Meal Box Review: A generous at-home kit full of classic, comforting dishes

With just a little bit of work, you’ve got a first-class bistro meal in your home with this takeaway box

Potted Dingle Bay crab comes with a loaf of The Winding Stair brown treacle bread to toast and serve with the shellfish and garnishes. Photographs: Dave Sweeney

Potted Dingle Bay crab comes with a loaf of The Winding Stair brown treacle bread to toast and serve with the shellfish and garnishes. Photographs: Dave Sweeney

 

Not everyone would be thrilled to see three raw, non-beating duck hearts staring at them when they open the kebab tub on a meal kit, but it does explain the little wooden swords provided. If this is not your thing, don’t let it put you off. It’s just a garnish for the confit duck. And there’s so much in this hugely generous meal kit that ignoring this gastronaut touch will have no impact whatsoever on the pleasures that lie ahead.

A full loaf of The Winding Stair brown treacle bread is an immediate indication of the generosity here, so two things for advance prep: make sure you have an appetite, and allow yourself a little time to read through the instructions as you munch on the house-made crisps.

A glass of wine would be good too, and it’s worth ordering a bottle with your box as the prices are the same as an off-licence, rather than that in-between level that many restaurants use for takeaway. The crisp Rafael Palacios Godello for €26 would be lovely.

The meal kits are sturdily packed and the contents easily identifiable
The meal kits are sturdily packed and the contents easily identifiable
The Legal Eagle goat’s cheese panna cotta starter includes the restaurant’s home-made crisps
The Legal Eagle goat’s cheese panna cotta starter and  the restaurant’s home-made crisps
Chateaubriand main course option from The Legal Eagle at home
Chateaubriand main course option from The Legal Eagle at home

The potted Dingle Bay crab, which is fresh and sweet, and dressed in a restrained amount of sauce, is a lovely start to the meal. It comes in its own little tub, so that you can crack the butter seal and pile on to toasted slices of that delicious brown bread, with some salad leaves on the side and long strips of cucumber pickle that have the tiniest hint of ginger.

There are a number of options on the Legal Eagle dinner kits, mainly defined by the main course selected, although the dishes change from time to time. I’ve had the chateaubriand before (very good, €90 for two, and the goats’ cheese panna cotta starter was stunning). This time I’m springing for the confit duck, although the fish option also sounds really tempting.

Seared hearts

We should all be experts at getting our confit duck legs nice and crispy by the end of this lockdown, and in this kit the instructions are clear, using a combination of oven followed by grill. And then, of course, there are the duck hearts, a little bit of a nod to St John, Fergus Henderson’s restaurant in London. They are seared on the pan and served as a mini kebab garnish. They are firm, and not particularly strong in flavour.

Savoy cabbage, which has been shredded and pan-fried in butter, adds a fresh crunch to the dish, as does a large potato cake, which is coated in roasted slivers of almond. A garnish of pickled blackberries with a kick of acidity has a real place on this plate – it’s not just ornamental – and a very fine jus, with a bit of booze and butter to give it body, finishes the dish nicely.

Dessert is a classic, the Legal Eagle sticky rum pudding, which is dark, yielding and slathered in a sticky caramel and rum sauce with a splash of Chantilly cream. This is comfort food at its best.

Reading this, you may think: another high score, is she losing the run of herself completely? Well, no. What I really hope to do is to review the meal kits that are worth buying, not the ones to avoid. In allocating marks, it is quite different from how I would score a restaurant. After all, if there’s a problem with the decor or service, well, that’s all my own fault. It is very much about the food, and for some kits, the clarity of instructions and the price have influenced the final score. I’m not going soft. I’m just delighted that there are so many really good meal kits out there.

The Legal Eagle has a lot of menu options, which include meat, fish, vegetarian and menus for one. This is a meal box you’ll want to revisit more than once.

A three-course dinner for two was €70.

Where does it come from? The Legal Eagle, 1/2 Chancery Place, Dublin 7, thelegaleagle.ie
The verdict 8.5/10 Take a night off to enjoy this old-fashioned home cooking.
Difficulty factor A little juggling with timing, but not hugely laborious or difficult.
Food provenance Top-quality Irish produce is central to everything here.
Vegetarian options Yes, there’s a vegetarian option, and it’s possible to order it for one person.
Delivery Click and collect at The Woollen Mills, Friday to Sunday, 4pm-7pm, and delivery in Dublin.

THREE TO TRY

Bloom Brasserie
Dublin 4; Click and collect, delivery 5km radius, Wednesday-Sunday, bloombrasserie.ie

There are plenty of options on this reheat and eat menu, with sharing and individual dishes. Starters include chicken wings with blue cheese dip, and sautéed gambas; mains include chateaubriand at €24.50 per person, a haunch of wild Wicklow venison for two to three people for €56; and forest mushroom risotto as a vegetarian or vegan option.

Gregans Castle
Co Clare; Click and collect Friday, and delivery to pick-up points in Ennis, Lisdoonvarna, Ennistymon, Kinvara and Oranmore, gregans.ie

Gregans at Home dinners are back, with €5,000 of the proceeds from the pre-Christmas dinners being donated to Pieta House and Clare Haven Services. It’s a weekly changing, three-course menu for €32.50 per person, with dishes such as terrine de campagne, free-range Irish pork, North Sea cod and an apple tart fine with a Calvados crème fraîche.

Pudding Row
Easky, Co Sligo; Click and collect, local delivery Thursday and Friday, puddingrow.ie

Some great options here. The burger box, at €22.50, includes four Andarl farm pork and apple burgers, home-made floury baps, chutney, and house pickles. The comfort kits, €50-€55, which include gluten-free and vegan options, are delivered nationally.

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