Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Takeaway home delivery: Is there anybody out there?

Despite the so-called foodie revolution in this country, there is still an awful lot of rubbish out there. Mass produced, catering pack pub food is probably the most popular dining out experience in the nation. Walk into any one of the multitude of branded pubs adjacent to a Premier Inn, and it will almost certainly be busy with diners, and the food will almost certainly be crap. I should know, work has taken me to dozens of them over the last few years (can't fault the hotels). I'm not singling out Whitbread here, there are plenty of other chains offering exactly the same sort of dross.

'Foreign' food is often no better. In most of our town centres you can often still find Indian and Chinese restaurants serving up the very worst anglicised version of these cuisines. Luminous red masalas flavoured predominantly with stale powdered spices and ghee. Even more luminous achingly sweet and sour sauce with indeterminate protein in stodgy, greasy batter. All still readily available.

These places don't bother me too much, because they are usually avoidable. I've only dined in so many poor pubs through a lack of time and effort, such meals provide essential fodder when sustenance is needed. In most towns there is a decent curry or a home-made pub meal to be had. You just have to make the effort to find it sometimes.

What does seem to be completely lacking in many areas is good quality, home delivered takeaway food. Over several years living or spending a lot of time in WF1, LS6, LS15 and LS26 I don't recall ever having any food delivered that was better than mediocre. It's been a few years since I've spent much time in some of these places, but on Sunday night's evidence not much has changed.

I should note at this point, I'm not talking about takeaway food in general, but specifically home delivery. There are a lot of decent restaurants providing takeaway, but not a lot of those offer a delivery service (Red Chilli II in Wakefield and Saengarun Thai in Leeds are is just a couple of one examples off the top of my head). Sometimes only a delivery will do. When you're tired and hungover, or generally slobbing about, or drunk perhaps.

On Sunday night I was very much in the tired and hungover camp. Surely it must be possible to have a good curry delivered to the north side of Wakefield? Having nothing better to guide me than the ratings on Just Eat, I opted for Taste of India (where it gets 6/6 for service, 5.5/6 for quality and 5.5/6 for delivery).

I ordered online and waited, fingers crossed for something decent. The food arrived promptly, actually a couple of minutes before the stated time, so no issues there. Depressingly that was the high point.

A seekh kebab was pointlessly red, and largely devoid of flavour. I left half of it, which says it all. I bloody love a good seekh kebab. This wasn't a good seekh kebab. The accompanying salad was at least quite fresh.

Next up, a chicken masaka, which according to their description was: 'Marinated chicken cooked with channa dall, fresh green chillies and garnished with fresh ginger, coriander and spring onions'. Well the chicken was indeed marinated, but in the same red food colouring as the kebab. Food colouring is not a marinade. The lentils were present and correct, albeit swimming in too much ghee. I'm not sure what happened to the fresh green chillies, fresh ginger or spring onions. They must have forgotten them. There was a little bit of something green in there though; presumably coriander. The overall flavour was not unpleasant, sort of a muted, sweet generic curry taste.

Starch came in the form of a couple of passable chapattis, and a portion of vegetable pilau rice. The rice also tasted sweet (sugar is obviously their 'go to' spice) and most of the vegetables in it were potatoes.

All in all not very good at all. If this was a normal review I'd give it 3/10. I've actually had much worse than this too. Most delivered takeaway meals I can recall would rate in the range 1/10 up to 5/10. Surely there must be better out there?

Part of the problem with takeaways is finding reliable sources of information. Restaurants are often reviewed by professional critics and trusted amateurs (the army of bloggers), takeaways rarely are. Call me a snob but I just don't trust the man on the street when it comes to food. Too many people like the aforementioned crappy pub grub, and too many people comment favourably about rubbish like Taste of India. On Just Eat it is described variously as 'the best Asian food in Wakefield', 'absolutely amazing food' and 'cannot recommend highly enough'. Really??

It may be that the ratings system on Just Eat gives some insight into the mindset of people using it. Equal weight is given to Service, Quality and Delivery. Assuming quality to mean 'is the food any good', that leaves service and delivery covering 'any problems placing your order and did it turn up on time?' Personally I'd happily deal with a convoluted ordering process and late delivery if I could guarantee the food was good.

To sum up, the food from most takeaways with a delivery service is very poor, and there is little reliable information to tell you which ones are better. I don't believe there is nothing decent out there, finding it is the tricky part. I have two local (Leeds) delivery services in mind for starters, both of whose food I've tried although not had delivered. They are:

Box Pizza - Leeds (
Manjit's Kitchen - Leeds (

What else have we got? Comments and suggestions welcome.

Edit: I have just found a menu for Red Chilli II in Wakefield. They deliver. I am an idiot. Three options covering two cuisines in two cities still isn't many though.....

Red Chilli II - Wakefield


Unknown said...

Oh my word, that looks horrible! I gave up ordering indian takeaway 4 years ago as I have never had a good one apart from the ones I have taken away from a restaurant myself as left overs!!

Katie said...

yep they are the only 2 decent delivery services in Leeds... all the rest are nasty ones that serve students.

bashaa said...

Agree with your comments there are way too many generic places serving crap that people quite happily buy. I personally dislike getting delivery as the end result is a container full of gooey sauce at lukewarm temperature swimming in ghee and missing any decent chunks of meat.
Here is an example of how people can go wrong with reviews. This is a well known place in Wakey
See what I mean? People love the boxes(?) and think the staff are really great & friendly (wooppeee!) but the food is very very average but the reviews just dont reflect that.
I can recommend a place which is just underneath the Travelodge in Wakey, I think its called Cinnamon something I cant be sure sorry, but I ordered takeout from there and it was not bad, I would say around 4 or 5/10 so give that a go next, hopefully it wont be as bad as the stuff you've had already.

Dave said...

Cheers all for commenting.

Bashaa - I went to Abduls a few years ago. The food wasn't very good but it was indeed very well packaged!

anieb said...

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Anonymous said...

I would add that is excellent! The only takeaway I ever go to.

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