A top-class restaurant meal without having to go out of the front door? That's the promise of the new service from La Belle Assiette. Rosie Paterson put them through their paces.

In a world where you can book a taxi, even a helicopter transfer, at the click of a button, and enjoy same-day delivery on just about anything it was only a matter of time before we could do the same not just with our food but the person making it.

Take-out in cardboard packaging, however, this is not. La Belle Assiette offers the best of both worlds—restaurant quality food, in the comfort of your own home. Finally, the saviour for anyone who has ever tried to juggle whipping up a roux and pouring someone’s plus one their third Cointreau cocktail, whilst surreptitiously spying on six (still very flat) organic cheese soufflés.

Enter the experts. Tim, our private chef for the evening, made it look effortless. Not that we made it easy for him. There was a minor altercation getting him through the flat’s security gate. Then the six of us, somewhat rowdy, insisted on watching his every move, transfixed and intrigued. We bombarded him with questions: he had bought the meat from traditional free-range and organic butcher William Rose, in Dulwich. Tim also looked so absurdly young that I panicked, silently, about the mere hour he had left himself to turn out three courses. Looks, however, don’t always equal experience. And he had 18 years of it.

Fabulously fresh crab cakes appeared on the table topped with a fried quails egg and orange hollandaise. Lamb—I had requested something Easter-orientated—for the main was tender and generously portioned. Resting on top of a pancetta and cavolo nero stew, it made my Sainsbury’s home tableware look like Spode. Finally, a blackberry and almond cake with homemade white chocolate, vanilla ice-cream which took all of three seconds to break my refined sugar, Lent-induced fast.

Thanks to an ever growing roster of chefs you can make a booking with La Belle Assiette just a day in advance and still enjoy ample choice. There are three levels of service, starting at £39 per head for three courses, rising to Michelin-inspired feasts (in fact some of the chefs are Michelin trained), and all menus can be adapted to accommodate allergies, likes and dislikes or to celebrate a certain occasion.

The contents of my meagre cupboards, save for a drizzle of olive oil and seasoning, were ignored because Chef Tim shopped for all of the ingredients. And the open plan kitchen dining room? When we weren’t bombarding him with questions Tim was the definition of discreet. No clashing pots and pans and no cross words. It was a culinary novelty.

Best of all? Afterwards, my kitchen looked clearer and cleaner than before he had arrived.

For more information, and for bookings, visit La Bella Assiette online or call 020-3318 5003

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