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How to dine out deliciously in your own home

Cooking is one of my favourite things to do. But like most home chefs—even the most enthusiastic— I sometimes want to eat something I don’t have to make myself. I just want a quick break, and to be inspired by new flavours, techniques, or ingredients. Growing up as a boomer, that has always meant dining out. Sure there was delivery, but it was mostly pizza. Which certainly, btw, has played a role in my family’s diet. But it’s a distant cousin of restaurant dining.

Dine out with delivery

Imagine my surprise—and delight—when my kids introduced me a few years ago to a world in which you could order ALL SORTS of food from ALL SORTS OF CUISINES, for pick-up or delivery—with your phone.

I suppose that Kitchen Hub is simply the next logical step in this direction. It’s a virtual food hall that allows you to order ALL SORTS of food from ALL SORTS OF CUISINES, either for neighbourhood delivery or pick-up, from one central location.  Which means two things for me. One, I don’t have to go out to get delicious food prepared by someone else. Two, for a family gathering, everyone can have exactly what they want, from a variety of restos.

Kitchen Hub kindly gifted me a dinner to try the service out. I used it to hold a family get together between the Man of the House, me, our twenty-something son James and his partner Arasteh (@herhealthful). I wanted the evening to be stress-free and fun for everyone. But I also wanted to put a l little effort in, as a way of honouring the visit.

Here’s how I got ready.

My dine out at home to-do list

Tidied up, dusted and vacuumed our small main floor, and turned the air cleaner/humidifier on. Put out fresh soap and linens in powder room.

Figuring that we would have been spending less than a night on the town, I blew part of the difference on flowers from a local florist.

beautiful bouquet of pink and white roses
TIP: Save party flowers to use in dry arrangements.

Made place cards out of folded pages from The New Yorker desk calendar James gave me for Christmas. This was partly to remind me to tell him how much pleasure it has given me over a rather bleak winter.

We had a giggle reading and sharing The New Yorker cartoons

I could have ordered bevvies from Kitchen Hub—there’s a wide variety, including healthy juices. Instead, I opted to handle those myself. I bought a not-too-expensive Chablis, and a few festive non-alcoholic options. Read about those here.

When it came to ordering, there’s a few ways of doing things, which is part of the appeal. We each picked a main, and then decided on a few apps to share.

Our order included a spicy curry and stir-fry from Pai,  as well as some of their spring rolls for apps. Choices from Gusto included a mushroom pizza and two excellent salads. My fave was Misticanza—little Jem, arugula, carrot, cucumber, cherry tomato, goat cheese, and candied walnuts in a balsamic vinaigrette. Next time I’d order the burrata and house-made bread. cheese, lettuce, onion, fried jalapenos, and house sauce. Obviously, we ordered fries—like d’uh.

I looked hard at a True Roots Bowl from Impact Kitchen, because I love the inventive mix of kale, quinoa, broccoli, sweet potato, heirloom carrots, parsnips, dried cranberries, feta, pistachios, mint, and Moroccan dressing. Next time.

For folks who don’t to share, it’s just as easy to order separately and ensure everyone gets just what they.

A delicious desert theme

I took charge of ordering dessert—keeping in mind that it’s a course my family tends to swap and sample. But I did stick with a theme—cheesecake, choosing options from Carole’s Cheesecake and the Cheesecake Factory Bakery. This time, we shared while still at the table. Afterwards it occurred to me that you could order items that are easier to eat by hand—say, brownies or cookies from Impact Kitchen, or single-serve ice cream from Kawartha Dairy—to enjoy while watching an after-dinner movie or playing cards.

We would have spent under $200 for the four of us, with enough food to satisfy everyone’s hunger and send the kids home with leftovers to serve as a lunch for one the next day. And there we no parking fees or hassles with subways delays or closures.

So I got a break from cooking, enjoyed new-to-me flavours, and didn’t have to leave the house or do the dishes. I’m really starting to like what I’ve come to call “eating out at home.”

For more on Kitchen Hub, read my POST Media column.

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