For most of us, the lunch hour is the most precious hour of the day. It’s great to escape the office, go for a mooch, sit in the local park or feed the ducks by the canal. Thinking about it, it can be the most amazing ‘me time’; no kids, no chores, no phones or emails… hell, you could even switch Twitter off too.
So, how do we feel when this precious hour is snatched away from us, sometimes without any notice, by our employers/clients? Do we jump for joy? No. Do we scream, shout and stomp? No. We just shrug our shoulders and think ‘oh well, at least we’ll get a free sandwich’. But is that really good enough? Giving up our one and only chance of a bit of ‘me time’ just for a cruddy sandwich? Afterall they do say that there’s no such thing as a free lunch…
You might wonder where all this is leading… Well I was recently contacted by Phoenix Catering who wanted me to try one of their business buffets and as my colleagues and I munched our way through our lunch hour I started thinking about all the work lunches I’ve had in the past. My work place is pretty good as all the food is made fresh in-house but a few years ago I had the ‘joy’ of being subjected to ready made Iceland style sausages rolls, bland bhajis, pork pies and the like. And although I enjoy comfort food as much as the next person, a plate of beige food does not please me.
So, if our employers are stealing our precious lunch hours and we let them on the basis that we’ll get a ‘free’ lunch then the least they can do is make sure that the lunch is tasty, right? As I’ve said, my place does a pretty good lunch, but with a selection of sandwiches, quiche and a variety of fried goods, it’s hardly the healthiest. Yeah, there’s the obligatory fruit bowl but nobody’s gonna start chomping on an apple whilst mingling with colleagues and clients are they?
On taking delivery of the business lunch sample from Phoenix Catering I was impressed with the colour and vibrancy of the platters. There was a tropical fruit platter, a huge selection of crudités and a tomato and mozzarella salad along with sandwiches and brownies. Sarah, the owner of Phoenix Catering, told me that the sample was enough for four, but as I unwrapped the platters and laid them out, it was clear that this was enough for a very hungry four.
Sarah had prepared a selection of the most popular sandwiches; sweet chilli chicken, roast beef and tomato and ham salad. The use of simple sliced bread did disappoint and I think we’d have all preferred to see wraps or pittas, but the fillings pleased. Both the ham and beef were thickly sliced and my only complaint was that the beef was overcooked for my liking. Sweet chilli chicken was tasty without being too hot and there were lots of chunks of peppers in there keeping the sandwich fresh tasting.
Tomato and mozzarella salad isn’t something I usually see at a working lunch and it was good to see it here. Admittedly the tomatoes were a bit bland, but as Sarah sources all her salad from the Yorkshire region, I wasn’t expecting a burst of Italian favours. The basil (which is home grown), however, did have good flavour as did the slices of black olives.
A large selection of crudités was sticks of red pepper, carrot, celery and cucumber served with freshly made tomato and houmous dips. It was clear that all the veg was freshly prepared as it was all sweet tasting and juicy. Houmous packed a good garlic punch, but we all agreed that the tomato dip could have done with a bit of heat and my colleague’s emergency bottle of Tabasco sauce pepped it up nicely. All in all it we were grateful to have something healthy and tasty; something we could have picked away at all afternoon without having to feel guilty.
The fruit platter was probably the highlight of the lot. Give me a fruit bowl and I won’t touch any of it, give me fruit all nicely sliced up and easy to eat and I will happily scoff away. It’s silly, I know, but it works. Slices of juicy orange, melon, pineapple and kiwi along with a scattering of grapes were devoured quickly and enjoyed by all.
After all that healthy food we felt that a slice of brownie wouldn’t hurt and with offerings from #Brownies, they were difficult to decline. And it’s good to know that Sarah’s keen to use as much local produce as possible. Aside from the Brownies, meats and salads, there’s dairy produce from Longley Farm and the bread is from Woodthorpe Bakery. As well as keeping things local, Sarah prepares the food fresh every day to ensure her customers get the best of the ingredients.
I’d let Sarah decide what she was going to send me and I’m very happy with the choices she made. For anyone ordering it’s good to know that the menu is pretty flexible with sandwiches and brownies being the staples and choices of savouries, nachos, meats and cheeses amongst other things available as add ons. Prices start at £5 a head which seems reasonable for Sheffield especially as there’s free delivery included. They can deliver 7 days a week and breakfast is available too.