This guest review comes from Elena Wong, who blogs at Lena’s Magic Garden. You can read her blog by clicking here…
Don’t get me wrong. I love cooking. I love making everything from stir fries to stews to big full on roast dinners but sometimes, I don’t want to. Sometimes I wish I could wave a magic wand and POOF, have my dinner appear in front of me. On those nights, the first alternative is to go out for dinner. But what if I don’t want to? What if I’m quite comfortable in my pyjamas; wine/beer/cider in hand with the latest episode of ‘Breaking Bad’ to catch up on? Next alternative is to order food in but truth be told, as my local area is served by the typical big four – Pizza, Indian, Chinese and Kebabs, my taste buds and I are never very excited about the variety the home delivery food market has to offer.
Launched in September 2012, Food Couriers set out to change takeaway and home delivery as we know it. Recently rebranded as Meals.co.uk, their aim is to deliver great tasting, freshly cooked quality food from fantastic local restaurants and places where you love going, to your door.
The technology behind the site is mind boggling – it only allows you to see restaurants that serve your particular area, ensures that your order goes straight to the restaurant, all the while co-ordinating the pick up time for your driver to make sure your dinner arrives hot (or fresh, in the case of sashimi!) but for a customer, it couldn’t be easier to use.
The homepage invites you to input your postcode and from there tells you which restaurants are open and available to deliver to you. The range is pretty impressive, spanning from Salvatore’s Kitchen to Obento, giving you the choice of ordering dishes such as sautéed veal escalope to a grilled fish Bento box. Confirmation of your order is almost instant and Meals.co.uk aim to get your food to you in an hour. Delivery is a separate charge of £4.99 but just think – if you were to go out and eat, a combination of petrol and parking, taxis and babysitters far outweigh that cost and if there are a few of you, the delivery cost split between you is nominal.
One of the niftier functions that caught my eye was the fact that you are able to pre-order either on the day that you want your food or days in advance when you might be arriving home late or have guests round and want food at a particular time.
I popped along to the launch of Meals.co.uk in the beautiful Merchant’s Hall to meet the brains behind the operation and find out a little more about the site and to sample some of the quality food from restaurants signed up to the service.
The evening started with a wine tasting and a lesson in how to pair wines with Asiatic cuisines – very interesting as wines are normally abandoned in favour of beer when eating a curry. According to Richard Davis from DBM Wines, sweetness is the key as the spices in Asian food strip the sugars out of the wine so going for a sweet wine with good acidity will refresh the palate and allow the wine to stand out from the food. As for those looking for a red, choose one with a low tannin level and avoid anything that has been aged in oak as this, combined with spice, will dry the palate.
Meals.co.uk offer a selection of wines as well as beer, cider and non-alcoholic alternatives to be delivered along with your meal – another thing in their quest to offer you a restaurant dining experience in your own home.
From the wine tasting, we were seated for our meal and given a few words by Mark Oakley, one of the founders of the site, who re-iterated their mission to change the face of take-away food and to show that you could have high quality, delicious, healthy alternatives that you would be happy to go to a restaurant and eat.
For my meal, I had chosen a mixed sushi platter and side of Tempura from Obento as it’s practically unheard of to get authentic Japanese food delivered. I also picked it because I was curious to see how well it travelled and if the tempura would still be crispy and whether my hand rolls had fallen apart. Happily I can report that the sushi was still as beautiful when it got to me as when it left the restaurant – I was half expecting the fish to have fallen off the rice and egg roe to be strewn all over the place but all was well and my delicious salmon temaki was intact. As for the tempura, it was light, crispy and still warm with a great mix of prawns, aubergine, baby corn and pumpkin.
As the evening drew to a close, I questioned Dotun Olowoporoku, one of the other founders, and it’s clear to see that he’s very excited about the future of Meals.co.uk. There’s still a lot of work to do – he hopes to be able to offer customers information on past orders so they can remember which of the many memorable dishes impressed them. He also pondered whether a loyalty scheme might be possible or the recycling of old takeaway cartons.
Many more restaurants have signed up to the service but Dotun explained they will take a couple of weeks to go live on the site because of the technology involved. He also hopes to expand the business to Bath soon and from there, who knows? What he does know is that he firmly believes that there is a place in the market for Meals.co.uk and he hopes that Bristol will well and truly embrace it. I think it’s a great service and it gives accessibility to those who may not be able to get to restaurants – those without transport perhaps or parents with young children. From the quality of the food, I for one will be happy to bin my drawer full of takeaway leaflets and enjoy the likes of Siam Harbourside and Byzantium alongside my other half, my bunny slippers and Walter White.
For more information, visit Meals.co.uk.
Please note: our review meal was received free of charge, but in no way impacted on our opinion. We were not obliged to write a positive review, and the venue did not see this review before it was put up on the site.