The coronavirus pandemic has encouraged people worldwide to recognise some of the things they once took for granted. And for the self-professed foodies and social butterflies out there, perhaps you’re now truly seeing just how important you found it to dine out. It’s been weeks since restaurants first shut their doors, and the days of pho in Fulham or pizza in Peckham must seem like a distant memory.
However, staying in doesn’t mean the days of dining ‘out’ are over. It’s still easy to pair delicious food and drink with exceptional company at home, and recreate the restaurant experience and enjoy a night in to remember.
Prepare the food
Though you can’t book a table at your favourite restaurant, there’s no reason to miss out on quality cuisine. Plenty of the capital’s eateries are still open for business and ready to bring their best dishes to your doorstep. Thanks to services like Deliveroo and UberEats, many of London’s restaurants are doing home delivery. Just remember that you’ll probably have to live close enough to the place you have your eye on in order to qualify for home delivery.
If you don’t want to splurge on a fancy meal, or would simply prefer a more hands-on approach to your dinner, you could try whipping up a gourmet dish yourself. And if you’re craving something simple, comforting and totally delicious, it’s hard to beat a big bowl of pasta. Try Pasta Evangelists for the most authentic Italian experience you can have in your kitchen. With ingredients shipped in from Ischia, Sicily and beyond, your kit will contain everything you need to create fresh pasta and sauces in as little as five minutes. Alternatively, you could take an Italian cooking class online, with celebrity chefs offering up their recipes for free, whether you fancy Antonio Carluccio’s carbonara, Gino D’Acampo’s bolognese, or even creating pasta from scratch with Giuseppe Crupi.
Organise the alcohol
There’s nothing stopping you from picking up some beverages from your local corner shop or supermarket when buying the essentials, but if you want to make a night of it with some more artisan alcohol, there are lots of companies that can help. For instance, you could stock up on craft beers from Honest Brew or turn to the Waitrose Wine Cellar for your vino. And if you need a last-minute order delivered ASAP, Drinkshouse247 transports its tipples within 30 minutes, and serves virtually every borough in London.
However, if you’re preparing the food yourself, perhaps you could push the boat out a little further with a few homemade cocktails. You don’t have to be a seasoned mixologist to have a go, and BBC Good Food has over 60 easy cocktail recipes, including classics like Cosmopolitans and vodka martinis alongside lesser-known concoctions. There are also a range of video lessons available on YouTube channels like Steve the Bartender and The Bonneville Cocktail Collection.
Gather your company
You may have organised the food, and got the drinks in, but the cherry on top of any great dining experience is the company. Technology means that social distancing doesn’t have to mean antisocial dining, and video chat programs like Zoom, Skype and Google Hangouts allow you to have dinner with as many people as you want. Make sure everybody else also puts effort into their food so the occasion feels more special, and perhaps even encourage your group to dress up as if you were all going to your favourite restaurant.
Once you’ve finished your meal, liven things up with a few party games like quizzes, charades or even competitive drawing. Even if you live alone, innovative software like this means you and your loved ones can still be together.