2020 has certainly been eventful, and the last few months have brought about many challenges for us all. We’ve been rather fortunate that neither of us have been furloughed, although we have both been working from home for over four months now. This has naturally meant very little time spent out and about, even as lockdown restrictions have eased across the island of Ireland.
As society starts to return to some sort of normality, and households across the country begin to plan for the remainder of the year, we thought we’d share some thoughts on eating out in a post lockdown era. With the threat of Covid still hanging over, going out for food and drink, and socialising with friends and family is going to take some time to return to normal, so while we continue to adjust, here is four things you may want to consider when it comes to dining out post lockdown.
1. Do Your Research
Hotels, bars and restaurants are beginning to open their doors once more, and for everyone this means big change! Visiting your local for a pint on a Friday or stopping by your favourite restaurant for a meal may not be as straight forward as it once was.
With restriction on numbers and many new guidelines to follow, it’s important to do your research before booking a table to a restaurant in town. We’ve been out once since Lockdown ended and this was to a local bar in Newcastle. This required us booking a table in advance and we only had a limited time in the bar so while the meal was very enjoyable, you don’t necessarily have the same freedom as you would have had 6-12 months ago.
So if you are planning on venturing out for a meal, be sure to do your research online or check out the bar/restaurants social media pages or website if they have one, for more information on how they are dealing with Covid and the restrictions they have in place. Or alternatively, you can lift the phone and have a conversation – having been locked in the house for a few months, it’s good to talk!
The following resources are worth checking out if you’re planning on dining out over the coming weeks and months.
2. Check Hygiene Ratings
While hygiene ratings are important when it comes to eating out, or even buying food from local shops, they are likely something which are often overlooked. The scores on the doors are displayed on over 16,000 eateries in Northern Ireland alone, with the scores easily found online at https://ratings.food.gov.uk/search-a-local-authority-area/en-gb/Northern%2BIreland.
From here you can search the names of your favourite bars and restaurants to see what their hygiene score is. With hygiene so important in the battle against Covid-19, it’s worth taking the time to ensure you’re eating in a place with the highest standard of hygiene. Our recommendation would be to only dine in places with a 5 star hygiene rating, and even then be sure to take precaution when in the restaurant.
Websites like Just Eat and Squaremeal.ie will also display hygiene scores for restaurants, whether you are looking to get food delivered, or simply planning a meal at your favourite restaurant.
3. Enjoy The Great Outdoors
One solution that many people are turning to in a bid to ensure adequate social distancing is al fresco dining. This outdoor dining is becoming particularly popular in the summer months and is helping bars and restaurants expand their dining capacities, and in some cases, delivery an entirely new dining experience for guests.
We’ve come across a few examples of this in action and it can be a great way to enjoy a night out with a large group of friends and family, but still ensuring you adhere to social distancing measures.
We’ve recently come across squaremeal, who offer a wide range of options from booking a restaurant to even trying your hand at some restaurant inspired recipes! But it’s their private and group dining options that stand out at the moment – a great way to have a long overdue catch up with friends and family and laugh about those endless Zoom calls and quizzes you’ve endured over the recent months.
4. Bring the Restaurant to Your Home
And staying with restaurant inspired recipes like those you can find at squaremeal.ie, our last tip is to bring the restaurant to your home. Again, this can be done by a private dining experience where your get a chef to come to your home.
Or alternatively, you can opt to enjoy restaurant quality meals as a takeaway option at home. This was something many bars and restaurants in our home town of Newcastle offered during the Covid lockdown, and we continue to see them still offer this takeaway option. It’s a great way to enjoy your favourite restaurant’s tastes and flavours, but do so from the comfort of your own home.
Not everyone is ready to go out and wine and dine in public, so check the website or social media pages of your favourite local restaurants to see if they are still providing a takeaway option. Some may have a more streamlined option than they did during lockdown, but with many eateries benefiting from the public demand for their food during lockdown, you can still enjoy some great deals for restaurant quality food delivered straight to your door.
After all, in 2020, one thing that we can all agree on is that eating in has become the new eating out!
Got Something to Add?
Have you visited a pub, restaurant or hotel since lockdown has ended? Do you have any additional tips to share? Let us know your top tips to post lockdown dining in the comments below.
Until next time, stay alert, stay safe, and save lives.
Nial, Helen & Lewis.