While nothing can replace the thrill of a restaurant date night, virtual dinner dates are a great way to make a connection until we can meet in person. Whether you’re getting to know someone new, or lockdown means you’re separated from your partner, a virtual dinner is a fun way to break the ice or reconnect. It’s important to set the mood, so put your phone on silent, adjust the lighting, and swap your pyjamas for a slick of lipstick or your favourite shirt.
Now it’s time to focus on what’s really important: the food. This isn’t the time to show off your cooking skills, so you can get your takeaway plans sorted ahead of time. Here’s our tongue-in-cheek guide to the top takeaways to eat on a virtual date, plus a few you should avoid.
Finger food – Ditch noisy cutlery and assemble a grazing platter that you can pick at while you chat. Order a selection of cheese and charcuterie, olives, chips, or dumplings, but avoid anything that will leave you with sticky fingers – we’re looking at you, chicken wings.
Pizza – The ultimate hand-to-mouth food. No surprises, no cutlery required. Unless you go for deep dish or extra cheese, it’s mess-free and easy to grab a bite while your date is talking. Plus, if the date doesn’t go well, at least you have pizza.
Sushi – Another great option that’s easy to eat but also makes you seem sophisticated and adventurous. If you’re not great with chopsticks, skip the sashimi and stick to nigiri and maki rolls that you can eat with your fingers. Throw in some edamame and tempura prawns and you’ve got yourself a feast.
Bowl food – Your date deserves your undivided attention, so avoid food that requires a lot of assembly or knife-and-fork action. Anything you can scoop from bowl to face is a winner. Think risotto and pasta, a poke bowl, or curry – Thai, Indian, or katsu, you decide.
Garlic – With no kissing on the cards, this is one date where you can go crazy with the garlic, onions, eggs, and anything else that might normally offend. Cheesy garlic bread? Absolutely. Anchovies? Go wild!
A signature drink – Not only will it steady your nerves, but showing off a cocktail that you love to make or a wine you’re particularly fond of is a great ice-breaker. You could even send your date a cocktail kit before the date so they can join in, or a selection of wines for an informal tasting. Just make sure you’re drinking water as well – sleepy or slurring is not the look we’re going for.
Dessert – Skip the main event and go straight for the good stuff, like freshly baked cookies, brownies, or an ice-cream sundae. No matter what kind of day you’ve had, an indulgent dessert is guaranteed to put a smile on your face and lift your mood in time for your date.
Anything messy or massive – If it’s early days, you might not want your date to see you tackling a double cheeseburger or a mustard-covered hot dog. Anything that requires a stack of napkins and a nap afterwards is probably best eaten alone, for now. Of course, if you’re FaceTiming your long-time love, this rule no longer applies. They’ve probably seen you unhinge your jaw to eat a burger before.
Noodles / Spaghetti – Sure, it looked cute in Lady and The Tramp, but unless your spaghetti twirling skills are on point, you could end up with sauce on your face, shirt, or screen! Stick to short pasta shapes that are easy to jab with a fork. The same goes for pho and ramen – your date doesn’t need to hear you sucking up noodles or slurping broth.
Spinach / Seeds – Just like a real date, it’s best to avoid anything that might get stuck in your teeth. Having to excuse yourself to go and floss is an instant mood-killer.
Spicy food – A spicy meal is a risky move for a first date. Even if you can handle the heat, you could end up red-faced and sweaty, or be too busy chugging water to focus on being charming. Unless you’re a serious chilli fiend, save those jalapeños for another time.
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