Why do we love to eat out? Dining outside the home has became one of the most, if not the most popular social activity, so popular in fact that American’s spend over $2,500 a year eating out.
No surprise that France was the birthplace of what we now call the “restaurant”, this happened toward the end of the 18th century. Paris had taverns which served food at large common tables, but they were crowded, noisy, dirty, and served food of suspicious quality.
Around 1765, a new kind of eating establishment, called a “Bouillon”, was opened on Rue des Poulies, near the Louvre, by a man named Boulanger. It had separate tables, a menu, and specialized in soups made with a base of meat and eggs, which were said to be restaurants. Other similar bouillons soon opened around Paris. Thanks to Boulanger and his imitators, these soups moved into a category of health food and ultimately ordinary food.
Shortly before the French Revolution in 1786, the first luxury restaurant in Paris, (called the Taverne Anglaise), was opened by Antoine Beauvilliers at the Palais-Royal. It had mahogany tables, linen tablecloths, chandeliers, well-dressed and trained waiters, a long wine list and an extensive menu of elaborately prepared and presented dishes.
In June 1786 the Provost of Paris issued a decree giving the new kind of eating establishment official status, authorizing restaurateurs to receive clients and to offer them meals until eleven in the evening in winter and midnight in summer. A rival restaurant was started in 1791 which offered a wine list with twenty-two choices of red wine and twenty-seven of white wine.
In the United States, it was not until the late 18th century that establishments (that provided meals without also providing lodging) began to appear in major metropolitan areas in the form of coffee and oyster houses. The actual term “restaurant” did not become common until the 19th century. Prior to being referred to as “restaurants” these eating establishments had names such as “eating house” in New York City, “restorator” in Boston, or “victualing house” in other areas. Restaurants were typically located in urban areas during the 19th century and grew in the mid-century due to a more affluent middle class and suburbanization.
Fine dining these days usually requires a reservation, a nice outfit, (maybe a jacket and tie) and an escort to a private table. We plan in advance for these occasions and look forward to them.
But eating out doesn’t always mean we go for the food, sometimes we go for the atmosphere, sometimes we go because people know us there or we want to dine with a large group of people, and yes sometimes just because we want to be served.
Being raised as the daughter of a French Chef, I thoroughly enjoy fine dining, mainly for the atmosphere and ambiance of a restaurant. I don’t enjoy restaurants that are loud and crowded. I also don’t like being seated next to the kitchen or the bathroom. Fine Dining for me is way more about the setting than the food. Of course there are times, I’m all about the food, and for those times a drive thru suites me just fine.
Dining at home can and should be enjoyed as much as dining outside the home. That is why we have formal dining rooms in our homes that we use for special occasions or when guests visit.
Informal dining at home is a causal meal with our family in a setting such as our kitchen. Often times, we eat around the kitchen island or at the kitchen table. But one of my all time favorite places to dine…is in front of a fireplace!
Yes I am that one who asks the maitre’d to be seated in front of the fireplace if it is available. If I am making a reservation beforehand, I will put in the comment box for a quiet table in front of the fireplace. What is it about dining in front of fire that makes it so appealing, romantic and sought after?
I created such a setting in our home, a dining table in front of our kitchen fireplace. I started by moving our settee into the family room to make space for the table. I ordered an inexpensive 48″ round table HERE. The table can fold easily and be stored in a closet, under a bed…anywhere. I also purchased an inexpensive black tablecloth for the table HERE.
Using our kitchen chairs, I set a romantic table for two.
Everything I used for the table were items I already owned…except the flowers. I pulled out my favorite Waterford wine glasses HERE and stemware.
I love fresh flowers at home and try to keep them on hand as much as possible.
An ice bucket with our favorite champagne and a strawberry dessert are perfect for the setting.
I pulled out the crystal glasses….
And used our every “other day” dishes on the table. These are extra dishes we own but don’t use everyday 🙂
We do use these deep cereal bowls for everyday use, they were a great find at Target HERE.
It’s such a quaint spot and the table fits perfectly in the space.
We will enjoy many intimate meals in our new spot..in front of the fireplace.
Is there a spot in your home where you could set up a quaint table for two? Any corner or space that you don’t ordinarily use for dining would work. Why? Because it’s fun to create new, different, and exciting spaces in our homes that we don’t use everyday…just sometimes.