Throughout the three lockdowns, we’ve swapped our weekly restaurant night for a weekly restaurant home delivery night. Most weeks that’s meant dinner has been a fairly run of the mill Indian or Italian – only one of the restaurants that we visit regularly deliver to our address. . But, now and again, we’ve gone down a different route buying a “meal box” from a restaurant – a full meal where the restaurant has done all the prep, most of the cooking and, basically, all you have to do is warm it up, plate it and get stuck in. Adam Reid is one of our favourite local chefs, heading up the operation at the eponymous “Adam Reid at the French” – the restaurant at Manchester’s Midland Hotel. It’s a restaurant we’ve visited with some regularity over the years and which, inexplicably, continues to evade Michelin stardom. . You may have seen him on Great British Menu.
So, to the Menu Box. As Adam points out in an interview with Manchester Confidential, this is not the intricate “fine dining” experience of the French but “It’s more like if I opened a casual dining option. You’re getting the same ingredients, same quality, same flavour but done a bit simpler and a bit heartier.” But, let’s be honest here, “casual dining” by Adam is a lot more “fine” than Manchester’s actual top end casual dining options.
I’ll get to the actual food in a minute but, first, a quick mention of process. Everything is boxed up for each of the three courses, so you’re not going to get mixed up accidentally pouring your dessert sauce over your starter. And you’re going to get really accurate cooking and finishing off instructions – you do not need to be an expert home cook to handle all this. I’ll describe the meal pretty much as I might had I been at a restaurant.
To start, there’s baked salmon. It sits on a butter cream sauce, to which you’ve stirred through finely diced potato, onion, chopped chives and a little caviar. And you’ve managed to decorate the plate with very cheffy dots of chive oil. Tasted fab – best course of the meal. Alongside, there’s a thick wodge of what I think is a malted sourdough that’s served in the restaurant. Oh, and there’s a rich beer butter to slather over – very thickly.
Lamb rump for a main course. It just needs a few minutes in the oven and you are strongly advised to let it rest for the same time it’s been in the oven, plus a bit. It comes out a perfect medium rare. And it’s a damn tasty bit of sheep. There’s a swede mash and gravy which, in truth, ran into each other and made it a bit too wet. But it’s inspired to then also have a lemon and caper “jam” to spoon over – nice and sharp as a more traditional mint sauce would offer. And there’s another cheffy drizzle of parsley oil to finish it off.
Dessert was an absolute belter. A chocolate pot which just needed unmoulding from its container. There’s poached prunes and a syrup to spoon over. And an orange butter to grate over – and when did orange and chocolate not work? And, finally, a scattering of little “ball bearings” of crunchy dark chocolate. It’s a perfect combo of flavours and textures.
We’d had good fun doing the bit of finishing off that’s needed. And we’d had great fun eating it – it’s a reminder of just how good food can be and we can’t wait to be back at the restaurant to eat Adam’s food. Menu Box is only available for delivery on Fridays for cooking the next day and the actual menu changes each week. It’s priced at a very reasonable £90 for two people.