The next best thing to the milk tray man and much better than petrol station flowers
Some say music is the food of love, but round here, food is the food of love and we plan to celebrate amour the best way we know. By stuffing our faces and stumbling off to bed. Plus ça change you might say but Valentine's Day means putting a bit of extra care and attention into the process.
Even if you are usually a Valentine’s sceptic, you have to admit that this year, celebrating the schmaltzy holiday is looking more appealing. First of all, it's a chance to show your appreciation to your household co-manager, homeschool colleague and support staff for blue days. Secondly, it’s a good excuse to put on real clothes, have a look at the epilation situation and generally give oneself a spruce. Thirdly, let's admit that events like Valentine’s Day do help break up the monotony of yet another evening at home.
Naturally, chefs are keen to make up for the loss what is usually one of the busiest and most profitable evenings of the year by offering menus for two to be enjoyed at home, which, while a bit presumptuous (what if I’m in a throuple?), is a great excuse to finally hop on the meal kit train if you haven’t already done so.
While some of the most popular boxes are already gone - sob (Simon Rogan and Northcote, we're glaring at you), new ones are being added all the time. We hear Salvi's is launching one next week, so keep checking back for new additions as we update.
How much: £190 for two
Delivery: collect from Mana
This kit features the best from Mana’s regular menu, including langoustines, charcuterie, hogget and fudge. The restaurant promises minimal work and detailed instructions, meaning you can produce your own Michelin-starred meal for your beau without breaking a sweat. The bumf promises it will "be a fun activity without it dominating your evening, so you can spend more time with your loved one." If they weren’t such a serious bunch we reckon there’d be a wink wink emoji in there somewhere.
How much: £37.50
Form the folks behind Thyme Out in Didders comes Dough Re Me pizza kits. A little bird (OK a PR bod) tells us they will be launching their Valentine's version tomorrow (Jan 29th) which contains two standard sized portions of Caputo pizza dough, Fior di Latte Mozzarella, San Marzano tomato pizza sauce, olive oil, fresh basil for a little extra bite, salt and a pinch of pepper. Plus an edible You & Me love heart, a deconstructed side salad, classic cookie s'mores kit for two, truffles for two and a bottle of Prosecco.
How much: £11
For something a little simpler, take a look at the breakfast box created by Kendal/Altrincham based bakers Lovingly Artisan. With their signature saffron buns, pain de Campagne, cherry and prosecco jam, this is one for morning lovers.
How much: £100 for two
Delivery: Maximum of 15 miles from the restaurant or collection. Free under five miles. Alcohol must be delivered.
A fabulous-looking menu with selections such as lobster bisque, crab crumpet, trout en croute (that almost rhymes!) or smoked Jerusalem artichoke and a choice of chocolate fondant or apple tarte tatin for pudding. Plus wine and cocktails (the absinthe-laced Aphrodeizerac will surely do what it says on the tin). They also allow you to select for more than two people, which shows a very progressive mindset.
How much: £55 for two
Delivery: collect from your nearest Bundobust
Beer, cocktails and Indian food might not be seen as traditionally romantic but it will certainly set many curry-loving hearts alight. Drool over nine of the veggie streetfood restaurant's best dishes, including kofta, black dahl, flatbreads, fritters and more, plus spiced margaritas and pale ales. The Bundobusters have also cleverly added a link to their own Valentine’s playlist for those all-important V-day ‘vibez’.
How much: varies
Delivery: most items can be posted
While not strictly a meal kit this build-your-own hamper idea does allow a bit of flexibility when deciding on delicious treats for your inamorata. While Champagne and truffles are the classic choices, we are tempted by pies from the Great North Pie Company and a sharing cookie as a true expression of love. Non-food gift items such as flowers and jewellery also available.
What: Hawksmoor at Home
How much: £135 for two
Delivery: nationwide up to 13 February
Hawksmoor has restocked its mega-popular steak boxes and the Valentine's special is a doozy. Featuring those famous sour cherry negronis, steak with all the accompaniments including gentleman's relish (wink) and sticky toffee pudding with clotted cream, we say hurry on this one as it's bound to go quick.
What: Elite Bistros
How much: £140 for two
Delivery: delivered via courier on Friday 12 Feb or collect from Burnt Truffle that day.
Elite Bistro’s at home-kit positively begs you to (cue sexy advertising voice) 'allow us to do all the hard work this Valentine’s day'. While not promising to put the kids to bed and take out the bins, they will supply a tip-top sharing menu featuring baked Winslade cheese, aged beef with braised black cabbage and dauphinoise potatoes, truffled celeriac and some chocolatey goodness.
How much: £22.50 per person
Delivery: sometime before 4pm on Valentine’s Day (nationwide)
Again, not strictly a meal but this wine-tasting session had to be included because Prestwich wine merchant Grape to Grain offers a way for couples who aren’t actually in the same physical space to still share the love. Plus it is wine and cheese, so, of course, we heart it. Sign up for the Singleton option and receive fizz, wine and matched cheese at your respective abodes. Then join in the live tasting session at 4pm on either Facebook Live or Zoom and let the power of the internet/alcohol consumption connect you across the miles. Delivery is nationwide so it’s perfect for true long-distance lovers.
What: Haworth @ Home
How much: £90 for two
Delivery: Nationwide from 5 February
Northcote alumni Nigel Haworth is launching his at-home service with a limited-edition Valentine’s meal for two which includes a cheese and sourdough roll with butter bean hummus; salmon loin with smoked leeks, ginger, caviar cream; truffled chicken breast with hen of the woods, sea kale, yeast infused potato and Valentine’s dessert and chocolates. Every box will donate to Hospitality Action to support those in the industry affected by COVID-19.
What: Where The Light Gets in
How much: £50 per person
Delivery: available to order 7 February, collect from the provisions store 13 February
The 'Saint Valentine's Pickle Factory' from Where The Light Gets In is the ideal choice if your love interest is into sustainability - no plastic hearts or synthetic teddies here - as WTLGI recently won a Green Michelin Star which "celebrates restaurants with a strong environmental focus". The menu features Baron Bigod artichokes, spider crab corn toast, mutton pie, blood orange and sea buckthorn chocolates so it's delicious as well ethical.
What: Herd @ Home
How much: £97 for two
Delivery: order up to 7 February, collection on 13 February only
Another vote for steak from Herd NQ, serving up Pollen sourdough with bone marrow butter and charcuterie, a 30-day aged chateaubriand with macaroni cheese, roast garlic and parmesan mash and broccoli in almond butter followed by triple chocolate brownie with clotted cream and a sprinkle of handmade truffles, just 'cos.
More booze needed?
Salford Rum is doing a slick little gift box with a 20cl bottle of Salford Dark Spice Rum and a Salford Rum Black Map Print Enamel Mug as well as a free tumbler or glass with any 70cl bottle ordered.
The lads at Seven Bro7hers are putting on a couples' gin and beer tasting in cahoots with their siblings at Si4ters Distillery.
Abeja Tapas has a special board in a box with wine, beer or vermouth paired with charcuterie, cheese, nibbles and chocolates.
Get shaken and stirred with a Manchester Gin Valentine's cocktail box featuring a full bottle of gin, ingredients for three different cocktails, chocolates and video tutorial
The Creameries have a bottle of pet nat (natural sparkling wine) paired with some very fancy handmade chocolates
Finally, while Valentine's Day can seem like it's all about the smug marrieds, independent wine specialists Salut have created a wine tasting experience that 'celebrates love in all its forms'. Ooh lala you might think, but by using smaller bottles, friends, families and 'it's complicated' can get together via Salut's virtual zoom tasting. The box contains six half bottles, tasting notes and a link to the wine tasting.