Nominated as Britain’s “Best Foodie Street” (but sadly didn’t win) in the 2010 Google Street View Awards, Whiteladies Road is proving to be a popular choice for new food-focused businesses. Last weekend saw the opening of the Three Coqs Brasserie, offering casual dining alongside a wine list featuring only biodynamic wines that Bell’s Diner’s Christopher Wicks has matched carefully to the sharing plates on offer.
The old Nationwide Building Society building on St John’s Court is to be Whiteladies’ next foodie venture, when “early summer”, according to their website, will see the doors of the latest branch of COOK opening in Bristol.
The Kent-based company produces, say the Telegraph, “frozen meals that look and taste like they have been home-cooked with love and flair”. Founded in 1996 by Edward and Dale with a Sittingbourne-based kitchen and one shop in Farnham, the company now have over 30 shops across the country and more than 150 farm shops that stock their meals, while still maintaining their background as a family-run company.
While many of Bristol’s foodies will no doubt turn their noses up at the mere mention of the word “ready meals”, COOK’s values speak for themselves. No ingredient enters the kitchen unless the chefs are 100% happy. All prepping of ingredients is done by hand. All pastry is handmade. All dishes are hand-finished rather than using machines. Certainly more appealing than a big name supermarket ready meal so far, but what about the food?
Current bestsellers from COOK are traditional meals such as Lasagne, Chicken Ham and Leek Pie, Fisherman’s Pie and Cottage Pie. However, the COOK range also includes a variety of less traditional options, such as Cassoulet, Moroccan Harissa Chicken and Smoked Haddock & Sweet Potato Gratin. Side dishes are also available, along with baby food, children’s meals, buffet-style food for entertaining, desserts…and even ceramic dishes that are the perfect size for their portions, so you can pretend that you’ve cooked them yourself 😉
Prices seem fairly reasonable, at generally under £4 per portion, with the cost decreasing as you buy further portions. The question is how much the frozen ready meal concept will appeal in an area known for its farmers’ markets and delis. Based on the testimonials on their website, I’ll be heading down there when they open to give them a go. It’s a great idea for the time-poor, and I’m intrigued to see how a shop purely focused on selling ready meals works…