This month, The Lowry Hotel’s River Restaurant has launched an at-home cookery service so you can enjoy AA rosette food from the comfort of your own home.
Called @ HOME by The Lowry Hotel, you can choose from a five-course dining package with wine, an afternoon tea with prosecco, or a four-course Sunday lunch, all created by award-winning executive head chef, Dave Ashton.
We love a Sunday roast as much as we love a meal kit, so we got our hands on one to try it out and find out what you get – and see how easy it is.
The service is available for collection only, and is packaged up in a neat box with everything you need to create the four-course feast.
Some assembly and cooking is required, but it’s 80% prepared for you and ready to go.
The Sunday Lunch @ HOME is priced at £40 for two people, and includes all of the signature dishes you’d find at The River Restaurant.
There’s organic sourdough bread served with chicken fat butter, crayfish and prawn cocktail, succulent roast beef dinner complete with all the trimmings, and everyone’s favourite weekend sweet treat – sticky toffee pudding with sherry soaked raisins, served with chef Dave Ashton’s secret butterscotch sauce.
All the elements you need to create your dishes are individually packaged and clearly labelled in the box, with a methodology card explaining what you need to do, step-by-step.
The duck fat roast potatoes take the longest to cook, according to the card, at 45 mins. So we pop those in the oven first while we start prepping the two starters.
You may not think bread and butter is a proper course in its own right, but that’s because you haven’t tried The Lowry Hotel’s bread and butter.
It’s two huge thick slabs of perfectly chewy organic sourdough, with a tub of the most delicious chicken fat butter to spread generously over. Then you sprinkle the whole lot with a mixture of crisp shards of chicken skin and crunchy Maldon sea salt.
The only prep you need to do here is to allow the butter to come to room temperature before you spread it, and you’ve got the most outrageously delicious, intensely savoury treat to start lunch the right way.
Next up is the fabulously retro sounding prawn and crayfish cocktail, which comes with all sorts of little cheffy twists that you’d just never normally bother with yourself.
It’s all about assembly, with all the cooking and elaborate processes done for you. All that’s required of us is to try to make it look neat. Which is a bit easier said than done when you’ve already had a glass of wine with the bread. But it’s lots of fun.
You need to spoon a ready-made sweetcorn cream across the plate, then place two piles of fennel on it. The prawn and crayfish mix needs dolloping into the gaps, then you add a few dots of vivid green avocado cream, some tarragon leaves and some little pieces of linseed cracker.
It’s a great feeling of achievement to see something so professional looking come together before your eyes, without really needing to do much work. But you don’t have to tell your guests that, of course. They’ll assume you spent hours rather than minutes on it.
The result is a deliciously nostalgic starter, rich and creamy with pops of aniseedy fennel and tarragon and a welcome crunch from the crackers. Expertly balanced. And generous, too. You won’t go hungry here.
And the main event? Well, it’s pretty much perfect.
The duck fat roasties just need putting in the oven and turning halfway through. The honey roast carrots and cauliflower with Lancashire Bomb cheese go in when you turn the potatoes. And the Yorkshire puddings just need a couple of minutes to heat through.
Everything comes in its own little foil container, so you don’t even need to use any dishes – unless you want to pretty things up a bit for the table, of course. But you can just as easily plate up straight from the foils if you prefer.
In fact, all you really need in terms of equipment is a couple of pans, to reheat the gravy and the braised cabbage for a few minutes.
It couldn’t be simpler, but the results are so impressive. Two slices of beef cooked pink (you just gently heat them up, they’re ready cooked, you can’t mess it up), crisp Yorkshires, golden roasties, and an array of veg.
And plenty of gravy, which is a good thing, as it’s absolutely superb.
Pudding is even simpler. 40 seconds in the microwave for the sticky toffee pudding, top it with sherry-soaked raisins and butterscotch sauce which you just heat through in a pan, and add a dollop of clotted cream which melts over the top appealingly.
It’s the perfect, grin-inducingly sweet end to what turns out to be an epic feast. With hardly any effort.
But if you want to pretend it was all homemade and terribly hard work, we won’t tell anyone.
The Sunday Lunch @ HOME is priced at £40 for two people, available for collection from The Lowry Hotel only.