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As someone who hosts dinner parties on the regular I can tell you it is no small endeavor. There’s the pre-planning and the to-do list and the shopping, the food prep, the actual cooking, the cocktail mixing and the wine pairing. Oh, and don’t forget the clean-up, which you have to do the next day when you’re so hungover you can’t even fully open your eyes, a hangover that is the result from drinking too much to dissolve the stress of having to plan a dinner party in the first place. But a dinner party is a welcome change from visiting your same old neighborhood restaurant for the millionth time. If only you could organize a dinner party without all the time, money and hassle…

Turns out, you can. Eatwith allows you have a dinner party in someone else’s house. They do all the work and you just show up, eat, drink, hang and then Uber home before the clean up begins.

You begin by signing into the Eatwith site and entering a location in the search box. It could be where you live, where you are going on vacation next week or where you want to visit. All of the available dinner parties in the location you selected will pop up, with details about the venue, date, cuisine, and menu. Many cater to dietary restrictions, allow you to have input in the menu, and they either serve alcohol or are BYOB. You can buy tickets for just two people or a whole group of people – so you are essentially having a catered dinner party for your friends, no work involved. Or, if you are new in town or travelling and want to meet some locals, get one ticket, go alone and start socializing. If the available dinners and dates don’t work for you, it is possible to request a dinner on a date that works for you, with a chef of your choice, through the same process.

 

I went to a Eatwith dinner party in Vienna, VA where the host, Leigh Scott, held a four-course vegan dinner called “A Vegan Version of American Summertime Favorites”. My husband and I arrived, and were greeted by a glass of wine. Clearly, things were off to a good start. Our host asked us to participate in an ice breaker which forced us to get information from other guests about their professions. If you don’t like talking to strangers, don’t go to an Eatwith dinner where there will be other guests. Purchase a dinner just for two, or get your friends to buy all of the tickets so its a party for just your friends.

I like games (yes I am a nerd) and as my sister says, I talk so much that even if there isn’t anyone to talk to I’ll just talk to myself, so mingling with strangers is fine with me. After drinking several glasses of wine and becoming besties with one of the guests who was a Spanish teacher, with whom I practiced my Spanish but only once I was much drunker, we were seated in assigned seats with decorated name tags, which the nerd in me loved, and our meal kicked off.

A bright, seasonal tomato gazpacho was followed by a trio of BBQ dishes – carrot hot dogs marinated in liquid smoke, creamy potato salad, and baked beans that had been cooking in the oven for six hours. The food and presentation were awesome, and our wine glasses were never empty, the key to any good dinner. Black bean brownies ended the meal, and we were given breakfast scones to go. The chef was super friendly and shared her recipes after the party.

 

Eatwith is a super fun idea. If you like meeting new people, or want to organize an at-home dining experience with a group of your friends, its ideal because there is no work involved, it’s casual and it’s cheap. Our dinner, which included wine, was only $24 a person. Frankly, $24 for a four course menu is a steal even if there is no wine. With wine included I felt like I was stealing from them. It’s especially great if you are looking for something different. Of course, there is no guarantee as to the quality of the food, though most chef have reviews you can read. You’ve been to your favorite restaurant 100 times, but you’ve probably never been to some random person’s house for a dinner party – reason enough to try it out.

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