Eoin Higgins reflects on a life without restaurants ... and selects a trio of the classiest gastro pick-me-ups to give homebound restaurant lovers a taste of something special
These days – for anyone who does it with any kind of enthusiasm, or regularity – living with an absence of opportunity to eat at restaurants can be a relatively miserable situation.
Of course there are other things slightly larger than a dearth of fine dining options to worry about, currently, but just because there are far more worrying issues occurring, we should not feel bad about our pangs of loss for more frivolous activities.
In fact, it could be argued that dreaming about those social rituals – a drink in a pub with friends after a stressful day at work, a satisfying work-out with the gym bunnies, and so on – are just as important to our weathering the storm as following the relentless, repetitive and sometimes harrowing news cycle.
Craving little luxuries can give us a sense of optimism, adding to our stockpile of hope.
For many (read, me) it’s yearning for a modern dining room: dressing up (a little) to enjoy the gentle hum of conversation while mouth-watering aromas waft through a space that’s ripe for people watching, craving enticing choices recommended and produced by talented staff, the gentle plink of wine being poured into your glass, the thrill of a never-before-experienced flavour ... it’s only right and proper to miss the buzz of eating out.
And while there may be a lack of that social and culinary light at the end of the tunnel right now, there is at least the possibility of a semblance of those experiences to be had in the shape of the restaurants who are adapting to these domestically-compelled times.
Here is a small selection of the best restaurant innovators offering a socially distanced delivery, or collection, service. So turn off the news, slip into something more comfortable (or at least slightly smarter than those bottoms, dear god we're sick of the sight of them ...), set the table, peruse the menu, and place your order. The kitchen is open.
The Allta Box is a nationwide delivery service offering handmade sourdough, charcuterie and freshly prepared pasta for you to cook at home. Judging by the sample menu: sourdough and shiitake miso butter; green olive mortadella, ventricina and McNally’s farm pickles; BBQ Broughgammon goat, pappardelle and Cáis ná Tíre; wild garlic and ricotta cavatelli with hazelnut gremolata; Velvet Cloud sheep’s yoghurt mousse and Ryan’s rhubarb jelly; white chocolate and oat cookie dough ... there should be more than enough for two, with leftovers, to be transported to flavour Valhalla. Allta will also be introducing a wine option soon. alltabox.ie
Cliff Townhouse Takeaway, pictured above, features favourites such as their comforting Fish Pie, Wagyu Beef Burger, their much loved Fish and Chip, and delicious small plates on offer including delicious ham croquettes, crab claws with garlic butter and a kitschy-tasty prawn cocktail. A family-friendly addition is the fish pie deal which is suitable for four people and is available cooked or chilled, with a bottle of CLIFF white wine, salad and dressing for €55. Cliff Townhouse takeaway will be available Fridays and Saturdays from 5pm until 9pm, and Sundays from 3pm until 8pm. You can call 01 6383939 to order, or email your order to [email protected].
Liath To Go offers “no-contact” take-away, Michelin-star quality dinners that consist of a starter, main course and dessert (€33 per person) for you to assemble and heat up at home. It’s also an opportunity to have a go at learning some starry restaurant techniques to finish and plate your meal – instructions are provided with your order. This is a pick-up only service. Order April 10, at 10am for next week (April 15- 18). There are only 160 meals being produced per week so fingers at the ready on Friday morning. liathrestaurant.com/to-go
The Hatch is a collection service from Howth maestros, Mamó. As of April 9, they will be open for collections on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Collections are from 1pm until 7:30pm, daily. Check out the all day menu, which includes gorgeous things like glazed beef cheek with camembert mash, roscoff onion and chantennay carrots (€18), to brill for two, with Lambay crab claws and crispy potatoes (€64). They are now taking pre-orders by phone for Thursday to Sunday lunchtime slots (1pm-4pm), you can call them from 10am on Thursday to arrange. mamorestaurant.ie
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