Lockdown might be easing – you can now host a socially-distanced gathering of six people in your garden, which is a relief – but being able to book a table and eat dinner in a restaurant still feels a long way off.
And even once it is sanctioned, new health and safety guidelines could mean going out for food won't look and feel the way it used to. We're still desperate to do it, though.
Here are just a few reasons why we're craving restaurants more than ever…
1. Someone else comes up with the menu
Lockdown has become one endless game of Ready, Steady, Cook. Trying to rustle up meal after meal after meal from whatever you grabbed on the last weekly, stressful, socially-distanced dash around the supermarket, has become exhausting. You've just sorted dinner, and it's suddenly breakfast again, and your family members are ungratefully asking for something other than toast. To have a list of options and choices, for you all to be able to eat different things – but together, at the same time – cooked by a professional, that you can just point at and then it arrives, seems like utopia.
2. And someone else washes up
If you have to stack the dishwasher, or wash up, one more time…
3. It'd be nice to be able to see your mates without having to BBQ in the rain
It's still only the beginning of June, BBQ season is still in its early days, but you'd trade a rainy, socially-distanced barbie for dinner in a bricks and mortar restaurant in a second. Even faster if it came with a cocktail menu, too.
4. No matter how hard you've tried, it's impossible to recreate your favourite dishes at home
Sure, you can have a good go at the ramen from your local Japanese restaurant, or a herbed rack of lamb from that gastro pub you love, but will it really be as good as the original? Nope. Don't kid yourself.
5. You miss being asked something as simple as, 'Still or sparkling?'
What an absolute luxury that was. It's been 'tap' on a loop for months and months now.
6. Napkins have become a thing of the past
A square of kitchen roll doesn't quite cut it. Same goes for someone offering to take your coat. Or bringing you a basket of bread. And remember how we took for granted being given a chocolate or mint with the bill? You'd give anything for such a thoughtful, edible gesture now.
7. Not being able to support your local restaurants is tough
Walking past your favourite restaurant all boarded up and sad looking is really upsetting, especially if the team you're so used to seeing hasn't been able to offer takeout, so you can't even support them that way. Spotting the shuttered windows of a joint you'd always meant to visit, but had never gotten around to, is just as galling. What if it's unable to reopen?
8. Takeaways are actually making you miss restaurants even more
Being able to order takeout from restaurants you'd normally sit in, can oddly increase your longing for the physical act of going there in person. Picking a seat, being indecisive over the menu, people-watching through the window, spilling your water, saying, 'Go on then, one more won't hurt', when the server asks if you want a bottle of wine – this stuff matters. Unpacking tubs and eating off your own plates is good, but offers only a fraction of the joy of the real experience (however happy you are to at least be eating restaurant-standard food).
9. You could really do with a proper pudding
And are utterly sick of the kids yelling: 'FRUIT ISN'T PUDDING'. What you'd give for your local pub's sticky toffee pud drenched in custard, a chocolate fondant all oozy in the middle, or a cheesecake that hasn't come from the chiller section of the supermarket.
10. There's a special buzz in a restaurant
It's not just the extravagance of being cooked for that makes restaurants so wonderful, it's the whole experience. The perfect mood lighting, the atmospheric chatter, the joy of having a starter, main AND dessert, the treat of being taken care of – it's delicious, far beyond the food alone.
11. Splitting the bill
Yep, you even miss arguing over who had more wine, who didn't have dessert and getting your phone calculators out. Oh, to split the bill, and then be able to hug each other goodbye on the way out…