Pickled Fork Review
Review: Pickled Fork, home delivery
Jenny Booth delights in a chef-cooked meal delivered to her front door
It is delightfully indulgent to order in a restaurant-standard meal to eat at home. Dinner tastes freshly-cooked, from the best ingredients. You don’t have to get dressed up and trail out. You can please yourself with the wine, and it actually costs about a third less than eating out. Why wouldn’t you?
But that’s just a takeaway, I hear you say. Or you could buy the supermarket luxury ready meal. No, no, no. This is a far superior experience: it’s like having a private chef who delivers.
Which brings me to Aussie chef Alex Motture, who drove up at around 5.30pm in the van of his private catering company, The Pickled Fork, bringing with him his menu of the day. The menu was a piece of gastronomic art, balancing European, Middle Eastern and Asian flavours.
Starters were nutty, herby Falafel with cool minty Labneh; little crisp fritters filled with salt cod purée, with a blastingly hot Scotch Bonnet dip; and a brace of crispy duck pancakes. There is a world of difference between tired, pre-prepared food from the chiller, and fresh dishes executed by a good chef, and this was the real thing. All the excess salt had been soaked out of the salt cod, which was sweet and smooth. The duck was roasted to a bacon-like scrunch. Even the Hoi-Sin sauce tasted homemade, with a fruity tang.
Alex offers a single choice of main course (it comes in vegetarian or meat versions), which changes every day. On Wednesday it was crispy chilli-glazed pork belly, or marinaded tofu in crispy chilli batter for veggies, served with sticky rice and a Thai salad of herbs, mango, papaya and cashews, and a Nam Jim Thai dipping sauce. The pork was tender and tasted like it had had a pleasant outdoor life, while the tofu (not my favourite ingredient) had taken on some flavour from the marinade and was cooked well so it was still silky inside its coating. The salad was divinely zingy, popping with flavour, sweetness and texture, while the Nam Jim added heat and notes of lime and fish sauce. Only the sticky rice hit a duff note, rather too sweet and glutinous for me.
And thence to pud, a choice of either an excellent lemon tart, whose custard was creamy and deeply lemony, or an indulgent milk chocolate brownie with pistachios. There was a brief struggle over would finish the tart – I lost.
The Pickled Fork has branched out into door-to-door delivery while its outside catering is frozen during the lockdown, and has found it a hit. Demand is growing all the time, with authentic curries particularly popular, as are Alex’s burgers every Friday. Alex and his wife Helen dream up the gastropub-style menus based partly on what they fancy eating, what’s seasonal, and what will still taste superb after reheating. They plan flavours that work together – for example, the duck was lovely dipped in the scotch bonnet sauce. They also offer a suggested wine pairing.
Waste was practically zero as we ate everything except the rice, and 90% of the packaging was recyclable. Order by 10pm the night before for afternoon delivery, Tuesday to Friday. At weekends, The Pickled Fork caters virtual dinner parties.