Bastible Meal Box review: From the first bite you will be bowled over

This restaurant dinner box comes with its own guidebook – and is perfect for a romantic Valentine’s Day

 

Chefs have a system called mise en place. It means “putting in place”, with ingredients prepped and set up in advance before they start cooking. A commis chef usually does the prep, the head chef does the get-all-the-praise bit, and the beleaguered kitchen porter scuttles back and forth as dirty pots, pans and dishes pile up and make their way to the sink.

If planning and precision are the immediate word associations that come to mind when you hear the word prep, then the meticulously assembled Bastible meal kit is for you. There is even a full colour booklet with instructions on set up, cooking, plating and photos of work in progress and finished dishes, which will be emailed to you in advance of collection, with a nice thank you note for supporting independent local business.

You may want to sip a glass of crisp white wine as you read the booklet, although a drinking game for every time the word “saucepan” is mentioned is not advisable. Unfortunately, no kitchen porters are included. But the bit of leg work and many pots are worth it, because from the first bite of the Bastible-cooked, crusty sourdough bread, slathered in cultured butter, you will be truly smitten with the deliciousness of this food.

Clever starters

For the first starter, fine discs of celeriac are gently folded and layered on top of a silky sunflower seed mole, which has a beguiling earthiness, the celeriac lifted by the green freshness of watercress, which has been kissed with lovage and apple dressing and tiny cubes of apples; and yet another clever layer of flavour is added with the lactic saltiness of crumbled Cáis na Tire sheep’s cheese on top. Simple to assemble, but deceptively beautiful.

The second starter also plays with layers of flavour. Mild, light ricotta dumplings are inflected with the aromatics of a purple kale and sage butter, dressed with petals of Roscoff onion, and pulling it all together is the creamy stream of Hegarty’s cheddar cheese sauce, which is poured over. Sage leaves that are crispy to the point of being crystalline echo the flavoured butter and add texture.

Ricotta dumplings, with Hegarty’s cheddar cheese sauce
Ricotta dumplings, with Hegarty’s cheddar cheese sauce
Slow-cooked beef shin, with mushroom duxelles, confit onions and thyme
Slow-cooked beef shin, with mushroom duxelles, confit onions and thyme
Discs of celeriac are gently folded and layered on top of a silky sunflower seed mole
Discs of celeriac are gently folded and layered on top of a silky sunflower seed mole

Beef shin for main course sounds like it will be less cheffy, more bistro than Nordic-now, until you discover that it previously spent eight very worthwhile hours being braised in a rich beef stock with Madeira wine, was then glazed with the umami richness of a black garlic sauce and topped with mushroom duxelles, confit onions and thyme. Yes, it’s as rich as it sounds, but there’s a sharp kick from some home-pickled wild garlic capers that reins it all in. A feast of a winter dish that is joined by worthy accompaniments – potato puree, Madeira and shiitake sauce, and a side dish of butternut squash, which has already received the miso glaze treatment and been roasted in the oven.

Nordic influence

My default setting for dessert after this much jollification – to channel Moira Rose of Schitts Creek – would be more on the citrus fruit end of the spectrum, but here, chocolate mousse it is, and a sizeable tub too. There is a bit of a Nordic influence, so it’s not too sweet. A slick of blackberry jam on the bottom has a forest-y touch of dried spruce and juniper, the milk chocolate mousse is light, and is topped with a dollop of what Vikings would probably do if they were making Nutella. I had no trouble in demolishing the delightful lot of it.

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In case you haven’t noticed, we have a special day starting with a “V” coming up in a few weeks. And, well, it looks like we’ll all be staying at home, washing our hands and all that. So if you’re looking for something special to celebrate, this would be a bit spectacular, and I’m sure, much loved. Check out the ordering dates. Valentine’s meal boxes are selling out already.

Chocolate mousse, with blackberry jam
Chocolate mousse, with blackberry jam
Crusty sourdough bread
Crusty sourdough bread
Ricotta dumplings, with Hegarty’s cheddar cheese sauce
Ricotta dumplings, with Hegarty’s cheddar cheese sauce

A four-course dinner for two was €70.

Where is it from: Bastible, 111 South Circular Road, Dublin, D08 RW2K. 01-473 7409, bastible.com

The Verdict: 9/10 – the perfect meal kit for a romantic evening.

Difficulty factor: A moderate amount of work is required to bring the different elements together.

Food provenance: Top-quality Irish meat and produce is at the heart of this food.

Vegetarian options: Yes available, and as a meal for one if required.

Delivery: Click and collect at Bastible from Thursday to Saturday.

Three to try

The Butcher Grill
Dublin 6, click and collect, Thursday to Sunday, thebutchergrill.ie
The €65 three-course menu changes weekly, with mains ranging from bœuf Bourguignon to confit duck. Watch out for the €95 Valentine’s Day five-course menu with a choice of mains, or scale up to €190 to include the Gosset Reserve Champagne Gift Box with two Champagne glasses and Gosset stopper.

Mulberry Garden
Dublin 4, click and collect, Thursday to Saturday, deliveries in Dublin, mulberrygarden.ie
The folks at Mulberry Garden have been acing the reheat-and-eat meal kit thing since the get go, so this would be great for Valentine’s Day. It’s three courses for two, plus bread and petit fours for €65, and be sure to include cocktails with your order. Wine is also very reasonably priced.

Dax
Dublin 2, click and collect, dax.ie
Leave the cooking to us, says Graham Neville, the chef at Dax, where a three-course meal with bread and petit fours is €48 per person, offering two choices per course. The Valentine’s menu will be going up on their website on Sunday, February 7th.

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