With the official start of summer on its way, after a washout that was May, Arabica’s meal kits offer the perfect opportunity to dust off the picnic blanket to enjoy some alfresco dining. Simon Wittenberg tucks into the Deluxe Picnic kit and reports back on the experience.
With the Arabica business starting off with a stall in London’s Borough Market, which has since been joined by two restaurants – one in Borough Market (below) and one in King’s Cross, plus a concession in the Selfridges Food Hall, it offers diners freshly-prepared gastronomy hailing from the eastern Mediterranean region.
As well as on-site dining, Arabica offers a range of feast boxes and restaurant-quality meal kits on its website that customers can order to finish at home. Launched at the end of April, there are two Picnic kits on offer, which are namely, the Arabica Picnic kit priced at £50, and the Deluxe Picnic kit, which we tried, costing slightly more at £75, but with no shipping charge. The latter is marked as being enough to accommodate four rumbling stomachs, and all allergens are clearly laid out at the point of ordering, although the contents of the kits cannot be modified to suit specific dietary requirements.
With pre-ordering required a few days before, delivery of the kits is available nationwide via courier on a Tuesday and Friday only, and ours arrived on a Friday afternoon, allowing plenty of time to keep it chilled in the fridge before laying it out for the evening meal. Although the picnic doesn’t come with a nice quintessentially British wicker basket, the individual dishes arrive in plastic containers clearly labelled with the ingredients, so it’s easy to see what you’re tucking into.
Apart from the ready-to-bake feta and spinach böregi (a pastry swirl), which needs heating up, everything in the Arabica Deluxe kit is ready to go straight out of the fridge before you head out the door if you’re planning on a local adventure or ramble. The picnic offers a mixture of vegetarian and dairy-free options, and our gastronomic spread was comprised of ten different bites and dishes varying in complexity and quantity, so for the amount of food you do get, it does represent good value.
The nice thing about having a Picnic kit is that you can have a bit of everything on your plate and mix and match depending on what takes your fancy. I started off with the tasty and very fresh feta and freekeh salads, alongside a dash of beetroot borani (which combines yoghurt, vinegar and olive oil amongst other ingredients), a few pickled pieces of carrot, radish, gherkin and chilli peppers, as well as some crudités dipped in the flavoursome and smooth hummus, where you could really taste the rich olive oil.
With the boregi fresh out of the oven after a 40-minute cook, this was to be the next round, and with the feta and spinach oozing from the crisp pastry, it was pretty filling, albeit a bit on the salty side due to the Greek cheese used in the recipe.
The standout dish for my wife and me was the baba ghanoush, an aubergine-based recipe that combined beautifully with the pita crisps, although some fresh pita would have been nice here – my only minor criticism if anything was to be modified going forward. Nevertheless, after enjoying an impressive array of savoury delights, and our appetites satisfied thanks to generous portions, we rounded off the picnic with a nicely presented plate of Mediterranean pastries, which included some crisp and buttery baklava, namoura – a traditional semolina cake, coconut slice, and ma’amoul – a light and fluffy Levantine-style shortbread.
All in all, the Arabica Deluxe Picnic kit is the perfect alternative to venturing out to a busy eatery and allows you to enjoy sumptuous restaurant-quality food with great company, with the flexibility of choosing in which surroundings it is consumed. Would we have it again? Yes, without hesitation, and Arabica’s superb Picnic kit was the perfect way to round off the week.
Arabica – Where and How?
To place an order for the Arabica Deluxe Picnic kit, visit shop.arabicalondon.com.
See the Arabica Deluxe Picnic kit, which we sampled, on the Luxurious Magazine Instagram page.
Read more food guides and reviews here.