Private Chef Hobbins


ONCE upon a time on a French whistle-stop tour of, I think, eight Michelin-starred restaurants in five days we paused for a light lunch in a plain, simple down to earth and decidedly non-Michelin joint.

"Taa raa ra," chef announced, springing out from behind his bar to lift the lid from a joint of beef smouldering in hay.

Whump, went the very same hay as the inrushing oxygen met some glowing embers. Yikes went we customers as we backed rapidly away from the aroma of burning barns.

Later, everyone mentioned that not even a whiff of the hay could be detected in the meat as we sat down to eat it. I mention this because tonight’s tea, delivered by is the first time I have seen the old hay trick again.

No spontaneous ignitions or fires this time, more of a gentle, grassy swoon at the beef wrapped in brown greaseproof, tied with string, hay on top is unboxed. No huge bucolic undertones either when we pull the meat from the oven, tip out roast potatoes and roast vegetables, drizzle gravy, arrange Yorkshires and settle down to Sunday dinner.

READ JOANNA BLYTHMAN: Vegan baking: Traditional Scottish baking is tastier and better for the planet

But this roast like the French one is destined to be remembered for other things.

Two spring immediately to mind. The first is the sheer size of this Dumfriesshire beef joint which is meant to feed four but will easily do at least twice that number, maybe even three times. Jaws drop.

The second is the tenderness of the beef. I mean this is pink to the core, easy to cut, melting slice after slice. It has us speculating throughout at what joint it is exactly. I mean it’s £45 for the whole damn meal including the dessert, it can’t really be that glamorous a joint, it just couldn’t be. It would be ruinous to sell at that price with all the trimmings, surely?

Sous vide we speculate, having me thinking I need to get down to Lidl and get one of these damn slow-simmer in-plastic-bag machines when they come round again as our own regular attempts at roast beef joints are never, ever this successful. Or could it have been steamed then roasted?

The answer comes in the modern equivalent of a postcard. A text from Chef Michael, whoever he may be, who advises it’s actually a cut from the bottom of the rib roast near the rump: silverside rump. Ah, silverside then. I think I knew that. Slow-cooked at 50 degrees for two hours in an oven with a cheffy hat wafting straw perfume before being wrapped and re-wrapped and chilled and sent to us to be cooked briefly in the very same wrapping. Chapeau as the French say.


And on the subject of texting chefs, when meals are bought from the internet, or even Facebook, this is something I should have done last week. Before I spent a considerable amount of time moaning about the vegan cheese in Hen Of The Woods' otherwise excellent vegan meal. Becausde, er, it wasn’t vegan cheese. It was real cheese. And it wasn’t a completely vegan meal. It was vegan and vegetarian meal. As Hen of the Woods do very well. How we laughed when this blunder was pointed out. Well, everyone else did.

Back to This is, possibly for the first time in all the home delivery meals we have had, where hands-up we concede it may actually be better to let a professional prepare the Sunday lunch.

READ MORE JOANNA BLYTHMAN: Red meat could actually protect us from cancer – not cause it

Not that it was flawless. A very strange thing must have happened to the dessert on the way to our house. There was rhubarb on the bottom, granola on the top but the ganachey, mousey bit in the middle, had gone so very badly wrong that nobody got past a single, super-rubbery mouthful.

Accidents happen, texts were exchanged, chat was engaged in and bottom line: we would definitely have that roast again.

Private Chef Hobbins

Collection from: 8 Speirs Wharf


G4 9TB

Menu: We ordered Sunday roast with seriously crisp roasties, carmelised parsnips, Yorkshires, thyme gravy and a spectacular roast beef. 4/5

Service: Brought to the door, packed in cardboard, straw here and there, joint beautifully wrapped and tied up in string. Professionally done. 5/5

Price: Two-course Sunday dinner for four at £45 is not bad at all, but when the size and quality of the joint is taken into account it becomes a bargain. 4/5

Atmosphere: Preparation was limited to bunging it all into the oven, even the joint, and surprisingly the roasties and veg were hot, while the crusted joint was spectacular and pink. 4/5

Food: We had a problem with the dessert but for a professionally prepared joint of meat with fabulous texture and good flavour, very hard to beat. 8/10