What To Order In When You Want To Feel Like You’re Going Out
Want that special restaurant feeling in your own home? Try ordering in from one of these restaurants (and also cleaning your house, you slob).
Ordering in isn’t the same as going out, but life is about compromises. About making the best of a bad situation. About being told the McFlurry machine is broken again and thinking - ‘that’s okay, I’ll get a Cornetto from the shop’. This is the situation we’re in now. And it means when you do crave that feeling of being wined and dined on a Thursday, Friday, or whatever night, then you need to make it feel a little special. To set the mood. To make your home feel something like the restaurant you crave. Only with your bed next door.
After spending way too much time this year already kneading various balls of dough into various disappointing shapes, it’s time to treat yourself. It’s time to take yourself out of the kitchen, and into a place where dexter beef, potato and black truffle pithiviers are served. Where gravy, no, jus, is delicately poured from a height. What’s that? Your housemate has nothing on tonight? Why not ask them to don a selvedge denim apron and bring your radishes with anchovy cream in? Sure, you’re not quite at Clipstone, but it’s not bad for a Thursday night.
Optional extras: Marble dining table, oversized serving tweezers, a subscription to Cereal magazine.
La Chingada Mexican Food
Sometimes the best nights involve eight layers of make up, a loud top-40 soundtrack, and an eye-watering bill. But other times, the best nights out simply involve the sound of beef confit sizzling and an eye-watering dose of jalapenos. La Chingada is a proper little Mexican taqueria near Surrey Quays that is delivering everything from quesadilla to big, bean-packed burritos. It’s perfect for a serious taco party night in, especially if you match it with a couple - okay, several - homemade mezcal margaritas.
Optional extras: multi-coloured plates, exactly 100 little napkins, a bottle of mezcal.
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You’ve washed your hair. You’ve changed out of your Star Wars PJs. You no longer look like a yeti that attended Comic Con. Congratulations, because we’re pretty sure Sushi Atelier has a no ape-like mythical creature policy. You’re going to want to set the scene with a soothing playlist, some dainty flowers on your table, your very best chopsticks, and their big sushi sets delivered. This excellent Japanese spot also has a soft spot for theatrics, including smoke-filled domes and top service, so a little dramatic description of each piece of nigiri whilst dishing up will go a long way.
Optional extras: Dry ice, old school Japanese news clippings, a very majestic mural.
Unless you’re into pirate cosplay, it’s unlikely that your home is going to have required opulence and carats-on-display to recreate Gymkhana’s opulent feel. That said, a dimmer switch and an imagination is all you really need, because their lamb chops, biryani, and butter masala will do the rest of the work for you. Getting a curry in may not seem that unusual, but getting London’s best curry in? That’s as good as going out.
Optional extras: Gold-detailed cutlery, gold-detailed plates, gold-detailed everything.
We have spent many tipsy nights crowding around a St. John pie like it’s a meaty little campfire. And now, in what is potentially the best thing to happen to 2020 since Hamilton at home, St. John is offering collection on their pies. Take this as an excellent excuse to Marie Kondo the crap out of your flat, so you get that clean, white minimalist look they’re so famous for, combined with the smell of golden crust and pheasant. Plus, in the run up to your night of sophisticated wine-focused fun you can be your own Fergus Henderson and put on one of the signature St. John aprons. Classy, very classy.
Optional extras: White walls, white plates, white table cloths, and a truly fantastic number of red wine stains.
The Duck and Rice
The Duck And Rice is part pub, part Chinese restaurant. Your home is part kitchen, part living room. Do you see where we’re going with this? Crank the speakers loud in your kitchen and set up an ice bucket of grab-ready pints so you can say ‘just popping to the bar, do you want another’ AKA. one of the best sentences in the English language. Meanwhile, your table in ‘the restaurant’ will be covered in crispy fried duck, noodles, and a selection of dim sum. Venison puff with your pint anyone?
Optional extras: Bamboo steamers, tankards, and a good-natured drinking chant.
We miss going on holiday. In case you’ve forgotten what a holiday is, it’s where you fly somewhere hot and drink so much sangria that you end up dry-humping a lilo by 3pm. We also miss Mazi, a Greek spot in Notting Hill with a foliage-filled back patio that always feels like a holiday on a sunny day. Now they’re delivering their grilled octopus, tzatziki, and more to your door. But getting the feel of this place at home isn’t about having a garden. It’s about a mindset we’ve dubbed Ouzo 4 U. Flip flops, open windows, early Hot Chip albums, and serious daylight boozing encouraged. Don’t miss the calamari.
Optional extras: arty ceramics, full-on foliage, the smell of suntan lotion.
Be honest, what are the odds of you making caramelised butter to go with your sourdough? Or having tagliolini with mushroom and dried mandarin dashi for dinner? Absolutely naff all. Unless you’re like a chef, or something. In which case why are you even reading this guide? The point is, Casa Fofó makes some pretty unique and delicious fine-dining style food. And at £22 a head for three courses, it’s an excellent way of bringing some restaurant-only feeling into your front room.
Optional extras: A dictionary, textured ceramics, a bottle of the orange stuff.
In the immortal words of noughties pop star and bird enthusiast, Nelly Furtado, it’s time to ‘turn off the lights’. To really get the feel of this little Clerkenwell wine bar at home you’re going to need candles and a small space. That’s right, the fact you live in a flat clearly only fit for The Rescuers is finally a perk. You’re going for an aura of lowkey, candlelit sophistication. Basically, if it looks like a borderline fire hazard you’re doing it right. When it comes to the food, their three-course delivery options change weekly, but expect things like gnocchetti sardi with fennel sausage, pistachio and orange upside down cake, and a ricotta and aubergine salad.
Optional extras: a bottle of merlot, fogged-up windows, the menu written on a big blackboard.
Din Tai Fung
Sometimes, the 100% real experience is not what you want. Sometimes, you want to watch The Irishman over several months in 15-minute segments on your phone, on the toilet. Sometimes, the idea of queuing to get into a restaurant is frankly outrageous. If that sounds like you, then you’ll be happy to hear that walk-in-only Din Tai Fung is now delivering their dim sum, and there isn’t even an online queue to navigate. Make an order and throw your family behind some plexi-glass for a little extra authenticity.
Optional extras: A queue barrier outside your front door, steamer baskets, white aprons.
Short of building a tardis or hitting up Doctor Strange, getting the best lamb chops in London delivered is a sure fire way of feeling like you’re back at Brigadiers. This big Indian restaurant in the City has a whisky vending machine, a pool table, and big screens for the football. Are we suggesting these should be your three next quarantine purchases? We’re not not saying that. But the main thing you need is several cold pints, a favourite game on in the background, and their butter chicken on your table. Did we mention the best lamb chops in London?
Optional extras: pool table, a monkey-shaped lamp, a shrine to Thierry Henry.
Endo at the Rotunda
If you’re after a truly special experience in the same space that you scratch your armpit and eat lasagne sandwiches in, then you’ll want to get a bento box from Endo. Ordinarily, Endo at the Rotunda isn’t just a restaurant you plan to go out to, but a restaurant you plan to go out to for a once-in-a-lifetime meal. Only now, for a cool £140 you can get a bento box meal for two that includes a homemade “ozaki” wagyu sandwich, Tokyo-style bara-chirashi with salmon, otoro, unagi, and more. Trust us when we say it will take you to another place.
Optional extras: Japanese flip flops, sake, Kleenex for your tears of joy.
The success rate of recreating Fitzrovia’s Circolo at home really depends on two things. How many old school portraits of Italian families you own, and how willing your flatmate / partner / houseplant is to pretend to be a charismatic, slightly flirty Italian waiter. Thanks to Circolo’s delivery and collection service you can now eat their signature cheese-fest carbonara and XXL desserts at home, without having to worry about the absolute ’mare that was their pre-lockdown queues. Plus, the main feature of this huge, loud and proud trattoria is the thousands of bottles of Italian spirits that line the walls, and if your lockdown is going anything like ours you probably have that in your kitchen already, right? Dress up a little sexy, put your party playlist on, and definitely get involved in their Sex On The Couch and Zoom Service cocktails.
Optional extras: pecorino, fake plants, flirting with a stranger through your window.
Your plans to get out - not just the house for al fresco boozy meals, but of the country - have been well and truly scuppered. Ours too. But, get a load of tapas in from José Pizarro, sticking Roy Ayers on the speakers, and putting a few pillows on your front step will be something like getting away. Especially once you’ve got 100% iberico pork loin and glass of rosé by your side.
Optional extras: A balcony (your window), a sun terrace (your front steps), a garden (the pavement).
The Bao aesthetic is all about clean lines, simple graphics, and crisp white walls. What we’re saying is, tidy up your shit. Yes, even that easel you bought on day two of lockdown and have not used since. Because transforming yourself into Bob Ross is hard, but ordering in from Bao is easy. Their delivery service - aptly called Rice Error - means you can eat their Taiwanese fried chicken and pork belly rice whilst creating that cool and casual feel with a stool and a calm indie soundtrack. Bonus points for whipping out the karaoke machine over a couple of their Umeshu negronis in place of an after-dinner trip to Bao Borough’s karaoke room.
Optional extras: Neatly organised pencils and cutlery from their online shop.
Lina Stores – 51 Greek Street
Step one: Go online and purchase ten litres of mint pastel paint. Step two: Paint your entire home in said paint. Step three: Order in Lina Stores’ £32 fresh pasta meal kit and enjoy. Okay, maybe that’s a bit extreme. But this pastel palace of pasta - try saying that three times in a row - are delivering everything from antipasti to pizza meal kits. The aesthetic is Italian wet dream meets Baz-Luhrman-on-steroids, so exile all dark furniture and news-alert gloom into the hallway, crack out the campari, and fuck it, bask in the glory of not having to cook any mince to make your spag bol. Heads up, they’re delivering nationwide.
Optional extras: candy stripe napkins, limoncello, a serious order of cannoli.