A special occasion, multi-course dinner with powerful flavours

Meal box review: A top-end meal kit for people missing the restaurant experience

The Back to Dine seven-course meal kit is the result of many Zoom calls between Yann Florio and Temple Garner, chef proprietor of Bresson

The Back to Dine seven-course meal kit is the result of many Zoom calls between Yann Florio and Temple Garner, chef proprietor of Bresson

 

One of the dishes that Yann Florio, a finalist in last year’s MasterChef: The Professionals, served during the gruelling weeks of the competition, was a “clafoutis”, inverted commas required. But given that he’s a French native, born and raised in Lorraine in the northeast, he’s allowed a soupçon of slack when it comes to the culinary complexity of cultural appropriation, and whether it’s okay to change classic dishes. Anyway, he did, and Grace Dent, Guardian restaurant critic and one of the judges, loved it.

November is Food Month in The Irish Times. irishtimes.com/foodmonth
November is Food Month in The Irish Times. irishtimes.com/foodmonth

For me, it was one of the highlights on the Back to Dine seven-course meal kit, which is the result of many Zoom calls between Florio and Temple Garner, chef proprietor of Bresson in Monkstown, Co Dublin. No doubt it reflects the fact that Florio landed the head pastry chef position at Corrigan’s, in London’s Mayfair, when he was just 23 years old.

The meal starts with a relatively sweet note, pain d’épices and vanilla churned butter. A change from the now ubiquitous sourdough, this is a bread that is closer to cake and is often served with foie gras. Three hors d’oeuvres require a little bit of assembly. The aged Parmesan sablé, with a nice savoury note of rosemary, works well with the whipped St Tola goat’s cheese and beetroot; the langoustine tails, fresh and sweet, are served in a pastry case with crème fraîche and Goatsbridge caviar, but tastes just a bit dry; and less successful is the spiced beef on mini Yorkshire pudding – these pudds really don’t suit being served cold as they just seem rubbery.

The entrée of confit Skeaghanore duck is a riff on rillettes, so a bit of cooking is required to get the duck crispy and succulent, which is then divided between the two plates, and served with Jerusalem artichokes, mâche lettuce and a spectacularly good green peppercorn jus which pulls it all together. A delicious wintery starter.

There are two options for main course, salmon coulibiac – salmon given the Wellington treatment in pastry; and venison potato en croute – again, a Wellington riff, with shredded potato taking the place of the pastry. Served with spicy red cabbage, the overwhelming aroma of the venison dish is from truffle oil in the mushroom duxelles, a chemical compound which doesn’t contain truffles, and for me, dominates the flavours.

The Back to Dine seven-course meal kit is the result of many Zoom calls between Yann Florio and Temple Garner, chef proprietor of Bresson

I’m not a huge fan of salmon unless it’s wild, but here it is organic and really is a triumph. After cooking in the oven, the flaky pastry is beautifully crisp, the salmon, wrapped in a mousse, tastes sea fresh, and the gribiche brings a beautiful touch of acidity. I steer clear of a sauce with truffled egg yolk. The creamed cavolo nero adds an almighty whack of earthy umami flavours, and the ratte potatoes act as a compliant foil.

For the dessert, rather than the typical batter you get in a clafoutis, Florio’s deconstructed version uses a frangipane made from a mix of pistachio and almonds. It is warmed in the oven and served with a delicate custard flecked with vanilla, and plated with a blackberry fricassée – a plump blackberry in a sauce which has a whisper of lavender. Mignardises of geranium marshmallow, raspberry and cardamom Turkish delight, and an Irish coffee chocolate truffle finish off the meal beautifully.

So is it worth €100? It’s a lot of money, but it’s also a lot of food. The dishes are classic, with a few creative flourishes, and the kit is very well labelled with clear directions. It is designed to be a treat for a special night in and this exact menu is running until the end of the year. With all the little additions, like mignardises and a duck liver parfait to have the following day, it does feel special. But if you want it to be truly indulgent, I suggest you get another member of the family to do the leg work and serve you.

A seven-course dinner for two was €99.95

Verdict: 8/10 – a special occasion, multi-course dinner with big powerful flavours
Difficulty factor: Quite a bit of precise cooking required 
Food provenance: Top notch, shows a load of attention to detail
Vegetarian options: None available
Delivery: Click and collect at Bresson in Monkstown and San Lorenzos in Dublin city centre, Thursday to Saturday, limited delivery for corporate clients

Back to Dine/Bresson
4a Monkstown Crescent,
Monkstown,
Dublin, A94 VK30
(01) 284 4286
Backtodine.com
 53.29399, -6.15333

Three to try

 Legal Eagle at home
Dublin 7, click and collect, Friday and Saturday, thelegaleagle.ieThere’s a really good choice of top quality menu options here, ranging from €80 for the Chateaubriand for two which includes a masterful Toonsbridge goat’s cheese panna cotta starter and bread and butter pudding, to a fish menu for €70, and vegetarian feast for €65. It is also possible to order meals for one.

Phi Galway
Galway city, click and collect outside Loam restaurant, Thursday to Saturday, limited delivery, phigalway.com
Newly opened, initially as a ready-to-heat food delivery business, the focus here is on plant based food, although not exclusively, so you’ll find some meat dishes as well as a vegan box. The €30 menu for one changes every two weeks. All packaging is either compostable, biodegradable or recyclable.

Grálinn
Fethard, Co Wexford, click and collect, Saturday and Sunday
The €48 meal kits for two are limited to 10 per day, so it’s worth getting your order in early for this box which has in the past included tasty nibbles with focaccia; roast local carrots with Velvet Cloud sheep’s yoghurt; potato and Toonsbridge ricotta stuffed caramelle; and a dessert of chocolate and olive oil budino.

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