Looking to take your home dining experience to the next level? In this article, Nidhi Verma, Head of Food & Founder of recipe kit company The Cookaway, shares her top tips for creating a restaurant-style dining experience in the comfort of your own home.
Going out to enjoy a delicious meal and a few drinks at your favourite restaurant is a real treat. But as fun as this can be, many of us prefer to save these meals out for special occasions. While you may not be dining out in a restaurant every night, this doesn’t mean that you can’t elevate your home dining experience to make the most of the everyday.
From upgrading your at-home menu to creating the perfect restaurant ambience, there are a number of ways you can make your mealtimes even more enjoyable. So, whether you’re looking to enjoy some fine dining at home on a date night or you simply want to take your everyday mealtimes to the next level, read on for some tips on how to create a restaurant feel in your own dining room.
Try cooking something new
It’s easy to fall into a routine of cooking the same few meals on repeat, but you may find this feels a little stale after a while. There are so many different recipes and cuisines out there for you to explore, so why not incorporate them into your at-home dining experience? As well as expanding your palette and your cooking repertoire, many of us are more likely to try new dishes when eating out. So, trying something new at home can be a great way to make your mealtimes feel like restaurant dining.
If you’re looking to create a restaurant feel for a special event, you may want to try something more elaborate to put the effort in and hone your cooking skills. Another great option for both special occasions and your regular weeknight meals is choosing a recipe kit. As well as providing inspiration, these come with detailed instructions, which are handy when it comes to cooking new dishes. This, in turn, can take up less of your precious weeknight time too.
Make a signature drink
Delicious starters, mains, and desserts are a big part of enjoying an evening in a restaurant, but don’t forget the importance of a good selection of drinks! A drinks menu can really make your experience at a restaurant that bit extra special, so it’s worth incorporating a great choice to complement your dishes while enjoying fine dining at home. Try to choose drinks which pair with your meals for a more cohesive experience. For example, margaritas will work well with Mexican dishes like tacos, white wine will work perfectly with fish, and red wine is great for enjoying alongside a charcuterie board.
If you’re looking to make your evening extra special, you can even create your own signature cocktail for your home restaurant. This is a great opportunity to experiment and get creative with flavours, plus it is good practice for pairing foods and drinks together. When crafting your new beverage for the first time, try to include five basic ingredients under the categories:
- A spirit
- A sweetener
- A sour
- A mixer
- A garnish
Set the table in style
One of the things that make dining in a restaurant feel particularly special is the care and effort that has been put into the table setting, from eating off fine china to enjoying beautiful candle centrepieces. And the good news is that you can easily recreate this from the comfort of your own dining room to create a fine dining experience at home. A great way to do this is by using your finest plates, bowls, and cutlery. While it can be tempting to save these pieces of tableware for the most special occasions, including them in your at-home dining experience means you can truly appreciate them by getting more use out of them.
You may want to base the rest of your table setting on your favourite tableware to create a cohesive look. For example, choosing a tablecloth in a shade or pattern which complements your plates and bowls is a great way to create the type of coordinated look you may find in a restaurant. And don’t forget to include a small centrepiece to complete the table. Something simple like a single flower or candle is the sort of thing you will likely find in a restaurant and a great option for your home dining experience — just make sure to choose something with a subtle scent to avoid overpowering the aroma of your delicious food.
Creating the perfect atmosphere
You may find that even when you create an extravagant menu and set the table with your best tableware, your dining room still feels too similar to the usual every day. But with just a few small tweaks, you can upgrade your fine dining at-home experience even further to get that perfect restaurant atmosphere. Something as simple as playing the type of ambient music you may have in a restaurant, like soft jazz or classical piano, can make a big difference to the feel of your home dining experience. If you’re looking to pay attention to the finer details, you can even choose music from the country your dishes come from.
The lighting you choose can have a significant impact on the atmosphere of your home restaurant experience too. Warm, dim lighting can be great for creating an intimate atmosphere. If this is the mood you’re going for, opt for candles and lamps rather than bright overhead bulbs. On the other hand, if you want to enjoy a special brunch at home, you may prefer brighter lighting, including plenty of natural light sources.
Get dressed up
Last but by no means least, don’t focus only on making your surroundings look great, but make yourself look great too! While it may feel odd at first for spending an evening in your own home, this is exactly what you would do when visiting a restaurant. So, taking the time to get dressed up can make your home fine dining experience feel like the real deal. You’ll, of course, want to be comfortable in your own home too, but this doesn’t mean you can’t dress in style. Something as simple as wearing a long flowing dress or your most comfortable shirt can really elevate the experience.
If you’re looking to improve your cooking skills and make more special memories in the comfort of your own home, creating a restaurant experience from your living room is a great idea. With the tips above, you can enjoy a restaurant dining experience at home with your loved ones.
Top image: The Cookaway