Our resident London based foodie Neil tries out some food delivery options available whilst in lockdown
These are somewhat challenging times and, with the best will in the world, it’s unlikely that we’ll see the end of them soon. While it remains very difficult to get a delivery slot from the big supermarkets and large internet retailers, many, many smaller businesses have stepped up to the plate in terms of food delivery, be it restaurants switching their offering to takeaway and delivery only, to great producers and suppliers (and, indeed, restaurants) who’ve started selling and delivering great ingredients to the consumer.
There are many excellent lists of such suppliers online. I’ve found the following of enormous use:
Ed Smith’s round-up at his always excellent Rocket & Squash site;
The always well-informed Niamh Shields and her great list at Eat Like A Girl;
Jennifer Earle of Chocolate Ecstasy Tours has put together a list of chocolatiers and bakers who deliver;
Hot Dinners understandably London-biased list; and
Dishpatch, who’ve sprung up to help during this crisis.
All of them are well worth a look, cover large chunks of the UK and help support exactly the kind of small supplier that needs so much help during these challenging times. Speaking as someone who has long preferred markets and small independents for food shopping, it’s been a remarkable way of staying locked down and still eating incredibly well – with all due credit, of course, to the many, many selfless individuals who’ve kept farming and picking and working and driving to enable me to stay safely ensconced at home.
So, what I thought I’d do here is cherry pick a few of the places mentioned in the above-mentioned lists, the ones that I can personally recommend, and have spent, and continue to spend, money with…
The Oystermen – my favourite restaurant opening of 2019, has quickly become one of my go-to suppliers during these strange times. They’ve switched from providing a great seafood menu in Covent Garden to delivering well-priced seafood, meat, produce, basic groceries (including flour!), etc., to London postcodes and a few on the M4 corridor (because, I believe, one of the guys lives out that way and delivers on the way home). Minimum order of £25, orders before 6pm will be delivered the following day.
The Ethical Butcher – linking up with farms that share their ethical ethos, this fine online retailer offers a good range of great quality meat across the UK. From good value mixed boxes to bits of particular beasts – cow, sheep, bird, pig, game, etc., as their menu has it – they’re hugely reliable. If things sell out it’s because, well, meat of that quality is, by its nature, only available in limited quantities. Supplies are topped up regularly when they can be.
Pale Green Dot – encouraging the country to eat local and seasonal food, from their own and nearby farms, Pale Green Dot offer one off and weekly vegetable box deliveries (in London and Sussex) at a very good value £12.50, including root vegetables, salad leaves, tomatoes, green vegetables and local fruit. The range has also expanded to offer “staples” – the veg box plus milk, bread and eggs – as well as cheese, H G Walter meat, and dairy selections.
H G Walter – having long been a stalwart of restaurant deliveries, the excellent H G Walter offer great meat across London and within the M25. In order to meet demand, they’ve also added some veg and fruit boxes, as well as the HG Walter breakfast box (including eggs) which should please anyone missing a top-quality fry-up. The box offering also includes a build-your-own Patty & Bun kit although recent publicity for that means they sold out. Should be back in stock soon though. They also sell Stornoway Black Pudding which solved my biggest potential “first world problem” / middle class isolating meltdown…
Estate Dairy – The Estate Dairy is, apparently, a collective of young “individuals dedicated to producing and bottling the highest quality milk and cream.” I’ll take their word for that, all I can tell you is that their milk is delicious – be it the fullest of fat version I love, or an extensive range of non-dairy alternatives – and they bring Cacklebean eggs to your door. Great yoghurt too. They’ve also got cheese, Pump Street Chocolate, some H G Walter basics, coffee… Great clean website, delivery options that can be booked in advance, this is a very, very useful addition to your address book.
Natoora – shoppers and residents of Bermondsey and Fulham Road (and the capital’s restaurateurs and chefs) already know good Natoora produce is. With the restaurant trade off the picture for the time being, they’ve switched to domestic delivery for zones 1-4 and a little diversion to Teddington, Kingston and Twickenham. There’s no minimum spend, just a flat £6 delivery charge, but you do have to sign up to their app first which can take a few days. Stunning seasonal produce, Estate Dairy’s finest, butter, cheese (from Neal’s Yard among others), charcuterie, various other treats, cooking ingredients and essentials, and they’ve also recently added Little Bread Pedlar loaves.
Neal’s Yard Dairy – the quality of NYD cheese needs no introduction, but they’ve also introduced a “Dairy Box” of milk, cheese, yoghurt, sourdough, butter and a surprise treat which is a very good way of spending £31.50. They also stock and deliver all the extras you could possibly need you’re your cheese too. Delivery – UK wide – is free over £30.
London Food At Home – a group of Borough Market Traders have combined to bring their goods to various London postcodes (and a little further out), across fruit, vegetables, dairy and eggs, bakery, deli, fresh meat, cheese, charcuterie and wine. There’s a minimum order for £30 but that’s easily done, and they also have regular offers – short dated butter for 30p a block, for example which, if you have a freezer and are doing as much baking as I am through these weird times, is a fine deal.
Fosse Meadows – stalwarts of assorted local farmers markets, Fosse Meadows raise proper chickens and sell those online in whole and kit form, plus lamb, hogget and mutton, cockerel, turkey, goose, duck and extras like pate and pies and stock.
Wildes Cheese – the lovely chaps at Wildes Cheese may have suspended their disco-music-fuelled cheese making classes for a while, but their range of excellent cheeses, all made in North London, are but a click away: the Londonshire and Rebellion are particularly recommended.
Secret Smokehouse – Fish smoking and the East End go together like, well, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. Maintaining that tradition, but also using fish of the highest, most sustainable quality, is Secret Smokehouse. It’s a great little business that would normally be supplying the likes of Fortnum and Mason, Bibendum, The Clove Club and various others, but is also available for home delivery via van (if you live in E1, E2, E8, N1 or N16) or by Parcel Force if you live anywhere else in the UK.
Tempus Foods – founded by former Masterchef winner Dhruv Baker, Tempus Foods offers some of the finest charcuterie I’ve found anywhere. As the name suggests, time plays a major element – they only make charcuterie from animals over four years old, which means more marbling, greater fat ratios and an intensity of flavour. Usually available in the likes of Selfridges food hall and other fine food businesses, the current situation means they’ve started offering mail order.