Eat a la carte in the comfort of your own home. Eleanor Bailey on the rise of real fast food
The takeaway has become a modern metaphor for spoiled dreams. It promised so much delicious convenience, but delivered hard, chewy pizza, cold curry and congealed Chinese. No wonder people are flocking back to restaurants. But no more. Couch potatoes will be relieved to hear that gourmet-to-go has arrived from, where else, across the Atlantic.

The US press hailed the future of easy ingesting when top LA chef and restaurateur Joachim Splichal, caterer to the Grammys, recently began selling quality wraparound Tacones. His corn tortillas with gourmet fillings, such as yam and cranberry relish, were a remarkable contrast to the sludge usually associated with fast food on both sides of the pond.

Over here, top restaurants are warming to the idea that it is worth making the effort to please the slouchers. YO! Sushi, the all-new sushi bar in London's Soho, where you choose dinner from a selection in dishes circulating on a conveyor belt before your very eyes is paving the way for a bright, new takeway world. In a few weeks it will launch its dedicated takeaway service, YO! To Go.

Conran Restaurants has also seen the need to cater for those of us who want to spend as little time as possible away from the TV by opening a cafe next door to Mezzo (imaginatively called Cafe Mezzo), where the discerning fast-foodie can take away pizza and other small delicacies.

Covering all possibilities, Conran Shops will open "the traiteur" in May, in the foodmarket at its Bluebird gastrodome on London's King's Road. Traiteur is the rather glamorous term for prepared meals that you heat up at home - the upmarket TV dinner.

But Room Service believes that it has already set the bench-mark for quality home dining. Founded four years ago, Room Service delivers to your door from a wide range of restaurants, including ZENW3, Chutney Mary's and Albert Roux to selected areas in London. It takes around 350 orders a night at an average price per head of pounds 30 to pounds 35, and charges pounds 4 delivery. "We have lots of celebrity customers who find it difficult to go to a restaurant," they boast. "We get faxes from all over the world."

Chez Nico says that gourmet takeaway is tricky, but one should never say never. "Takeaway is never going to be as good as food in the restaurant. You just can't take-out something like a Dover sole. But for our good customers, we can, for example, do a terrine of foie gras."

Bad customers will have to wait a little longer.

YO! Sushi, 0171 287 0443, Cafe Mezzo, 0171 314 4000, Room Service 0171 431 5555, Chez Nico 0171 409 1290.