What do you get, how much is it and how easy to prepare?
Restaurant dining is sadly not an option right now. So when many of our favourite chefs and restaurants - who had never previously offered delivery - began to do so, with some getting really creative in the face of lockdown, we were intrigued.
One of the most popular features on Liverpool Confidential has always been our honest, unannounced and impartial restaurant reviews. Our readers come to us for the lowdown, confident that we know our stuff and will tell it straight. Without restaurants, we've not been able to write restaurant reviews. But it’s what we do.
So we’re launching a new series, giving you the scoop on some of the many delivery options that have sprung up. We’ll buy it, eat it - cook it if we have to - and let you know how it was. We’re not going to be scoring these ‘reviews’ - it doesn’t seem right - but we’ll let you know what you can expect and where's worth spending your money.
What – Belzan at Home
For the people who live in the southern suburbs of the city, Belzan has become a household name. In the years since it opened its doors, Belzan has continued to dominate the Smithdown scene with its banging breakfasts and seasonal evening menus.
Who doesn’t want to reap the rewards of a six-hour labour with absolutely none of the effort?
It has been sorely missed during these tedious times of lockdown. But after a brief hiatus, team Belzan is back with a weekly offering of produce, booze and better still – Belzan-quality meals we can make at home.
What do you get and how much does it cost?
Each week there are three meals – all at £20 – with a vegetarian or plant-based option included in the mix. The deli shop opens each Tuesday at 10.30am, which is where you’ll find the meal kits and a whole bunch of other lovely stuff you might not otherwise find at the supermarket (ghost aubergine anyone?).
On my recent visit, I’m presented with a chicken dish, a mushroom risotto or six-hour braised lamb with an accompaniment of Provencal lentils. I’ve eaten enough chicken dinners this lockdown and I’m not one for risottos, so I choose the latter – because who doesn’t want to reap the rewards of a six-hour labour with absolutely none of the effort?
I also order a pot of brown butter bananas and custard (£5) and a couple of gin cocktails, just for good measure.
What do you have to have to do and how difficult is it?
Note that Belzan does not offer a delivery service. This is a takeaway thing only, which suits me absolutely fine because I live around the corner – but bear that in mind when ordering.
It’s all very exciting when I turn up to collect the goods. There’s a socially distant queue of people lining the streets and the smell of freshly ground coffee fills the air. It doesn’t take long to collect your order, but it’s worth hanging around to check out what’s available inside for purchase.
In (mostly) recycleable packaging there was a tray of shredded lamb, another of pre-cooked lentils and a third generous portion of a homemade mint sauce. Of course, dessert was packaged separately, and the cocktails came in a sealed plastic bag, garnish and all.
The meal itself was an absolute doddle to knock up. It came with online instructions and all I had to do was add a bit of water and plate the whole thing up.
I heated the oven and added the lamb to a roasting tin with 100ml of water. I was sceptical of this water addition, scared that I would ruin the whole dish and be left eating some sort of soggy lamb broth. Nevertheless, I left it to fester and got to (sort of) cooking the lentils.
Again, a splash of water would do the trick. Into a saucepan it goes with the lentils and a knob of butter. My only job during this time was to give them little frequent stirs. Arduous stuff.
It was all supposed to be ready within 20 minutes, but after this time my lamb was still soupy. I panicked. I turned the temperature on the oven up. The meal was saved (after another five or so minutes).
Is it any cop?
It’s not exactly a fine dining gastronomical experience – especially not on my shoddy placemats – but it is restaurant-quality food that requires minimal effort for maximum flavour.
Could I have made the meal myself? Maybe, but when you want a night’s break from cooking, it’s really the perfect antidote. Almost like the finest ready meal I’ve ever eaten in my life, I wouldn’t hesitate to order from Belzan again.
My only gripe would be that there simply was not enough of the bananas and custard to satisfy my sugar-craving needs. But that’s a faux pas on my behalf, I guess.
Belzan, 371 Smithdown Road, L15 3JJ
Value for money
A restaurant standard meal for twenty quid? A winner for us.
Packaging and delivery
Mostly recyclable packaging - hats off for that. Belzan does not offer a delivery service. This is a takeaway thing only.
When you want a night’s break from proper cooking, it’s the perfect antidote. Just add water and heat.
Quality and quantity
Could have done with more pudding