef, plus bagels, Reuben sandwich kits and babka. Couriered twice a week.

Sabor en casa* — Basically utterly wonderful Spanish finish at home menus and meals, delivered twice weekly.

José Pizarro* — A great deal of effort has gone into this finish at home tapas offer by José (maybe the nicest man in British food) Pizarro. Includes fun explanatory videos.

Quality Chop House* — In the middle of this ‘at home’ option is an aged, bone-in sirloin ready for you to cook to chef Shaun Searley’s instruction. But also: confit potatoes, house terrine, smoked cod’s roe, pickles, breads and puddings. One of the best restaurants with one of the best kits delivered to your door. Their shop also sends restaurant made and curated produce nationwide.

Simon Rogan — Strong assemble at home offering from the Cartmel chef’s group of restaurants (including a weekly changing 3 course menu, and a 5 course Christmas lunch).

Elite Bistro — Gary Usher’s restaurants ship on-point, savvy bistro food from the North West of England across the country. There are videos from the charismatic talisman on instagram to accompany you when warming/finishing the food in your kitchen.

26 Grains — Gently seasonal meal boxes (including excellent breakfasts) about to come back online. See also the ceramics, all available to purchase, which will make your food look great and you feel nice. (Delivery zone tbd)

Ottolenghi Ready* — why gather a long list of ingredients when you could just pour it out of a pouch?

Sambal Shiok* — Really excellent laksa kits and other Malaysian condiments available via Pezu (which is worth a browse more generally), if you’re not within 12km radius of the Holloway Rd restaurant.

Mei Mei* — Super Singaporean curry, nasi leak and rendang kits, plus condiments and spice mixes are posted nationwide, and there’s a slightly larger range of produce boxes for collection at Borough Market or delivery through London.

Dishoom* — Bacon Naan Roll kit. Bacon Naan Roll Kit. Bacon Naan Roll Kit. (They also now do local delivery).

Arabica* — Finish at home family feast and meze boxes, DIY falafel kits, baklava and ready-to-bake Börek, delivered nationwide on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Meaty

What’s that, can’t get an Ocado slot and so you’re down to your last 500g pack of 2.5% fat angus beef mince in the freezer? Try here:

Hawksmoor* — Wow, a Hawksmoor box full of wine, cocktails, books, sides, bone marrow gravy and (of course) premium steak was one of the treats of last Lockdown. They’re very good.

Blacklock* — Aaand no surprise given there’s a small amount of shared DNA, that BlackLock at Home boxes are also a class act. v.2.0 has just landed, with 3 appealing ‘for 2’ options, and a Sunday roast to come.

SmokeStak* — Smoked meats by weight, bun boxes, condiments. Simple but stylish, with high attention to detail, and huge flavour. Delivered nationwide every Friday. Locals note the takeaway options too.

Lagom* — And if you’re a fan of smoke, you really must check out Elliot Cunningham’s wizardry. Everything is amazing, but the smoked chicken is eye-opening.

Bleecker Burger* — One of the (if not the) very best burgers, delivered in kit form to your door.

Burger and Beyond* — Another contender. Also with a great line in side dishes, fried chicken kits and condiments.

HG Walter* — A butcher that compiles and couriers other restaurant-affiliated burger and hot dog kits. Patty & Bun’s are almost always available. Look out also for specials from the likes of John Chantarasak’s Anglo Thai concept.

Flat Iron* — The very popular steak and chip chain’s Butcher’s Boxes have just launched and I can confirm that the content is superb: as the name suggests, it’s more a meat box than a meal kit, but really super quality aged beef from the restaurant’s herd, portioned into burgers, rib eye and denver steaks, roasting joint and mince.

MEATLiquor* — Outrageous beef chilli cheese dogs from the burger brand that kicked it all off, back when we were allowed to queue for ages next to a street truck, and up a narrow staircase in New Cross (via Greatfood2U).

JKS Group

Towards the end of the first Lockdown, the JKS Restaurants Group began launching meal kits and delivery brands for most of their restaurants. Like everything they do, they were stylish, incredibly well conceived, and felt expensive. It was almost as if they had a magic crystal ball that told them there’d be a winter lockdown, and the government would not have got their shit together, so the investment would be worth it. Who could’ve predicted that?! Industry leaders. Try them:

Ambassador General Store* — Menu boxes, individual dishes, drinks and condiments covering Gymkhana, Trishna and Brigadiers. A level above.

Bao* — Spend 10 minutes being mesmerised by the style and beauty of everything in their shop, then order some Taiwanese steamed bun kits. See also their delivery brand, Rice Error (which is not so nationwide).

Cash & Kari* — Inspired by ‘one stop corner stores of Sri Lanka and South India’. Hoppers are offering meal kits, snacks, spices, drinks and merch.

Missing your 2 Michelin star tasting menus? Look no further than James Knappet at home with Sandia Chang’s bubbles in support.*

I can heartily recommend the Lyle’s meal boxes. They’re a bit of a treat (£140 for 2), but you’ll feel like a Michelin star chef, standing at the pass and taking the glory for all the work the sous and commis chefs have been doing all day. Delicious, and, as with the Knappet kit, potentially a memorable evening putting it together.

Berenjak* — Persian kebab kits (with skewers) and mazeh boxes. Also condiments.

Local heroes

The (mostly) nationally delivered meal kits above are such a boon for us at home. You should definitely try a few out.

But to finish as I started, if you normally have a little budget for eating out each week, then see if you can’t still spend it somewhere local to you. So many of your favourites will be earnestly scrambling. You know who you want to still be around — support them.

Rather than add a miscellaneous list of restaurants across the country that I have no experience of, here are just a few for those in  Centre-East-ish London:

Quality Wines — Nick Bramham’s brilliant (and brilliant value) set meals for 2 (on an ItaloFrAnglais vibe), Thursday, Friday and Saturday set menus for pick up, or delivery within 6km of the Farringdon restaurant.

Ombra — Mitshel Ibrahim reverts to role of local hero running a quality pastificio just off the Regents Canal.

Honey & Co — Friday night dinners (and cheesecakes) are available for pick up or delivered within 12 miles of their deli, Honey & Spice. As anyone who has eaten in their restaurants can imagine, the menus and dishes are lovingly conceived and cooked. They also have an online shop stacked with the best spices, tahini, halva, ceramics and more, which can be delivered nationwide.

El Pastor — taco taco taco taco taco say yeah. Have a taco party (for 2) at home, without any effort on your part. Though you need to live within 2.5miles of Borough Market or Kings Cross.

Jikoni Comfort and Joy — Globally inspired flavour bomb menus for pick up or delivery within a 5 mile radius of the Marylebone restaurant.

For what may (deservedly) become Lockdown 2.0’s must cultish meal kit, keep your eye on Decatur’s instagram page for weekly releases of an awesome looking chargrilled oyster and shrimp boil kit.

St John — will be making suet-topped pies for pre-order (via their online shop) and subsequent collection on Fridays from their restaurants.

On a similar theme, keep watch for Quo Vadis at home (coming soon via Big Night).

Also the various pies and tarts and other restaurant-prepared foods available through the excellent online stores run by Spring to Go (Spring Restaurant, central London) and Joy at Portobello in West London (both with 10km radius delivery of their respective restaurants; more details in the How to Shop directory).

And check over Big Night again, as most of the restaurants their are East London (and all great) — from Mangal 2 to Laughing Heart.

Koya — Continue to make and cook their satisfyingly chewy and slurpy udon via either Click and Collect or Deliveroo if you’re close enough to their City or Soho restaurants. I understand there’s an at home kit to come, soon.

ASAP Pizza — is the Flor/Lyle’s pizza brand, now back at Flor in Borough Market, though I think I it might eventually relocate to Shoreditch? Either way, London’s most inventive and perhaps best pizzas for takeaway and delivery, via Slerp and Deliveroo.

Cora Pearl and Kitty Fishers have stylish supper boxes for 2 (with booze) for pick up or delivery via Slerp, every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Both quality restaurants that in normal times buzz and delight; I’d expect their meal kits to reflect that.

Oren — Many friends have told me how pleased they were to order Eastern Mediterranean-inspired food from Oren last lockdown (and afterwards). A bit like Ombra, Oded Oren a hard working local hero delivering the goods. Either for pick-up or via Slerp.

E5 Bakehouse — Is open for bread, pastries and takeaway lunch 8am-5pm, 7 days a week

Dusty Knuckle — Still baking bread and offering pre-ordered food for pick up. See also their milk van service…

Pophams — Are making baked goods and pasta for pick up, plus local delivery soon

Trullo — Are keeping their deli/shop remains open with fresh pasta, cook at home meals, baked goods and more.

Lucky & Joy — Clapton-based, multi-region-inspired Chinese. Delivered throughout Spring and Summer. Not sure what their plans are at this point, but keep an eye on them.

Side Chick — Patty & Bun’s roast chicken delivery concept. I really enjoyed this over the summer. On Deliveroo and Slerp.

Click it local — Delivery of good things from independent food shops. Menu will be tailored to your postcode. For me, that includes Sonora’s incredible wheat flour and fat tortilla packs, which are probably the greatest thing to come out of 2020 (even in a normal year, this statement would hold true).


Was this helpful? I hope so. Now your ingredients are sorted, you’ll need a side dish focused cookbook to keep your home-cooked meals varied through Lockdown…