I started off reviewing bars. Then I moved into restaurants, which is where my writing mostly resides nowadays. But online food home delivery services? That’s slightly out of my comfort zone.
And isn’t that what the supermarkets do already? So when the team behind Tilia approached us with their proposition for an artisan online service to compete with the likes of Ocado, I wasn’t sure what to do with it. I mean, its not like you can visit an online home delivery service. And while I appreciated their offer of interviewing the founder, its hardly the same as trying the product. Which was what my much wiser editor suggested I do: try the product. So that’s what we did, by giving them a time and date (Saturday at 13.00) with only one instruction. "Surprise me." (Clever! - Ed.)
And that is what Tilia duly did. Despite a website that boasts an impressive offering from their butcher, fishmonger, baker and greengrocer, and also includes a bundles category to cater for barbecues, gifts and seasonal needs (not to mention picnic hampers), they sent me what can only be described as a mini picnic selection for two. This consisted of Mortimer and Bennett Barkham Blue and Brie de Meaux cheeses; Rubies in the Rubble Chutney; a Belle Epoque baguette; choice organic grapes; some divine Swedish crispbread crackers; and Venison Salami, again from Mortimer and Bennett.
The service was excellent; slightly ahead of time, with a polished and suitably posh young man dressed as traditional greengrocer (you don’t get many people like that in Brixton). And the food was great. The highlight was probably the venison salami, which felt fresh, raw and had a nice little spicy kick to it.
As someone who has the luxury of fresh market food on his doorstep, and therefore has no need for online shopping, Tilia is not a site that I would normally gravitate to. However, for Londoners who want an alternative to Ocado or the large supermarket brands, it’s worth a look. As a web experience, the site is good to look at and very easy to navigate around. And any business that looks to give the British artisan food industry a helping hand deserves a look.
So have a look at Tilia if you get a chance. Just don’t call them an online supermarket.