It’s Friday night and you have a ‘hot’ date, but you forgot to make reservations at her favourite restaurant and every decent restaurant seems to be full. This is not the end of the world. What about hosting a dinner at home? Just remember, don’t invite over anyone you haven’t met already. This is not blind date territory; fourth or fifth dates are good times to cook for that special someone. Scared? Yes, well it will be more work than ordering off the menu or doing take out but the pay off could be huge.
Check out our tips for hosting an easy and impressive date at-home.
Setting the mood
This is part of the prep work and it will set the stage for the perfect night. Think about her favourite romantic restaurant – it is all about the atmosphere and mood. If you have dimmers, this is the time to finally use them. Nope? Well then candlelight will have to save your date. Create a centerpiece for the dining table with an arrangement of candleholders /candlesticks of varying heights. If you are going to go with flowers, pick some simple stems (calla lilies, for example) and avoid roses (their scent will overpower the food). If you really want to impress here, scatter candles (in glass votive holders) on the windowsills, mantles and countertops. Add a scented candle in the bathroom. Now log onto Songza and pick a playlist, try some ’90s R&B slow jams or some jazz.
This is the step many men forgot, they get nervous and they jump straight into the main event. Ease into man; this is the foreplay. Start with a cocktail aka an aperitif. Keep it simple and impressive – a glass of champagne or a cocktail you have made many times before. Set out a few small bites, some antipasti or cheese, but don’t spoil the main course. You want something for her to nibble on while you finish up the main course.
The main course
We know you’re a bit cocky just by the fact that you are trying to impress her with dinner at home and hoping for a nightcap. But no matter how cocky you are, you need to be honest about your cooking prowess. If you aren’t cooking on the regular or this is your first time cooking for anyone but your college roommate, stick to something simple. Pick an easy recipe that features an impressive ingredient – chanterelles, truffles, or saffron. Here are some extra tips to make the perfect dinner:
Figure out what you can make ahead of time: Choose a dish that keeps well and make the bulk of your meal in the morning. If you are making homemade pasta (very impressive) you can make the dough in the morning and store it in the fridge to be cut right before cooking. As well, salad dressings can be made in advance, and chop up any veggies ahead of time. Wash up any dishes long before your date arrives.
Don’t finish everything: Part of the cooking at home experience is that you want to show off your cooking prowess to your date. Just imagine you’re the star of a Food Network show, have any of your final touches pre measured and laid out in bowls for ease. You want to make sure that the risotto still needs one more stir or that your homemade pasta just needs to be cut and tossed into your (already) boiling pot of water. Not only will she be impressed by your chef skills but remember talking while cooking is a lot less awkward than talking while gazing deeply into each other’s eyes.
Get her involved with one special task: Give your date something small and easy to do while you finish up your dish. Cooking together is fun, and intimate.
Remember to inquire about any dietary restrictions: You want to avoid cooking steak for a vegetarian. This is why you ask; you don’t want a deal breaker before the date has even started.
Set the table like a grown up.
The food is the major battle you need to win to impress her but don’t forget about how you set your table. You already set the mood with the candles, now just don’t mess it up with an improperly set table. A good meal is as much about presentation as it is about taste. Make sure you have two full sets of matching dinnerware – this includes clean white dishes for two, proper flatware and cloth napkins. And if you are not sure which side the glass should go on – Google it.
This is your last chance to impress her—don’t blow it. The right ending will guarantee another date or even breakfast in bed the next morning if you’re lucky. The simplest and most fool-proof dessert solution is to cheat. Pick up some lemon curd tarts from a great bakery or serve some simple chocolate truffles. Be sure to pair with a digestif or a dessert wine.