A Perfect Night In With Club Sup
Heard of Club Sup yet? They're bringing back the good old fashioned dinner party and helping us to connect in a new post-covid era. Created, managed and executed by Sophie McIntyre, she's inviting strangers to connect over a home-cooked dinner. We spoke with her about what makes a good night in - be it with a room full of strangers, close friends, a partner or - in covid times - a cosy dinner for one.
The perfect night in means you’re not at a restaurant so there should be no pressure to make it one. In saying that, there are things you can to do to make it special, comforting and - above all else - welcoming. There is also nothing fun about being a slave to the kitchen and not being able to enjoy the people you’ve welcomed.
Use these steps to host the perfect night in...
1. THE MENU
For starters keep it simple – do a prawn cocktail (looks impressive but is max 3 steps). Purchase a few hundred grams of high quality jamon or tinned anchovies to serve with crusty bread and butter. Serve this abundantly on a big platter and you’re done. Recipe here.
Select a main that requires minimal technique or attention close to serving. I always go for schnitzels (cook before everyone gets there and keep warm in the oven) or a roast chicken (put on half an hour before everyone arrives) or a baked dish from leeks and orzo for the vegos. Outsource your sides if you want to entertain guests or just ensure they’re all simple and can be prepped beforehand up until dressing.
Buy dessert if you want – you’ve hosted and cooked dinner no one will care – Although if you must, a simple Chocolate Torte or Ricotta Semi Freddo packed with pistachios, candied citrus peel and shavings of chocolate (sounds hard but again its only 4 steps). Chocolate Torte recipe here.
2. THE MUSIC
Nearly as important as step 1. There needs to be a two pronged approach to this – Songs to cook to and songs to make friends to. I have made playlists for both.
3. THE TABLE
Dress up the table in whatever you want to make it feel special. I always go simple allowing the food to be the show stopper. A white table cloth, fresh flowers and candle sticks. There’s something about lighting candles and dimming the lights that automatically makes you feel something as well and adds the perfect layer of intimacy.
Good candle sticks - Find them here
A good platter - Find it here
Good glasses - Find them here
A good table cloth - Find it here
If you have a few guests, do a seating arrangement. Break up all couples sitting them on opposite ends of the table and avoid the natural gender split (the men at one end women at the other)
4. THE OUTFIT
If you’re having the perfect night in during freedom of course you should be getting dressed up to welcome guests. However if you find yourself confined to your home, GET DRESSED. No robes and no uggs. Put on an outfit you feel good in, wash your hair, shave or put on a touch of make-up. A simple trick that does wonders for your mental health.
5. THE DRINKS
Prep a cocktail for guests on arrival that could be made very easily or as a batch – the perfect G&T - then move into wines. I always work my way through light bubbles then onto a white, then into red. Always from Bud Of Love Wine Store – Farah will talk you through any wine purchase to accompany your menu.
6. THE CONVERSATION
They say money and politics are taboo for dinner party conversation, but I am adding covid and or lockdown to that list. Unless it’s absolutely needed – we are all aware of how and why it sucks, it’s time to switch off and onto the humans sitting around your table or coming to you live through zoom. Play a game, make a trivia about your friends or if you’re solo for the night, call your friends, get them in on the action and cook with them.
7. THE AQUA
Water is often forgotten at a dinner party as everyone is caught up in indulging in the food and wine. When hosting a dinner I alternate serving the wine and water, sticking to a ratio of 2 bottles of CAPI Sparkling/Still per person – When a bottle of wine is finished I go around and serve at least 2 bottles of water. Once mains are finished I dot a few bottles down the table, it works as the ultimate refreshment and prevents unwanted sore heads the next day.
8. THE CLEAN UP PARTY
There is literally nothing worse than waking up to the dishes and they do say “many hands make light work”. Bang on some tunes, pour everyone a last drink and get everyone on board to pack down and clean up then it’s time to say ‘bon voyage’, ‘have a nice night’, ‘see you later’, ‘lets do this again soon’
Words & Perfect Night In Tips By Sophie McIntyre, Club Sup