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Kitchen Table for Two

Kitchen Table for Two

When we hear the term “restaurant-quality,” there are plenty of places our mind could wander. A beautiful table setting, dulcet tones humming gently in the background, your significant other staring at you lovingly across the table while also eyeing your last bite of chocolate cake, servers wearing bow ties taking your order and above all, a presentation of gastronomy that goes above and beyond anything you’ve ever made in your own kitchen. Even a quick scroll of your Instagram feed will most likely show someone’s recent meal at a restaurant that looks so perfect, down to the very last speck of parsley on the plate, that you can’t imagine reinventing that scene on your own. However, just because you’re not a chef whipping up professional plates of culinary perfection doesn’t mean you can’t have that restaurant-quality experience right in your own home with dishes from Cafe Spice; all of which are packed with authentic ingredients. With the right tips, you can turn a standard date night dinner into a Michelin star dining experience.

Set the Scene, and the Table

Before you jump into the actual meal, you’ll need to make sure the environment you’re creating feels restaurant-quality. Fear not, there’s no last-minute trips to a hardware or craft store – everything you need is most likely in your home. Start with the table itself: pull that old tablecloth out of the linen closet that you haven’t used since…ever, and jazz it up from there. Whether it’s a table setting or the actual plate of food (we’ll get to that), height is your friend: set a big dish for the main course first, then a smaller appetizer dish on top, and a standing folded napkin in the middle of your appetizer dish. Set out your flatware for each table setting and glasses for water and wine. Liven up the tablescape with a green succulent or a small vase of fresh flowers in the center for some color and pop. Light a few white, unscented tapered candles for the center of your table and gently dim the rest of the lights for a romantic vibe instead of a fluorescent one.

DJ Your Dinnertime

If you’re an avid reader of restaurant reviews, you’ve probably noticed that there’s far more that goes into rating a restaurant experience than the actual food. In addition to sights and smells, sound is a big part of setting the tone, and while you may love rocking out to your favorite heavy metal music at home to unwind after a long workday, it may not be the best music to accompany a pleasant meal. When setting the mood for your at-home restaurant, try to find music that doesn’t pull focus away from the meal itself, and rid the room of other distractions too while you’re at it, like cellphones and television. Create a playlist with a mix of acoustic, classical, R&B, and jazz tunes to make a setting that feels more mellow and less mosh pit. If you need some musical inspiration, check out this Cafe Spice Date Night Playlist

Don’t Hate on the Perfect Plate

Remember when we said sights, smells, and sounds are important for a good restaurant experience? When it comes to sights, we’re talking about what’s right in front of you: your food. We don’t just consume with our mouths, we consume with our eyes as well, so creating a plate that looks as great as it tastes is crucial to making your home cooked meal feel like a professionally made one. Start with your appetizer: cut a Cafe Spice Naan Toastie into four pieces, and then place two pieces in the center of each appetizer plate—you have three Toastie flavors to choose from, but any of them will be the perfect accompaniment to the meal! For your main course, use the center of your plate as the focal point and build up to create height. Cafe Spice Chicken Tikka Masala or Coconut Chicken Curry starts as a small bed of rice in the center (scoop the rice from the microwave tray and use a ring mold to shape it if you’ve got one), followed by a hearty spoonful of saucy chicken on top. For Cafe Spice Butter Chicken Meatballs, set your ring mold of rice in the center, flatten it slightly with the back of a spoon for more surface area, place three meatballs in the center, and lightly dress with more sauce on top. Leave some room on the plate, if you’ll be serving some Cafe Spice vegetarian/plant-based dishes as well, or replicate the same process if you'll be using only vegetarian/plant-based dishes!

Need Some Drink-spiration? We’ve Got You Covered

You’ve set the perfect table, designed an ideal lighting scheme, curated a dinnertime song playlist, and created (or purchased) a mouth-watering menu, but what about a tipple or two for you and your date? If you’ve over-spent your brainpower on creating the restaurant experience, sit back and let us throw you a few cocktail pairing tips to make your at-home restaurant meal a truly fantastic one:

For the Naan Toastie: All three of the Naan Toasties are so deeply flavorful that you don’t want to pair them with a cocktail that will pull away from all that delicious excitement. Here, we have a slightly sweet, refreshing cocktail with a hint of spice that pairs well and lets the flavors in the spiced Toastie filling really shine:

Tender Coconut Cooler

5 oz vodka

3 cups coconut water, chilled

½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

6 cups sparkling water, chilled

½ tsp salt

3 tbsp honey

Lemon slices, for serving

Blend all the ingredients together until combined. Pour into tall glasses and garnish each with a lemon slice.

For Chicken Tikka Masala or Coconut Curry Chicken: When pairing cocktails with meat, you should go with a spirit that has a little more oomph. Whereas something subtle like gin or vodka works well in a delicate fish dish, a smooth, bold whiskey stands toe-to-toe with a richly flavored meat.

Tamarind Cooler

6 oz whiskey

1 tbsp tamarind paste

3 cups water, chilled

3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 cups sparkling water, chilled

¼ tsp salt

½ tsp ground cumin

1 tbsp candied ginger, chopped

1 tbsp honey

3 tbsp sugar

Crushed ice, to serve

Lemon slices, to serve

Add all ingredients except lemon slices into a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously for 20-30 seconds until well chilled. Pour into two highball glasses over crushed ice. Garnish each glass with a lemon slice.

Sara Kay is a writer, editor, and self-proclaimed home chef currently living in Bratislava, Slovakia. She is a diehard fan of cacio e pepe, a good food pun, and is always on the hunt for the next great nosh.

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