Last Updated on February 17, 2021 by Fiona Maclean
Michelin dining experience brought into your home.
Antona At Home is the new home meal delivery kit from the chefs of the Andreas Antona kitchens. Antona won his first Michelin star in the 1990s after opening Simpsons in Warwickshire. He later left the kitchen to focus on his career as a restaurateur, taking over The Cross in Kenilworth in 2013. As I opened the Antona At Home, Michelin quality meal to reheat and plate, I wondered what it might feel like for chefs to send their food out in boxes lined with sheep’s wool and ice packs, rather than the shorter journey from the kitchen pass to the restaurant table. These highly skilled chefs create and par-cook their dishes, and have to trust that we who receive them will not overcook the meat, burn the veg and botch the presentation.
Fortunately, Antona at Home comes with very good guidance and detailed instructions – you might be surprised at how this varies between home meal kits – and I was pleased to see that these were printed out on plain card. Some home meal kits have spent a fortune on glossy menus and equally expensive cards for the cooking directions, all of which makes me wonder how much of the price of the meal is going into the boxing and printing costs. Yes, it is lovely to receive a box that looks expensive and feels like a treat, but I am really all about the ingredients.
Antona At Home changes its menus every week so there is plenty of opportunity to try out the variety of dishes on offer over the next months. There are two set menus – one of which is vegetarian. When I opened the box, I was pleased to find that small, colour coded stickers on the containers indicated which items were for starter, main and dessert. This avoided confusion. Sometimes it can really take a while to work out which sachets, pots and jars go with which courses.
The first course was gem lettuce, baby artichoke, hen of the woods, yeast flakes, truffle vinaigrette. I love a salad for a starter, especially when the main is a rich dish. This was very easy to prepare and introduced me to a new ingredient which is always a thrill. I know that yeast flakes are the go-to ingredient amongst vegans but I hadn’t tried them myself. I couldn’t stop nibbling on the hugely flavoursome flakes while I prepared the salad. It turned out to be one of those marmite moments as my partner did not care for them at all. In the salad, though, they were used as a seasoning and so, even if you don’t like that yeasty flavour, it melds into the general loveliness of the dish.
The salad prep was a simple matter of heating the mushrooms briefly in the oven along with the two baby milk buns provided. I have been able to buy hen of the woods mushrooms at Borough Market but my local supermarkets don’t sell these lovely ‘shrooms. They are called Maitake in Japan and are a regularly used ingredient, well worth trying to get your hands on.
The assembled salad looked beautiful on the plate with its varied shades of green and woodland tones. The flavours and textures were excellently balanced with the crisp sweetness of the gem lettuce, soft pepperiness of watercress, earthiness of the mushrooms and artichokes and the tart truffle vinaigrette. The yeast flakes added a slight crunch and a lovely saltiness.
On the theme of saltiness, we enjoyed the Ampersand butter which melted into our warmed milk buns. This butter is a wonderfully rich and tasty with a deep yellow colour and is supplied to many Michelin starred restaurants.
The starter, while generously portioned, was light and left space for the main course up ahead. As it was quick to prepare this home chef was not in a sweat by the time the food arrived on the table.
The main course was slow-cooked blade of beef, creamed savoy cabbage, potato terrine, bone marrow sauce. The beef medallions were unpacked and placed on an oven tray and cooked for 15 minutes. In the meantime, the potato terrine was browned in a pan and then joined the beef in the oven. The cabbage warmed gently in a saucepan as did the bone marrow sauce. Simples.
I say this as someone who rarely eats red meat and even less often beef – this was absolutely excellent. It not only plated easily and looked appetising and colourful, but the beef was also deeply flavoursome and as tender as could be. The highlight of the meal was the outstanding bone marrow sauce. As my fellow diner opined, a slow-cooked meat with a side of veg is often to be found on restaurant menus but the bone marrow sauce elevated this above most other similar dishes he had tasted. For lack of other descriptive words, it was gorgeous. Rib stickingly good. This is what I love about high-quality home meal kits. Not only is the meat of good provenance and expertly prepared, the sauces, which take a lot of time and ingredients, are quite unlike what I would be able to create in my own kitchen.
The creamed savoy cabbage was a gentle accompaniment adding extra richness and colour in the form of tiny diced carrots. The terrine was delicate and well seasoned with a lovely pepperiness which was unexpectedly good. Unlike in restaurants where a certain level of decorum is required, there are no such manners needed at my table and when the plates were removed, I brought to the table the saucepan in which I had heated the sauce and allowed it to be scraped clean happily while I got on with prepping the dessert.
I must admit that rhum baba is not my favourite dessert, yet I can see the appeal in a home meal kit as it is baked ahead and easy to finish off in the hot syrup. This was fun to cook as it required 10 minutes rolling in the simmering syrup which I found meditative. It was served with a vanilla flecked Chantilly cream and extra syrup which was not overly sweet. We reminisced about eating rhum baba some years ago at patisserie Stohrer in Paris where this sweet is said to have originated in the early 19th century. On another occasion, we ate it for dessert at Le Train Bleu where the dish was accompanied by a bottle of rum for diners to add as much alcoholic lubrication as they see fit. Sadly, I did not have any rum in my cupboard.
Antona At Home offers high-quality home-meal kits for nationwide delivery that change weekly and are easy to prepare. Ingredients are of excellent quality and instructions are clear. Portions are generous, the menu is well balanced.
Not having to drive home after such a satisfying meal has its benefits – especially if you want to enjoy a good bottle of wine. We left the washing up for later and headed to the sofa on which we collapsed happily. The perfect end to a wonderful, weekend lunch.
Looking for something different? Check our round-up of tried and tested meal-kits to make at home