Often when you think of a romantic dinner, you think of going out to eat.
You hit Google to find the best-reviewed restaurant. You drool over the menu on their website, getting a little thrill when you see a decadent favourite listed. Your excitement builds as you see reviewer photos of the gorgeous ambiance and perfectly prepared plates. And when you actually arrive, there is just something about the low conversations, moody lighting, and clinking of glasses that brings the whole experience together.
There is a certain sense of occasion that comes along with dining out!
However, with a little effort, there is no reason you can’t drum up the anticipation and experience of restaurant dining at home. Need some help? Check out our guide below:
1. Plan Your Menu
This is not the time for your fail-safe casserole. But to be sure you don’t end up setting off the smoke detector or frantically consulting a Julia Child-level recipe, pick dishes that sound fancy but are simple to make. Roasted bone marrow, for example, is often found on the menus of 5-star restaurants but is beyond simple to make at home. Pair it with a perfectly aged steak and simply dressed vegetables for an impressive spread that isn’t the usual weekday fare.
2. Make a Reservation
Meals at home tend to be served whenever the food is ready. To better mimic the restaurant experience, set a time when dinner (or at least, cocktails) will be served. Tell your Alexa/Siri/whatever smart home system rules your roost, to remind you on the day of.
3. Dress up the Table
A single flower in a vase. A simple white tablecloth. A gently flickering unscented candle. There is a reason these are the most popular décor items for high-end restaurants! Put the effort in to transform your table.
4. Add Small Details
Print or hand-write your menu, complete with the drink pairing. Pre-set the table and place the menu on the plate. Put your napkins into napkin holders (and yes, use real napkins). Use matching silverware. Have ice water in a pitcher on the table. Plate the food in smaller portions and add fresh herbs for garnish. Restaurants pay attention to these kinds of small details, and you should too.
5. Set the Mood
Pre-select an appropriate playlist, so you don’t end up with old-school 90s rap blaring just as you are about to cheers. Dim the lights. Institute a phone ban – because, let’s be honest, the blue light from a tiny screen is not flattering for anyone. This includes divvying up the serving responsibilities, so everyone gets a chance to sit back and be served.
6. Dress Up
Even though you aren’t leaving your house, throw on your “going out clothes” (and no, that doesn’t mean your “dressy sweatpants”).