April 19, 2024


The Food community

The best Valentine’s Day restaurant meal boxes and experiences for a lockdown date night at home

7 min read

With no end to the national lockdown in sight, it looks like couples will be celebrating Valentine’s Day 2021 at home.

That means cooking your own romantic meal will have to replace a restaurant date this year – but if your kitchen skills leave something to be desired, help is at hand.

Some of Manchester’s best restaurants are still up and running – behind closed doors, at least – and their chefs are hard at work whipping up meal boxes to deliver to your door.

They contain all the ingredients and instructions you’ll need to recreate your own restaurant quality dining experience at home.

Impress your date and help a hospitality business through this incredibly tough time – everyone’s a winner when you order one of these.

Elite Bistros

a person holding a plate of food on a table: Elite Bistros' Valentine's Day menu

© Dan Burns
Elite Bistros’ Valentine’s Day menu

Gary Usher’s respected north west restaurant group – which includes Manchester’s Kala and Hispi in Didsbury – has an indulgent menu that’s sure to impress.

Its Valentines at Home box is priced at £140 for two people to share, and kicks off with a Rose Between Thorns cocktail each, mixing blackberry gin, rosé wine, rose syrup, cranberry, grapefruit, lime and rosemary.

You’ll then feast on a whole baked Winslade cheese with brown butter brioche soldiers, Armagnac prunes and chicory with sweet mustard dressing, followed by a choice of mains.

For meat eaters there’s a 35 day aged fillet of beef with red wine, shallot and peppercorn sauce, while vegetarians can choose truffled celeriac with black bean pudding and apple pithivier.

Both come served with braised black cabbage, pickled hen of the woods mushroom and dauphinois potatoes.

Dessert is a chocolate and walnut pot with chocolate ganache and sponge, salted walnut biscuit, dulce de leche, whipped cream and sticky walnuts – and if that doesn’t sate your sweet tooth, there’s also a helping of white chocolate, pistachio and rose fudge to round off the meal.

Orders open early next week at elitebistros.com.

Wood at Home

MasterChef champion Simon Wood’s First Street restaurant is laying on a lavish banquet for Valentine’s Day – delivered to your door.

Its extravagant Valentine’s Day box contains everything you need to whip up a six-course tasting menu in your own kitchen, priced at £200 for two.

The feast starts with char sui pork belly, followed by garlic and rosemary roast potato cake with chicken and herb broth; Jerusalem artichoke with purple potato and truffle; cod with mugwort, caviar cream and spring capers; Highland venison with fermented red cabbage, hazelnut and cocoa nib dragées, parsnip and vanilla; and Yorkshire rhubarb and custard with sweet cecily and meadowsweet crème pâtissière.

Finally you’ll enjoy an assiette of sweet treats including choux craquelin with ruby chocolate ganache, chocolate and beetroot Oreo, and Turkish delight – all washed down with a bottle of Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé champagne.

Orders can be placed now for nationwide delivery at woodrestaurantgroup.com/wood-at-home.


a wooden table topped with plates of food on a plate: One of Hawksmoor at Home's previous delivery boxes

© Hawksmoor
One of Hawksmoor at Home’s previous delivery boxes

With its timelessly handsome surroundings, impeccable service and the best steaks in town, Deansgate restaurant Hawksmoor ticks all the boxes for date night.

Until it can open its doors again, its Hawksmoor at Home kits are the next best thing.

Its special Valentine’s Box includes prime rib eye steak for two, with Maldon sea salt, ultimate oven chips, peppercorn sauce, Gentleman’s Relish and purple sprouting broccoli.

You’ll also get a large sticky toffee pudding to share for dessert, along with sour cherry negroni cocktails and Palmer & Co champagne.

The only bit of kitchen kit you’ll need besides the usual pots and pans is your own meat thermometer – all ingredients and instructions are supplied including links to videos by Hawksmoor’s executive chef Matt Brown, and even a Spotify playlist to listen to while cooking and eating.

The boxes are priced at £135 for two, or £85 without alcohol, and are available for deliveries across mainland UK between February 4 and 13.

Orders haven’t opened yet so keep an eye on shop.thehawksmoor.com, where you’ll also find further DIY boxes, cocktails, wine and cookbooks on sale.

Six by Nico

a plate of food and a bottle of wine on a table: Six By Nico

© Adam Banks
Six By Nico

Spring Gardens restaurant Six by Nico offers fine dining at affordable prices, with a tasting menu that changes every six weeks priced at £29.

Until it can reopen, you can enjoy the experience at home with its Home by Nico meal kits.

The four-course dinners are usually priced at £60 for two people to share, and include a starter, main dish, two side dishes, cheese course dessert and a bottle of wine to pair.

Its Valentine’s Day version is a little pricier at £80, but extra special, beginning with a starter of lobster and prawn tortellini with confit garlic and garlic and chilli butter.

For mains you’ll enjoy aged fillet of beef with peppercorn sauce, brandy and smoked salt blend, accompanied by four cheese mac ‘n’ cheese with smoked pancetta, potato Lyonnaise, and broccoli and blue cheese gratin.

Then for dessert, there’s a raspberry trifle, and a bottle of Bodegas Alceno Barinas Tempranillo red wine to wash it all down.

It’s available to pre-order now.


Fancy a more low-key celebration?

Neapolitan pizzeria Rudy’s may be closed but it’s keeping its ovens stoked so it can sling slices to you at home.

Its part-baked pizzas have been hugely popular in lockdown – all they need is a quick blast in your oven to recreate the Rudy’s experience at home.

The team have put together a special Night in with Rudy’s package for £49.50 that’ll last you all Valentine’s weekend.

It includes four pizzas – portobello, carni, calabrese and margherita con bufala – along with a bottle of La Vita Sociale prosecco, two cans of Northern Monk Eternal session IPA, two Rudy’s negronis and two bottles of Campari Soda.

Visit shop.rudyspizza.co.uk to order.

Lovingly Artisan

food on a table: Lovingly Artisan's breakfast in bed box

© Lovingly Artisan
Lovingly Artisan’s breakfast in bed box

Nothing says ‘I love you’ like breakfast in bed – and award-winning Altrincham bakery Lovingly Artisan has all the ingredients you need to start the day off right.

They’ve joined forces with Hawkshead Relish to launch a Valentine’s Day box containing saffron buns, a pain de champagne loaf and a pot of handmade sour cherry and prosecco jam.

It costs £11 from lovinglyartisan.com/bread – just add your own coffee or a glass of fizz.

Manchester Gin

a close up of a wine glass: A cocktail from Manchester Gin's Valentine's Day box

© Manchester Gin
A cocktail from Manchester Gin’s Valentine’s Day box

Pre-dinner drinks at your favourite bar might be out of the question before your Valentine’s Day meal this year.

But you can still start off your night with a cocktail or two.

Manchester Gin’s Spirit of Manchester Distillery has launched a cocktail kit containing everything you need to mix up three drinks each, along with recipe cards and a step-by-step video guide from master distillers Seb Heeley and Jen Wiggins.

Priced at £75, each contains a full-sized bottle of Manchester Gin Raspberry Infused and all the ingredients to make a classic Clover Club and two other favourites from the distillery’s bar Three Little Words.

You’ll also get a selection of beautifully paired chocolate truffles from local chocolatier Cocoa Cabana.

Orders open on Friday January 22 at manchestergin.co.uk.

Don Giovanni

Manchester’s oldest Italian restaurant is one of many that has had to adapt to the current lockdown with meal kits.

The Oxford Street institution has put together a mix-and-match menu so that you can build your perfect Valentine’s Day meal to prepare and eat at home.

The standard boxes are priced at £85, which includes four courses for two people and a bottle of prosecco.

They also come with some little romantic extras – a red rose, white tablecloth, napkins and heart-shaped confetti.

You can kick off your evening with an antipasti sharing board or some garlic bread, before moving onto starters, which include calamari, king prawns on ciabatta, and homemade meatballs.

For mains, there’s a list of classic Italian dishes such as spaghetti carbonara, lobster ravioli, and pollo porcini, as well as steaks and lobster dishes available for an extra cost.

Don Giovanni will then include a selection of miniature desserts to finish your evening with.

You can pre-order using this form and book a slot for collection.


diagram: Salut's Valentine's Day kits are aimed at singles

© Supplied
Salut’s Valentine’s Day kits are aimed at singles

Salut, one of the region’s very best independent wine shops, has put together a special offering geared towards singles this Valentine’s Day.

Hoping to celebrate love in all its forms – including with friends – the selection of wines all arrive in half-sizes that are more suitable to a solo wine tasting.

The wines will arrive with tasting notes and a link to an online tasting event that you can tune in to with friends, even if you’re riding solo for the day itself.

The Half the Bottle, All the Bottle Valentine’s box includes either three or six 37.5ml bottles sourced from around the world.

Place your order at salut.co.uk.


a pizza sitting on top of a wooden table: Dough-Re-Me's Valentine's pizza kits

© Supplied
Dough-Re-Me’s Valentine’s pizza kits

Based in Stockport but delivering nationwide, Dough-Re-Me has launched a Valentine’s twist on its pizza kits.

The You & Me With Dough-Re-Me kits include enough pizza dough for two, fior di latte mozzarella, San Marzano tomato pizza sauce, olive oil, fresh basil and seasonings.

The kits also come with an edible love heart, a side salad, a cookie dough s’mores kit for two, chocolate truffles and a bottle of prosecco.

They’re priced at £37.50, or you can go for a family version for £47.50.

Orders need to be placed by Friday Februray 10 at dough-re-me.co.uk.

A Taste of Honey

a bunch of food sitting on top of a wooden table: The breakfast board from A Taste of Honey

© Supplied
The breakfast board from A Taste of Honey

The deli in Didsbury is pulling together locally-sourced ingredients for its Valentine’s sharing platters – and each ingredient just so happens to have aphrodisiac qualities.

There are three boards to choose from – savoury and sweet versions of the ‘Lockdown Lovers’ boards, and a breakfast ‘Dirty Stop Out’ board perfect for breakfast in bed.

Each one is priced between £25 and £30 and can be ordered for collection from their site on Burton Road.

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