Fine dining al desko

Make way for the high-end packed lunch

The packed lunch was once considered a lesser meal – indeed, some may remember at school that bringing in sandwiches in a Tupperware container was cause for cruel teasing.

But as with so many other matters, this has been changed by the coronavirus. And at Clerkenwell Kitchen, in Clerkenwell Close, managers Emma Miles and Laura Hearn are making packed lunches for local companies – but rather than the ham sandwich and crisps of yore, her packed lunch is a more toothsome affair with (for example) chicken and green olive casserole with fennel gratin and a dessert, the whole ensemble wrapped elegantly in a personalised biodegradable bag and delivered by electric taxi.

 “In some ways it’s a bit like going back to school,” says Emma, who is currently making both packed breakfasts and lunches for local companies. “But this is proper food rather than sandwiches, and with the various elements in each package.” Add the finest sustainable and disposable crockery and cutlery, researched by Clerkenwell Kitchen, and it’s much more than the offerings on the school trip. “We hope it’s more than sandwiches on platters too – although some companies still want those,” says Emma.

The idea arose after Covid’s long lockdowns temporarily put paid to eating in restaurants such as Clerkenwell Kitchen and the idea may linger into the long term. “I suspect that because of the behaviour changes that Covid has bought, packed lunches will probably continue,” says Emma, who claims that as an alternative to multiples, her packed lunches work out cheaper.

At present it is mostly companies that use the Clerkenwell Kitchen service, including fashion house McQueen, and you must give them at least 48 hours notice. But in the absence of an actual functioning restaurant it’s a good way of keeping this hospitality business alive – and it may well change the nature of a takeaway meal.

As well as the packed lunches, during the pandemic Clerkenwell Kitchen has also been doing Indian takeaways Friday nights with specialist chef Devyani Parmar.

Visit: clerkenwellkitchenevents.co.uk