Now before we begin – let me start by saying that this was not a product that I was asked or invited to post about.
However given that I am not one of the “rich f*ckers, who can afford to eat out a lot.” (quoted from the Chef Hermes Blog of 11/07/2011) I am surprised that before now I have not tried one of the Marks & Spencer’s dine in for 2 for £10 deals.
In all honesty I reckon I’ve avoided these because, let’s face it, they are essentially ready meals. Given that I like to cook and in doing so i can eat decent food on my own budget ready meals of any sort do not really feature.
But, this was the Saturday after “that” Friday – you know, the one that was a bit blizzardy. The one that resulted in a journey from Blackpool to Manchester taking 5 hours. So I was feeling lazy.
So after years of being bombarded with good-looking food on black backgrounds, accompanied by husky voiceovers, I yielded.
The scene in the shop was reminiscent of a jumble sale with the assembled having pre-sharpened their elbows. However myself and B dived in and selected the Italian (“inspired”) sausage with penne and focaccia croutons, a side order of garlic mushrooms, dessert of caramel and hazelnut blondies and a bottle of white wine.
I cannot remember the name of the wine but we’ll get to that.
To be honest, first impressions were fairly positive. There certainly seemed to be plenty in the bag for a tenner. Even for a glutton like me. However having asked opinion on twitter it was seemingly going to be a very hit and/or miss dining experience ahead.
There’s no need to go into much detail about the cooking; sorry, I mean re-heating.
So on to the food itself. Let’s start with the mushrooms. If you’ve read much of this blog you’ll know I don’t slag much off. These mushrooms were crap. Bland, does not really go far enough. They were anti-taste. They removed taste from my mouth. Then you hit the puddle of searingly hot garlic butter/mush. This just actually, physically stripped the palate.
So what about the pasta dish? Actually this was not bad. There was tomato, there was basil. The pasta was a little dry and if I had it again I’d probably throw in some chilli or nduja just for that little bit extra taste. The sausage had pretty much disintegrated and while it might have been nice to find a bit worth chewing there was no great harm in the meat being a part of the sauce.
Dessert was OK. Nothing really to write home about. I think if I’d have made them I would have ground up the nuts more and incorporated them directly into the cake mix. But I didn’t. As I said, I was being lazy.
As mentioned, the name of the wine escapes me. Not that this is a major concern. It was rather dull and insipid but definitely helped cool the mouth down after the mushrooms.
This was not all together a terrible experience. The opinion remains, however, that these offerings are little more than ready meals. Just M& S ready meals. I guess I’d perhaps set my expectations a little high. I would not be entirely put off going back for one again, but at the same time I will not be in a rush. It did, after all, require a certain set of circumstances to get me to try my first one.
Did I just pick a bad one? Do you agree/disagree? Feel free to comment below.