In the grand scheme of things, trying to find a restaurant that’s offering takeaways features pretty low on the list. It’s somewhere below than learning a new language, deep-cleaning the loft and filing your tax return six months early. Which is to say – entirely unimportant.
And yet if you can safely afford a home-delivery, or a click-and-collect, without breaching social distancing guidelines, it can have a positive effect.
The region’s dining scene is on its knees. A significant number of restaurants operate hand-to-mouth and many will fold during the present crisis.
In normal times, a bad week creates heightened anxiety for owners. The prospect of a month – or, if we’re being realistic, several months – without trading is a reason to put up the shutters.
Staff have already been furloughed by many, or laid off, while the costs of re-opening will also be significant as venues have to buy in ingredients, re-employ staff and make preparations that have substantial costs.
In some cases, the small amount of cash flow that takeaways generate is the difference between them staying in business and feeding their families or going bust.
And so if you can support your local restaurants by ordering a takeaway you can literally help to keep them open for the long term. The maxim ‘use them or lose them’ has never been more real.
Not that it’s easy to find out who’s open and who’s closed. Websites are no longer being updated, some who say they are providing services no longer are, others that request emailed orders do not reply, those who made a big hoo-har about providing services have given up the game. It’s a ghost town out there with few still trading.
But making the effort can pay dividends for there are a number of high quality venues offering great food at bargain prices. Like Blue Ginger, in Bridgnorth’s Low Town, where tasty food and pleasant service are keeping people interested.
Blue Ginger has an inauspicious location on a large car park near to a traffic island. It looks like a bungalow, devoid of charm or inspiration, but get past the front door and gastronomic thrills await.
Among locals, it’s rated one of the best in the small market town beside the River Severn and a midweek visit provided high quality food at an affordable price.
Hygiene rules were being scrupulously observed when I collected two starters and two mains. The guy behind the counter was wearing both a face mask and surgical gloves while he and I stood a safe distance apart when collection was made.
The perils of takeaway became apparent, however, when I called in.
One of the dishes I’d ordered was off the menu and he had no means of contacting me in the intervening 30 minutes to ask what I’d like by way of substitute. No matter, when I arrived, a revised order was placed and within 10 minutes the order was ready.
Sizzling chicken was fabulous, though the sizzle was noticeable by its absence by the time it had reached home. The batter was no longer crunchy but the flavours were great.
Onions, peppers, lemon grass and spring onions combined to create a dish that might just as easily been found in a Chinese takeaway as an Indian.
Delightfully different and a change from the normal, it was packed with flavour and made for interesting eating.
Malai chicken tikka was simple and enjoyable. Marinated in yoghurt, cream and nut paste, the small pieces of fillet were tender and delicately spiced. It was mild and pleasing.
The mains were impressive. A malai chicken jalfrezi featured chicken fillets that had been cooked in yoghurt, cream and green chillies with onion, capsicum and curry leaves.
Seasoned with fresh herbs, it was a hot and spicy dish that sashayed onto the cat walk like a high-kicking dancer. Punching above its weight and delivering flavour in spades, the jalfrezi was updated, modernised and provided excitement on a plate.
The other main, clay pot chicken, was arguably the best dish of the evening. Tender chicken had been roasted in a clay oven before being spiced with fenugreek and coriander in the chef’s bhuna sauce.
Rich with onion and tomato and delivering big, ballsy flavours, it made for delicious eating.
The dishes were served with an interesting basmati rice and a naan that was a little too dry and lacked the soft-as-a-pillow fluffiness that I might have expected.
Nonetheless, the clay pot chicken and sizzling chicken had made the food stand out while the service at the door had also been good.
Restaurants are making ends meet by offering takeaways at the end of the week, with many typically opening from Thursday to Saturday.
The Blue Ginger is doing an excellent job amid the most trying of circumstances and it deserves support.
We cannot be sure when the Government will ease restrictions on social distancing and restaurants face the most challenging time that they have ever known.
With no customers, no cash helping to pay fixed costs and no way of meeting overheads, things could not be more difficult.
And yet the small number who are open are doing a pretty good job and Blue Ginger is setting the standards for others to follow.
Our dining scene will be unrecognisable later this year and a sector that contributes so much to the local economy faces hardship and challenge. The majority will survive and Blue Ginger will clearly be among them.
Safely and responsibly ordering a takeway provides a significant boost to morale while also providing a tiny injection of all-important cash.
Blue Ginger provided delightful food, competitive pricing and friendly service.
Sizzling chicken, £4.95
Onion bhaji, £2.95
King prawn puri, £5.45
Garlic chilli lamb, £7.45
Chicken tikka masala, £7.45
Clay put chicken, £7.45
Lemon chilli fried rice, £3.45
Saag bhaki, £3.25
12, Mill Street, Bridgnorth
01746 762111/ 0174676577