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 Manchester 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 - Exose at Home
Chef de partie at Manchester’s swanky James Martin Restaurant in Great Northern, Exose Grant Lopo-Ndinga shot to fame in 2019 when at 22 years old he reached the final of MasterChef: The Professionals. Apart from producing some of the finest food in the city as part of the team at James Martin, Exose also runs his own cake business, Granted Cakes, which he set up when he was just 17.
I felt like I was being treated to dinner at home by a pal who just happens to be a shit hot chef
This entrepreneurial spirit stood Chorlton-based Exose in good stead for quick and clever adaptation during lockdown. His new catering service, Exose At Home, offers a weekly changing menu of freshly prepared starters, mains and desserts delivered to your door.
What do you get and how much does it cost?
Each week, Exose posts a new main menu on Twitter, which might include prawn chow mein, bangers and mash or Mediterranean veg tagliatelle. Mains are £10, starters and desserts are £7 each. The week I ordered, there was a special offer: three courses, three times a week for £53. Delivery on top of this was £3 per day - as he’s based in Chorlton and I’m in the city centre, it may be cheaper if you live nearer.
In total, I paid £63 for delivery of three three-course meals. Keep an eye on social media for up-to-date menu information like a recently added Caribbean menu. One important thing to applaud here is the almost complete lack of plastic packaging used, a striking contrast to some delivery services.
What do you have to do and how difficult is it?
The dishes arrive chilled to be reheated at home, but there are no heating instructions included. I don’t have a microwave, so I gently tipped my meals into a baking tin - adding a splash of water for the pasta dish - and warmed them in the oven for 15-20 minutes on a medium heat and that worked fine. It would be a matter of minutes in a microwave.
There are no extra bits and pieces, so warming the dishes is the only thing you need to worry about. At a time when a seemingly endless procession of breakfasts, lunches and dinners need to be conjured up daily by your own fair hands, it certainly simplified my life to not have to think about that for a few days. The idea is to have a three-course meal for your tea, but I had the soup for lunch when it arrived early enough. Delivery time is usually between 12-3pm and always perfectly social distanced. Sometimes chef himself drops the food off.
Is it any cop?
While Exose is known for fine dining at James Martin, the clue is in the name for this one. This is gorgeous, generous home cooking. Exose’s skill and passion shines through in the simple, fresh dishes.
The meals I had were chosen ‘randomly’ so with only two dessert and starter options each week, there was some repetition. This didn’t bother me, especially as the two courses that were repeated were my two favourites: a zingy spiced butternut squash and lime soup and an Eton mess with fresh strawberries, strawberry coulis, cream and delicate homemade meringue swirls. The other dessert, a carrot cake, was a slab of airy, spiced sponge - not too heavy on the carrot - topped with a finger-licking cream cheese frosting.
Starters are silky soups, seasoned to perfection - in fact everything is. If I must grumble, a homemade bread accompaniment of some sort would have been very welcome for dunking. My favourite of the generous main courses was fresh spaghetti with meatballs in a spicy tomato sauce. The other two mains were a trio of herby sausages with mash/veg and a soy glazed salmon steak served with a creamy lemon caper sauce, lemon and parsley potato puree and Chantenay carrots. Meals can be adapted for intolerances or allergies, just let chef know when you order.
Exose at Home is a great young chef creating and delivering beautiful, homely dishes at a really solid price. The cooking is flawless and it’s extremely easy and convenient. I felt like I was being treated to dinner at home by a pal who just happens to be a shit hot chef - no foams, no frills just really good food. I’ll be back to try that Caribbean menu ASAP.
Exose at Home (online only)
Value for money
Three-course meal from a MasterChef finalist for twenty quid? A winner for us.
Packaging and delivery
Absolutely NO PLASTIC! Hats off for that. The friendly delivery driver calls you when they are nearby and drop the goods off where is convenient for you.
As easy as 235
Quality and quantity
Portions are big, more than enough for a hearty appetite. Not much info included about ingredients but everything passed the taste test.