In true Kiwi number-8 wire fashion, restaurants are adapting to the lifestyle changes caused by the covid-19 lockdowns, particularly in Auckland. Le Chef restaurateur Ed Le Goff recently entered the fray with his thefoodies.nz high-end meal deliveries (which we can attest are very good), and click-and-collect restaurant meals have gained traction as an alternative to home cooking and traditional takeaways. Now, as home-delivered food boxes soar in popularity, restaurant owners have combined the two to create restaurant-style food-box deliveries. BusinessDesk put two of the latest DIY offerings to the test.
Nourish Group has launched My Nourish Kitchen, offering two, three, or four meals a week, for either two or four people. The box set allows customers to create in their own kitchens iconic meals from Nourish’s renowned restaurants Soul, Euro, Andiamo, and Jervois Steak House.
Fresh, seasonal ingredients are selected by executive chef Gareth Stewart and delivered to homes on Tuesdays. All that is needed is a bit of gentle frying, chopping, or baking, as the recipe requires, and in about half an hour, dinner is on the table.
The menus mix hearty winter classics with lighter, fresh options that are modern, unpretentious and relaxed. The recipes are ideal for a foodie who may be short on time but averse to a greasy takeaway. Perhaps not for a novice in the kitchen, the menus require a bit of interpretation, and some intuition is needed when cooking the meals, as the instructions read as though the author still had his chef hat on while writing them.
The wow-factor for the My Nourish Kitchen meals were the pre-prepared restaurant sauces, creams and purees. Chilli jam, lemon creme fraiche and carrot puree took meals into fifth gear. At approximately $23 per meal per person, it would simply not be possible to recreate such good sauces at home for the same price and in the same time.
An additional cherry on top was the conscious approach to waste reduction. The plastic wrap used for dry ingredients is compostable, and most containers were reusable, if not recyclable. There was minimal mess at the end of the cooking process, save for the mess caused by this cook.
Also joining the restaurant food-box-delivery scene is Cookalong, a joint venture from chefs Nic Watt and Darren Johnson, the minds behind Masu, Inca and Orakei’s seafood-centric Akarana.
Cookalong pre-prepared most of their ingredients, with roast vegetables, grain salads and risottos already cooked in the restaurant and requiring light heating or mixing at home. Many of the recipes required a short burst in the oven and were then ready to serve within half an hour.
Whilst having pre-prepared items saves on time, the Spanish risotto and pre-roasted vegetables, although tasty, lacked a little bite and freshness. With an average price of $20 per meal in the Gourmet range, it is rather good value for money, especially when factoring in the price of meat and fish alone.
The Cookalong portion sizes were generous, and the Spanish risotto for two was a whopping size that ended up serving three adults and two small, ravenous boys. The Big Glory Bay salmon was wonderfully fresh and firm, and even won over a steadfast fish cynic.
Cookalong’s packaging featured a lot of ingredients vacuumed packed in plastic. While food safety and freshness are, of course, paramount, especially when transporting food, the amount of wrapping and the number of tinfoil containers left after every meal caused a great deal of guilt, especially with no recycling information on the packaging.
For a fun night in, Cookalong offers Tipple at Home, a cocktail service for your “restaurant at home”. Just add your own poison of choice. An additional treat in Cookalong’s menu is Date Night, a five-star, three-course meal for those wanting to celebrate a big day in style but in the comfort of their own home.
Notably, the one thing missing from meals by both My Nourish Kitchen and Cookalong were green vegetables. Yes, that’s boring, and no, we don’t expect a pile of green veggies in a restaurant, but when substituting the average home-cooked meal with a restaurant meal many nights of the week, we know it’s still important to have more than one or two root vegetables on offer. While all the meals had vegetables of some kind, only a few had a small green offering.
While restaurant food-box home deliveries are an Auckland pursuit for now, they’re an encouraging idea for restaurants around the country.
My Nourish Kitchen prices
My Mini Nourish Kitchen box, two meals for two $95, for four $180
My Regular Nourish Kitchen box, three meals for two $147.50, for four $275
My Deluxe Nourish Kitchen box, four meals for two $185, for four $350
My Nourish Kitchen weekend box, four meals for two $170, for four $335
Essential eats, two ready-to-eat meals for four, $98 (three meal options)
Gourmet dinner, four meals for two $160, for four $320 (options for up to 10)
Family heat and eat, three meals for four-five, $150
Date night, one three-course meal for two, $99
Tipple at Home, $10 per base (two daiquiri options)