Rebecca Fry flirts with the idea of DIY dinners for two
Just when you thought a national lockdown might get you out of having to celebrate Valentine’s Day, our ever-adapting bars and restaurants have delivered the goods. If calling a takeaway isn’t going to cut the mustard for your other half this year then make like the Naked Chef and get busy in the kitchen with a Valentine's meal in a box. Restaurants across the city have come up with some cook-at-home meal kits that bring a new meaning to DIY.
Ranging in difficulty all the way from ‘lash it in the microwave’ to ‘wannabe Masterchef contestant’, here’s our round-up of some of the best.
Who? Bold Street's pastel palace. Home to snack-sized, vegetarian Indian street food dishes. Some so iconic they’ve got their own merch.
What’s on the menu? Nine (yes, nine) pre-prepared mini dishes including black dahl, a Gujarati-style curry and all the carbs you’d expect with Indian food along with a cardamom and saffron infused dessert.
Tell me more: The boxes are £55 with beer or cocktails included (or £50 without). There’s a vegan option. The dishes just need reheating and they all come with a dedicated Bundobust playlist.
Difficulty Level: Rice and easy!
Bundobust, First Floor, 17-19 Bold St, Liverpool L1 4DN - order online here.
Who? Steak restaurant in Aigburth just a hop, skip and a jump away from Lark Lane, specialising in American-style grill and all things meat.
What’s on the menu? Nothing says date night quite like steak, and Churrasco’s Valentines box features a suitably grand 20oz Chateaubriand to share. If that isn’t quite enough meat, you can choose from spicy steak tacos or pulled brisket bon bons to start with and dessert options include a ‘Valentine’s Dessert Quartet’.
Tell me more: A 3-course dine-at-home box is, ahem, £69.00 per couple but you can opt for 2 courses if you’d prefer. This box is the only one that comes with a handy ‘How to’ video where you can cook each dish along with the chef.
Difficulty Level: You’ll have a guide but it’d be heartbreaking to ruin a steak like that. So if you don’t have a great track record in the kitchen, this might not be the box for you.
Churrasco Steakhouse, Aigburth Rd, Liverpool L17 8XW - order online here.
Who? Independent, family-run deli and restaurant on the outskirts of the city centre.
What’s on the menu? In keeping with the Valentine’s spirit, starters and desserts come as a sharing platter so you’ll either be tenderly brushing hands over the mini chorizos or impaling your significant other with a fork in an attempt to grab the last piece of chocolate brownie. Main courses are chosen by you from a range of high-quality, home-style dishes made in the deli.
Tell me more: By far the best thing about this offering is the fact that you can order a box for one, so if you’re feeling the single person's Valentine’s rage and resentment building up as you’re reading this, fear not. Boxes are £50 for two or £25 if you’re dining solo.
Difficulty Level: If you can put bits in the oven without burning anything then you’ll probably be able to manage this one.
Delifonseca Dockside, Brunswick Way, Liverpool L3 4BN - order online here.
Who? Famed for innovative Middle-Eastern inspired small plates, Maray has found huge success in Liverpool with three restaurants across the city.
What’s on the menu? A choice of four main plates including pork, halloumi, lamb and aubergine along with a souk full of Middle-Eastern nibbles to go alongside. There are finger food, snacks and dips and an optional drinks pairing if your sommelier skills aren’t quite up to scratch.
Tell me more: Boxes start at £45 with the option to add house wines, extra sides, petit fours and a few specially shaken Valentine's cocktails. They also promise unspecified Valentine's treats and their self-proclaimed ‘greatest Valentine's playlist created ever’. There's also a roast available for collection from the Allerton Rd branch (if this one sells out by the time you read this).
Difficulty Level: Dishes are pre-prepared ‘leaving just enough for you to do at home to take all the glory.’ Sounds good to us.
Maray, 91 Bold St, Liverpool L1 4HF - order online here.
Olive and Grape
Who? A fairly new bistro in South Liverpool specialising in seasonal produce and classical, European cooking ‘with an exciting, modern twist’.
What’s on the menu? The interestingly named ‘Aphrodisiac Menu’ thankfully doesn’t involve oysters but does have some lovable sounding dishes including lobster, beef wellington with truffle and black pepper strawberries with champagne cream.
Tell me more: The boxes for two are just £50 for four courses with canapés and an amuse-bouche, to help you treat someone to ‘restaurant-quality food, in the loving comfort of your own home’. This saucy menu allows you to add on ‘sumptuous’ extras ranging from chocolate truffles to sourdough bread and a cheeseboard.
Difficulty Level: Undetermined. Fancy your chances?
Olive and Grape Bistro, 104 Rose Ln, Liverpool L18 8AG - order online here.
Who? A petite French bistro tucked away in the business district.
What’s on the menu? A 3-course French-inspired menu with some big, sharing centrepieces including a cote de boeuf or whole sea trout. A range of classical desserts, a sharing cheese course and petit fours are available as extras.
Tell me more: Boxes start at £70 plus delivery. Suggested wines come from their neighbours and fellow independent company R&H Fine Wines who specialise in organic and biodynamic bottles.
Difficulty Level: Notable Chef Olivia Larson has done all of the hard work for you - the hardest part will be plating it up fancy enough to do it justice.
Queen Ave, Liverpool L2 4TX - order online here
Who are they? Neapolitan pizza gods based on Castle Street. Simple, minimal, good quality pizza. Wood-fired for a charred crust and a traditional, sloppy middle.
What’s on the menu? Pizza, unsurprisingly.
Tell me more: The newly launched ‘Night in with Rudy's’ box could feed an army, or just two very hungry lovebirds. Their part-baked pizzas are freshly made each day ready to throw in the oven at home. The box comes with 4 different pizzas, a bottle of Prosecco, beer and a couple of Negronis, too.
Difficulty Level: Not hard at all. This one’s a safe bet if you’re uncomfortable in the kitchen but still want a 10/10 date night.
Rudy’s Pizzeria, 3-7 Castle St, Liverpool L2 4SW - order online here.