Since the pandemic began, there are some of us that have really been missing that night we went out on a date with our significant other. Some of our favorite restaurants closed, some aren't offering indoor seating and then there are some that aren't following guidelines at all and now we aren't comfortable going there. Whatever the reason--why not make a "Special Night Out" at home!
The Little Things Matter - It's the little touches at a restaurant that make it feel special. Have some fresh flowers on the table, or your favorite condiments (hot sauce bottle, or olive oil and spices for bread) and maybe a candle. Add some special lighting for that extra touch. Use linens and your special table service for the occasion as well.
Service is Essential - Use a wheeled bar cart for serving. Since most of us can't carry several dishes on a tray easily, using a cart will help get dishes of food out to the table easily and (hopefully) mess free! This will really come in handy if you have a few others over for your Dinner In that are in your "bubble" of safety. A cart will save time, too.
Eat in a Different Spot - If you really want it to feel different for your Dinner In, move your dining table to a another place in your home. If this isn't going to work for you, maybe get some different lamps for lighting in your dining room so the room feels like a different space.
Sound and Smell Matter - Another thing that restaurants do to add ambiance is to have music playing in the background or the smells of the food make a difference, too. Make sure the music is good for conversation to still take place and if you are doing carry in for your Dinner In instead of cooking, having some fresh herbs around can bring a lovely smell that won't compete with the food. Floral or other heavily scented candles are a no no when it comes to meals. They can actually change how the food will taste if you have a strong sense of smell.
Of course, all of these ideas are just small things you can do to recreate a meal at your favorite restaurant or bistro. You know what you love about your favorite place--think of what will make your "Special Night Out" feel like being there!