“ TV lifestyle / cooking show currently showing on Virgin1 Freeview channel „
Restaurant in our living room is a show where the title pretty much tells you what the show is about. There are two couples in each show competing against each other to win. The idea is that each couple is given a sum of money to turn their home into a restaurant for one night and make as much money as they can. They decide what to cook and how they want to do things. The only rules are that they must have 3 courses, select a number of guests that they can serve and collect the money by 10.30pm (sometimes 11pm).
I have watched this from the beginning when it started earlier this year. It is very entertaining and one of my favourite shows. I love seeing other people's homes and what they are going to cook for everyone. There has been some real variety on this show. Some people have cooked traditional English dishes whilst others have cooked more exotic cuisines from other countries such as Greece and Cyprus.
This show reminds me a bit of come dine with me, in that you see around people's homes and what they are really like. It always makes me laugh because at the beginning the couple's are always full of it and say that they can't go wrong etc etc. Cut to half way through and they are stressed out and seem to struggle to cope.
They did a celebrity restaurant in our living room a few months ago which was very good and very insightful as we saw Vanessa feltz looking less than cool when cooking for a room full of people. It was very strange to see her in what I can only assume is what she is really like when under pressure, it was certainly different to the person I thought she was!
The one thing that does always stick out with to me is that the couples either seem to spend their money very well and wisely or very poorly. I mean, if you were going to appear on a show like this, surely you would have an idea of what you would want to cook and how you could get all of your at the cheapest possible price in order to make a bigger profit.
I love this show and as I said in some of my other reviews for cookery shows, I love anything to do with cooking and particularly if you also get to see around other peoples houses and what they're like with their friends and family etc
In a rather more interesting style than some of the generic restaurant programmes we are used to, this programme, shown on Virgin's freeview channel, seeks to turn people's homes into a new wave and style of restaurant. It has a quirky idea of taking two couples each week and getting them to invite people to eat in their own home.
So, how does this work? Well, first of all, it's a competition, with the prize each week being a 5 star hotel retreat for two, somewhere really swanky and nice, often abroad. Each couple must turn their own home into a restaurant, decide on their menus, how they're going to organise their seating, themes, and then send out the invites. They have a budget of £400 to buy the food, then they must cook and serve to however many guests they think they can successfully serve, with those guests then leaving what they think they would pay for the dining experience.
Quite simply, the couple with the most money at the end of the night wins. You can get some diners who love it and happily put £15 or £20 per head into the box, and some even refuse, if they really think it's been rubbish. The latter is rare, though, and the majority of the time, the people all put something decent in it.
Styles can vary, and people have pushed the boundaries to come up with some fantastic ideas. Some have operated it like a drive-in with people served in their cars, while most have played it safe and made room inside their homes. Playing it safe has also seen some success, and shows that you don't have to be wacky and innovative to win the show. One couiple won purely by cramming as many people in as possible, forewarning them that there would be a time limit at the table as they were getting two sittings in for the evening.
All of these attempts ultimately put pressure on the couple, and while they are allowed to get help from friends, etc, they still have to deliver the service and the food to get the people to pay. It is quite interesting to see the interaction between the couples and how they respond under pressure. Quite often, I sit there watching the TV screaming (in my head) that they're about to really mess it up. Other times I see what they do with some of food and cringe. However, most of the time, they get everything done surprisingly well. They obviously put a lot of time and effort into it, and don't wander into the competition half-heartedly.
The show is a joy to watch. No doubt the novelty value will wear off before long, and the show will have to rely on switching it to a celebrity format instead, with celebs trying to make as much money for charity as possible, such is the potentially limited longevity of the consumer market for regular peeps. Aside from that, I think it's a great idea, and whenever I can catch it, I will. It usually airs on a Thursday, and is repeated a couple of times throughout the week. Recommended.
Following on from the current craze for food related programmes on all television channels, Virgin 1 have come up with the concept of Restaurant in our living room, a lowbrow contender to Come Dine with me's crown as the reality television cooking programme du jour.
The basic concept is that two couples have the challenge of setting up a restaurant in their living room for one night only, each has to come up with a menu, purchase food within their budget of £400 and then the team who make the most money over the evening will win the prize of a gourmet break in a 5 star hotel somewhere in Europe.
In terms of who makes the most money the couples have to consider how many diners they are catering for, will they have one or two sittings, will their menu allow them to do this? There is actually a reasonable amount of thought going into this.
Once the couples have met, purchased their ingredients and advised the other of their menus they then set down to the business of cooking and catering for the guests in their homes.
So far i've seen about three episodes, i've watched two sisters create an Indian themed evening in a marquee in their garden with curry and Indian dancers, this seemed well thought out as the curry could be prepared in advance and made for a relatively stress free evening. Other couples have gone for the concept of a hog roast in their garden with guests sat in their car being serenaded by a Michael Buble lookalike.
Other highlights have included a couple who prepared everything in advance and microwaved their meals and a woman who did a wonderful rustic menu.
The show is interesting and the guests who eat have the option of how much they feel their meal is worth and they pay accordingly, therefore the more they spend the more chance the couple has of winning, i've no idea where the diners are found or how some people have the front to pay a few quid for something which looked amazing, but it makes for a good concept and sometimes the amateur chefs have some interesting set-to's with the guests, with one claiming he had glass in his meal and another complaining that his food didn't look as good as others. I'm not sure where they find the guests but they're an interesting bunch and the chefs and partners can range from blokes who think its as easy as it looks on tv, to really talented home cooks.
The show is cheap and cheerful and well commentated by Robert Webb of Peep Show fame, its funny and very watchable, but has a real cheapness to it.
'Restaurant in my living room'....'Restaurant in your living room'... I find it difficult to remember exactly what this programme, currently showing for an hour on Thursday nights on the Virgin1 Freeview channel (and then repeated multiple times starting between 8 and 9pm all through the week) is actually called - which is a pity, because the concept of the contest is quite concisely summarized by the series' title (whatever that is).
So, in 'Restaurant in our living room' people who live together - usually a couple, or members of the same family, or housemates sharing accommodation - set up a temporary restaurant at their house for one night and then cook meals for strangers, who, after their meal, put money into an 'honesty box' to pay the hosts whatever they think their dining experience was worth. Each week two teams compete against each other to find out who's run the most profitable home restaurant...this being judged on the honesty-box takings, and whoever's won gets awarded a "gastronomic treat" - which on the whole, doesn't actually sound like all that great of a prize to me (last week's 'treat' was a meal for two at a gourmet restaurant in Dublin). It seems that the entrants also get to keep the night's takings from their one-off restaurant; the least the programme makers could do, as there doesn't seem to be a food budget allocated to the contestants on this show.
The show in format and content appears to be a fairly faithful imitation (and potentially, attempt to cash in on the popularity of) the very successful Channel 4 programme 'Come Dine With Me'; as in CDWM there is even a sarky-voiced comedian-type doing a voice-over narration of each episode's events. In 'Restaurant in our living room' they've got the gingery-haired one from the comedy series 'Peep Show' delivering the running commentary - though you can tell his heart isn't really in it. The programme is mildly entertaining enough - again in a half-hearted sort of way, but there are a few problems with the format: firstly it's interrupted by far too many, over-long ad breaks, which makes it tricky for viewers to have time to get really interested in the contestants, and as the programme is only an hour long (including the many lengthy commercial breaks) this makes the coverage of the restaurant proceedings themselves seem a bit rushed. Unlike 'Come Dine With Me,' where a lot of the entertainment value comes from seeing a group of complete strangers failing to get on with one another over a series of dinner parties hosted over a week, in 'Restaurant in our living room' all the action takes place over one night, and as the hosts /contestants spend much of this time cooking in the kitchen, opportunities for them to interact properly with the other competitors or even their own (often, potentially quite obnoxious) dinner guests are severely limited. And as one of the high points of the show is seeing some of these dinner guests trying to justify on camera their refusal to pay / pay a decent price for the dinner they've just eaten, this comes across as something of a wasted opportunity.
It's also interesting at the 'paying for the dinner' stage to see what members of the general British public think that meals eaten out at a restaurant should approximately cost. It's telling, given that the Nation's favourite restaurant always turns out to be some sort of curry, that one recent competition featuring an Asian-themed meal was one of the few episodes where almost everyone who'd eaten that particular dinner knew or thought they knew approximately how much they ought to be paying for it (this was about £25 - 30 per head - whether or not they were all generous enough to actually cough up this amount at the end of the evening). For living-room restaurants featuring other food types and cuisines the range of prices people think they should pay tends to be much more widely spread.
On the Virgin 1 website for the show there appear to be details on current 'Restaurant in our living room' events being held throughout the country, for people who want to be involved in future shows.