Deliveroo is the latest challenger to enter the overcrowded online food delivery market. Unlike the majority of its rivals, it focuses on premium restaurants that aren't normally associated with takeaway. It also promises to deliver food in under 30 minutes for a flat $5 fee. To test Deliveroo's quality of service, we teed up a Vietnamese feast from Sydney's Red Lantern on Riley & Red Lily Cocktail Bar. Here is our verdict.
When it comes to ordering online takeaway, Aussies have been spoiled for choice in recent years. What was once the exclusive domain of a handful of pizza chains has exploded to encompass every cuisine imaginable. While most of these outlets have their own online delivery systems in place, one of the easiest ways to order is via a third-party app.
These services allow you to peruse multiple takeaway menus from participating nearby restaurants. You can then order your food, pay for it electronically and have it delivered to your door all through the application. The chief advantage of this method is having lots of eateries under a single hub which sports a familiar, user-friendly interface.
Despite its Aussie-sounding name and marsupial mascot, Deliveroo is actually a London-based company that expanded to Melbourne and Sydney at the end of last year. This makes it pretty late to the game: EatNow launched some five years ago while Menulog has been around since 2006. (These two companies have since merged in a bid to out-muscle overseas competition.)
Deliveroo's main claim to fame is its dedication to quality grub. You'll find no Macca's or sloppy curry houses here. Instead, the emphasis is firmly on "proper" restaurant meals from famous eateries like 38 Chairs, Sugarcane, Spice Room, The Roosevelt and Mary's.
As you'd expect, this usually results in spending more money per order -- although there are still a few affordable options to choose from. Handily, each restaurant is given a dollar rating so you know what to expect before clicking through to the menu.
The service's footprint encompasses most major metropolitan areas in Sydney and Melbourne, including St. Kilda, Prahran, South Yarra, Toorak, Richmond, Sydney’s CBD, Haymarket, Potts Point, Kings Cross, Woolloomooloo, Darlinghurst, Elizabeth Bay, Rushcutters Bay and Surry Hills.
In a bid to further distinguish itself from the competition, Deliveroo boasts an average delivery time of just 30 minutes which is achieved via a proprietary algorithm platform and a team of revolving cyclists. This is particularly impressive when you consider that the wait is often much longer in the actual sit-down restaurants.
As mentioned, we tested the service by ordering from Red Lantern on Riley & Red Lily Cocktail Bar, AKA the most-awarded Vietnamese restaurant in the world. [Full disclosure: Deliveroo provided us with a voucher for the purpose of this review. The restaurant choice was our own.]
We found the UI to be exceptionally intuitive with a clean, uniform look across all restaurants and menus. When you click on a restaurant, you are given an estimated delivery time which is handy if you're famished or in a hurry -- by browsing around you can find the quickest possible option before you start ordering.
Clicking on menu items adds them into a right-hand column which includes subtotal, delivery charge and driver tip, which is thankfully optional. (You can read our thoughts about restaurant tipping here.)
If you do like to tip, we suggest paying the deliverer cash-in-hand. Otherwise, there's no telling what percentage the company might pocket. We're sure it's all above board but why take a chance?
Our only criticism of the interface is the lack of in-menu food images -- instead, you have to rely on a brief description of each dish. While this is not unusual for a third-party delivery service, it would have been nice to see Deliveroo go the extra mile to stand out from the crowd. On the other hand, we suppose lots of mouth-watering photos would present problems of their own.
After placing the order, our bevy of pork buns, dim sums and dumplings were delivered within the estimated time frame by a cheery bicyclist. The food was hot, undamaged and delicious.
We'll definitely be using the Deliveroo service again. However, we imagine it's something that will be reserved for special occasions. After all, this is quality restaurant fare with a price tag to match: it just happens to be delivered in a manner similar to fast food.