THERE was great excitement when Brighton restaurant Kindling offered us the opportunity to try its new venture, Kindling At Home. The pre-prepared meals in a box offer all the flavours of a restaurant experience delivered straight to your door. Reporter Harry Bullmore tried a plant-based dinner.

"YOU don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone."

Joni Mitchell’s immortal words may originally have been about a car park which had been built over luscious Hawaiian shrubbery, but it can now just as easily be applied to Brighton and Hove’s bustling food and drink scene.

It is easy to forget how many wonderful pubs, bars, restaurants and more we have on our doorstep until a national lockdown suddenly dashes all future plans of a meal out.

Fortunately, Kindling in East Street, Brighton, has found a way around this predicament, providing DIY meal boxes which are delivered straight to the doors of foodies across the city.

The end results of the Kindling at home kit

The end results of the Kindling at home kit

And I was lucky enough to be sent one of their “Kindling At Home” kits to give it a try.

All the necessary components of a three-course meal arrive in an unassuming brown cardboard box with the Kindling logo printed neatly on the lid.

Opening it up, I was met with a series of labelled plastic containers filled with everything from spiced butternut squash soup to smoked glazed swede, a vegan jus to spiced clementines.

The end results of the Kindling at home kit

The end results of the Kindling at home kit

The ingredients list alone had already made my lockdown staple of spaghetti bolognese look somewhat unsophisticated.

Accompanying the ingredients was a sheet of A4 with clear instructions on how to prepare the meal.

I’ll take this moment to reassure chefs such as myself who, despite enjoying the process immensely, are less Ramsey and more ramshackle in the kitchen.

The experts at Kindling have completed the bulk of the legwork for you.

For the most part, components only need to be placed in simmering pans of water to reheat them and, having used myself as a guinea pig of sorts, I can attest to the fact that the instructions are foolproof.

The end results of the Kindling at home kit

The end results of the Kindling at home kit

The first course was a spiced butternut squash soup topped with toasted seeds and a drizzling of wild leek oil.

And it tasted sublime.

The soup was thick and creamy, with each mouthful packing a punch of pure flavour.

On a day when a freezing cold Brighton had narrowly avoided a dusting of snow, the warmth of the soup outperformed several radiators to offer some respite from the chilly conditions.

The flavour was also phenomenal, with the delicate spicing of the soup proving irresistible.

My bowl was soon bone dry, with little sign the soup had ever existed at all.

The end results of the Kindling at home kit

The end results of the Kindling at home kit

Despite the supposed simplicity of soup, this was my favourite course.

The Kindling At Home boxes are made up of seasonal, sustainable and locally sourced ingredients carefully selected to support small suppliers and farmers in the South East.

As a result, the main course featured a mix of fruit and vegetables which were to be heated up then arranged into a tower.

The base was a smoked glazed swede which needed pan-frying for a short time in a glaze supplied by Kindling.

Alongside this, I was instructed to heat up crushed, herb-laden butter beans, kale and a vegan jus in simmering water.

The crushed butter beans were stacked on top of the swede, with the kale balanced precariously on top.

This was then drizzled in the vegan jus, and eaten alongside a plum sauce arranged on the side of the plate.

The end results of the Kindling at home kit

The end results of the Kindling at home kit

A handful of pine nuts completed the meal.

While the cookery element is largely taken care of in advance, the layout and presentation is completely down to the diner’s discretion.

It’s a testament to the quality of the food that it was still able to maintain an attractive aesthetic in spite of my ham-fisted attempts to create a culinary masterpiece.

I took a mouthful and was met with an impressive array of textures and flavours.

The tartness of the plum merged with the muted sweetness of the swede and the smooth crushed butter beans to explosive effect.

Each ingredient tasted great on its own, but far better when mixed with other elements of the meal.

The end results of the Kindling at home kit

The end results of the Kindling at home kit

Like a painter with their palette, I played with flavour combinations until, before I knew it, my plate was empty.

Finally, on to dessert – a plastic pot containing several spiced clementine wedges lying on a thick, dark chocolate mousse.

There was also a smattering of toasted almonds to scatter over the top.

Again, I was impressed by the fullness of the flavour when I combined all three ingredients.

I initially feared the pot would not be large enough to satisfy my ever-demanding sweet tooth but, on account of the richness of the mousse, the single serving proved to be the perfect amount.

Kindling At Home boxes can be ordered from the Kindling website, with options for carnivores, vegans, Sunday roasts and a Valentine’s Day dinner all available to hungry punters missing that authentic restaurant experience.

My dinner – for one person – was £26. You can get a roast, also for one, for £28. The Valentine’s dinner for two is £50.