Fine Dining Takeaway


Hospitality, for the moment at least, is no doubt taking the brunt from the lockdowns and restrictions across the UK. Question is, just how do we support our favourite local businesses and at the same time heed the safety measures we must all endure? If you take the need to help the NHS and therefore save lives seriously, it is very difficult to argue that there is no risk in visiting your favourite local pub or restaurant right now.

Was the money these businesses spent trying to make premises Covid safe a good investment? Things change, sometimes rapidly and with hindsight it may seem not. Corvid loves a crowd as they say and it can definitely party given an indoor crowd of strangers. We are perhaps seeing proof of that in the sobering numbers in the daily news.

Many of our great pubs and restaurants have stepped up and have been offering take away food throughout our health-imposed isolation. But fine dining takeaways? So, when The Whitebrook suggested that its past and present customers celebrate the New Year with just that – we were hooked!

What’s not to like? It provides revenue for the restaurant and a great night in for us. Being by far and away the best restaurant in the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley area hasn’t immunised this (Michelin) star wielding restaurant – with rooms, from the pandemic’s hospitality implosion. But, like all eateries, livelihoods and jobs depend on them remaining profitable. So, we need to use them when and how we are able.

Dine at home The Whitebrook

The “Dine at Home” programme launched by Chef Chris Harrod for New Year’s Eve homebound revellers was a real treat. And what a surprise – turns out that fine dining out of a takeaway bag – albeit a very smart one – was great fun and very, very doable.

The food tasted every bit as good as it would have in the restaurant. But, why wouldn’t it? All of the same people did the prep, made the sauces and sourced the produce locally. The only thing lacking was going to be the restaurant atmosphere and the experience of being well looked after by well trained, relaxed and chatty staff in a cosy environment.

Turns out that there is just as much fun to be had diving through the courses in your pyjamas and smoking jacket, by the light of the Christmas tree whilst listening to music playing loudly from the landing. We seemed to get our own little bubble of ambience going.

I have to say could not have been easier. Everything was packaged beautifully and for the most part in fully recyclable or compostable packaging. Something tells me that this was no accident. Chris Harrod and his team had obviously worked hard to make this process a success.

Chris was on hand to hand out the orders as I arrived to collect at our timed order slot. At the door it was great to see the table healthily laden with orders awaiting collection. The goodie bag came with full printed logical instructions. Clear and concise, this step-by-step guide was impeccably prepared but had missed one small detail, precisely how much “good will” the diners may have already indulged in prior to their 15 minutes of kitchen fame.

In essence, everything had been considered and explained. All that was required from the diner was a large pan of boiling water, an oven and the ability to read instructions. The latter thus, rendering the male half of the population incapable by default and a further 50% of the female population reduction due to a whiff of the sherry cork. What could possibly go wrong?

So a five course M starred menu, in your own home went like this for us: Our love of Italian travel so sadly cancelled and frustrated in 2020 was well fed by the outstanding Pumpkin focaccia decorated with seeds and nuts and deep green Ramson wild garlic oil. Really pungent and earthy focaccia that only, in our eyes, benefitted from a short reheating in a hot oven before serving. We ate this together with the Goats curd with a crunchy little nuts and seeds bonbon. Not everything went to plan though thanks in part to a couple of Martini’s and a Bushwhacker cocktail apiece. In a flagrant disregard for the step-by-step instructions and numbered ingredients, I’m afraid gin Martini’s got the better of me and I served the mushroom sauce instead of the Velouté – rooky error!

No matter, we had the velouté on its own with scavenged crusty croutons of focaccia – result! Smooth and beautiful acting as a more traditional soup course for us oh and an extra course The Whitebrook team hadn’t intended.

Dine at home The Whitebrook

The baked parsnip tasted just fine even without the mushroom sauce and looked great with the foraged Pennywort garnish. The mushroom sauce by the way was simply awesome. The depth of flavour was astonishing – really deep and meaty.

Dine at home The Whitebrook

Now for the tricky bit – the fish course. The Whitebrook team must have been holding their breath on this one. They took a big risk allowing us to get the fish course to the table – cooked by us at home, really? Amazingly (by bouncing the stereotype and following the instructions) that too was perfect. A little bit of Kholrabi on the plate, the fish baked on its bed of pine and juniper warmed in its wee cardboard box with a champagne sauce poured over – devine!

Main course of Fallow venison on celeriac puree with smoked baby beetroots as the grand crescendo to a great dinner – and there you have it. A total delight. Genuinely, the whole process was really, really simple and fun – thanks Team Whitebrook.

Dine at home The Whitebrook

With dinner, we drank our very last bottle of vineyard sourced full bodied Anfidiamante Red I.G.T. Imported by overland Landrover transport the year before from the family vineyard of Fattoria del Teso – in the other Montecarlo, in Tuscany. A small friendly family vineyard with a just a view bottles in the range. A great red, great white, the stunning Anfidiamante, Vinsanto, their own Grappa and olive oil. It tasted superb, as ever, and all the better for a year and a bit in the bottle – on top of the 18 months it had already had. Fabulous by the way. Drink it now or store it for as long as you like – maybe save a bottle for when we join the EU again.

We did however, choose a lovely dessert wine from the restaurant recommended wines list, a Jurançon. This sweet dessert wine (dried by the sun and shrivelled by the Pyrenean winds before harvesting) tempted us and who doesn’t love a dessert wine – a feeling of genuine celebration indeed. We were not disappointed.

Personally, I’m not really a dessert person. My Achilles heel is handmade ice cream and I can always be easily tempted by a Francis Coulson sticky toffee pudding but that’s about it. So, we opted for the addition of a cheese course for two people expertly chosen and supplied by the great Marches Deli and that was just the ticket to finish.

Dine at home The Whitebrook

So why would you splash on a fine dining take away? If you are the type who likes to tick Michelin stars, or impress your mates with where you had dinner or even give the staff the benefit of your wide and impressive dining experience, I can see how the offer of eating at home may not be that attractive. But if you love great food and great taste; want to invest in the longevity of a local beacon of culinary excellence and you’re comfortable with your own ambience (dress style formal or relaxed – it’s up to you) and random tableware then the news is good. From the end of January (22nd) Chris and his team will be doing this again. Every Friday and Saturday. A three course £30 a head dinner. Light your pipe, pull on your best smoking jacket, rest your elbow on the mantelpiece and shout Hussar!!

If you can stay safe in everyday life my friends – lockdown just got a bit more bearable.


Links and stuff:

Frydays – the Forest & Valley’s best Fish and Chip Shop.


Frydays, Bream

Lockdown has presented us all with challenges hasn’t it. Some are of the gravest nature and filled with sadness and some are frivolous with everything else in-between. To be denied of something seems, more than anything else to create a craving. This is true as much in food and drink as life.

In a prime position on the quayside of Viareggio in Tuscan, Italy home to the manufacture and birth of the world’s most expensive superyachts there is a boutique shop with a Union flag in the window. There is, in this global mega centre for billionaires and the rich and famous, a place where you can buy Marmite, HP sauce and any other brand of British you care to mention. Even the rich it seems get the hankering for the simple thing in life once they are no longer at our fingertips.

And so, it is with lockdown easing that I had the irresistible urge to risk everything and venture out into our new scary world. Essential, means essential and in my case, it was the first fish and chips I’d had for a few months. Once that idea was in my head, nothing, could distract me from it.

The fading seaside towns of the UK are all blessed with these humble fast food shops. Once derided as food of the poor and working classes as well as desperately bad for you – Quinoa does nothing for my wellbeing I’m afraid – who hasn’t enjoyed the gastronomy of fish and chips with the scent of the sea in your nostrils and a force nine blowing straight through your outer clothing?

In wonderful news science changed yet again one week and we all found out that when cooked properly in bubbling hot fat that didn’t soak into the fish and potatoes, our beloved Friday night special was in fact good for you!

But where does this tradition come from? A staple of the working class, British Fish & Chips has become woven into the fabric of society, relatively inexpensive, hearty, good for you and now, traditionally classless. Even the staff in my favourite French seafood restaurant (see blog below) have fish and chips when they come to Britain. Be it myth or legend, since a Catholic Pope decreed “Fish on a Friday” and the meat free days started piling up in the Christian calendar, fish, a cold-blooded creature not regarded as “meat”, hit the culinary headlines. There are myriad tales of fish as a celebratory food even in Viking times and so maybe the Pontiff just rebranded an existing tradition. Catholicism hasn’t always had so much good news in its emanations but I’m calling this their masterpiece!

Our absolute favourite Fish and Chip shop anywhere in the Forest of Dean & Wye Valley is Frydays. This smashing little “friary” tucked away on High Beech Road in Bream is brilliant example of all that’s good about traditional British food. Great fish, properly cooked paired with fab chips given the same treatment. Pete and his staff provide great service from behind the stainless altar to a Friday tradition and recently have made great leaps forward in making their service sustainable. Bring your own bag because one use plastic bags are no longer available here. The staff have moved over wherever possible to sustainable packaging and done away with the styro trays.

In response to Covid and keeping everyone safe it is currently necessary to pre-order by phone (number below) and collect your order at a specific time. There is a short wait outside (dress for the weather) whilst your order is prepared so that it’s all fresh out of the fryer rather than waiting in the paper wrapper. There is plenty of room for social distancing but the staff need a Tannoy so you can hear your name being called.

I’m often asked about good fish and chips because, living locally or holidaying, it’s a treat, and I always have no hesitation in recommending Fryday’s. I’ve lost count of the times a resident says “have you tried….”. the answer is generally yes as I’ve been on a mission since we moved here all those donkeys years ago but if not, I will make an effort to try a new place. And there are some great alternatives in the area, but believe me Fryday’s is worth the extra effort to try even if you are not staying in or around Bream itself.

I am a traditionalist. My order rarely changes – fish, chips and peas week in week out. I love the food, the quality never wains and I love the tradition. I love the familiarity of having the thing I like best over and over again. It isn’t always necessary to try something different. Where tradition holds sway, I feel it much more appropriate to be traditional. There is a wide variety of other stuff on the menu to serve all tastes but to be honest, I couldn’t tell you much about them! Occasionally on a full moon day I might knock myself out and have a fishcake as well.

In a slight aside and with a tipped cap to my Northern roots – I have a guilty pleasure. I do like a pickled onion with my chippy tea. Now, you may have noticed that the fascists have weighed in a stopped anyone producing proper pickled onions any more. Having surveyed many brands I find them softened to a snowflakes palate. There can be nothing less pickled onion-like than a squidgy excuse for a pickle than these soft retch inducing options where the middle always shoots out when you bite into them. As luck would have it, here in Bream and just around the corner from the chippy is a small 7-11 shop. One manufacturer, a nice old lady called Mrs Baxter still produces proper pickled onions in Scotland, the lawless north, where the food fascists can’t get to her. In a single row of merchandising like wild Celtic soldiers in line, lives the antidote to mediocrity in the pickled onion world. Just close enough to be able to order (in normal times) your fish supper and nip and get a jar or 6 – best to panic buy if you can.

Back at the chippy, the portion size is more than ample and renders that pleasurable “stuffed” feeling as a result of finishing the lot. If you have a smaller appetite or haven’t wound-up all-day Friday about the impending feast you will reward your busy and stressful week with, the smaller OAP fish are a great alternative. Here I have to admit that we buy and OAP fish as well and split it for our two terriers who, although not Catholic now also love Chippy Tea Night!

Tell the staff we sent you.


Fryday’s High Beech Rd, Bream, Lydney GL15 6JG 01594 562281


The small print. There are several “best fish and chip shop” awards around the country. Whitby alone has three separate (expensive) winners of three separate awards. You suspect therefore that there might be some sort of financial arrangement behind these gongs. We would like to assure readers that our only financial connection with Fryday’s is where we hand them money for fish and chips on a regular basis!