With 2021 starting exactly where 2020 left off and with UK restrictions still in place so many activities that were the norm this time last year are not currently possible. Here at Alliance, as one of the UK’s top suppliers to the Hospitality & Leisure industries, we understand their importance for the nation’s wellbeing, both physically and mentally. As such, we have put together a list of our top tips for recreating a restaurant setting at home so you and your loved one can enjoy a nice meal together and get away from the news, the pandemic and the outside world for a few rejuvenating hours.

1. Pick the theme

So, the first task is deciding what kind of night you want. Do you want high class where smart attire, champagne and fine dining are the order of the day? Or perhaps a more laid-back approach with fun finger food and appetising help-yourself tapas style dishes taking centre stage? Alternatively, you could choose a particular style such as Italian, Parisian or Chinese. You could even try something more outlandish such as breakfast for dinner.

Either way, make sure you pick a style you can comfortably and affordably attain without too much effort or additional purchases. For high class appearances go with concepts such as champagne on ice, smart white tablecloths and minimal tabletop traffic, so ensure food is seasoned with salt and pepper prior to serving. If there is anything on the table make it something to add aesthetic value such as tealights, pillar or tapered candles.

For tapas dishes you can select a wide variety of buffet serving options and vibrant dip dishes to bring your food offering to life. For heartier food such as steaks and meat pies chunky steak knives and wooden boards can help create that steakhouse feel.

2. Set the scene

Now you have decided on a theme the next step is to choose where you intend to eat. If you have a balcony, decking area or even a cosy front room these can all be great places to set up your own little restaurant setting.

For a more intimate feel try a smaller table for two allowing for a closer dining experience, equally dim the lights to create a more romantic tone. For larger families who may be opting for a buffet option a larger table may be better suited so everyone can sit around and share the numerous food offerings available. If you are choosing a buffet style may we recommend serving food on large wooden chopping boards as they add a great aesthetic, particularly for foods such as pizza, tear ‘n’ share meals and various breads whilst remaining functional.
Great finishers for tables include table runners, flowers, a carafe for water and the aforementioned candles.

3. Choose your food

This may already be partly pre-determined due to your theme choice but now we come to picking your menu. Where the food is concerned, we would suggest one of three options:

Go for a classic
So, if you are planning on being the surprise chef, we would recommend playing for a safer option, or certainly something you have practiced a few times prior to the occasion. Fillets of fish with fresh vegetables are always a classic and simple enough to cook. For a vegetarian option you could try a Mediterranean tart filled with lots of colour by way of peppers, red onions, courgettes, tomatoes and other vibrant veg. Vegans could opt for a butternut squash stuffed pasta shells dish completed with spinach, ricotta and a rich cashew sauce.

Try something fun and wild
If the idea is a to cook together, why not challenge yourselves to something a bit more exotic and appreciate the whole activity from cooking to consuming. Dress down to take on something more daring together before changing into your evening dress and enjoying the fruits of your labour. For meat lovers we would recommend maybe trying the notoriously difficult (but highly delectable) Huntsman’s Pie with three types of pork and tender chicken for a full flavour. Vegetarians could tackle a veggie wellington with beetroot, mushroom and butternut squash for something with a difference but fabulous on the taste buds. Or for dessert go truly daring with a twist on an already tough dish, a rainbow baked Alaska, five flavoured sorbets wrapped in meringue.

Get the real deal delivered
Now if you do not fancy making your own meal, you could always go for the cheat option and order food from your favourite restaurant. If you are intimidated by taking on something more complex, or simply don’t have the time to make a meal yourself this can be a convenient way to ensure you still enjoy a quality meal on the night. And don’t worry, it’s not like anyone will know anyway!

Bonus point: Not forgetting the drinks!
The final consideration is the drink. For most normal meals wine is the most common selection, so if opting for a wine make sure to pair it properly. For heavier meals which may incorporate meats such as lamb, duck or beef red wine is the natural accompaniment. For lighter meals a crisp white makes for a most enjoyable tipple.
Spirits such as gin and rum are normally best served prior to a meal with whiskeys, cognacs and brandy all taking their place as an after-meal drink.

4. Plate up and serve

When eating at a restaurant the plates are always of fantastic quality so use your best china and enjoy eating wonderful food off beautiful crockery. For dishes with bright colours use a white set as these will help make the natural colours of the meal stand out. You can be bold for meals with lots of red tones and select black tableware as these will allow the cardinal colours to really stand out.

If you have opted for a white meat, maybe try a colourful crockery set such as those found in the Terra Genware range. Whether you want an azure shade or something more earthy there is something for every type of food.

And remember whilst plating up on your finest plates and bowls make sure your cutlery and glassware matches too. A nice set of 18/10 stainless steel cutlery always looks great especially if you’re going for a more fine dining theme. Regarding glassware, make it reflect the drinks you’re having.

So, if you’re having wine, whether it be red or white, make sure you serve it in the correct glass to enhance the flavours and aromas of the drink. Enjoy every sip and as you won’t have to drive home, may be even indulge in a few glasses on the night. For champagne, flutes are always the best-looking option, their tall and slender profile helps to focus the bubbles and makes the drink look much more appealing.

Now, if making your own meal gave you the creative bug, you may have gone one step further and dabbled in some cocktail making too as a pre-meal beverage. If so, you can either go with a classic tumbler or hiball glass. For rum drinks, which saw a partial surge in popularity last year which we feel will become more prevalent this year, why not go for a more unique glass such as tiki or skull options to bring some visual flavour to your table.

5. After Dinner Brew

So, you have enjoyed your meal and it has been a roaring success, now the last thing to do is consider whether an after-meal brew is necessary. We mentioned previously spirits such as whiskey, brandy and cognac make an ideal subsequent drink, but we are not referring to this kind of beverage, but rather a coffee or tea. Most restaurants will ask whether a hot drink is wanted after a meal has concluded, so why not offer this at home.

Following your meal, you could choose your favourite mug and relax with a coffee whilst you and your loved ones discuss your week. If you have children let them go off and play and simply enjoy some time either alone or with your partner as a final toast to an evening of fine food. If you are thinking about a coffee, then plan ahead and purchase a rich percolated option to give you that luxurious taste and depth. Or, why not opt or a flavoured coffee such as caramel latte or and Irish coffee to help ease you into the night.

For tea lovers there are equally many options to chose from. Delightfully flavoured fruit teas act as warm palate cleansers, whilst stronger traditional brands offer a fantastic way to finish a night of good food.

So, follow these few tips and you’ll be well on your way to coming home to that going out feeling. Whether you are surprising a loved one after a long week at work, having a meal with the kids or making someone who may be on furlough feel good enjoy yourselves at home with restaurant quality food in a setting to match. At Alliance Online we understand the impact of the various lockdowns we have experienced over the past year and appreciate how much everyone is missing going out. Our online store is a great place to shop for those final touches to help you bring the outside in whilst we all wait for our favourite eatery to open up again.

How to recreate a restaurant ambience at home
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How to recreate a restaurant ambience at home
Missing going out for a meal with the missus, or maybe yearning for some family food fun? Alliance Online has put together a list of tips to help you turn your home into a restaurant for a night of good food, great atmosphere and a night your household will enjoy.
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Alliance Online
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