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Ron Mackenna’s review
I’M working in Glasgow’s Maryhill so Bearsden is a skip away, in theory, but then I don’t reckon with the Bearsden traffic warden chasing people (moi) from empty spaces and struggling businesses in the middle of lockdown. So it’s round the block again and again and, of course, the supplied number for Monadh Kitchen is just ringing out, or engaged, and I can see people sitting in there. At the back. Hello?
Eventually the coast is clear and, after giving up on the phone, thereby defying collection orders and simply knocking on the door, the exchange is completed in the now-normal perfunctory and completely warmth-free way and I cross the river in the usual nose-to-tail lockdown traffic with dinner in its box, in the boot.
Honestly? It can be challenging, this mealin-a-box gig. At least Monadh is staying true to its Michelin Bib Gourmand status and keeping things simple: no seeds to plant, videos to watch or playlist to turn on and thankfully absolutely nothing that we have to cook from scratch ourselves.
A plump and crisped smoked haddock fishcake is sprung from the oven after 15 minutes while the dauphinoise spuds that are to go with the main course bubble along contentedly and a ballotine of corn-fed chicken simmers in its pot, for tickety-tock 20 minutes and counting down on Alexa.
The fish cake is of the conversationstopping variety.
Yeah, I know, it’s just mash and haddock, but somehow the proportions of this conspire to make us nod and poke and hold up herby bits and tangible chunks, and sigh when it’s all eaten.
Potato and spinach soup is spooned up next, its instructions being no more complex than: reheat to boil then split into bowls.
Decent enough. This meal all sashays together pretty smoothly, as though someone actually tested this in a home kitchen instead of a commercial one, with its mystical heating times and magical searing abilities.
True, there’s a little bit of microwave action involved in zapping the roast celeriac and then its puree too, a red wine jus gets to boil like a loony for a mo before it too joins the rest of the gang on the plates on the breakfast bar.
We love this dauphinoise, significantly better than Markies, and you can’t say that every day, while the asparagus stuffing the ballotine is still crisp and fresh. If there are any complaints it’s no more than a hand raised at the back over the slightly waxy texture of the chicken.
Frankly? I liked it. And then Monadh Kitchen does what pretty much nobody, not even the Michelin-starred gods, has achieved in a year or so of meals in a box: it produces a delicious dessert.
“You liked that,” Debs says as I all but lick the last remnants from the sideplate and scan hers to see if there’s any left. Again, this isn’t gastronomic alchemy, and if Farmfoods doesn’t do a version I’ll be shocked and surprised, but what a salted caramel cheesecake.
Crunchy pecan brittle, caramel sauce from a tub that I nuked in the micro until pinholes appeared and thought I may have ruined, but – ding-dong – it all hangs together so well.
Once again much, much greater than the sum of its parts. Which in a way is pretty much the whole ethos behind the Michelin Guide’s Bib Gourmand. Chapeau! – as those cunning Frenchies say.
Well, almost Chapeau! – there was supposed to be fig bread with basil pesto to
start. The pesto was there and was so good I ate most of it with a teaspoon but of the fig bread there was no sign, and rather rudely no explanation for its absence either, simply an apology of a focaccia which had the taste and texture of a cross between a failed scone and a place-mat.
Ho hum, but hardly denting the overall positive impression of this otherwise very good box meal. Lockdown meals are definitely improving.