Revealed: Here’s how Liath’s €19 Michelin-star takeaway tastes

You get two lovely courses, and a cookery lesson, but don’t order it if you’re in a hurry to eat

How Liath’s takeaway looks when Damien Grey cooks it. You might not be able to achieve such a perfect result

How Liath’s takeaway looks when Damien Grey cooks it. You might not be able to achieve such a perfect result

 

This evening the first takeaway meals from Liath, the Michelin one-star restaurant in Blackrock, in south Co Dublin, will be collected by the customers who purchased them online last Friday.

Its chef-proprietor, Damien Grey, is cooking 30 of the dinners on his own each day, in an effort to keep his business afloat and top up the wages of staff he has had to lay off temporarily while his restaurant is closed amid the coronavirus crisis. The menu will change weekly, and the next batch, for collection next week, goes on sale on the restaurant’s website at 10am tomorrow.

The €19-per-person, two-course deal for this week’s launch sold out in minutes, with huge demand for the menu of goat’s cheese and salt-baked beetroot salad, followed by braised short rib with wild garlic and pancetta potatoes and red wine sauce.

Before you can eat there is a little light kitchen graft to be done, and instructions on reheating and plating up the meal, to Michelin standards, to be digested

But if you were one of the successful purchasers, I have some advice: don’t expect to unpack the bag carefully placed in your car boot by the chef and sit down immediately to enjoy your much-anticipated dinner. First there is a little light kitchen graft to be done, and instructions on reheating and plating up the meal, to Michelin standards, to be digested.

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“At Liath you have fun, and I want this to be fun too. I’ll give you the stuff 90 per cent preprepared, and you have to finish it at home,” Grey says, and he isn’t joking. My first mistake, after unpacking a trial pack of the dinner on Wednesday night, is not to read the page-long instructions from start to finish before getting going. If I had, I wouldn’t make several rookie mistakes.

So don’t forget to heat the salt-baked beetroot before you carefully place it on the plate alongside the raw-beetroot cones and pickled-beetroot chutney. And serve the salad on a separate plate, not plonked alongside the beets and goat’s-cheese mousse and hazelnut crumble, like I did. In my defence, the LiathToGo Instagram account, which will have photographs of how each dish should look, had not been updated when I got stuck in.

The chef will place it in your boot
A gloved and masked Damien Grey will place the takeaway in the boot of your car
The Liath takeaway arrives with instructions for reheating and plating the meal 
Damien Grey’s instructions for reheating and plating the meal 
Liath’s takeaway as I assembled it: it is more than worth the wait, and the little bit of labour involved, because it is like no dinner I have ever managed to cook in my kitchen
How the goat’s cheese and beetroot starter looks when Damien Grey cooks it
How the short rib main course looks when Damien Grey cooks it

On to the main course, which will involve making a sauce (well, melting butter into the red-wine reduction), and reheating the beef in the oven while basting it every five minutes with the braising stock provided. “Do this while you enjoy your starter,” Chef Grey advises. Is he having a laugh? What with reducing the gravy – sorry, sauce – and anointing the beef with the stock every five minutes, the starter remains untouched.

But this is where the cooking lesson kicks in. I learn how to turn braising stock into a sticky glaze for the beef, and how to get a shine on a sauce as it reduces. “Take your time, learn this technique and your sauces will never be the same,” the instructions say. And, no, not having read this bit, I do not sufficiently reduce the red wine and (lots of) butter sauce; don’t judge.

The final test before we can eat this delicious-smelling Michelin-at-home meal is to attempt the potato quenelle, crusher of many a MasterChef contestant’s hopes. My advice? Don’t bother. An ungainly dollop of the butter-laden mash topped with a hefty sprinkle of the wild-garlic, pancetta and chive topping will still taste delicious.

It has taken about 30 minutes to get from unpacking the bag (don’t forget to wear gloves and dispose of the packaging immediately, before washing hands) to sitting down to dinner. It’s more than worth the wait, and the little bit of labour involved, because it is like no dinner I have ever managed to cook in my kitchen.

Next week the takeaway menu goes up in price, to €23 per person – Grey says he lost money on the launch week – and features two Liath signature dishes. The starter is mushroom dumplings with ginger and white soy, and the main course is pork yuk sung with Baby Gem and barbecued pineapple. It will be available to order, at 15-minute intervals, next Wednesday to Saturday and goes on sale at 10am tomorrow.

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