The summer of al fresco dining is upon us. If you too have been banging your head against the computer failing to find a reservation at any of your favourite restaurants until Christmas thanks to capacity curbs then it might be time to enjoy this season’s round of 'makeaway' boxes and get the legal allowance of friends around for a barbi. Plus, upgrading the supermarket burger and sausage shop to fancy charcoal-griddled kebab part prepared by a catering professional has never been easier thanks to the array of cook at home boxes emerging from shuttered restaurants during lockdowns. Plus, it’s a mighty easy way to impress pals not seen for many months. All you need is the requisite Pimms, enough firelighters and a few sun dances.
Ethical Butcher meat feasts
'We had a huge demand for our BBQ boxes last year and based on that we put extra energy into the new boxes,' says Adam Gray of the Ethical Butcher, an online butchery run by an ex-vegetarian and a meat industry veteran. The pair have an 'ultimate' box and a 'world' barbecue box. 'Ultimate' does what it says on the tin with a macho spread of juicy grass-fed meats including a Cajun-spiced whole grilling chicken, Deep South-style lamb riblets, 10 day aged pork cutlets, beef brisket, burgers, frankfurters, some more chicken and so on. Some are pre-seasoned, while others allow a bit of creativity on the part of the cook. The 'world' box is a spicier affair with peri-peri drumsticks, hot beef kebabs and minted lamb burgers. For this one, sides, burger buns and sauces are on you.
Galvin Restaurants weekend barbecues
You do have to collect your box from the Michelin-starred Galvin brothers Spitalfields or Great Waltham restaurants but if you are anywhere in the vicinity of inner London or Essex, it’s worth a trip. The 'Weekend BBQ' box for four is classic barbi fare: burgers, ribs, chicken legs and hot dogs with four different easy to plate salads, roast onion mayonnaise among several sauces and smoked applewood cheddar to bump up your cheeseburgers with. Think traditional grill but Michelin level with video tutorials. The crucial bums are included and you can upgrade the experience with a 1.1kg Cote de Boeuf (rib eye steak to us mortals) for an extra £20.
Townsend grill for six
The Whitechapel-based Townsend, known for British dishes from head chef Joel Fox (ex- of Petersham Nurseries and HIX), have come up with a rule-of-six friendly barbecue box of lamb chops, smoked chilli and honey chicken wings, bavette steak and barbecue ribs. The box comes with a classic green salad and a souped-up potato salad garnished with confit onions and sundried tomatoes. You can choose your sauces and your booze and, delightfully, if you want to barbecue but are feeling anti-social you can equally order it for two or four - to anywhere in the UK.
Berenjak kebab kits
Berenjak, the teeny Persian hotspot in London’s Soho, has launched a £100 'ultimate BBQ box' to feed six holding two of their make-at-home kebab kits. Within are lightly spiced chicken and lamb kebabs, pillowy Lavash bread and a spread of mazeh (translation: ‘mezze’ but also means ‘to tease’, which does the trick nicely when it comes to describing these tongue tickling flavours). The mazeh include coal-fired aubergine, Berenjak’s truly excellent black chickpea hummus and the chicken Olivieh salad with black truffle and salted cucumbers. If you’re not quite in need of the 'ultimate', the £45 kabab and tond kit for two is feast enough (four kebabs and five smaller skewers). There’s even a video on the website to show you how to perfect your kebabbing skills.
Smokestak seasonal set
Smoked meat specialist David Carter, founder of Smokestak in Shoreditch, has had his Ole Hickory wood-fired smoker imported from Missouri on full time during the pandemic priming meats for the restaurant’s DIY bun boxes. Every bite of the 15 hour smoked meats - from beef brisket to brined pork shoulder - in Smokestak’s bumper filled milk buns is spectacularly messy but that’s half the fun. The restaurant has also started selling a meal for two box that changes monthly. For its first month the line up includes a pound of brisket, beef fat chips, richly saucy chicken wings and a cod roe starter. And sticky toffee pudding splurged in salted caramel sauce. And a playlist of the restaurant’s favourite tunes so that you can dance it off.
Rudy’s non meat novelty
For those who don’t eat meat, you can still get the fulsome, heavy loaded barbecue burger experience from Rudy’s vegan butchers, which as an added bonus donates £1 from every box sold to Friend Farm Animal Sanctuary. Boxes either include four of the original beef-style vegan burger with Rudy’s vegan 'baycon' rashers and an assortment of classic garnishes or its ‘Sabateur’ burger kit, which has crispy seitan (chicken-a-like) burgers. Both at £36 a pop and joyfully easy to cook. They do recommend needing a lot of napkins for a reason - be warned, you will be happily dripping sauces everywhere.
Hoppers’ Sri Lankan Summer BBQ
Sacrilege to some but barbecue doesn’t have to mean burgers. The Sri Lankan restaurant mini-chain Hoppers started a 'cash and kari' during the pandemic and from there is launching a tropical £95 surf-and-turf type box of things to charcoal grill. Inside: curry leaf and yogurt tiger prawns, banana leaf bream fillets, lamb chops with a smear of lemongrass chutney and chicken skewers. The umami of the charcoal smoke is an ideal accent to the sharp sweet of the subcontinental seasonings. Roti - the popular Indian flatbread - is provided as well as snacks and spicy sambal. And, if you have room, a cardamom-spiced cheesecake.
On The Table’s five courser
On The Table, a recipe box business that sources ingredients only from independent suppliers, has compiled a rather more fancy barbecue experience that comes in at around £23 per person. It’s one that deserves proper crockery rather than a stack of napkins. Starters are bruschetta topped with stracciatella from the mozzarella specialists La Latteria. Followed up with steak and lamb and pork chops from the native breed butcher Swaledale, more cheese from La Latteria and Wye Valley salads. There is also a recommended wine pairing - a Spanish Grenache - and, like all of these recommendations, it can be cooked inside on a grill should the weather be less than clement. Also delivered nationwide for arrival on Fridays.