Staying in at the weekend has become the new normal. Hayley Baddiley, from classic British homeware and ceramics brand Denby, explains how to make those Friday and Saturday nights in feel a little bit more special.
The average Briton eats out 63 times a year, and over a third of those who dine out do so at least once a week, according to a survey from CGA. With restaurants temporarily closed, we’re now taking comfort in making homecooked food.
There are plenty of ways to elevate your meals at home which will help to make them feel a little more luxurious. In this article, I’ll share a few ideas that will help staying in feel more like dining out.
Take your Cookery to the Next Level
When you’re cooking every day, it’s easy to end up making the same trusty recipes on repeat. If you’ve found yourself in a recipe rut with your cooking lately, why not push yourself out of your comfort zone by trying something new? We all have a little more time, so this makes for a good opportunity to get in the kitchen and try your hand at something new and delicious. If there’s a particular dish from your favourite restaurant that you’ve really been craving, then you could try making it at home.
Even if you don’t feel like trying something completely new, there are still lots of tricks you can use to turn your tried-and-trusted meals into restaurant-quality dishes. Dressing your finished meals in freshly made garnishes, chopped herbs, or a drizzle of flavoured oil or pesto will instantly elevate the flavour, as well as make them look like restaurant
worthy meals. You could also try adding flavour by cooking with butter instead of oil or cooking ingredients and sauces with stock instead of water. A splash of wine almost always improves a savoury sauce, too. Don’t be afraid to experiment — you might discover your new favourite dish!
Create a Restaurant Atmosphere
Great food is only part of the attraction of eating at a good restaurant: the ambience, décor, and setting are also a key aspect of dining out. While you might not be able to recreate the sound of other diners enjoying their meals or the cooks hard at work in the kitchen, there are ways you can bring that restaurant atmosphere into your own home.
Lighting is a key part of creating ambience: most restaurants will usually go for dimmer lighting in the evening, as it creates a more intimate atmosphere. Fairy lights and candles are useful if you can’t dim the lights in your home, and they’ll make any space feel much more romantic and inviting — perfect for a date night. Playing background music can also help, especially if you choose a style of music that suits the type of cuisine you’re eating, such as Italian music for pasta night, or Spanish music for tapas.
For a themed evening, use eye-catching decorations. Mexican fiestathemed décor is ideal for taco or burrito night, while red, white, and blue accessories will set the atmosphere for an all-American style BBQ. Enjoy being creative with your dining space at home.
Set a Beautiful Table
When you’re taken to your table in a restaurant and you can see it’s been beautifully set with tablecloths, napkins and stunning tableware, you can tell that you’re in a for a great meal. Recreate this at home by taking the time to make your dining table look stunning before you sit down to eat.
If you want to make an ordinary Friday night in feel like a visit to a restaurant, use your favourite ceramics, cutlery and glassware. Set everyone in your household a place and use sharing dishes and platters to create an inviting and relaxed feel. For a restaurant table look, use linen napkins and tablecloths and add some candles and a bread basket to the table, too.
Make Restaurant-Quality Cocktails
While the food is certainly the star of the show at any restaurant, enjoying it alongside an appetising cocktail or two is all part of the experience. All you need to make professional standard cocktails in the comfort of your own home is a shaker, a strainer, and some cocktail glasses for serving your drinks. Invest in some quality drinkware and cocktail equipment so you can enjoy authentic cocktails in the comfort of your own home.
Cocktails should be a treat for the eyes as well as the palette, so take care to serve your creations with style and flair. Adding a garnish or decorative element to your finished drinks will give them a premium feel: this could be as simple as a salt rimmed glass or a sprig of mint to a mojito or gin cocktail.
Make the Most of your Outside Space
If you have an outside space where you can dine out in the evening, then now’s the time to make the most of it! Eating even the simplest meal can be memorable when dining al fresco, and it’s a great way to change your routine during lockdown, especially now that the weather is warming up.
You don’t need any special equipment to dine outside, but it can certainly help to have a bit of ambient lighting on hand, so you can continue to sit outside after the sun sets. A citronella-scented candle can also help to deter wasps and other insects who might be attracted by your meal. If you plan to dine outside a lot this summer, then you could
also consider getting a patio heater or chiminea, so you can sit under the stars in perfect comfort on cooler evenings.
With a little preparation and a few special touches, staying in can be every bit as fun as going out. Enjoy a luxurious restaurant-quality experience in the comfort of your own home.