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 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? Peru Perdu
Last December, Peru Perdu took up residence at the Cotton Factory, which in itself sits within an aparthotel known as Whitworth Locke. As part of their coronavirus survival strategy, it has recently launched Peru Perdu at Home, offering a selection of the restaurant’s most popular dishes in recipe box form, alongside fresh groceries. All are available from their city centre location via click and collect.
I’d missed out on dining here before lockdown (though I read our review) so I thought this would be the perfect option to give Peruvian dining a go. I’ve been working on my culinary skills after completing the whole of Netflix and sterilising my house over the last 14 weeks or so.
What do you get and how much does it cost?
There are plenty of options to choose from such as tiger chicken (£9), ceviche samplers (from £20), a choice of cod, salmon or seabass ceviche (£7.50), creamed corn (from £3.50) and maple glazed duck with rice for £11. The What’s Cooking package I ordered was £80 and included ingredients to make a ceviche to start, two main dishes and four cocktails, but there is an option (for a further £20) where you can get your own personal chef to join you via Zoom whilst you are cooking if you feel you need a little guidance. The kit arrives in an easy-to-prep format with recipe cards on each dish and cocktail.
What do you have to do and how difficult is it?
At first I felt a little overwhelmed as there were so many bags and boxes, but once I’d laid it all out, took a step back and read the directions I felt a little more confident. I did feel like I was on the mystery bake round on the Great British Bake Off and I was half expecting Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig to appear.
Peru Perdu’s papaya salad was ridiculously simple and I decided to prepare one portion for the two of us and save the other portion for a light lunch the following day. I was dubious about being told to dry fry the baby gem lettuce until it was slightly charred but it added an extra flavour level to the salad - I will be trying this method again.
The duck leg for our main course of 'Peru Perdu duck leg with coconut rice' wasn’t as simple. I felt that the recipe could have had a couple more instructions such as how long to cook the rice for and why was star anise among the ingredients when it wasn’t mentioned on the recipe card? Also shouldn’t raw duck leg be slow-cooked rather than deep-fried? Once I’d got my head round it all it was pretty straightforward – but I did finish the duck off in the oven as it needed a touch more cooking.
Finally, the cocktails. I couldn’t have asked for anything more, simply mix everything together and you’ve got two espresso Martinis and two plum Manhattans to enjoy. I lamented my own lack of Martini glasses, but they can go on my Christmas wish list.
Is it any cop?
When I went to collect the kit they were missing one of the ingredients but I was offered a beer in the sunshine whilst I waited. Also the sesame seeds for the duck were to be missing, but luckily I had some in my store cupboard.
Once you’d got your head around all the packaging and the instructions, this was relatively easy to prepare restaurant-standard food in your own home. Plus it gave me mealtime inspiration for more lockdown dinners over the coming weeks as I’d never cooked duck or coconut rice before. My husband declared that he’d take this dinner kit over any takeaway and he would like to do more of this kind of dining – but to be fair, he didn’t join in with the preparation…
The Cotton Factory, 74 Princess Street, Manchester, M1 6JD
Follow @GeorginaHague on Twitter
Value for money
Quite pricey compared to other meal kits, but we had leftovers for a light lunch the following day. If you don’t want to shell out for the Who’s Cooking package, you can choose single dishes to keep the price down.
Packaging and delivery
Lots of packaging, but it was mostly reusable or recyclable. We opted for click and collect, where all social distancing measures where adhered to on collection
Once you’d taken ten minutes to read over the instructions and plan cooking times it was all straightforward – just pretend you’re taking part in the Great British Bake Off.
Quality and quantity
All produce was fresh, the duck leg was of high quality and the quantity was more than ample for salad and rice leftovers for the next day. Having two cocktails each was a real treat. To be fair though, a lot of the items in the kit would be available at any standard supermarket. Restaurant kits are supposed to offer more of the restaurant’s personality and skills from the chef in the form of slow-cooked meat, signature dressings and sauces etc. for people to reheat at home. Perhaps a vac-packed confit leg of duck might have been better than a raw one?