How I've missed that 'spruced up' feeling of slipping on my smartest shirt while looking forward to a posh dinner date with the wife.
Many of us long for a return to those times, but for now restaurants remain firmly shut as the country fights the seemingly endless battle against Covid-19.
Light at the end of the tunnel maybe, but in the meantime businesses have turned to innovation by discovering alternative ways to generate income.
For the past 12 months that has certainly been the case for Hampton Manor, near Solihull in the West Midlands, who have taken the 'takeaway' experience to a new level by using its Michelin star restaurant Peels as the driving force of its success.
'Peels on Wheels' is the Manor's 'doorstep' approach to fine dining, not just during lockdown, but as a service for people who can't always get out and just want to treat themselves to a bit of posh nosh at home. And it's proved so popular they've now rolled it out nationally!
Our 'Peels on Wheels' food box was delivered around midday while I was beavering away the final few hours of work with the excitement of 'date night' starting to build.
The ingredients are clearly marked, but before you start to panic about what cooking needs to be done, fear not. There's nothing you need to do from scratch as all the intricate 'prep' work has been done for you. Just set your cooker to the correct timings and temperatures by using the instructions provided and ‘Bob's your uncle'.
Though we were dining at home, it felt fitting to mark the occasion by cracking open our finest bottle of plonk and dress accordingly, which was the least this Michelin star treat deserved.
First up was the 'snack' course - a cheese cracker with a Berkswell cheese puree packed full of flavour, topped with pickled shallots. A tasty, but delicate way to start.
Next it was all about the bread - a crispy sourdough loaf to be precise - which was soon consumed after warming with a generous lathering of cultured butter.
The fish course was mackerel - my favourite - which came with a magnificent smoked mousse and finished off with cucumber, buttermilk, oil and a crumb.
It felt like being at a top class restaurant, bringing back fond memories of some of our finest dining experiences in times gone by.
It was also the first time our kitchen had ever seen duck. After a few minutes under the grill to crisp the skin as per instructions, what appeared as the end result was perfection.
Cooked medium rare, it was so moist and tender and complemented brilliantly by the parsnip, pickled walnut and braised white cabbage accompaniments.
'Cheese on toast' - a well-known Peels favourite - was an indulgent mix of Colston Basset blue cheese with fruit and nut toast served with a grape and apple chutney.
Finally, after sprinkling on some chocolate shards and a crunch, it was time for the heavenly 'Tiramisu' dessert, which came with a boozy Tia Maria caramel and cream. And no Michelin star meal would be complete without the petit fours - a melt-in-the-mouth salted peanut fudge.
An absolute triumph, and proof that Hampton Manor has again demonstrated its forward-thinking approach by finding a unique way to showcase the wonderful flavours of Peels.
It's not just about convenience because this is so much more than just a 'takeaway'. Just purchase your delicious package of joy, add a sprinkle of romance and a sense of occasion and you've got the ultimate stay-at-home date night. Highly recommended.
PEELS ON WHEELS FACTFILE
Delivery: Order by Sunday before delivery. Delivered every Friday. Local delivery £7.50 and national delivery throughout UK £16
Pricing: Three courses plus bread, snack and petit four – £43 for vegetarian, £45 for meat, optional extra cheese course £8, cocktail for two to four people £18 and wines from £15. Valentine's (and special occasions eg. Mother's Day) - four-course menu plus bread, snack and petit four: £80