A perfect paper-weight of a glacier.
It’s been a while since I had a negroni.
After choosing this cocktail (£9) as part of a delivery from Edinburgh restaurant, Le Roi Fou, I was worried about my kitchen ice situation. As well as the alcoholic ingredients, the best negronis usually feature one giant ice cube.
All I have in my freezer are shrunken ones, since the water sloshes out when we slide them into the compartment.
But there it was, intact despite the car journey. It was the attention to detail you might expect from this three-year-old venue. That, and a neat slice of orange in a little bag.
We’d ordered from here after signing up to their mailing list.
The menu popped into my inbox on a Wednesday morning, and you can put your order in for the coming weekend by 5pm the day before you want it to be delivered. They’ll visit you within a four mile radius of 1 Forth Street, but you can also collect if you fall outside that golden zone.
Other restaurants have chosen to simplify their usual offering as part of their lockdown service. However, this place has been quite ambitious, and you’ll find a few of head chef and owner Jerome Henry’s signature dishes, like steak tartare or his upmarket take on Welsh rarebit.
You might have to do a little reheating, so turn the oven dial to “Thunderbirds are go!” before they arrive. After the 7:30pm drop off, we assembled our labelled pots and packets on the worktop, each with a list of instructions and ingredients.
We’d gone for two cold starters, and the pickled mackerel (£8.50) just needed to be ditched onto a plate. I didn’t bother putting on my toque or getting my tweezers out. It came with a feathery salad of shredded coriander, dill, fennel and mint, about six pieces of lightly pickled mackerel, and a balmy olive oil and lemon dressing.
Our other starter was like the delicate mackerel’s bodyguard.
The Kevin Costner of terrines (£9.50) consisted of a kilner jar that was stuffed with a pale pink and dense pork and chicken liver mixture. There were fennel seed focaccia crackers to spread it on, though the meaty paste was so burly it snapped most of them in half, karate-style, and it also came with a beetroot jam.
Our grilled lamb chops (£16) needed five minutes to briefly retire to the oven, as did their accompaniment – a pile of herby and nutty freekeh, which was threaded with asparagus, griddled courgette and broccoli. Another pot contained a mint sauce to go with this. He really has thought of everything.
While feasting in my bleak living room, I closed my eyes and was almost transported to Le Roi Fou’s smart dining space, designed by their creative director and co-founder, artist Isolde Nash. Once the scales fell from my eyes, I immediately thought about redecorating.
The other main course of braised beef cheek (£14) was homely, but with a twist, like a Georgian tenement with a wet room. It was presented in a big carton, to be decanted and heated up. In our case, à la microwave.
The meat was beautifully rich and dissolving, with seams of melting collagen. It was like it had been massaged, acupunctured, counselled and coddled into this super soft and relaxed state. There was also miso-infused gravy, dice of carrots and swede, and a pot of bonito flakes to sprinkle on top, to add another savoury element and put the oh mammy in umami.
Our final hurrahs included chocolate mousse (£5.50) – a bucket’s worth, folded with a cloud of whipped cream. It was more aerated than a deep sea sponge in an oxygen tent. This came with a sugar powdered sable biscuit, like a doll’s cheek, slid into a little labelled envelope. We also had rhubarb and strawberries in their pink syrup (£5.50), with a portion of crème chantilly and a chunky granola-ish oaty crumble for the top.
All so special that I’d been distracted from my negroni, though the ice-cube was still there, hardly melted.
Unlike my heart, which is obviously a puddle on the floor for Le Roi Fou’s lockdown effort. n
1 Forth Street, Edinburgh (0131-557 9346, Le Roi Fou)