Restaurant review: We try Bia Rebel delivery service
Food delivery, www.biarebel.com. Belfast. Tel: 07581 399110
Can't get to the restaurant? Let the restaurant come to you. Bia Rebel, the new cook 'n' deliver kitchen based in Belfast, has the menu, the skilled chef and the van. Which means bringing in the caterers, once the domain of big houses in Cultra, has suddenly altered to mean something much more every day and democratic.
Seven of us in the office decided to Bia Rebel for lunch and were pleasantly surprised.
It's not quite the same as Deliveroo, Just Eat or Hungry House in that you need to plan ahead a bit and ideally order the day before. Also, the whole deal here is to eat exciting, healthy, and affordable food made to order.
You need to make sure you're close to a microwave oven to heat up the dishes when they arrive. Jenny Holland, the brains behind the concept, says, people are time poor and struggling to plan their meals more than ever. With her eye on this emerging market, she and her chef partner Brian Donnelly, have conceived the idea of lunches and dinners for delivery a couple of times a week, some particularly designed for mothers, others for children and still others, like the creative minds in our office, who need regular and frequent refuelling to stay inspired.
The menus change every week but always feature dishes made from meat, fish, fowl and produce sourced directly from farmers and producers. Some of it is very healthy, healthy to the point that it's approaching penance status. Take the burrito for instance: kale and beans are good for you but they need sexing up with whatever spices and heat can be thrown at them. The burrito had other bits and pieces including egg which actually made it rounded and interesting but only to a degree. It was the only weak spot in a selection of eight top dishes ranging from tom yum chicken noodle soup to spicy turmeric potato salad.
The tom yum was outstanding with plenty of fire power, depth of flavour and comfort. Lunch time is not the moment in which to try super-heated spiciness: you may have to meet people later and don't want to be breathing eastern smoked garlic and spices all over them. More significantly, your tastebuds are much more alert later in the evening and the tom yum is well judged, light and energising.
The Tokyo pork belly broth was a lesson in wholesomeness. Here is proof that being wholesome does not mean bland. Generous strips of pork belly, a whole egg and deeply savoury broth with miso and loads of chopped scallions and crunchy bits made this the comfort dish of the year. This must surely be the most effective cure to any ill, the tastiest way to repower the batteries and the most pleasurable means by which to control the calories.
The potato salad was addictively creamy, its texture soft yet firm, the portion again generous. Turmeric instantly transports you to the east and that fusion of spud and Indian is irresistible.
Another big winner and un-put-downable dish is the modestly named spicy rice bowl. We actually fought over this. Balanced and nutritious, the rice had everything going for it which lifted it from its normal position as support act for something more saucy. A Caesar salad did the job and the potato and thyme soup was a pleasant departure from the more usual vichyssoise.
The Mum's Meals menu is very tailored and specific and should have a strong appeal. The Happy Mummy Meal Plan, for instance features four dishes for each day of the week, all of which strongly appeal: Monday has mini quiches, tomato and black bean soup with carrot and chickpea salad and sesame oil dressing, cashew nut and sweet potato curry and a fruit salad cup. Tuesday features scrambled tofu (Jenny says tofu is high in vitamin D, an important nutrient for breastfeeding babies), chicken and halloumi salad, bircher (a kind of oat musesli) with dried apricots and spaghetti bolognaise and so on. This is £45 for three days and the deliveries are twice a week (Sundays and Wednesdays) or you can order per day.
What lifts Bia Rebel above other delivery foods is the quality of the cooking, the expense of the ingredients and the efficiency of the system. Seven of us ate healthily and very well, some of us with huge enjoyment for only £55. Once you get into the habit of ordering and start a rhythm of deliveries, you'll wonder how you ever survived before Bia Rebel appeared.
Chicken Caesar x 2 ............................£10
Spicy rice bowl ...................................£5
Kale & bean burrito x 2 ...................£13
Potato & Thyme soup x 2 ...................£6
Tom yum chicken noodle ..................£7
Tokyo pork belly broth ......................£7
Spicy turmeric potato salad .............£5