Review: Voilà at Home from The Sun Inn, Chobham
Whether it's dinner for two or a dinner party for six, we've discovered Voilà at Home a new service that brings fine dining to your table. Nina Hytner samples the goodies.
Let’s face it. Right now there is really not that much to look forward to. No theatres to laugh in. No Friday night cinemas to gorge popcorn in. Even the impromptu pint after work has to be meticulously executed. Venues are fighting for their future. Times are changing. And we, the punters, are having to change with it. But there is some good news as restaurants and pubs embrace the challenging culinary climate and has adapt their services.
Say hello to Voilà at Home – the latest offering from The Sun Inn in Chobham, which effectively brings fine dining to your own dining table. You order online from an extraordinary range of dishes, you collect from the restaurant and you follow the instructions to present everything beautifully and effortlessly onto your plates. Et voila… you have your perfect, three course dinner. No fretting and no fuss – but all the fun.
Scoff & quaff
So this is an interesting one. The Sun Inn website calls Voilà at Home a new service which lets you create and serve restaurant quality food and drink at home. I had so many questions. How would the food be prepared? How much preparation would I have to do at home? How tasty would the food actually be, and would the quality be compromised by the time I got it home?
The menu is extensive which is a great starting point. There’s nothing worse than ordering off a limited menu, and this menu doesn’t disappoint. Starters range from cheese souffle to jackfruit fritters… mains include whole dressed Brixham crab to Asian Pan Friend Stone Bass. And placing the order couldn’t be simpler. You load the Voilà at Home website, click on ‘order online’ and follow the instructions. It really is that simple.
For starters I chose chicken liver parfait with truffle butter and red onion marmalade. And the husband chose the fish soup with gruyere cheese, croutons and saffron rouille.
For mains, I wanted something decadent, something I couldn’t easily make at home – and therefore chose slow cooked Boeuf Bourguignon with dauphinoise potato, carrots and french beans. And the husband chose his favourite, duck leg with citrus sauce, carrots and dauphinoise potato.
Order placed. We jumped in the car to collect. Now, here’s where it could get tricky. I must admit, if I had chosen to do this for a dinner party, the next part may have caused me some anxiety. But they seriously have thought of everything. There are cleverly uploaded videos to show you how to warm everything and present it on the plate as a restaurant would. There are instructions too, beautifully presented with each dish. You really couldn’t go wrong.
If you’re choosing the same dishes (for example, for a dinner party) then the process is even more simple. If you have opted for different dishes, you need to concentrate. Because you still need to do a little bit of preparation at home. You need to boil the Boeuf in a pan of simmering water to re-heat it. Then you also need to boil the vegetables. And at the same time, put the oven on and re-heat the dauphinoise. So yes, there’s a small amount of sous-cheffing in your kitchen – but that’s part of what makes it special. You actually feel like you are learning a little something.
My chicken liver parfait was sublime. The presentation in the little pot was so cute. And the red onion marmalade was a divine accompaniment. Another sliver of toasted brioche would have been wonderful.
The husband warmed his fish soup, poured it into a bowl, added the croutons, cheese and rouille and spent the rest of the time oohing and aahing over how delicious it was – he loved it.
Onto the mains. My slow cooked beef was beautifully tender. And the bourguignon sauce had clearly been created with loving attention. And my oh my… the dauphinoise potato was perfection. Creamy and smooth. Veggies were simple, but beautiful. My husband’s duck was succulent and the sauce perfect – not too ‘orange’ but delicately perfumed.
Stuffed beyond words, we decided for the sake of this article (hee hee) to move onto desserts. We chose steamed lemon sponge and melting chocolate fondant to share.
Both were popped in our oven for around ten minutes, and we tipped them out onto the plates for sampling. And they were as good as they would have been had we have dined inside a restaurant. They not only looked great but they tasted incredible.
Voilà at Home really is a concept that could catch on. With households across the nation in lockdown and the future looking uncertain, this really could be one of life’s simple pleasures.
Well we were at home after all, but the elegance and detail of the meal, the packaging and ensuing level of preparation ensured that this created the ‘high end’ vibe of the night in. This wasn’t a night at home in jogging bottoms and no make up with a chinese takeaway. This was an event. We set the table. We got the best plates out. We lit candles. And we enjoyed that ‘restaurant’ feeling in our own home. Something you just do not get with a takeaway or a delivery.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Those with little time on their hands and wanting something original. An innovative option for those who normally used ‘Cook’ or ‘Hello Fresh’ for their meal options.
Not for: Those who want zero fuss. There is a little bit of prep to be done, so you can’t quite sit back and relax.
The damage: Starters cost £5.90 upwards, mains are £9.95 upwards and desserts are £1.95 upwards. Three course meal for two (excluding wine) approx £60.
Nina Hytner is a journalist and TV producer of shows including So You Think You Can Dance, Comic Relief, Children in Need & Strictly Come Dancing. She lives in Surrey with her family. @ninjachoons