*This post was written in collaboration with Square Meal.
As a food blogger, you can imagine one of the hardest things about the Coronavirus lockdown for me has been that the simple pleasure of eating out has been taken away from me. I have had the luxury of having a very well-stocked fridge during the lockdown and I have also enjoyed cooking more and sharing my favourite recipes with you. But now that restaurants are slowly but surely starting to reopen, I wanted to share a few tips with you on how to get the best out of your experience dining out with the “new normal”.
Take advantage of “Eat Out to Help Out”
I’ve been out a couple of times since the governments “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme started and I can honestly tell you that I am amazed by the discount. The basics of it are you can get 50% off of your meal and soft drinks Monday to Wednesday, up to £10. The fact that it is capped at £10 makes it seem like you don’t get a great discount, but it honestly makes such a difference to your final deal. The other day I got a curry, some chips on the side and a pint of Pepsi and it came to £8. This scheme is aimed at getting the economy going again so you are doing your bit for society as well.
Read up on the rules before you go
A lot of the restaurants local to me have updated their websites to let customers know what changes have been made post-pandemic. The majority of people look up the menu before they go to eat out anyway, so this is just like a little addition to doing that. If you can take the time to learn about any additional rules like one way systems or new opening hours, it will take a lot of stress out of your first visit back to somewhere you like. Preparation is always key.
Use booking services
Restaurant booking services are about to become your new best friend. Now that space is so limited, it’s highly unlikely you are going to be able to get a table anywhere off the cuff, especially during the “Eat out to Help Out” days. If you use an online service like squaremeal you can book quite far in advance. Now that people are starting to look forward and book venues for things like Christmas or special occasions in 2021 when things are a bit more settled, an online booking service can help you with availability and also give you other very important information about the venue. Recently, due to all that is going on, squaremeal have started to add hygiene ratings to their restaurant pages.
2020 has been the year the world changed forever. It can be a daunting thought getting back out there after lockdown, but it is worth remembering that things WILL go back to normal. Having a birthday celebration or a wedding to plan and look forward to is a great way to cheer yourself up.