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Deliveroo brings local restaurants to your door

Deliveroo is a new food delivery service that allows you to enter your location and order dishes from a list of your local restaurants. Sound familiar? Deliveroo claims to be different from the other food delivery platforms you already know, love and feel faintly guilty about using quite so often. Its approach is to curate a selection of good local restaurants rather than overwhelm you with lists of takeaways you’ve never heard of, or that in some cases may not even exist.

The Deliveroo people kindly offered us a complimentary trial run of the service, as it’s recently expanded its delivery zone to include West Hampstead. So one chilly Wednesday evening, when quite frankly I had no inclination to shop or cook, three of us got together at West Hampstead Life HQ to put it to the test.

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First impressions were very positive. The website has a clean, user-friendly interface. After entering the postcode, the list of restaurants that appeared was not overwhelmingly long and contained only names we recognised. Favourite West End Lane haunts such as La Brocca, LaDuDu and Banana Tree were there, as well as a couple of O2 Centre places, such as Falafel City, and a surprise appearance from Bake-a-boo for those weekend cupcake cravings.

After a bit of deliberation we decided to order from Locanda 311 (formerly known as Hidden Treasure) on West End Lane, as it’s a restaurant that doesn’t offer its own delivery service. As Deliveroo uses a fleet of its own drivers, even restaurants not usually geared up for home delivery can take part, which is a great service if you fancy eating something a little different from the usual takeaway options.

Indeed, there are some ambitious-sounding dishes offered for home delivery on Locanda 311’s online menu. We resisted the temptation to go for the “Superbia di Crostacei” to see how an elaborate seafood platter – with a centrepiece of a whole lobster – would be packaged up for home delivery. (Is this now a contender for poshest takeaway in West Hampstead?) By contrast, La Brocca has opted for a shorter, more transit-friendly menu, offering mainly pizza and baked pasta dishes. Probably a wise move.

As we started to add dishes to our virtual shopping basket, a delivery fee of £2 and a card fee of 50p appeared, along with the option to tip our delivery driver. This is where Deliveroo starts to feel a little pricey – £2 is a fairly low delivery charge, but many restaurants offer free delivery for a minimum spend. For example, Bengal Spice (a Deliveroo restaurant) will deliver an order of £10 or over for free if you order directly.

All our details entered, we settled in to wait, wondering if the promised 30-minute delivery time was a bit ambitious.

fishermans_basketHowever, just 28 minutes later, dinner arrived. A slight technical hitch (my fault) had meant that we had to enter our order twice, and the (very friendly) driver’s tip wasn’t automatically re-added even though our food was, so we gave him a cash tip in person. Our main dishes of pasta, gnocchi and aubergine parmigiana were good, but the tempura seafood starter was a bit less successful outside a restaurant setting. It turns out that fried calamari and accompanying chips go a bit soggy in sealed plastic containers. Errors like this aren’t Deliveroo’s fault, but the company encourages feedback and promises to “help rectify the situation”.

Overall, we found the Deliveroo experience smooth, and were impressed with the list of good-quality restaurants and takeaways. The delivery charge is reasonable when ordering from restaurants that wouldn’t normally deliver, or placing an order that comes in under the restaurant’s minimum spend. I can see time-pressed local professionals using the service after a long day at work, when something more reliable and decadent than the average takeaway is called for.

One final thing to mention is that Deliveroo doesn’t seem to deliver alcoholic drinks, so you might still need to pop out to the corner shop for a bottle of wine to go with that lobster.