From the pre-starter to dessert, this was perfect

PUBLISHED: 11:27 24 June 2020 | UPDATED: 11:41 24 June 2020

The Wildebeest restaurant, Stoke Holy Cross.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The Wildebeest restaurant, Stoke Holy Cross. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2016

Rowan Mantell tries out a takeaway from The Wildebeest, home of current Eat Norfolk Food and Drink Awards chef of the year Fabio Miani

A Norfolk crunch bread roll with garlic and chive hummus opens the Wildebeest's Dine@Home menu  Picture: Howard JonesA Norfolk crunch bread roll with garlic and chive hummus opens the Wildebeest's Dine@Home menu Picture: Howard Jones

There were candles on the table, and a tiny turquoise vase of flowers, complementing my favourite crockery, tumblers and wine glasses. I wore a new dress and there was an air of and expectancy as our waiter (also our son and dining companion) introduced the first course.

Norfolk crunch bread roll with garlic and chive hummus was followed by a starter of creamed goat cheese, beetroots and chive, pickled beetroot, parsley crumb and honey roast walnuts for us, and warm smoked mackerel, heritage tomato salad, celeriac remoulade and crispy onion for our sons.

This was a takeaway, but bore about the same relationship to a normal takeaway as the Wildebeest’s beautifully shaped fresh-baked Norfolk crunch bread roll does to a McDonalds bun.

The Wildebeest, in Stoke Holy Cross, near Norwich, responded to lockdown by cooking up a plan to offer its renowned food as very classy takeaways, complete with instructions on how to heat and serve each dish.

A main course of salmon and seabass bouillabaisse, saffron potatoes, samphire, courgettes and spinach from the Wildebeest's Dine@Home menu  Picture: Howard JonesA main course of salmon and seabass bouillabaisse, saffron potatoes, samphire, courgettes and spinach from the Wildebeest's Dine@Home menu Picture: Howard Jones

There are four set meals, including a vegetarian menu, plus Sunday lunch. They take orders a couple of days in advance which would be a bit much in a normal restaurant situation but was actually part of the fun of this. I had three days to look forward to a main course of salmon and seabass bouillabaisse with saffron potatoes, samphire, courgettes and spinach. The boys had charred fillet of beef with confit garlic butter dauphinoise potato, roasted onion, saute truffled wild mushroom and salsa verde.

How to cook perfect pizza in your wood-fired oven

You may also want to watch:

My husband is an excellent cook with a flair for fancy presentation, and I am a prolific cook, but we do not generally (OK, ever) sit down to such a feast at home.

From the piquancy of the pre-starter hummus, through the rich seaside-y bouillabaisse, which yielded big, tender chunks of fish and two langoustines per bowl, steeped in a fabulously flavourful broth, to the deep green goodness of the accompanying samphire and spinach, this was perfect.

The beef menu needed longer to heat, but our chef/waiter/son was rewarded with perfectly cooked beef, beautifully enhanced with a range of accompaniments.

Our desserts were set lemon cream, meringue, sable Breton biscuits and raspberry sauce; and glazed dark chocolate delice, honeycomb and cherry gel, for the young people. Again, complex in preparation and flavours and yet simple to assemble and serve.

Despite the range of dishes, the instructions were simple, with precise timings which worked well. There was no need for any technical equipment beyond an oven and hob, or any technical expertise beyond the ability to wield cutlery. There was obviously more washing up, plus a new collection of plastic and foil dishes to contend with/recycle.

Dine@Home by the Wildebeest is not cheap, with the bouillabaisse menu £25 per person and the fillet of beef menu £30 per person, but that is for three-plus courses of extremely good food and in the midst of the sameness of lockdown meals it was a treat and a highlight. And, as an added excitement, we even had a trip out to The Wildebeest to collect it.

We pay for our meals and reviews are unannounced.

More great Norfolk stories on our Facebook page.

Latest from the EDP Norfolk Magazine