Showing posts with label Meat loaf. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Meat loaf. Show all posts

Chefs Plate meal kit delivery 2021

Lately, I’ve been trying various meal kit companies to get my dinner cooking mojo back. I’ve used Chefs Plate many times in the past and then I stopped. A recent 40% off promotion they sent me to encourage me to “come back” was enticing and allowed me to try their service again.

Meal Choices and Pricing

While Chefs Plate seemed to be the industry leader when I first did my roundup in 2016, it’s current crop of competitors are more professionally run and have great menu offerings. Chefs Plate presents 19 options each week, but I found it was difficult to find three things I wanted most of the time. To be fair, it’s because I’m a flexitarian and during the week I don’t eat meat. While they offer about four vegetarian menus each week, which is a good percentage from the 19, they never sound overly exciting.

Still, I appreciate Chefs Plate’s simple and affordable pricing where most choices are the standard $10 per serving (assuming 3 meals per week for 2 people) or $60 a box. There are a few “15-minute meal” selections that are an extra $2.99 a serving, which offers pre-chopped ingredients but are still not a 15-minute affair. Out of all the delivery companies, Chefs Plate is one of the most affordable and they don’t skimp on portions as well.

Customer Service and Ordering

The website is very easy to navigate and skipping weeks is a breeze. With recipes posted for the next five weeks, organizing meals for the month is easy and they even make it painless to permanently deactivate a plan with a click of the button instead of having to call in.

For my area in Toronto, they provide delivery five days during the week (every day except Friday and Saturday), which is about one day less than competitors. I guess it makes sense as most people typically don’t order the kits for the weekend as much.

Ease of Cooking

Most recipes require at least two tools and many increase to three like the roasted veggie and ricotta pasta bake. Pasta bake… you would think this would be a quick and easy meal – boil pasta and use pot for sauce, then transfer into a baking dish – yet the recipe calls for four items: a large pot for boiling pasta, a smaller pot for making the sauce, a sheet pan for roasting the vegetables, and then the baking dish for ultimately combining all the items and finishing it in the oven. If you don’t like dishes, skip the pasta bake.

Not everything is so tool intensive. The Turkish beef kofta over herbed tabbouleh was quick and easy where you add a spice mixture to the beef, roll them into ovals, and bake on a sheet pan. Another pan is used for the peppers, which really wasn’t necessary as they could be lined around the kofta, so you can always look for opportunities to cut down on washing. While everything was in the oven, to finish off the recipe I made tabbouleh, a simple process of boiling bulgur wheat and combining with herbs, vegetables, and seasoning.

To keep things cool during the summer months, they’re the only company that removes the dairy products from the paper bags and keeps them with the meat by the ice packs. If the kits are sitting out on the doorstep this is a great option to keep things fresh longer, but does mean that the ingredients aren’t part of the main bundle so when you’re grabbing things out of the fridge to prepare the meal it takes more time to ensure you have everything.

The Taste Test

While the recipe names don’t sound the most exciting, Chefs Plate’s meals turned out delicious.

The Turkish beef kofta was packed with lovely Mediterranean flavours and the meat ball (already seasoned) was enhanced further with a garlic mayo. Even the tabbouleh gets a facelift above the traditional parsley mixture by also incorporating feta and roasted peppers, creating a salad that you could even eat on its own.

It’s surprisingly easy to make the curried turkey & biriyani-style rice, combining everything for such an amazing depth of flavour. Already there’s the spiced chicken and rice, but add stir fried aromatics, a curry sauce, and herbed raita and the rice bowl was fantastic.

Even their pasta dishes aren’t boring. The roasted veggie & ricotta pasta bake doesn’t sound overly stimulating but once the mushroom, sweet peppers, and plethora of cheese get mixed together it became a dish that had us going back for seconds. I also thoroughly enjoyed the Mexican street corn linguine, which combines pasta, fresh corn kernels and cheese in a poblano pepper sauce that is absolutely delicious. These were a couple of the vegetarian dishes that were a huge hit.

Environmental Factors

It was nice to see that the bag used for the main package was still made from paper, but individual ingredients still create a lot of waste. I’d like to see them start to move towards more fulsome pasta sauces – instead of sending tomato paste, tomato sauce base, and crushed tomatoes – so that things arrive in one package instead of three to cut down on waste.

What I liked most was their ice packs: it’s simply water and not that weird gel that is gross and difficult to dispose. Why companies use the weird gel is beyond me, the water ice packs work just fine.

Conclusion

There’s a reason Chefs Plate has been able to survive for so long when the other meal kit companies I reviewed in 2016 have since been shuttered. They’re not flashy with pictures and don’t have elaborate sounding dishes, but when you do settle on three items the recipes are surprisingly delicious.

If the above has intrigued you, sign up and try a week for yourself. Chefs Plate is offering Gastro World readers $40 to go towards their first order for new customers. Just click on this special referral link to go to their website.

Also check out the larger post for my comparison of other meal kit delivery companies. 


How To Find Them


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CLOSED: 120 Diner (Toronto)


120 Diner

Replacing a former chain restaurant, 120 Diner offers classic favourites at reasonable prices. On Saturdays, they even offer a special Latin menu to complement their Latin Live show. As you walk into the restaurant, it has a modern retro feel to it so you don’t feel like you’re in a diner at all. But, it's more than just a restaurant, a sizeable stage is along one side and hosts a wide range of comedy shows, karaoke and live music entertainment throughout the week.  

The fragrant crunchy coconut shrimp ($11.95) arrives piping hot and I can’t wait to tuck in. Admittedly, the coating could be thinner as there were a couple that had softer parts. Perhaps, if the shrimp were covered in smaller granules of coconut first and then the larger flakes sprinkled sparingly, it may taste better. But, the slightly sweet kick mixed with the spicy mayo (a must) made this a satisfying starter.

120 Diner coconut shrimp

A diner favourite is the meatloaf and mash ($13.95). I’m not a fan of soft meatloaves where bread crumbs overpower the mixture causing it to get soft and overly smooth, so I was particularly happy with the dense beefier one 120 Diner serves. The earthy mushroom gravy paired well with the meatloaf and buttery smooth mashed potatoes.


120 Diner meat loaf

For club goers, the 120 grilled cheeseburger ($15.95) would be perfect to share after a night of dancing. Stuffed with three cheeses, the dairy definitely stole the show from the lean beef patty.
120 Diner grilled cheeseburger Although the menu notes this is served on rosemary focaccia bread, it arrived on a soft ciabatta roll instead. Likely it’s a better choice as the meat and cheese is already so heavy that an oily focaccia would be overwhelming. But, I like the idea of an herb mixed into the bun to help add a fresh element to the dish.

120 Diner grilled cheeseburger

Like most good diners the portion sizes are substantial and will leave you full, if not with leftovers. If you’re not in the mood for food, they also have a number of cocktails that can be enjoyed while enjoying a show.  The cucumber margarita ($9.75) is a great summer drink with cucumber pulp mixed throughout – it’s refreshing without being overly sweet. While the Long Island iced tea ($9.75) is strong but goes down so easy… almost too easy.

120 Diner cocktails

The restaurant’s name is certainly misleading as although the menu contains diner favourites the atmosphere is much more entertaining. From comedy acts to karaoke, it’s great for a night out. And, if that’s not enough, there’s always Club 120 right upstairs, just purchase a ticket for a special event first.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10
Disclaimer: The above meal was complimentary. Rest assured, as noted in Gastro World's mission statement, I will always be honest.


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 120 Church Street
 

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____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


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