How to Have a Dazzling Fine Dining Experience at Home
I remember times when I’d eat out so often, I’d actually have to pencil in days to cook at home. The pandemic has, of course, dramatically changed this dynamic. Just like you, I dream of the day restaurants will finally re-open, and I can once again go out into the world and be inspired by incredible hospitality professionals, inventive food and the beautiful ambience of grand restaurants.
But, as with most things in life, there’s been a silver lining: I have always had a passion for good food and cooking, and the one thing this pandemic has done is helped me harness my passion for creating incredible dining experiences at home.
You might be skeptical, but hear me out: recreating an incredible restaurant experience at home is 100% achievable. Trust me. All it takes is a bit of planning and creativity!
The first thing to keep in mind is that it’s called 'fine dining’ for a reason. This is because of the many great, carefully thought out details that make the experience so unforgettable.
So when you’re set out to recreate the lavish fine dining affair at home, remember that the devil really is in the details. Let’s take a closer look at what you need to do to bring exceptional dining to the comfort of your home!
Pick a Mighty Fine Meal
When it comes to choosing what to cook, I’m endlessly inspired by the recipes of chefs whose restaurants I have on speed dial. Most renowned restaurants and chefs have published their own gorgeous recipe books — from The Ritz London to The Book of St John. Of course, there are plenty of inspiring websites for incredible recipes too, like Saveur, Great British Chefs or Food and Wine Magazine. To me, it’s important to have several courses to fully replicate the fine dining experience. Sure, it might take a little more time and effort, but boy does it pay off!
The Art of Wine Pairing
Pairing your delicious meal with the right wine elevates the entire dinner experience into heavenly realms. I always recommend asking a wine professional for the perfect wine suggestion. Passionate assistants at specialised wine shops (not your local supermarket) are always more than happy to help you find the right bottle (…or three). Pro tip: make sure you serve wine at the right temperature to truly replicate the fine dining experience.
Don’t Skimp Out On Spotless Dinnerware
Bring out your fanciest, most beautiful dinner plates. Follow the formal table setting, complete with all the spoons, forks, knives, plates, bowls and glasses used for specific foods and beverages. Changing up your plates from the usual breakfast bowls will give you all the more of that restaurant vibe… and hey, keeping your wedding china stacked away “for when the Queen comes over” like Monica from Friends ain’t as fun as actually putting it to good use!
As a Wine Expert, I’m obviously a huge advocate of proper glassware. You’d ideally need at least two different glasses for white and red wine — trust me, it makes a huge difference to your wine drinking experience. To spice it up further, use a wine decanter to air you wines. Oh, and make sure your glassware is impeccably cleaned and polished. Have you ever had wine out of a less-than-perfectly polished wine glass at a fine dining restaurant? Hopefully not. So make sure you apply the same rules for dining at home! Water glasses are often looked over, but I recommend looking into those, too. A thinner, finer glass will make your wine and yep, even water taste better… even when in the comfort of your own home.
Style Your Table
Setting the table is the foundation of fine dining. A stunning, perfectly ironed tablecloth, gorgeous placemats with matching napkins, flower arrangement and candles, a full set of plates and cutlery set up properly according to number of courses, the glasses lined up at almost a measured distance…. all of these are instruments for the concert that is the fine dining melody that you are performing. A plain martini glass with water, a floating candle and a few rose petals will transform your living room into a vibrant dining room in seconds. Need more inspiration? Pinterest is your friend!
Set the Mood
When it comes to creating a dreamy ambience, music and lighting are your best friends. Depending on the mood you’re after, you can opt for anything from smooth jazz to trusted classical pieces. Play around with your lights (candles are really helpful here). With the right mood setting techniques, you’ll experience your very familiar setting in a truly new and original way.
Dress the Part
I’d say that the final but no least important touch for your special dining at home experience is to get dressed up as if you were going out. When you dress the part, you feel different. It also helps shape your perception of your evening….after all, this is no longer ‘just your kitchen’! Dressing up each other is also a great way of showing unity and appreciation for the effort you’ve put into this exquisite experience.
A Final Note…
It’s fun to play around with thematic dining experiences, too. A Spanish dinner with langoustine carpaccio accompanied by a glass of Albarino, a gorgeous red dress and acoustic guitar playing in the background will instantly transport you to Spain. You can recreate your first dinner date, a special, memorable occasion or simply the restaurant you’ve been dying to go to again.
The important thing is to plan in advance. Occupy your kids with a movie and give yourself ample time to prep everything with minimal stress. Embrace the flirtatiousness of fine dining at home! This special, intimate zone is all yours — no food critics and no Michelin inspectors are there to pass judgment. So relax, smile, and lose yourself in the moment.