Meal Box Review: Nationwide delivery from a Co Waterford favourite
An exceptional dinner in which ‘everything is wild, organic and just as good as you can get’
Beach House’s meal kit is an à la carte menu that can be delivered nationwide. Photograph: Corinna Hardgrave
Sometimes it’s nice to get soda bread with no treacle. Just old school Irish soda bread. And when the bread comes from Tramore – accompanied by a postcard – it feels doubly apposite.
I went on holidays to Tramore when I was a child but I have no memory of it. When I visited last September, I was mesmerised. It’s like a piece of art, frozen in time. A Martin Parr photograph, with day trippers on the beach, the promenade, and in the fairground. I can’t believe it’s not over-run with hipsters.
I was there to have lunch at the Beach House. Like so many fans of Fish Shop on Dublin’s Queen Street, I felt a huge sense of loss when the restaurant closed. It was one of my favourite places to eat, with Peter Hogan managing the handful of tables and his partner, Jumoke Akintola, in the kitchen cooking the most precise, beautiful fish dishes you could imagine on a no-choice tasting menu.
Tramore is Hogan’s home town, and if I’m to be less selfish about it, it is absolutely wonderful to see people returning to their roots and bringing something special to somewhere that is not the capital.
The menu at the Beach House is à la carte, and not just fish focused, so this approach is used on their recently launched meal box. As is always the case with Akintola’s food, the produce used is impeccable. The crab mayonnaise (€13) is stunning, among the best I’ve ever had. A generous serving of lightly dressed, sweet crab meat with just one bit of shrapnel – a reassuring reminder that this is hand-picked local crab – is an incredible treat. It comes on its own, so maybe have a few green leaves to hand.
A thick slice of Sean Ring’s organic chicken leg terrine (€6.50) is barded with fatty pork, which adds flavour and keeps it moist. Rustic, with chunky pieces of chicken in a forcemeat, it is studded with pistachios, adding a green jewel-like spark of colour to what is essentially quite a grey piece of food. It is a delicious rustic slab and goes wonderfully with Tom Cleary’s mixed heritage carrots (€3.50) that have been pickled and marinated in olive oil and herbs.
Fish is a tough thing to do in a meal kit. In the Beach House, it is cooked to order, with split-second timing ensuring that it reaches the diner in pristine condition. The choice of monkfish for a meal box that is to be delivered around the country is a good one, as it is more robust. But after heating the monkfish with chickpeas in a vermouth sauce (€15), in the oven as instructed, the fish does get slightly dried out.
Popping this in a steamer I think would give a better result. I am guessing that the chickpeas are in the dish to make it more substantial, but I would have preferred some vegetables in that beautiful delicate sauce, which would be closer to Akintola’s style of cooking. But I have to say, top marks for the thought and effort put into coming up with a fish dish that will survive nationwide delivery.
The braised Comeragh mountain lamb shoulder (€10) is fall-apart tender; the rich sauce, clearly laden with a generous amount of wine, is nicely balanced; and the herb-roasted potatoes (€5.50), which are finished in the oven, are incredible. Better still, they come with a wobbly homemade aioli.
For dessert, the pear and almond tart (€8 for two slices) has a pastry base that would make Mary Berry very happy indeed.
A lot of thought and care has been put into developing dishes that will survive the vagaries of nationwide delivery, and if you’re looking for something special for Mother’s Day, this would be such a lovely gift. But set your alarm, it sells out quickly.
Dinner for two was €67, plus €12.95 delivery.
Where does it come from: Beach House, Turkey Road, Tramore, Co Waterford, beachhousetramore.ie.
The verdict: 8.5/10, “A hug for you” dishes at home.
Difficulty factor: Reheat and eat – take a break from the cooking.
Food provenance: Everything is wild, organic and just as good as you can get.
Vegetarian options: Wild mushroom pate and heritage carrots for starters, and baked orzo for main course.
Delivery: Nationwide bookings go live at 6pm each Thursday, delivers Friday the following week. Local collection is on Saturday.
Three to try
Dublin 4; click and collect, €3.50 delivery Dublin county; Asador.ie
Asador has a three-course Mother’s Day box, €99 for four to six people, which has basically no work to be done. For starters, it’s dressed crab with sourdough, main course is striploin beef with duck fat roasties and vegetables, and dessert is Valrhona cheesecake brownies and raspberry compote. Add on Champagne and cocktails to make it even more special.
Dublin 4; click and collect, €5 delivery Dublin, Thursday to Sunday; leperroquet.ie
There are plenty of options on this meal kit, €35 for one, with meat, fish and vegetarian menus. Starters vary on the menus, from chicken and black pudding terrine to white onion soup; mains include striploin, salmon, and mushroom and leek pithivier; and chocolate tart for dessert is followed with petit fours.
Dublin 6W; click and collect, Friday and Saturday; restaurantcirca.com
The menu here changes every two weeks, it is €35 for one and €80 for two including wine. Typical dishes are along the lines of lamb carpaccio, smoked almond and house pickles to start; followed by cherry roasted whole duck with all the trimmings and a choice of dessert or cheese to finish.