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Article updated on August 18, 2022 at 6:03 AM PDT

I Tried Home Bistro, a Meal Service With Restaurant Quality Claims

Home Bistro's prepared meals take aim at upscale restaurant food. I tried the service to see if it hits the mark.

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Written by 
David Watsky
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David Watsky Senior Editor / Home and Kitchen
David lives in Brooklyn where he's spent more than a decade covering all things edible, including meal kit services, food subscriptions, kitchen tools and cooking tips. Before, during and after earning his BA from Northeastern, he toiled in nearly every aspect of the food business, including as a line cook in Rhode Island where he once made a steak sandwich for Lamar Odom. Right now he's likely somewhere stress-testing a blender or the best way to cook bacon. Anything with sesame is his all-time favorite food this week.
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8.0/ 10
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Home Bistro

Pros

  • On average, meals are better than most services
  • Food is prepared well, with tender meats and crisp veggies
  • Premium meats include short ribs, steak and seafood
  • No subscription required

Cons

  • One of the most expensive services, with meals at $15 to $19
  • Some meals were great while others were underwhelming, especially for the price
  • Extra cost for shipping

When I first learned about Home Bistro a few years back, the gourmet service was by far the most expensive prepared food delivery service around, with single-serving meals for about $25 each. I had a chance to try the food and it was indeed tasty, but as I expected, it really wasn't worth the exorbitant price per meal. And certainly not on a regular basis.

Cut to 2022. Home Bistro's prices have come down to earth a bit. Most meals cost between $17 and $19 (still expensive) while others can be had for as little as $15. The brand has also since added a roster of celebrity chefs who've created a fleet of recipes for Home Bistro. With all these changes, I decided to give the high-end meal delivery service another shot.

home bistro steak dinner

Find out if the most expensive prepared meal delivery service lives up to its own hype.

Home Bistro

After round 2 of tasting, my take on many Home Bistro meals remains the same: just not quite worth the money. Other dishes I tried made a case for their hefty price. If budget isn't a factor, Home Bistro might be the right service for you but I still think most people's meal delivery money can be spent better elsewhere. That said, Home Bistro doesn't require a subscription so you can try it without much commitment or risk and decide for yourself.

Here's how it works and what I thought of Home Bistro.

Read more: Best Healthy Meal Delivery Services for 2022

How Home Bistro works: Ordering, pricing and menus

Home Bistro has a massive menu of meals to choose from, many of which have been created by established chefs and food personalities including Cat Cora and Ayesha Curry. You can order meals individually which can be searched by the chef who created them, the main protein (chicken, salmon, beef) or filter them by bestsellers or by price. Most meals are $17 or $19, with a few that are $15.

Cat Cora Meals on Home Bistro

Cat Cora and other big-name chefs have meal offerings available from Home Bistro.

Home Bistro/Screenshot by David Watsky/CNET

You can also buy preselected bundles of meals or chef's choice bundles to save a little per meal. Bundles of meals come in packs of six, seven, 10, 12, 14 or 20 meals. There are different themes to the packs of meals such as bestsellers, Mediterranean and vegetarian recipes. No matter which bundle you choose, it will break down to right around $15 a meal.

There's no subscription for Home Bistro, so you simply order what you want and reorder more if and when you're ready for more. The menu doesn't change much from month to month the way meal kits and some other meal services do, but there are tons of meals to choose from, so you shouldn't get bored. There is an added cost for shipping that varies depending on your location.

home bistro meals in fridge

You can order meals in bundles or individually and there's no commitment or subscription required. They'll arrive frozen and vacuum-sealed to be thawed and eaten or placed in the freezer.

Home Bistro

What are Home Bistro meals like?

Home Bistro touts its meals as restaurant quality, which helps to explain the cost. When selecting meals from Home Bistro, you'll find more premium dishes such as braised short ribs, pork tenderloin, salmon and steak. Most of the more budget-friendly services typically stick to cheaper proteins like chicken and shrimp. Home Bistro offers a couple of plant-based meals but very few compared with other prepared meal services.

Each meal typically includes a protein, starch and vegetable with some sort of sauce. There are also some heavier pasta dishes and rice dishes such as shrimp jambalaya and risotto. The meals I ordered came vacuum-sealed and frozen. I could either stick them in the freezer for another day or let them thaw out in the fridge, which takes about four hours. Portions were decent, but on the small side of average. I didn't ever have leftovers, but I also wasn't hungry after eating.

braised short rib

Home Bistro portions are on the small side -- a little disappointing considering the price.

David Watsky/CNET

What I had and how I liked it

I sampled five Home Bistro meals in total. Most were good, some were excellent and, thankfully, none were bad or inedible. Here's what I thought of my Home Bistro meals.

Salsa verde pork with Mexican red rice ($17): The pork was mostly cooked well, although a few pieces were tough. The rice was fine but nothing special and a bit bland. 

salsa pork meal

The salsa verde pork, created by Claudia Sandoval, was good but not great.

David Watsky/CNET

Harissa shrimp with garlic potatoes and cauliflower gratin ($17): I was impressed with this dish. The shrimp tasted fresh and the cauliflower gratin was tasty and filling.

Grilled chicken with parsley-mint sauce and cauliflower over coconut rice ($17): This was an example of a Home Bistro meal very much not worth the money. The chicken wasn't tough but it wasn't very tender either. The sauce was OK but didn't excite me as I'd hoped it would.

grilled chicken meal

This grilled chicken with mint-parsley sauce was fine, but not at all worth the $17 price.

David Watsky/CNET

Grilled salmon with pomegranate sauce, Israeli couscous and honey carrots ($17): Another good one, with fresh and tender salmon and a bright, complex and interesting sauce.

Balsamic braised short rib with potato risotto and garlic broccolini ($19): This was as close to restaurant fare as I've had from a prepared meal service. The beef was fork-tender and the broccolini cooked extremely well.

braised short rib

The balsamic braised short rib was as close to restaurant quality as meal delivery gets.

David Watsky/CNET

How I prepared my Home Bistro meals 

The back of each box gives microwave instructions, but I always try to avoid the microwave when heating food, with perhaps the exception of certain sides like mashed cauliflower or roasted potatoes. For chicken bowls, steaks and pasta, simply toss it all in a nonstick skillet for a few minutes, covered over low heat along with the sauce before serving. Yes, you'll have a pan to rinse, but I promise it's worth it. 

instructions on back of meal

I suggest avoiding the microwave when heating Home Bistro meals.

David Watsky/CNET

Who is Home Bistro good for?

If you're looking to stock the freezer with high-quality frozen meals for the occasional lazy evening when you don't feel like cooking or even venturing out for dinner at a restaurant, Home Bistro might be a good bet. The chef-created meals are of a higher caliber than most other services, but they do come at a cost.

Who is Home Bistro not good for?

Because of the prices, Home Bistro is not a great meal delivery service for anyone on a budget. Services such as Mosaic Foods and Freshly cost about half as much and still serve up tasty menus of meals each week. This is also not a good service for anyone keeping to a plant-based or vegan diet. There are very few weekly options for plant-based meals. It's also not the healthiest of meal delivery services since some of the food is high in calories and fat. 

home bistro celebrity chef meals

Home Bistro has several meals created by established chefs.

Home Bistro

My final verdict on Home Bistro

Home Bistro is tricky to evaluate because it's quite a different model to most other prepared meal services. With most entrees clocking in at $17 or $19, the service is more akin to restaurant takeout in price than a typical meal delivery outfit. Some of the dinners I tried lived up to the "restaurant quality" claims that the service makes while others just didn't. Overall, the bulk of the food was better than most services, though there may be some trial and error in finding the dishes you like. The good news is they'll likely stay on the menu, so you can reorder them whenever.

If you don't have a steady rotation of good local restaurants to order takeout from on nights where there's no time to cook or even eat out, stocking the freezer with gourmet Home Bistro meals might be the right call. With moderate portions, don't expect much in the way of leftovers, but you can bet the bulk of the meals you order will hit higher notes than most other meal delivery services. 

For consistently great meal delivery, Mosaic Foods (vegetarian) and Fresh N Lean are still my favorites and cost quite a bit less than Home Bistro. For more options, see my list of the best prepared meal services in 2022.

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