Meal Box Review: A classic steakhouse experience at home
All the trimmings are included: caramelised onions, creamed spinach and chunky chips
The Porterhouse steak kit from FXB.
As the opening of restaurants inches closer – we can almost feel it – there are still a few more weeks of pushing around pots and pans, prepping meals, washing dishes and looking at the same old walls. Not that our lives pre-all-of-this involved dining out every night of the week. It’s just, well, we can’t wait.
And while there has been much talk about the success of meal kits, and the likelihood that they are here to stay, my guess is that a few may continue, certainly we will see them for celebratory events like Valentine’s Day, but, for most restaurants, it will be back to what they know and love best.
One option that is likely to continue is the FXB at home meal kit, a steakhouse dinner with all the trimmings. A meal kit with close to zero work. Which I think is pretty much where we are all at now.
Most of the components are in tinfoil trays, so you just pop them in the oven, the instructions are clear and there’s also a little bit of butchery general knowledge. Do you know what cut a T-bone is? I’m sure you do: sirloin steak one side of the bone and the fillet on the other side. But a Porterhouse? It’s a double cut T-bone, so twice as thick. New to me.
As you would expect with FXB, this is all about quality beef. Which is important. Because I think many of us are trying to cut back on our meat intake, and, when we do indulge, we want to have something really special and humanely raised.
The slightly yellow tinge to the seam of healthy-looking fat on the porterhouse steak says it all. The meat has been hung on the bone for a minimum of 28 days so it is buttery and rich. There are instructions for cooking it in the oven – very precise, finished by brushing the steak with rosemary and thyme sprigs that have been dipped in melted butter – but we opt for the barbecue. Well, maybe not we, I’ve delegated this task to my resident barbecue man.
This is a delightfully classic, old school dinner. I’d forgotten how good pepper sauce can be, and am totally smitten with the gentle yet pungent sparks of heat from the peppercorns in a rich beef bone stock and Port sauce.
All the steakhouse staples are there: caramelised onions with parsley, sautéed chestnut mushrooms with spiced butter and wilted watercress, creamed spinach with Parmesan cream, and chunky chips. The chips have been steamed, then twice cooked in beef dripping, and while they are not quite as spectacular as they would be if they were served in FXB’s steakhouse, they are fluffly inside and have responded as well as could be expected to reheating in the oven.
Dessert is a chocolate fondant which just requires reheating and is served with clotted cream and shards of honeycomb. I would have preferred it to be a little gooier, maybe my oven was too hot, but it has plenty of chocolatey indulgence and finishes off the meal nicely.
FXB is one of Dublin’s top butchers and they are all set for a summer of good food. Their shop on Pembroke Street has an impressive array of ready meals, and there are shelves of luxury bits you just might want to add on. Barbecue kits are also available, €55, with the deluxe box priced at €95, and they are delivered nationwide.
They have also invested in fully covered terraces in both their Pembroke Street restaurant and in Monkstown, Co Dublin, where the council has given restaurants on the main street space opposite their doors. So, when outdoor dining returns, you’ll be able to get those twice cooked chips right out of the fryer. But for now, the meal kit is the perfect night off.
Dinner for two was €60.
Where does it come from: FXB, 1a Pembroke Street Lower, Dublin 2; fxbuckley.ie
Difficulty factor: A little work is involved
Food provenance: Premium Irish meat
Vegetarian options: No
Delivery: Order 24 hours in advance, email firstname.lastname@example.org or tel: 01 568 8087; collection from Pembroke Street or Monkstown restaurants Friday and Saturday
THE VERDICT: 8/10 A classic steakhouse dinner with all the trimmings
Three to Try
Balfe’s to Go
Dublin 2; order and collect, Wednesday to Sunday; balfes.ie
If you’re planning a picnic in St Stephen’s Green, the new takeaway from Balfe’s in the Westbury Hotel is perfect. Sandwich options include a steak baguette, €16, and vegetarian focaccia, €12; and you can add on fries, chilled beers, cocktails, coffee and tea. To order, call 01 646 3353 or email Reserve_Balfes@doylecollection.com.
Good Day Deli
Cork city; click and collect, national delivery Friday and Saturday; gooddaydeli.ie
The newly launched Good Day Deli Morena Larder Box, €49.50, which will feed two to four, is filled with everything you need for a long, indulgent breakfast. There’s homemade granola, honey cake and soda bread, preserves and pickles, Hivemind honey, and West Cork coffee.
Dublin 1; click and collect, delivery 10km radius; Friday to Sunday, boco.ie
These finish-at-home pizza kits for two, three or four people, range from €26 -€46. The half-baked, woodfired pizza bases come with the classic toppings of crushed tomato sauce and Toons Bridge fior di latte and a choice of two additional toppings. Bagnums of wine, €30 for 1.5 litres, are also available.