LONDON | The City Lane was recently invited to try out a new London-based dinner delivery service, EatFirst Home. The premise being that you place an order online (up to 4:00 pm of the day you want delivery) and your high-quality chef-created meal is delivered to your door. It’s a space that’s set to become more competitive as people realise that supermarket frozen lasagne is a hideous crime against meal time.
In our time poor modern world it can be easy to compromise on our dinners. The problem is, once you do, you are probably making your dinner less interesting, tasty, varied, and/or affordable. The popularity of the ubiquitous cooking shows on TV suggests we don’t want boring, bland meals no matter how convenient they are.
We could just eat out right? Well yeah, you could. But you live in London, and you probably already do way more of that than you probably should. If you get to the end of the week and feel a little guilty about how many times you’ve eaten out, or if you have tentative plans to convert the under-used kitchen in to something more useful, like an extra bedroom, then you might want to start eating at home a bit more.
This is where EatFirst enter the picture.
Each day there are 5 mains, 1 dessert and 1 drink to choose from. These options rotate throughout the week, offering something for every taste. You can order for any weekday in the current week. Mains range in price from £6.95-£8.95. We were tempted by everything on offer on the day we ordered. However, after some careful deliberation we plumped for the Beef Osso Buco and the Gnocchi with Butternut Squash. The other options for that day – Grilled Salmon Teiryaki, Wild Mushroom Parpadelle and Braised Beef Tortellini – will have to wait for another day. For those curious about all things nutrition, the details are are there on each meal’s page.
The online ordering process could not be any simpler. After deciding what you want to eat, you then need to choose a delivery time slot from the list. Slots run throughout the evening in 30 minute blocks. We were conveniently kept updated about the progress of our meal delivery. First we were sent a reminder about it, and then notification that the driver was making their way towards us. The driver indeed arrived on time, right at the start of the delivery slot. With punctuality like this, you need not miss the latest scandalous twist in your favourite soap opera.
The convenience of the timing doesn’t end there. The meals we sampled, and so we assume all of them, have pretty consistent reheating instructions. Reheating is done in either the oven or the microwave, and at some point you will probably need to combine a variety o additional ingredients. Each meal comes with a few ingredients in separate containers all grouped together in one box per meal. The reheating instructions were printed on these boxes for each meal. Fortunately the abundant packaging is all recyclable.
Another winner for the convenience is that the main portion of the meal comes in a container that can be used for the whole reheating and combining process. So by the end of the meal you will only really end up needing to wash up whatever utensils you use. If you choose to eat straight out of the box, we’re not going to judge you. If you decide to eat straight out the box, using just your hands, we still won’t judge you, Neanderthal.
All of this is great, but if the food isn’t up to scratch it’s a bit pointless. Fortunately we can report that not only is the food pleasant to eat, you could be forgiven for thinking you were in the latest pop-up hipster restaurant designed to look like someone’s living room. In fact on close inspection, you pause and dwell on the notion it looks very much like your own living room.
The meals were very good. The Beef Osso Buco had been pre cooked to perfection, the beef falling away as you would hope. The saffron risotto brought back memories of eating down a hidden Milanese alley. At this point I’d like to apologise for not arranging the beef on to a bed of risotto as one might expect from this dish. I prefer clear segmentation in my meals! This is one of the real benefits of EatFirst, you can make a fool of yourself eating high-quality dinners and no one need ever know about it. Well, apart from the date you’ve fooled in to thinking you’ve just knocked up a restaurant quality dinner in your fairly basic kitchen.
The Gnocchi and Butternut Squash was also impressive. The gnocchi itself was spot on in texture – light and bouncy, with the creamy butternut squash paste adding rich flavours throughout. Both meals were ideally proportioned. Anyone who’s resorted to a supermarket ready meal will know the pain and immense sadness you feel when you realise just how little of the headline ingredient is in your meal. This is not the case here with EatFirst. You ordered a Beef dish? You get a beef dish! Not a garnish of beef flavours. We were suitably satisfied after completing our mains.
When we decided it was time to dig in to our Classic Italian Tiramisu, we realised that we had left it a little too long. The bottom layer of sponge fingers had become a bit mushier than we would normally enjoy however the taste was good. It was a generous portion though, and in hindsight we probably could have split 1 between 2 people and still been satisfied.
We think EatFirst has found themselves a nice little niche in the dinner market. There are many things we liked about EatFirst Home. The variety of meals on offer is the big initial plus. Combining the variety with minimal preparation at home is a revelation. Letting you place your order up until 4:00pm is a master stroke – given my mind has already wistfully wandered through all my options a couple of hours prior to that. I also think the price point is fair, given the quality of the meal on offer.
If you want to try EatFirst Home, I suggest you first check out the impressively large delivery map to make sure you are living in the right area. Make your selections, and if you are planning to heat in the oven, get the oven pre-heating a little before the driver arrives.