Something strange happened to me one evening last week. I ate a vegetarian dinner. Yes, you read that correctly. Vegetarian. As you will know, I’m a meat fiend, and I can’t actually tell you the last time I ate a dinner without it some beefy or porky goodness in it. So what happened?
Well, I recently came across a new business in Bow where I live, called ‘Ready by 5‘. It’s the brainchild of Cat Navarro, who wanted to offer a higher quality of takeaway food to fellow residents in the E3 postcode, cooking and delivering once a week to a set number of people.
Tim and I regularly order takeaway at home, (we’re often very busy both for work/socially and it’s the easiest option), but I rarely write about it on here. It doesn’t really fit with the tone of the blog and is usually only relevant for people in my area. However, Ready at 5 just seemed like such a great business idea, offering a high quality of food delivered to your door, that I had to write about it. It’s more of a ‘supper club on your doorstep’.
But when I saw that the latest meal from Ready by 5 was a vegetarian dish, I was torn. I really wanted to try out the service and it was perfect timing – Tim was away (in New York, the lucky bugger!) and so I could happily eat my ‘meal for one’ at home. But I wondered if I would like this veggie option. I took the risk. I’m so glad I did.
This week’s dish was The ‘One Eyed Willie’ – A fragrant Tarka Dahl slowly simmered and served with basmati rice, fresh coriander, natural yoghurt and garam masala drizzle.
And my word it was good. I was literally shovelling it into my mouth like a thing possessed! I would say there was probably enough for two people, but I managed to polish it off over the space of the evening. It had a brilliant kick to it, eased by the natural yoghurt and rice. The flavours were superb, something you just don’t get from many takeaways.
It also came with some dark chocolate buttons – the perfect way of cleansing your palate and easing your sugar cravings.
It has seriously made me think about what meals I could cook at home without meat. It might take some convincing for Tim to be on board, but I’m willing to give it a go. I’ll save a fortune on meat, even if it’s just for one day a week. I’d never be able to give it up and I wouldn’t want to, but it has make me consider what other kinds of veggie dinners I could try.
For Cat’s non-veggie dishes, all of the meat is bought from The Ginger Pig, which as you’ll know from my previous posts, I’m a big fan of. Each meal is £10, serving one person, and you can choose a one hour time slot for it to be delivered.
The website is also very quirky, I love the style and humour of it. A great example is the fact that while waiting to receive my e-mail registration, I was given a video of a dog riding a bike. Just because. It certainly made me smile. And each meal has a story behind it. My favourite has to be for ‘The Morning Mary’: I often find myself out on a 6am jog through Bow’s back lanes, only to be hit by a strong “herbal” waft. We all know those streets – smoky with a bit of punch. Just like this dish (only it’s legal, and won’t leave you hungry). Yep, I’ve experienced the same thing. Good old Bow!
We usually order fairly regularly from Deliverance (some might say too regularly!) and main courses are usually £9-10, so this is on a par with that. However it’s more expensive than some of the local Indian and Chinese takeaway set meals, but then again, the standard of the Ready by 5 meals is much higher, so you’re paying for the quality of the ingredients.
And Cat was lovely enough to answer some questions for me about the business.
Interview with Cat Navarro
What inspired you to set up the business?
A deep frustration at the lack of takeaway food options in E3. There’s only so much fried chicken one can eat! There are lots of delivery services but the produce is often terrible, the portions are small, and it would regularly turn up lukewarm. I guarantee your food will end up cold 😉
Have you encountered any difficulties so far?
Every now and then a bag of food explodes in my face during the sealing process. And there was that awkward time I bumped into a Dominos guy while on my deliveries…
Do you think you’ll end up offering the service more than once a week?
Maybe. But maybe not. I like the popup aspect – I cook when I want and notify people so they have the option to buy. I also want to keep it small, special and local, and running it on multiple days starts to spoil that. But I have plans to offer the odd picnic lunch in the summer, hangover breakfast, date night meals, as well put on a couple dinners…. E3 only of course 😉
Which was your favourite dish to make so far?
After smelling a meal all day, and having it explode in my face, it’s hard to think fondly of any dish! But “The Morning Mary” (aka smoky aubergine and pork) was a little bit special.
Will you be adding any desserts to the menu?
Possibly. Though I’ll probably introduce matching wines before I introduce desserts. That’s because I’m a lush who doesn’t haven’t a sweet tooth.
What would be your dream three course meal?
I have an unhealthy obsession with pasta. So if it was up to me it would be three courses of pasta. Watch out E3, I’m getting ideas!
There’s a real community feel to this kind of business and I’d love to see more of these popping up in other areas. Perhaps they already exist? Let me know in the comments below.
I was given a discount to purchase a meal from Ready By 5 for review purposes but did not receive any payment. All views are my own.