Periodically the cyclical world of Sunday supplement tag lines will blurt out the maxim that “Staying in is the new going out” with varying, generally minimal, degrees of justification. Right now though, we really can say categorically that staying in is most certainly the new going out in the extreme circumstances we find ourselves. Socialising and entertainment are important parts of the human condition and the next few weeks will see further refinements to the activities we use to replace that which we were used to a few weeks ago. With restaurants unable to open at the moment, some have rapidly turned themselves into takeaways and others, whose offering is less suited to that, have thought outside the box and introduced meal kits to take home. This is where The Whippet Inn comes in.
These guys have always been up for something new and that attitude has stood them in good stead in adapting to offer meal kits based around their quality steak offering. These are carefully prepared with meticulous hygiene measures and practical steps to minimise contact between people, all directed at giving you the option to still enjoy an occasion even if leaving the house is impractical.
As you can understand this is a fluid situation, so check The Whippet Inn social media for the week’s menu but expect to find Sunday roasts and steaks at the core of the offering. I was lucky enough to bag a brace of ribeye steaks that came with dauphinoise potato, garlic mushrooms and a peppercorn sauce that came in at £30 for two portions. These came with practical instructions to get all your goodies onto the plate quickly, taking you though a series of steps designed for maximum concurrency in order to shorten the process. First I made sure the steaks would be at room temperature and well seasoned by the time they would hit the pan before kicking off the longest process, popping the portions of dauphinoise into the oven. At the same time, I got the sauce into a pan ready to heat slowly and heated my trusty griddle.
When cooking steak, you should never be afraid of heat so with the pan angrily hot and the steaks brushed with oil, I introduced them to one another, giving around 3 minutes a side for these ribeye. That left just enough time to lower the heat and cook the mushrooms in garlic butter while the steak rested (if you’re not up to speed cooking steaks, this is extremely important). I’d taken the steak out to come up to room temperature a while earlier but the whole cooking process only accounted for around twenty minutes after familiarising oneself with the recipe.
The results represented decent value and felt like something of an occasion in the home, to what extent though dictated by how much you’re up for buying in by dressing the table and splashing out on a decent wine. I’m comfortable in my ability to bring the best out of a steak, but even if you’re not, the instructions from The Whippet Inn are a good substitute for experience. Dauphinoise and garlic mushrooms always couple well with a good steak and, while I generally don’t opt for a sauce with my steak, the peppercorn example here balanced its elements well and didn’t invade the steak’s territory.
There’s little that can substitute for a buzzing restaurant producing food you couldn’t imagine, let along execute, served by enthusiastic staff. In these strange days though, this is a good substitute that lets us play pretend and get dressed up for an occasion that features great food while risk is minimised. The sense of supporting a local business that’s far from unique in the challenges it faces at the moment really just adds to the attraction. We may not have much choice about staying in being the new going out, but while we’re staying in, it’s a relief to have well executed ways to pretend.