Now I’m getting older, I’m less [far less] about the clubs and pubs, and more about relaxing and chatting and enjoying a good meal with friends. Last Year I was lucky enough to be invited on a retreat with a dozen or so close friends to sample the delights of the Hampshire countryside [which I already knew about, but was delighted to go along anyhow]. Amongst the many fun activities we took part in, each night we were treated to catered dinners by various private dining companies. This was something I’d never experienced before but basically this meant that each evening, a little team of culinary geniuses arrived at the cottages, unpacked in the kitchen and then an hour or so later we enjoyed a tasty three course meal without shopping, preparing, cooking or cleaning up after ourselves, in the comfort of our own accommodation. It was bliss, and I can’t help but imagine what it must be like for the rich and famous who enjoy this kind of pampering every evening. I can’t say for sure, but I can’t think it’s something I would ever be bored of.
Private dining is fantastic for so many reasons – one of which is that you can actually hear your party members speak, instead of having to lurch halfway over the table to hear what they’re saying. Then there’s the other advantage that the chef is cooking specifically for you, and their attention is on your group solely. No risks of allergies, no wondering who is cooking your food and if they are washing their hands – because you can randomly pop into the kitchen and check! The final night that we experienced private dining, the chef was happy to let us watch him work. I felt a bit awkward taking photographs of him, but he was completely at ease with it. I half expected a Gordon Ramsay type explosion, but he was very calm and friendly and I picked up a tip or two watching him work. I only managed to capture photographs of the first two courses, salmon roulade [or goats’ cheese] starters and chicken in mushroom sauce main courses because I was daydreaming, drinking pink champagne from Mel’s family vineyard in France, and I managed to inhale the summer fruit trifle before I noticed I hadn’t in fact snapped it. Sorry, but it was that good. Not having to wash up afterwards and tidy away means that you tend to overindulge a little more than you would normally.
There are so many private dining companies available to cater for you I discovered – and I’m itching to try more, but of course this only works if you have a kitchen that can accomodate a chef and his little team. If you have one the size of mine, one in which you could put a foot on either side of the kitchen and not do the splits, you need to relocate your party somewhere larger for them to be able to create the dining magic for you. That’s where Square Meal come in.
Their website it is filled with party venues, wedding venues, restaurant recommendations and all kinds of sound foody advice. We used it this Christmas to book ourselves a little private dining party in London and it was surprisingly easy to do! If you’re hosting an event any time soon and need the pressure in the kitchen taken off, hop over to Square Meal UK and take a look! They have party venues all over the UK – perfect for those get togethers now we’re all able to meet up and enjoy company once again. They do all of the reviewing so that you don’t have to. So get out there, enjoy yourself – and don’t worry about the washing up!