Naked ambition - Naked takeaway
Fresh, local and seasonal food can be found in many good Scottish restaurants these days, but rarely in a takeaway. As Claire Ritchie reveals, new Edinburgh venture Naked is offering a stark alternative
Too often in Scotland home-delivered food is a substandard equivalent to anything you can cook yourself. A lukewarm pizza, luminous curry or MSG-packed sweet and sour chicken are the traditional, and often only, options. Convenient? From the depths of the sofa, yes. Nutritious? Nope. Fulfilling or good value? No siree.
Enter Naked, a new if not entirely original concept in home-delivered food, started earlier this year in an attempt to bring responsibly sourced, nutritious meals to people’s doors.
Naked was founded by Scot Cameron Bell after he found himself depressed by his homeland’s inability to home deliver food of the standard of Naples or New York takeaways. ‘The ideology is based on local, seasonal produce sourced from suppliers who’re passionate about their produce,’ says Bell, sounding not unlike many other progressive Edinburgh restauranteurs. ‘We prefer it wild, picked, plucked or caught direct from source.’
The small but considered menu offers dishes such as meatballs, kedgeree and steak alongside the more unusual prospect of curried goat. Daily specials – for example an Arbroath smokie and leek pie – are not advertised on the website, although regulars learn to ask for them when ordering.
The concept is aimed at those with busy lives who balk at the junk food generally on offer at takeaways and long to find convenience food that’s thoughtfully sourced, of decent quality and cooked from scratch. Prices currently allow you to eat two courses for £12, offering the kind of value which Bell believes chimes with an ‘egalitarian food revolution’, making good quality, freshly cooked and seasonal food available to people of all incomes and tastes.
After placing an order by phone, a 40-minute wait is rewarded by the arrival of various attractive cardboard boxes tied with string, complete with handwritten labels identifying the contents. Cameron’s team have sourced recycled, biodegradable boxes to suit food ‘that doesn’t cost the earth – in any sense of the phrase.’
And the food really delivers. A medium-rare ribeye steak is allowed to rest en route, arriving at my door pink, juicy and ready. Accompanied by side orders of triple-cooked chips and fresh green beans, it makes for a filling, well-rounded meal that knocks stripes off many steak restaurants in town. Nothing arrives overcooked, soggy or anything less than piping hot. The dessert menu is deliberately short and sweet, with the home-made chocolate brownies already attracting cult status among those in the know.
And as for future plans? ‘Watch this space,’ is all that Bell will say, keen to get the basics right first before expanding too fast. With their growing fanbase on Facebook and Twitter, the company is clearly open-minded and interactive. For now, though, the pleasure of eating Naked is the enjoyment of real food at decent prices. All in the privacy of your own home, of course.
35 Palmerston Place, Edinburgh, 0131 516 2988, www.ieatnaked.com, Open Wed–Mon 6–10pm
Take Three: Meals on Wheels
1138 Argyle Street, Glasgow, 0141 334 5566
Something a bit different on the Asian front for home delivery, here’s Scotland’s most prominent Korean restaurant offering a good range of stimulating dishes with many convincing touches – try some kimchi (spicy, pickled cabbage), Korean beer or fried dumplings to get a bit of Seoul food. No website, so you really need to know the menu before you phone to order.
42 Renfield Street, Glasgow, 0141 572 7000, sarti.co.uk
A good selection of freshly cooked pasta and other snacks, as well as wine, from one of the city’s landmark Italians. The menu’s all online, with lower prices than in the restaurant. Delivery charge is £1.50 to G1 and G2, or £3.50 to the rest of the city, and delivery time is normally 45–60mins. It’s available 5–10pm every day.
201 Pleasance, Edinburgh, 0131 662 4411, spicebox201.co.uk
Cooking from scratch and still delivering within the hour, this is a real attempt to match restaurant quality food. Spicebox was set up by the former manager and head chefs of Thai Me Up in Edinburgh, so they’ve got a good idea how to keep the capital’s Thai fans happy. Online ordering and student discounts also available.