I’m by far not the only one who has rarely left their front doorstep this year.
I’ve walked the same route around where I live so often, that even the dog is now bored. A brief sojourn in the Highlands in July was well needed but a distant memory, leaving the prolonged feeling of Groundhog Day the lasting feeling of 2020.
Luckily, Alchemilla in Finnieston is offering a cook at home menu that’ll transport customers across the world without leaving their dining room.
Alchemilla opened in 2016 to much anticipation and rave reviews. Chef and co-founder Rosie Healey, who trained with Yotam Ottolenghi, returned to Glasgow to launch the restaurant, but split with business partner Fergus McVicar (of Glasgow’s Tabac and Chinaskis) in early 2019.
She’s gone on to open Gloriosa just along the road, and Alchemilla has soldered on, flying almost under the radar after the bells and whistles of its opening.
Specialising in small sharing plates and a Middle Eastern and Mediterranean menu, it’s one of the popular restaurants in Glasgow that has turned its hand to ‘cook at home’ kits in order to help survive the coronavirus restrictions.
The Alchemilla at home options serve two people, and there’s a choice of a meat and fish or veggie box. We opted for the meat and fish box, which consists of snacks and four courses, for £50.
Orders are taken over email and collection is between 4-6.30pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. I picked up the box on a Friday afternoon during a quick and efficient exchange, so much so that I never got the chance to check out the wines and cocktails on sale to be enjoyed alongside the meal.
Despite this, dinner started with a black walnut and Pedro Ximenez Old Fashioned - genuinely one of the nicest takes on this classic I’ve ever had - courtesy of Daniel who dropped it off along with the receipt I’d forgotten to collect with my order.
We decided to break open the snacks - Gordal olives, focaccia with olive oil and salty smoked almonds - to have alongside the drinks and pretend we were in a fancy bar that would offer such things...rather than sat on the sofa. Gordal olives are a favourite of mine thanks to their meaty quality and piquant flavour.
The smoked almonds certainly whet the appetite and went perfectly with the smooth sweetness of the old fashioned, while the soft and chewy focaccia with its sprinkle of rosemary was the perfect accompaniment to the tart oil.
Nothing can be easier than preparing Alchemilla’s sea bream ceviche (simply tip the citrus juice onto the small pieces of fish, mix and leave for a few minutes) which is served with grapes and mint.
Soft chunks of fish were enlivened by the citrus juice and grapes, with the mint adding just the right amount of freshness to this dish.
Next up was the Portobello mushroom rarebit - mushroom tops slathered with creamy, mustard spiced rarebit and topped with herby breadcrumbs.
I’ve only ever had rarebit with toast, but the mushrooms were an excellent base for the sharpness of the cheesy topping and don’t leave you as full as the traditional bread base. These delicate bites packed a punch flavour-wise and set us up for the main event - lasagne nduja.
Thick slabs of bubbling cheese, meat and pasta were given a hint of spice thanks to the nduja. Salty, spicy and comforting, this is a main that was made to be eaten on a bitterly cold night.
Given the thickness of the lasagne, and the courses before it, a salad was all that was needed as a side. It was crunchy and simple, with iceberg lettuce, onions and a light dressing that had just enough acidity to cut through the heat of the nduja.
After a considerable break, we moved onto the pots of salted caramel topped with gooey chocolate and crisp roasted hazelnuts.
The sweetness of the chocolate balanced well with the salt in the caramel and savoury element from the hazelnuts to make a moreish end to a great meal. If, like me, you’re too full to finish dessert, I can confirm that it’s as good the next day and will give you something to enjoy after that same old walk around the block.
The cook at home options that are now becoming the norm, are designed to make a restaurant quality meal at home with little fuss, and Alchemilla’s offering is the epitome of this.
Cooking was minimal and each dish just got better and better. Portions are bigger than you might expect from the restaurant, making this meal not only extremely tasty but great value for money too.
With the dishes spanning Italy, South America and the UK, this is probably the only chance to travel this year - and it’s a delicious way to do it.
Find out more and book here.
Alchemilla, 1126 Argyle St, Finnieston, Glasgow G3 8TD
£50 for two set menu