How to Spend $550 on Dinner for Two Without Leaving Home

Confit salmon with parsley, lemon and caper. 

Source: Food Story Media Ltd.

It’s impossible to get a table at Core by Clare Smyth because of the coronavirus lockdown. But is it worth paying hundreds of pounds to get the three-Michelin-star restaurant’s food delivered at home?

That’s what I asked myself as I looked at my £400 ($550) bill for a Core at Home meal last week. Many people think it’s worth a try. The restaurant is selling about 400 servings of the menu across the three days it’s open during each two-week period. The high base price (£350 for two) can quickly escalate, with a £20 delivery charge, an extra cheese course at £30 per person (which I had), an optional wine pairing and the opportunity to splash out on caviar and truffles.

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Clare Smyth

Source: Food Story Media Ltd.

So what do you get for your money? Well, it’s a generous menu. Mine featured canapes including foie gras and caviar; poached Scottish langoustine; confit salmon; chicken in a Champagne and truffle sauce; an apple pre-dessert; and a chocolate dessert; along with crusty sourdough bread and petits fours. It’s not the kind of food you could normally eat at home, at any price.

A bottle of Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve Champagne is included in the delivery.

Everything comes beautifully packaged and with two pages of cooking instructions. You also get an online tutorial of Clare preparing the food and another  of “virtual waiters” — staff members talking you through the ingredients of dish. You’re assembling as much as cooking, so no need to feel intimidated. Tweezers are supplied.

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A Core at Home delivery bag.

Source: Food Story Media Ltd.

The bar is set pretty high with the canapes, which include a mini-sandwich of buckwheat blinis with layers of chopped egg white and egg yolk, topped with caviar. All you need to do is add a dollop (or a quenelle, for the more ambitious) of caviar on top.

My first mistake came with the mini-bags in which the Scottish langoustines arrived. I happily snipped off the tops before bothering to read the instructions that the langoustines should be poached in the bags. Oh well. I kind-of floated the bags, which seemed to work, while warming a serving of rich bisque.

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A delivery bag unpacked by the author.

Photographer: Richard Vines/Bloomberg

You mix up a small fennel salad with vinaigrette, placing it on the center of the plate, plop the langoustine on top, tweezer on a few herbs and spoon on the bisque. It was my favorite dish and I’d say high restaurant standard, even in my hands.

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Scottish langoustines and bisque.

Photographer: Richard Vines/Bloomberg

Well, I guess you don’t need a blow-by-blow account of the rest of the menu, though I did enjoy the confit salmon with a parsley-herb crust. And also the chicken with a truffle stuffing (poach in a bag for eight minutes) and served with pomme purée (warmed in a pan) that tasted like it was a mix of about 50% butter with the potato. It was so good.

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Chicken with a truffle stuffing, served with with pomme purée.

Photographer: Richard Vines/Bloomberg

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