‘I compared Aldi and M&S Valentine’s Day meals – and one dish absolutely blew me away’

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With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, the Liverpool Echo’s Emily Sleight has taken a look at the romantic dinner offerings Aldi and Marks & Spencer have for two on February 14

When it comes to Valentine’s Day, whether you’re celebrating with a loved one, a pal or by yourself, it’s nice to enjoy a delicious dinner.

And with restaurants booked up for date nights, you can always skip the madness and nip to the supermarket and pick up a luxurious meal deal to tantalise the taste buds at home.

Every shop seems to have its own take on Valentine’s food, with lots of heart-shaped items on offer – but does any of it really live up to the hype?

Aldi and Marks & Spencer have been food rivals for a while, with Aldi offering cheaper alternatives to M&S.

With this in mind, the Liverpool Echo’s Emily Sleight decided to put meals from each of the stores to the test, to see which one was the best.

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M&S have their dine-in for £20 offer, which has been popular for a while, but Aldi don’t currently have a specific set menu – so Emily had to pick her own food from the shop.

She headed to both and purchased a starter from each, as well as two main courses and two desserts – and one dish stole the show for her.

For the first course, she sampled Coquille St Jacques scallops from M&S for £6, which she gave a 4/5 rating.

From Aldi, it was Barber’s mature cheddar cheese fondue with crusty bread £4.99 – which got 5/5.

Speaking about the food, Emily said: “I’ll be completely honest, I didn’t have high hopes for the strange joint starter/dessert from Aldi, but I’ll give it to them, it’s a pretty unique concept.

“I automatically assumed that the M&S starter was going to be much nicer based on appearance, but I was actually wrong in this case.

“As much as I really enjoyed the scallops from M&S, I’ve got to pick the Aldi starter as my winner, purely because the cheese was absolutely delicious.

“I’m very easily pleased with food, and as much as the scallops were great for a posh sit-down meal, there was something unbeatable about the cheese fondue and crusty bread.

“The £4.99 Aldi mixed starter and dessert still ended up being cheaper than the M&S scallops priced at £6, and I actually preferred the Aldi starter.”

For the main event, Emily opted for Salmon en croûte from M&S for £9 and Wagyu steak pizza from Aldi which was £3.99.

The Salmon and the pizza were pretty evenly matched on the palate, with Emily giving them both a rating of 4/5.

She explained that Salmon en croûte is one her her “all-time favourite” dishes, so she knew she was going to love it – but it was taken to the next level thanks to the heart-shaped party which gave it a ‘romantic’ feel.

“In terms of taste, I’ll admit, around the edge was slightly dry (which is expected for pastry) but the middle was absolutely delicious,” she said. “Mixed with the salmon was an amazing creamy garlic sauce that mixed really well with the fish, it was bursting with flavour.”

Next came the Wagyu pizza, which didn’t look as impressive as she thought until she took it out of the oven.

Emily comments: “It had quite a barbecue-y flavour which I really liked, and the meat itself was very tender which surprised me.

“The pizza is perfect for a casual Valentine’s Day night in watching a movie, as opposed to the fancy en croûte sit down meal.”

Finally, it was time for dessert and to round off the meal, Emily tried Marks & Spencer’s £4.50 I’m bananas for you sponge and Aldi’s Chocolate orange fondue (£4.99, joint offer with starter).

The M&S pudding was the star of the show earning 5/5, while the fondue only scored 2/5.

Of the banana sponge, Emily said: “This dessert was the absolute winner for me, and although the Valentine’s dishes had been tight up until now, M&S knocked it out the park.

“The I’m bananas for you sponge was absolutely gorgeous to look at, with red edible hearts and plenty of caramel sauce. It included a delicious banana sponge with caramel blonde chocolate mousse on a caramel blonde chocolate wafer base.

“As I took a bite, I was blown away by the flavour, it was just the right amount of banana flavour and wasn’t too sickly which happens with some desserts. It was very light to eat and really finished off the meal perfectly.”

The Aldi fondue she says “wasn’t as much of a triumph” as the M&S sweet treat.

She describes the texture as being “thick and gloopy” and claims it didn’t taste great when paired with the strawberries as advertised.

“Perhaps it was the mixture of the orange flavour and the strawberries, but when comparing it to the M&S dessert, there was only one clear winner,” she adds.

How will you be celebrating Valentine’s Day? Let us know in the comments below.