La Garrigue @ Home: a bright light in the lockdown darkness

The first restaurant I saw do a special delivery menu for lockdown was Merienda. Now, many weeks later, a host of restaurants have joined. It’s a wonderful idea. Here’s something that delivers excellent food to locked-down, pleasure-starved customers sitting at home, and gives businesses a chance to continue making some money at a time they’d else have no income but only outgoings. I’d like to share my experience and a list of some of the at home services that have opened in the last few weeks. (For more, see our restaurants that deliver post).

Off-centre but not less tasty for that: wild garlic and asparagus risotto in the front,, cassoulet in the back.

Off-centre but not less tasty for that: wild garlic and asparagus risotto in the front,, cassoulet in the back.

I’ve wanted to get dinner delivered for a while but it’s been difficult to find somewhere were Christopher could eat too. We’ve had a couple of vegan pizzas (the Butternut Squashed from Dough is my current favourite) but when it comes to nice, restaurant style dining, we’ve had less luck. I get that: with a limited menu, you have to focus on what your customers really want and there are more carnivores that vegetarians or vegans. It’s been frustrating for me, keen as I am to spend my money with local restaurants. As an omnivore, I’m spoilt for choice but add Christopher’s needs and tastes and things become a lot trickier. Hence: we mainly eat our own cooking.

Then La Garrigue launched their first at home menu and had three dishes that fit our requirements: veggie, minimal dairy, no cucumber, aubergine or cauliflower, hold the egg. I pounced.

Choosing and ordering

La Garrigue offer collection and delivery. The menu comes out at the beginning of the week, orders are taken through Wednesday and is served on Friday or Saturday. La Garrigue serves authentic French – specifically  Languedoc – cuisine. It’s earthy, hearty and seasonal food cooked with love and attention to detail.

A three-course meal is £22 per person but I also got a bottle of wine. With delivery it was £66. It came well packaged with instructions on how to heat the food up and with most garnishes separately so the plate was easy to dress. We decided to make dinner a bit of an event so brought out the fancy crockery and cutlery.

Mushroom and tarragon soup with croutons from La Garrigue, served in my living room.

Mushroom and tarragon soup with croutons from La Garrigue, served in my living room. (Plus, an unintentional selfie.)

We started with mushroom soup for Christopher and mackerel rillettes for me. It was the first time in maybe eight weeks I had fish and I had missed it so much. Christopher was deeply impressed by the soup and remembered why some food is best served by chefs.

Mackerel rillettes with pickled veg from La Garrigue. Crispbread, photographer's own.

Mackerel rillettes with pickled veg from La Garrigue. Crispbread, photographer’s own. (And another spoon selfie – you’ve got both of us in this one.)

For mains, I had the cassoulet which was deep, rich and filling. Duck leg, pork belly and sausage were beautiful against silky beans. I made vegan cassoulet a few months back but this was the real thing and so much better than what I made. So much better than anything I would make. Slow-cooking brings out the very best from the bean and the meats, giving me flavour and wonderful textures.

Glory be! The silkiest, tasties cassoullet I've had in a long time. And the first duck I've had in years. So good!

Glory be! The silkiest, tasties cassoulet I’ve had in a long time. And the first duck I’ve had in years. So good!

Christopher’s green risotto, with asparagus and wild garlic, was fragrant, fresh and colourful. It came with pine nuts, asparagus (which we mixed into the rice), wild garlic flowers and cherry tomatoes to garnish and looked as lovely as it tasted.

I had lavender crème brulée for dessert. It tasted amazing but was a little thrown around from delivery. That’s going to happen. Christopher’s raspberry and almond tart brought much frangipane joy to our living room. It came with a delicious crème anglaise which I ate, with a spoon, straight from the container, to save my beloved from the double threat of cream and partially cooked egg yolk. Hurrah for being the one who gets two desserts!

Raspberry and almond tart. Out of shot: créme anglaise.

Raspberry and almond tart. Out of shot: créme anglaise.

I’ve come to realise how much I enjoy eating someone else’s cooking. Yes, I love the ceremony of going to a restaurant: an aperitif while studying the menu, having food brought to you, conversations about wine, leaving knowing you don’t have to do the washing up. But I also really appreciate eating from a different flavour set. C and I have our own distinct styles: you can tell whether a noodle bowl in our house is made by him or by me, the same with chickpea curry, seitan, risotto – anything. We do things differently from each other but we still have styles. And it gets samey.

Eating someone else’s cooking was a blissful experience. Also, we’re not chefs, we’re home cooks without pretentions. La Garrigue’s food is restaurant food, well cooked, high quality ingredients treated with skill we don’t have. It was wonderful to experience that again.

We’re not out of lookdown yet, so continue giving your local restaurants some love.

La Garrigue

31 Jeffrey Street
Edinburgh, EH1 1DH

A three-course meal for one is £22. A picnic basket of terrine, chicken, salad, sweet and a wine is £60 for four people. Check out the wine list too.

Order online.

Twitter: @lagarriguerest | Instagram: la_garrigue

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About Caroline von Schmalensee

Cooking, eating and drinking is fun as well as necessary. I do food for fun and I write for a living. Good food makes the world a more delicious and satisfying place. Good writing, meanwhile, can make the world a less confusing place.

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