As my colleague Daniel and I enjoyed dinner together last week, we raved about the Louisiana crab cakes. Our tastebuds were equally pleased with the flavorful chili lime beef, and to top it all off, the cake dessert was excellent — particularly the whipped cream and fresh strawberries.
But the best part about the meal? We didn’t have to cook anything, and all the good grub was delivered straight to our office door.
Munchery, a Bay Area startup that has reeled in $32 million from investors like Yammer co-founder David Sacks and Yelp co-founder Russel Simmons, launched its food delivery service in Seattle today, which marks the company’s first expansion outside of San Francisco.
But Munchery exhibits one key difference: It makes all the food itself, rather than delivering food cooked by other restaurants.
Munchery has its own kitchen in Seattle where local chefs prepare new meals each weekday (it also partners with independent chefs who make meals in their own kitchen). Customers can browse through the company’s website, check out what’s on the daily menu, and order food to be delivered in the evening either on the same day or later in the week. There is also an on-demand option that allows people to have food at their doorsteps within 20 to 40 minutes.
Another unique aspect of Munchery is that all meals are delivered chilled and are designed to be heated up in either a microwave or oven, if needed. This allows the startup to make food ahead of time and gives customers the option of eating a hot meal at their convenience.
We had the chance to test out Munchery last week. All in all, from making an order to eating the actual food, it’s an impressive service that we would certainly try out again.
The entire Munchery process starts on their website or iOS app, where you can browse the menu and pick meals that look tasty. Each food item has detailed descriptions from the chef, information about potential allergic ingredients, and reviews from other Munchery customers.
The web interface is slick and seamless. We ended up choosing five items — Louisiana crab cakes, chile lime beef, shrimp and pork wonton soup, summer green salad, summer strawberry cake — and picked a delivery time in the 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. time frame:
At about 4:30 p.m., Dave showed up at our office door with a large white tote bag. As he began setting boxes down on the table, he shed light on Munchery as a business.
“Most delivery services, they strive for mediocracy,” said Dave, who previously worked for three other food delivery services in Seattle. “Munchery is different. They have some smart people.”
Dave gave us preparation instructions for each of our dishes, and soon it was time to give the food a try. First up was the crab cakes, which we first tried cold and then used a microwave to warm them up.
Only seconds after the first bite did we realize the high quality of Munchery’s ingredients. Chef Bo Maisano’s crab was fresh, and the tartar dressing sauce provided a nice compliment. The dish was equally good chilled, as it came, or warmed up in the microwave (Munchery recommends using an oven to warm food, though the microwave produced sufficient results for us).
Next up was the chile lime beef. Though the meat was flavorful cold, a 30-second zap in the microwave let the full flavors really come out. Still, much like the crab cakes, this dish was solid either cold or hot. The asparagus, couscous, and pesto dressing were all nice touches:
Next we tried the summer green salad and wonton soup.
The salad tasted fresh and the dijon vinegar dressing went well with the greens. The soup, on the other hand, was a bit bland and lackluster after we gave it a one minute microwave session. Still, though, the shrimp and pork wontons weren’t bad.
Our Munchery experience ended on a high note with the summer strawberry cake, which was moist and had what tasted like ripe, not frozen, strawberries:
Here’s a breakdown of how much everything cost:
- Crab cakes $9.95
- Chili lime beef $9.95
- Green salad $4.95
- Wonton soup $6.95
- Strawberry cake $5.95
Munchery charges a $2.95 delivery fee — you can also get free delivery on all orders for $39/year — so with tax, our order came out around $40. We decided not to tip Dave since delivery drivers do not expect gratuity.
When it was all said and done, Daniel and I were happy with both the quality and portion size of our inaugural Munchery meal. There were a couple minor complaints: No utensils and the soup left us a little disappointed.
I could also see some people having issues with the food delivered cold, and soup is one of those dishes that is probably enjoyed best when served fresh, directly from a hot pot. But aside from that, I actually like this method — it allows people to order multiple meals and stock up for the week, for example. It’s also a big advantage for Munchery’s chefs, who can prepare meals ahead of time, and the company’s delivery people, who don’t have to worry about food going cold in the car.
Final verdict: Those crab cakes were on point, that beef was gushing with flavor, and the entire ordering process — starting with the efficient web interface and ending with Dave’s friendly on-time delivery — was impressive.
For those of us too busy to make a meal but prefer something a little healthier than Pizza Hut, you should give Munchery a try. It’s currently available to these zip codes in Seattle: 98101, 98104, 98121, 98122, 98144, 98154, 98164, and 98174.