A gourmet night in lockdown thanks to a Yorkshire hotel going the extra mile
If we can't go to the restaurants, let the restaurants come to us!
Dining out is something many of us are craving right now as the third lockdown bites hard and keeps us from doing lots of the the things we enjoy.
Eating in a restaurant is one of them and with the hospitality industry hit hard by the pandemic, it's unlikely things will change soon.
But businesses are refusing to give up and there are restaurants which have stepped up and taken the initiative to showcase their food by other means.
Like the Devonshire Hotels group in North Yorkshire, for example, who have created their very own gourmet recipe box which, impressively, can be delivered nationwide.
And to break up the mundaneness of another lockdown Friday night in front of the TV, my wife and I thought we'd treat ourselves and give the 'Duchess's Choice Dining' box a go.
We knew the food would be good after a stay at the beautiful Devonshire Arms Hotel in Bolton Abbey, near Skipton, last year, which now seems a long time ago.
Arriving by courier, the ingredients came neatly vacuum packed with instructions and ready to put together with a minimal amount of cooking involved.
There is a vegan option, but we plumped for the three-course traditional sirloin of beef menu, which included a house-cured salmon starter with pickled red onion and a citrus dressing. No ovens or saucepans required, it was a case of plating up with Masterchef-style presentation, which I can vouch is not as easy as the top chefs make it look.
The main event of roasted salt aged beef sirloin came with Yorkshire pudding (of course), duck fat roast potatoes, seasonal vegetables, cauliflower cheese and a red wine jus. Cooked for just 10 minutes (we like it pink), there's no way our oven would ever be graced with such a succulent and tender piece of meat from the supermarket.
One for the chocolate-lovers, dessert was a rich and beautiful dark chocolate fondant, which certainly passed the 'ooze' test once the spoon went in. And with the toffee sauce and candied pecans alongside, it was a truly indulgent end to the meal.
There are extras you can add to your box, but the standard £60 charge for two people, plus delivery, is quite reasonable considering the quality of ingredients. Yes you have to prepare and plate it up yourself, but that's all part of the fun, and who doesn't need a little bit of fun in their lives right now?
From mid-February, Devonshire will be changing the packaging of the boxes to an eco-friendly ‘Vegware’ type made from plant-friendly materials, which means they will be both biodegradable and recyclable. Another good reason to give them a try.
For us it was all about spoiling ourselves and enjoying an experience which, at the moment, is as close as you're going to get to sitting at a restaurant table.
We patiently wait for those times to return, but if there's one thing the pandemic has taught us, it's to make the best of difficult times and it's places like the Devonshire that help achieve this.
Standard recipe boxes are priced at £60 (for two people) and are available for Friday delivery, with orders taken online up to midnight on Sunday.
Or treat your loved-one with a special romantically-inspired Valentine’s Day box, which costs £110 (for two people) with a range of optional extras available. Three courses include crab and beetroot tian, pink grapefruit and walnut bread followed by pepper-crusted chateaubriand, fondant potato, braised red cabbage, roasted roots and red wine jus, with a special Black Forest gateau to finish.
Orders taken online up to 5pm on Friday 5th February for delivery on Thursday 11th February for local orders, and Friday 12th February for nationwide deliveries.
All local orders are delivered free of charge within 10 miles of The Devonshire Arms Hotel & Spa, Bolton Abbey, BD23 6AJ. Nationwide delivery orders cost £12.