REVIEWED: ANTONA AT HOME
We may all have become experts at Banana Bread thanks to lockdown, but for most of us the ability to turn out a truly showstopping supper for a special occasion celebrated at home is either just too hard or just too much pressure! With a year of lockdowns under our belt, we’ve been craving the flavours that only an exceptional restaurant experience can deliver, so when we heard that one of our favourites places to eat, the Michelin starred Simpson’s in Edgbaston, was offering a new dine at home menu, created by Andreas Antona, we were excited to try it. When they added that Harvey Nichols would also be offering an exclusive wine pairing for each of the chef’s curated menus, anticipation and expectations were high.
Antona at Home brings the distinguished quality of Andreas Antona’s Michelin dining experience from the restaurant into your home. It’s ‘Dining Out. In’. The weekly changing set menu is put together using the best seasonal ingredients available at that time, with only high welfare meat and sustainable seafood from suppliers the Simpson’s team know and respect.
We ordered a three course box for two, which included a Jerusalem Artichoke Soup, Hazelnut , Rocket and Truffle Pesto and sourdough croutons; a Beef Wellington with hispi cabbage, cerleiac puree and madeira sauce and a Spiced Honey Cake with apple and ginger crème anglaise.
Everything arrived well packaged and suitably chilled, by courier that morning and we decanted the contents into the fridge and pored over the instructions to see how much we’d have to do to make this Michelin starred meal as near to restaurant-good as we could. There was even a QR code link to an Instagram video talking you through exactly what to do for those that don’t get on with written instructions.
We needn’t have worried, as the instructions were simple and straightforward with the menu being formulated so that dinner could be prepared and enjoyed without any panic over timings and using minimal pots and pans.
We started with the Jerusalem artichoke soup: it was deliciously smokey and velvetlike in texture; a spoon of this made sure our tastebuds realised what they had been missing all of these months. Served with individual milk bread loaves and jersey butter it was delicious, although we’d perhaps have preferred the saltiness of an olive bread or the addition of a herb butter.
Harvey Nichols had recommended two wines to accompany our meal and it was the Harvey Nichols Aconcagua Chardonnay with which we started. None of us at the table are known for being Chardonnay fans but the Aconcagua was a revelation. Wonderfully mellow with none of the over-oaked tartness that can overtake the wine, the Aconcagua was the perfect accompaniment and second glasses were swiftly poured to enjoy as we completed the preparation for our mains.
We’d already cooked the Wellington and this was resting, as per instructions, so all we needed to do was warm through the celeriac (our new lockdown favourite vegetable) and the madeira sauce as the cabbage baked in the leftover heat from the oven. The Wellington carved beautifully and was cooked to perfection. We loved the plating instructions too meaning our meals were as ready for Instagram as they were our bellies! And were we ready! The beef literally melted in the mouth with the celeriac and cabbage providing the perfect accompaniment.
Having finished the white during food prep, we uncorked the Harvey Nichols 2018 Montagne Saint Emilion red to discover a much bolder and full-bodied choice, which was really well suited to the beef.
On to the final course: the Spiced Honey Cake, which we warmed in the oven before serving surrounded by the apple compote and ginger crème anglaise and decorated with tiny edible flowers. We felt very fancy. As pretty as it was to look at, this was probably our least favourite course, as it just didn’t feel or taste special enough. It was far from unpleasant, but it was a little dry and lacking in flavour and so very far from the wow we had experienced with the rest of the menu. The crème anglaise, however, was divine. We love the sound of the Spiced Pineapple Rum Baba With Coconut And Lime from the upcoming menu so maybe we just lucked out on that week?
All in all, we loved the Antona at Home experience and found it as easy to prepare as it was delicious to eat. We also really appreciated the wine pairing from Harvey Nichols, although we’d have really enjoyed having some tasting notes sent with it so we could indulge in the full glass sniffing and swirling, wine tasting experience.
The set menu for two is priced at £110 with the accompanying duo of wine just £38. Portions are healthy – we actually divided into three, as we have a lockdown housemate – and there was plenty for all. We will be ordering again. Hugely recommended.