“Some artisan butters are just plain distraction from butter’s real magnificence..”

A review of Banquist delivering all elements of ‘Michelin star meals’


This whole stuck at home business means that I haven’t so much saved money exactly, as managed to stick to the budget we were always supposed to stick to. Just as I thought I could be on to something, and actually afford some new clothes,  Banquist turned up in my instagram feed, offering a ‘Michelin meal experience’ by asking a top rated chef, in this case Josh Barnes, to pull together a menu, and deliver the ingredients (including wine and cheese courses) at an agreed time. They’re pitched as an upgrade to the usual meal kit options you might have heard of, as the entire meal to dessert and petit four is offered, along with the matching wines,

Things started to look worrying, when on booking I was asked how I’d rate my own cooking ability and I recklessly awarded myself an eight out of ten. Hey – no one was looking!  Then I wondered if I would fail miserably to bring together such an impressive sounding meal. However, this turned out to be nothing to fret about as the more complicated  sauce and oils came prepared in wonderous sheets of plastic that reminded me of how I always thought chemistry classes ought to be.

Here is the main course of seared Icelandic cod, parmentier potato’s and samphire, lemon purée and oil of wild leeks. At this point, particularly the parmentier potato point, I should admit that this is partially a review of my husband’s cooking – There’s no way I would have prepared such neat and small cubes of potato. In fact when I read the recipe it briefly crossed my mind that I could save a lot of faff by just baking the potato. Briefly, right? I gave myself an eight above. I meant it.

He hummed as he cooked. I’ve been using cooking as a chance to get up from my WFH desk, so he has been deprived of cooking lately. Please note: Banquist makes you hum.

So I even had a chef, just no waiter. 

The sauces combined well: just as we were thinking that the cod needed lemon, the lemon sauce came through. But the cleverest part of the meal turned out to be the matching wine (Torres SAN Valentin Parellada, 2018). I’m often disappointed by supposed wine matches, but this basque wine really did complement the meal all the way through the cheese course, and the dessert. 

Sorry about state of garden. Husband got furloughed, and hence house had to be rebuilt from the bottom up.

What a normal takeaway or cook at home pack misses is the little details, the extras that breeze by and add up on the bill without you noticing. The difference here was that these all came included (except for that waiter… I did double check the paper shreds) and they were worth every penny, including a mega red, swirled seaweed butter. Some artisan butters are just plain distraction from butter’s really magnificence, but this left us searching the house for bread on which to spread it, or oatcakes, or frankly, cardboard would have done it. 

What you do have to do, is take a moment for the ceremony, lay the table properly, make sure everything is delivered in order. These are the details that are easy to miss but could ruin the experience. 

However we do need to talk about cheesecake. I have to indulge a cheesecake rant every now and then, cheesecake can be stella or it can be a bland sugary disaster. I blame banquist for this particular rant. I had no choice. I didn’t know they were going to send me cheesecake. If I had, I might not have ordered the cheese platter as an extra. The good news is that the cheesecake lived up to my epic and oft cited cheesecake standards, the suspiciously sweet looking strawberry compote was en-depthed (yes – that’s a thing) with elderflower, locally grown elderflower according to the notes (get them,) and arrived in jam pots. Good thing that my family’s gift-giving habits had resorted to, ‘I don’t think they have long handled teaspoons yet’ levels. But, oh… I am so sorry to say it, the base was a little too sweet. I think it would have worked perfectly if the dessert had been a little more cheesecake shaped, but being at the bottom of a jam jar, the sweetness was not so evenly spread through the rest of the dessert, and proved a disconcerting end.

Fortunately this was redeemed by three great cheeses, more opportunity to dig into that seaweed butter, and homemade truffles. Here’s the thing, the bill was agreed before we sat down, but we ended up with free jam bars and free seaweed butter.

Still no waiter, though.

Have you pre-ordered my novel “Helen and the Grandbees” yet? https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=Alex+morall&ref=nb_sb_noss

 Don’t wait for publication date… there might be a run on books by then!

Helen and the Grandbees by Alex Morrall

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