Dining at Home needn’t be boring and with the global economy the way it is, many of us have had to cut back on treats – including eating out. Missing out on going out to dinner with your partner should be seen as an ideal opportunity for you to spend quality time together in the completely relaxed atmosphere in your home surroundings. Or, maybe you need to entertain and are concerned about how to throw a successful dinner party, especially if you are constrained by budget and don’t know where to start. Dining at home needn’t be samey and you can have just as nice a meal in as you can out. With a bit of forethought and planning, armed with these 10 Restaurant Tips for Fine Dining at Home, eating in can be a very special experience or perfect for a memorable occasion.
1. Set the Stage
Home can be, well, homey. If you are dining at home, then you will want to spruce the place up. Use the vacuum, tidy any mess off the floor, and make sure the table area is welcoming. You can do most of this well in advance.
2. Pick a Theme
Here’s where you dig out your recipe books for ideas. If you’re having a romantic meal for two, then you might want to try something a lot fancier than if you’re having a dinner party for four, eight or more. If you’re feeling adventurous, then you may want to try cooking recipes from a particular culture – like a Thai, Chinese or Mexican meal – but remember this is fine eating at home so pick a cuisine you’re comfortable with.
3. Pick Your Recipes Carefully
Most importantly, pick foods that your guests will be able to eat. Check for any dietary requirements. Use recipes that allow you to do most of the preparation in advance. If you do have your heart set on a dish that needs a lot of last minute attention, then make sure your other courses are low-maintenance or can be made in advance, otherwise fine dining at home will mean not having a chance to speak to guests! It’s also a good idea to write out timings, particularly if you’re doing a roast, so everything is ready when it’s meant to be.
4. If It All Gets Too Stressful… Cheat!
You’ve invited your friends round for dinner – they’re interested in seeing you, not judging your cooking! There’s nothing wrong with the judicious use of the odd ready-made item. Or, if you’re really beginning to stressed, get a raclette or fondue set. These items let your guests cook their own food at the table, and they make dining at home great fun.
5. Think Drinks
You don’t need to be a pretentious TV wine critic to get red wine for red meat courses, and white with chicken or fish. Use the internet if you’re worried. Or just drink more wine and your cares will disappear! Remember to open red wine to breathe and keep white wine chilled. Also, if you’re going for an international cuisine, it’s nice to get some matching drinks. This is one aspect of dining at home that can outshine restaurant dining, as you won’t be paying extortionate mark ups on drinks. Plus no one is going to raise an eyebrow if one of your guests wants red with fish or their red chilled.
6. Set the Table
This is one of those times where you can merrily pull out all your wedding china – or at least, your best china! If you have a table cloth, then use it. Make sure your wine glasses and cutlery are polished and shining. Put out any side plates, candles or other accessories before your guests arrive. Remember not to pile stuff high in the center of the table – this prevents easy conversation.
Little touches like serving bread rolls, prawn crackers or poppadums can elevate your home dining from the average to the exceptional – and they’re easy to buy in! Also, make sure you think of details like a butter dish, salt and pepper shakers and so on, so you’re not leaping up during the meal. Fine dining at home really is about the little details as much as the food.
Restaurants increasingly plate up food to look like elaborate sculpture or paintings, with fries stacked up like Jenga pieces and little squiggles of sauce everywhere. Unless you are super confident or actually a trained chef, try not to compete with this when you’re dining at home, otherwise it might look a bit pretentious!
9. After Dinner
If you’ve wowed with your starter and main, then you can get away with a shop-bought pudding. If you’re not into desserts, then a fine selection of cheeses, grapes and biscuits is always a good end to a meal. Or get some coffee and liqueurs in. Timing this bit can be tricky – remember that if your guests have had a big main course then they may want a break before eating anything else.
10. Cleaning up
For maximum ease, clean and tidy as you go. You don’t want to put off that pre-bed cuddle on the sofa to do the washing up or load the dishwasher instead of enjoying after talk conversation with your guests. However, if you’re had one too many glasses of dessert wine, then the washing up will still be there for you tomorrow!
If you follow these 10 Restaurant Tips for Dining at Home then you and your partner/guest(s) should have a fab time. There are loads of hints and strategies out there for hosting parties and dining at home but pick out the ones suitable for your occasion. What are your tips for fine dining at home?
Top Photo Credit: Sheraton Hotels and Resorts