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Freight delivers after forced switch to takeaway service

  • Freight,The Containers 402 Upper Newtownards Road, Belfast.Tel: 028 9046 3828
  • Freight, 423 Lisburn Road, Belfast Tel: 028 9508 1587

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Freight delivery

Freight delivery

Freight delivery

The great confinement has created much innovative thinking and some restaurants are taking measures to gear themselves up for service - but not as they know it. Here is the challenge. How does a restaurant which employs lots of serving staff and operates great numbers of tables in fashionable surroundings very quickly transform itself into the Golden Harvest?

I mention the Golden Harvest because it is one of the best Chinese takeaways in south Belfast but it consists of a manager, two chefs and a person at the counter out front. It is always busy, turnover is fast and furious, collections and deliveries create a great amount of traffic, but never any congestion. Crucially, the food which is destined to be wrapped and sealed into delivery boxes before being plated up, is hot on arrival, textures intact and flavours singing aloud.

Can a sit-down restaurant with its years of service culture, minute attention to ingredients, cooking skills and presentation, adapt to the rapid-response cut and thrust of takeaway and still make a few pounds?

Technically, yes, but there are issues. Last week The Hoose restaurant successfully delivered a dinner for four people to our house. It was on time, it was still warm enough and the choice of meals was clever in that they were the type (lamb shank and mash, crispy Chinese style beef, roast duck magret) that could sustain a journey sealed in cardboard and plastic containers without losing their texture.

But certain foods suffer in transit. I've tried deliveries of burgers and chips, I've collected fish and chips and had pizzas brought to the house and the simple fact is that dreaded hot moisture in the boxes will always win. Chips are rendered down to a mushy mass, pizzas lose form and battered fish rarely survives unblemished.

Burgers don't suffer quite so badly. If you have ever had a Five Guys where the most beautiful and aesthetically pleasing burgers are destroyed in an instant by being tightly wrapped in tinfoil to the point of unrecognisable deformity, you will appreciate just how delicate are these culinary structures.

For Christy and Gerard McQuillan, closing Freight's two newish restaurants in east and south Belfast was the last thing they needed.

Both Freights serve what is popularly known as dirty food. Burgers, fried chicken, hotdogs, chips and the like usually come under the dirty food category. At Freight the concept has been exploded and the food is filthy.

Burgers are cartoon like with quality beef and super glossy brioche buns; fried chicken might be Korean style with kimchi, served on a waffle, pulled pork in bao buns will come with fried rice that is so packed with umami flavour that you will never want to stop eating it.

Freight is one of the adviser's top three restaurants so when they announced 10 days ago that they would be doing deliveries and food for collection (wouldn't be like Freight not to deliver, says Christy), we were in like Flynn. A burger, fried chicken, two crab mac and cheese and a veggie barbecued cauliflower were ordered with a few sides of dirty rice and chips.

At the appointed time I made my way to the landmark freight containers at CS Lewis Square just off the Newtownards Road which houses the restaurant.

An orderly queue was observing the regulation two metre social distancing and food in bags was placed on a table by the door for clients to collect.

I had green lights the whole way home (about four miles) so was able to make it back in record time. Everything had survived the journey intact, except for the chips which were spectacularly destroyed in their plastic tubs.

But those unmistakeable and irresistible Freight flavours and odours persisted and the joy of bringing that funky filth into your actual house is something everyone should experience.

The bill

Korean fried chicken £10

BBQ Caulifower £10

Crab Mac'n'cheese £10

Freight burger £10

Thai fries £3

Dirty rice £3

Total £46

Belfast Telegraph