Back in March, we were honoured to receive such a glowing review from Nottingham Post's Life Writer, Lynette Pinchess for our weekly Gastronomic Series Takeaway. Read the full review below.
A family-run restaurant in the heart of a Nottinghamshire village has been wowing food lovers after introducing a weekly gastronomic takeaway.
Packed in what looks like a pizza box, you would be let down if you were expecting a Margherita or Hawaiian, but you certainly won't be disappointed by the alternative feast inside.
The reputation of Perkins Bar & Bistro as a restaurant in the village of Plumtree has led to hundreds of food lovers ordering takeaways each weekend.
One went so far to say: "'So it takes nearly a year of lockdown to find the best takeaway so far. To Perkins, it was all gorgeous, the closest to going out, staying in!"
Everything, from start to finish, is homemade and the chefs don't hold back when it comes to flavour - every element packs a punch, right down to the flavoured butter.
The six-course gastronomic series has a different menu every week so it never gets boring. So far there's been a taste of France, Greece and Ireland and special menus for occasions such as Burns Night and New Year's Eve. More recently there hasn't been a particular theme, simply an arresting line-up of dishes.
Last weekend foodies tucked into generously-sized servings of focaccia with basil butter, sweetcorn chowder, crab spring rolls, mint-crusted shoulder of lamb, key lime pie with blueberry coulis, and rocky road - all that for £26 a head.
This weekend's edition features broccoli and Colston Bassett Stilton soup followed by ham hock, chicken and pork belly terrine, luxurious fish pie, rhubarb and orange trifle and Turkish Delight.
While the restaurant, in a converted Victorian railway station in Station Road, is closed during lockdown, the family has been using the Carriage Hall, their wedding venue on the same site, as a collection point.
Diners are given specific timings for a safe socially-distanced pick-up.
David Perkins, operations director, said: "Our plan with the gastronomic takeaway was to do something that sets us apart and plays to our strengths.
"We are fortunate to have some super talented chefs, and allowing them to create new dishes weekly keeps them and our customers excited. Everything is made from scratch, every week- from the bread to the petit fours.
"We planned our takeaway operation in the first lockdown and introduced a Sunday roast takeaway in summer last year when we re-opened.
"We continued this into lockdown and added our gastronomic takeaway as our gastronomic evenings when we were open were always well received. We planned carefully, from the food to designing and producing our own packaging, which has had some fab comments."
Perkins Bar & Bistro has been serving up to 300 takeaways of the gastronomic menu and Sunday roasts every weekend, rising to 450 over Valentine's weekend.
"The key difference is developing a menu with food that will travel and working with the packaging we have to ensure the best experience. Straightforward bold flavours that hold well are important. We also make a point of communicating with our customer to give them tips on how to best enjoy it," added David.
With three restaurants in total - the others are tapas bars Escabeche in West Bridgford and Baresca in Nottingham city centre - it has been vital for the business to pivot and invest in a new way of operating during lockdown.
"For Baresca and Escabeche planning again involved packaging, menu and an app to make it easy for people to order, so this took some investment. We only operated out of Baresca as we had space there. When the second lockdown hit we switched the takeaway operation to Escabeche, and serviced Baresca and Escabache customers from there.
"We have been able to bring back approximately 25 people across the sites on a part-time flexi-furlough basis. The majority of our team are still on furlough," he said.
Hoping to reopen all three restaurants in May, they will be "proceeding cautiously" until the remaining lockdown measures are lifted.
He added: "It's been incredibly tough, especially for the wedding side of our business. We are in a stable position but have had to take on considerable loans to see us through which will need to be paid back. We are very excited about reopening, to see the restaurants buzzing again will be great.
"We are apprehensive too, we don’t want to go in to another lockdown, I think that would be a disaster.
"The buildings haven’t been used every day and so there will be some maintenance work that will no doubt be needed to get them customer and team ‘ready’.
"I have absolute faith in the team though. They absolutely blew us away last time we reopened with their energy and enthusiasm to help get the business back on track."