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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.