For all the fun of a meal kit and finish-at-home deliveries, sometimes the only way to go is a DIY-job. Even if no one makes a roast like your mum does (including you), it’s fun to try. But knocking your own socks off means investing in ingredients: sometimes the supermarket stuff doesn’t cut it, especially with all the substitutions that result from the entire capital ordering at once.
Supporting London’s small shops and indie deliveries isn’t just about helping your neighbourhood out, it’s a way of doing dinner justice while getting to feel a little bit smug. And, with January the way it is, take that satisfaction wherever you can get it.
Moreish meat n’ fish
Supermarket meat might be aeons up on what it once was, but few really have gold in their aisles. The likes of dry-aged anything or proper fat-lined paddles of bacon are hard to find among the vacuum packs, while the cheaper cuts that feed pies and melt into warming stews are never there. A good butcher is everything. McKanna Meats (WC1X, mckannameats.co.uk), known as Theobald’s, is among the best; this is a proper old place, one without a Farrow & Ball facelift, where the meat is first rate and the service is too. They have everything; Sutton Hoo chicken, black pudding, white pudding, beef 57 ways (well, just about), all kinds of sausages, quails nested in boxes together, wild rabbit, fine beef fillet. Prices are reasonable and delivery can be arranged over the phone or via email. Delivery is free for any orders over £50 from Turner & George (EC1V, turnerandgeorge.co.uk), also excellent, who are known for their homemade sausages, and they also champion mutton, which gets a bad rep but can be intensely flavourful. Not far from them is Smithfield Market’s Keevil & Keevil (EC1A, keevilandkeevil.co.uk), who’ve kept their standards high since the 1700s; all the usual meats can be ordered online alongside prepared boxes, with free orders over £75, but drop them a line for something hard to find: alongside duck, deli meats and fois gras, they keep crocodile. Hammersmith’s renowned HG Walter (W14, hgwalter.com), long a favourite with Nigella and Ruth Rogers, also keep things snappy, offering same day delivery and collection, with 15 per cent off first orders.
HG Walter’s best does sit in the aisle of one “supermarket”, though — the Supermarket of Dreams (W11, supermarketofdreams.com), a lockdown one success story delivering meat, fish (including fresh sushi) and kits from the likes of Jikoni, Bubala and Dishoom across London within an hour of ordering. It comes from nearby chef’s favourite The Notting Hill Fish Shop (W11, nottinghillfishshop.co.uk), the only place in the UK to sell fresh fish every day of the week. They’re also good for seafood treats that can be difficult to get your hands on: Orkey scallops, wild clams, squid and giant tiger prawns all glisten in their icy counter. More niche is the Secret Smokehouse (E8, secretsmokehouse.co.uk) who do the stuff for heavenly weekend breakfasts: founder Max Bergius and his team smoke and cure their fish on site under London bridge arches, with probably the best smoked salmon in London, alongside trout, haddock, kippers and their homemade fish pies. No surprise Claude Bosi uses them. The Upper Scale (E14, theupperscale.co.uk) are also more used to supplying chefs —Richard Corrigan and Jason Atherton among them — but have made a success of home delivery; orders must be over £20 but arrive the next day with no fee. They specialise in sashimi-grade salmon and tuna, black cod and oysters, including Japanese Kumamoto.
Get your fruit n’ veg fix
In Bermondsey Village, the Giddy Grocer (SE1, giddygrocer.co.uk) is a beautiful find; behind its peacock blue frontage are boxes of seasonal British fruit and veg, now available to order, alongside natural wines, meat and fish, sauces and dips, pickles and ferments and all sorts. This week, two new boxes launch; one for movie night, full of popcorn, chocolate and booze, and the weekend breakfast box, with everything for a gourmet fry-up.
Like the trade’s favourite butchers, wholesale greengrocers have begun home deliveries too. Family-run I A Harris & Sons (SW8, iaharris.co.uk) offers just about everything, from pink radicchio to raf tomatoes and caviar limes. They also do bread and dairy and deliver free, with a minimum order of £30. There’s nothing old school about Natoora (natoora.co.uk): this sustainable, strictly seasonal, plastic-free and eco- conscious group is known for its quality, and its whizzy app means ordering is as easy as anything. Next day delivery is £4; order for an at-home taste of Lyle’s, Brawn and the River Café. For more restaurant-quality boxes, try the Gladwin Brothers store (gladwinbrothers.com), which delivers the same West Sussex farm goods that keep their four restaurants fully booked.
Though they keep it local with free deliveries, those by Newington Green (N1, 020 7354 0990) are in luck, being so close to one of the finest grocers in London, while the smart brown vans of Andreas (SW3, andreasveg.co.uk) carry daily deliveries of Gordon Ramsay-approved goods, including hard-to-find bits like wasabi root and custard apples.
Devilishly good delis
The joy of a good deli is that every brightly coloured tin, every bow-wrapped box and every rattling shaker of spice feels like a treat. Sadly, some of the very best — Terroni of Clerkenwell, Charlie Boxer’s Vauxhall spot Italo, Ladywell Road’s Larder — do not deliver. Fortunately, a few will: the wonderful Panzer’s (NW8, panzers.co.uk) is piled high with cheese and charcuterie, as well as their famous bagels and freshly-baked challah. The homemade chutneys are particularly good, too. Curiously, there’s also a choice of American food, for those who get their kicks from Betty Crocker cake mixes. The condiments from Melrose & Morgan (NW1, NW3, melroseandmorgan.com) come with a conundrum; everything looks too good to crack into. Their biscuits and crackers are, well, cracking, as are their own-brand spreads. Shipping is free for orders over £55.
Another north London favourite is the De Beauvoir Deli (N1, thedebeauvoirdeli.co.uk), whose on-demand delivery has everything from confited duck legs to cigars, via milk, eggs, teas, coffees and all sorts of oils. It’s a similar story at Soho‘s Lina Stores (W1, linastores.co.uk), who offer an all-Italian choice nationwide. They do store-cupboard specials — beans, pulses, colourful tins of fish — alongside cheese, charcuterie and pasta sauces.
If Italian is your thing, Artigiano (SW15, artigianoshop.co.uk) is more delivery service than deli, but a must: the wine and coffee choice is terrific, but those stocking the kitchen will want their spreads, which include olive patés and a fig and walnut preserve that’s every winter flavour in one.
As the name suggests, the Peckham General Store (SE15, generalsto.re) are more about offering a bit of everything, with weekly Friday deliveries across town of their particularly good sourdough as well as meat, fish, fruit, vegetables and all sorts of dairy. Still, when seriously good cheese is what’s wanted, Paxton and Whitfield (SW1Y, paxtonandwhitfield.co.uk) rightly holds the gold standard, and helpfully offer tips on storing and serving whatever you buy. Somewhat less well-known but similarly saintly for cheese fiends, the straightforwardly-monikered London Cheesemongers (SW1X, londoncheesemongers.co.uk) have more than 30 choices, delivered with biscuits and pickles galore locally, but also available to ship across the country.
Sometimes, keeping the kitchen properly stocked means exploring. Ichiba (W12, ichibalondon.com) is Europe’s largest Japanese food hall and full of noodles, dashi, miso, ramen kits, bao buns and just about all the other joys found in Japanese cooking. There’s also sake and Japanese whisky for those needing to take the edge off lockdown; healthier types can get 10 per cent off their vegan and organic orders. Similarly specialist are Honey & Co (W1T, shop.honeyandco.co.uk), whose Honey & Spice shop offers Middle-Eastern fridge fillers — think all those warming, thrilling kinds of spice as well as tahini, halva, molasses and the like – as well as their own meal kits. Keep an eye on the Ottolenghi-approved Phoenicia Foodhall, too; the Kentish town Mediterranean and north African specialist is set to begin online ordering “soon” (NW5, phoeniciafoodhall.co.uk).
Meanwhile, Portobello Road’s R Garcia and Sons (W11, rgarciaandsons.com) bucks the Italian trend, being a Spanish supermarket that’s well-liked for sourcing all those treats that nowhere else seems to get their hands on — if you’re craving Aburra beans, or El Pavo Cannelloni, you’ll struggle to get them anywhere else. Delivery is £9.95, and guaranteed within three days. Finally, if you’re after something really special to make a night of it, feast like a Russian tsar and order from King’s Fine Food (TW4, kingsfinefood.co.uk). They supply ethically-farmed caviar and fresh truffles to restaurants across town, including Otto’s, and now deliver off-trade too, with free deliveries on orders over £100.
Fill the back bar
Perhaps the only true lockdown essential is good wine; fortunately, London’s independent wine shops have their cellars rattling with rare bottles and fine everyday drinkers. Top Cuvée’s bottle shop spin-off Shop Cuvée (N5, shopcuvee.com) are offering a free bottle of their popular Chin Chin Vinho Verde to go with every order over £20 – given Chin Chin goes for £12, it’s a no-brainer. It’s almost impossible to buy a bad bottle from Passione Vino (EC2A, shop.passionevino.co.uk) who, true to Italian form, deliver via Vespa. Dalston is spoilt for choice with Pamela (pamelabar.com), Furanxo (furanxo.co.uk), Newcomer Wines (newcomerwines.com) and more; for our full list of favourite spots delivering all over London, visit this page.