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outside dining

how often do you eat outside at home? do you have an outdoor entertaining area?

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  1. i have an outside entertaining area, but i don't use it for dining since, personally, i much prefer dining inside.

    4 Replies
    1. re: westsidegal

      Me too, I always am on edge when dining outside - either the weather or the bugs

      1. re: fldhkybnva

        See I se all these beautiful houses and these shows where they set the tables outside and all I can think is bugggggggs.

        we have a lovely back yard and i eat breakfast out there a lot and we entertain there a alto but dad always has a guy come spray two hours before the party and then it is like a count down hoping it lasts.....

        1. re: girloftheworld

          I seem to be a magnet for mosquitos especially. They attack me and everyone else walks away unscathed wondering why I keep complaining about bugs :)

          1. re: fldhkybnva

            bugs, AND
            somehow, the food temperature of meals taken/served outside is never right.
            hot food quickly gets too.
            cold food quickly gets warm.

    2. I'm an apartment dweller, so my outdoor dining space is covered by the balcony upstairs (rather helpful if a light rain pops up). It is, quite frankly, one of the happiest places on earth as far as I am concerned. I love dining or having a drink surrounded by my little container garden.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Wahooty

        saw a special on English gardens and how some of them were on tiny flat balconies.... it was magical

        1. re: girloftheworld

          Yep, gardening on balconies is fairly common here. I've seen TV mentions of ones exclusively used for food production.

      2. almost never.............
        My mom was the promoter of cook out, eat in. No bugs, and air conditioning.
        That said, we have an outdoor kitchen and dining area off our main kitchen, and a second concrete area with grill, table and chairs within our swimming pool fence. our kids and their friends will eat outside.Wife and I will serve drinks, fruit, apps outside and around the pool.

        That said, we do host a couple of yearlybbqs/parties where the guests are served outside, but I tend to do my actual eating in the house.

        9 Replies
        1. re: bagelman01

          We have a similar setup in our new place here except no fence around the pool. We will serve snacks outside but most adults are more comfortable eating inside. The kids will eat anywhere.

          1. re: mucho gordo

            "we have an outdoor kitchen and dining area off our main kitchen"

            Ohh how nice.. does it include grills and range top?

            so many people have beautiful "outdoor living rooms here and necer use them..

            1. re: girloftheworld

              don't know about Mucho's setup, but our outdoor kitchen, has both gas and charcoal grills, a 4 burner range top, a gas oven, a brick pizza oven, 2 Thermador warming drawers, under counter fridge, freezer and icemaker.

              That said, Yes I live in New England, but I grill outdoors all year round, even in the snow.l We have 4 dogs who eat fresh meat off the grill and don't like it cooked inside on the stove or in the oven.
              Tonight, we had pizza for supper and I grilled boneless turkey thighs for the dogs all made outdoors. No heating up the house and driving up the air conditioning costs.

              1. re: bagelman01

                Ours isn't that elaborate. Does your outdoor kitchen have some sort of overhang or enclosure to keep it dry and somewhat warm?

                1. re: mucho gordo

                  No overhang. Local zoning officials won't let us have an overhang over 'live' cooking UNLESS we install vent hoods and fans-ridiculous.

                  1. re: bagelman01

                    That seems odd. If there were walls, there'd be an overhang or roof and, yes, venting would be required. However, since there are no walls, smoke and whatever can't accumulate. An overhang shouldn't be a problem for that reason. You're an attorney; file suit and get the law changed or amended. So, how do you keep everything dry and warm, especially in winter?

                    1. re: mucho gordo

                      Zoning is arbitrary and a bastion of local power. The only sucessful suits involve claims of discrimination. Zoning laws don't have to make sense.

                      When we had a condo (villa) in Boynton Beach there was a slider off the kitchen to a concrete pad for a bbq grill. The slider and back of the garage wall made an ell and the other two sides of the pad were open to the lawn. After one year wqe got a cease and desist letter from Palm Beach County (this was actually an unincorporated area at the time). Seems that two walls equal a "room" and zoning doesn't permit using a bbq in a room.

                      I don't keep everything dry and warm, I stand out there in rain, ice and snow, grilling.

                      1. re: bagelman01

                        You give new meaning to the phrase "grillin' and chillin' ". The elements can't be that good for the equipment.

                        1. re: mucho gordo

                          We do turn off the refrigearator, ice maker and freezer November 1 and drain the lines. I have stainless steel cover that bolt on to cover and protect them from the winter elements. It's not an issue with the grills and warming draweres and the cooktop has a sheet metal cover which is always closed when not in use. Already in use 7 years and no repairs needed.

        2. As much as the English weather will allow.
          Which is not much!

          1 Reply
          1. Floridians have it figured out. These screened areas are common in the Sunshine State.

            2 Replies
            1. re: PotatoHouse

              We stole the name for them from Hawai'i. Lanai. And some have complete cooking facilities, not just a grill.

              1. re: PotatoHouse

                I've seen those. They must be expensive to install, though, even though real estate is relatively cheap in FL. I do think a big screen like that would look weird here in New England and probably the neighbors would protest, so I guess I'll just risk West Nile, EEE, Lyme disease, babesiosis, and whatever new bug-borne illness crops up this year.

              2. I love to eat al fresco! We have a large grape arbor on one side of the house and we have a table and chairs set up underneath it. Great for lunches on hot summer days as the arbor provides shade.

                We also have a table set up on the lawn for evening dining. One of my favorite places to dine! Once we even had a young hummingbird visit us at the table. If you look closely you can see a blurry orange bird next to the flowers

                1 Reply
                1. I wish we could... SO bought the house new and all they gave him for a backyard is a concrete stoop with a couple steps down to the ground and dirt :) He has filled the dirt in with rocks (blech). The yard is also at a slope so having a flat patio would take some effort. We would like to build a deck but the cost of what we'd want is about $10,000. We also have a good size front porch where I have a bench and plants and want to add a small table so we can at least sit out there with drinks, but the view there is just of the neighborhood. The view from the backyard is of the Rocky Mountains :)

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: juliejulez

                    with the right neighboorss this could be entertaining,,,

                    mountain view in the back oooooohhhh

                  2. As much as we can from June to September. We have a screened in porch so bugs and rain are not an issue. The limits are Chicago's short season for all fresco dining (and that the porch gets filthy over the winter so it's not available until it gets cleaned which is a grimy job).

                    1. Yep, we have an outside dining area in one corner of the garden. It catches the evening sun.

                      Sun, eh? That's a laugh. I think we ate down there twice last year and not at all yet this year.

                      1. Yep, I love it. Have an ample deck which has our grill, 2 tables with seating for 16 (2 tables), 12 foot umbrella for main table, and outside dry bar with 2 stools. We do a lot of summer outdoor entertaining.

                        After a nice meal it's then off to the hammock for a food coma nap!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: jrvedivici

                          - See that is what what I want it sound so effortless.. just pop into the back yard... no waiting for it it get fogged and staying in the permeter like you are in a movie set...

                        2. I am thinking that responses to this question may have quite a bit to do with geography. I grew up in northern VA, and we used our deck often, mostly because my parents were thrifty and sometimes it was quite a bit cooler on the deck than in the house during parts of the year when one doesn't want to put on the A/C just because it gets steamy in the afternoon. But in July and August? Not likely - we enjoyed the view from indoors. Now I live in mid-Michigan, so my deck is usable from (in a good year) April through September. "Deck weather" or "patio weather" definitely have different definitions based on locale, as do the corresponding seasons.

                          I spent my cocktail hour out on the deck in direct sun today, and it was glorious. The bugs don't hit until the sun goes down, and that happens blessedly late in the Mitten. ;)

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Wahooty

                            It's definitely geographic. When my family lived in Northern CA, we ate outside all the time because we really didn't have a problem with mosquitos, and the yellow jackets weren't around until September. But here in MA, as soon as it's slightly warm, we have mosquitoes, and they are vicious and huge, so we have to be quick about it when we eat out.

                          2. For lunch, a lot. Dinner - not so much. My husband and I like to sit outside and have drinks in the evening. We have a patio and a screen porch, but tend to use the patio more.

                            1. As often as I can (both at restaurants and at home). We have a fabulous backyard with a large 12 person table that we on weekends when we have people over.

                              During the week we have a very large front porch where we eat all the time and wave to the neighbors as they walk by with their dogs. I live in a turn of the century mid-west neighborhood where front porches are everywhere.

                              1. As much as possible. We have a large, covered porch so rain doesn't deter us. We added overhead fans a few years back and even on the hottest days, the temp remains comfortable. Bugs aren't a problem for us, I don't really know why.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: cleobeach

                                  The fans probably help with bugs. Just a little breeze will keep mosquitoes away - it makes it difficult to land, and also disperses your scent so they have a hard time finding you.

                                  1. re: mpjmph

                                    we use the the sliced limes with cloves to keep flys away from the table it works pretty well,

                                2. When I lived in a house, I would walk out on my dock with a cup of coffee and fishing pole and watch the sunrise almost every morning. The snook and sea trout were an added bonus.

                                  The dock had a 10X24 foot T for entertaining. We also had a 20X30 foot deck on the back of the house with supposed mosquito repellant plants.

                                  And the above is why I did not return to Pittsburgh.

                                  1. We love to eat Dinner outside when weather permits. Either on the Deck ( upstairs/ no bugs) or at our other place at the pond, listening to the birds and watching turtles making tracks... :-)
                                    Happily our neighbor's property there changed hands for the better and annoying flies are a thing of the past. We can sit outside for hours.

                                    1. this time of year, as much as possible. lunch, snacks, dinner. I'll grab my nook and my food and head out. put the umbrella up so I don't burn myself and I'm good to go.

                                      1. I used to live in New England where you had to put on insect repellent if you wanted to eat outside. Now I live near San Diego and we have virtually no mosquitoes. I have my morning coffee on the front porch, afternoon coffee on the daybed in the backyard and dinner at the big table a few steps from the back door. (When friends come from the East Coast they have a hard time believing we can eat out without getting bit.)

                                        1. I cook and eat outside as much as possible too. I put several years of design and work into my set up and I am very happy with it.

                                          I have a covered outdoor kitchen with a wood fired pizza oven on one end, a large grill and separate burner, sink, fridge, storage and large concrete countertops. It connects to an outside living and dining room area with a fire pit. It is all off my indoor kitchen (glass doors)making it more user friendly to use both.
                                          I also have a covered tiki bar (with extra seating) connected to the outdoor rooms via a garden and walkway. We like to use it in the dead heat of summer because it is very shady and has a big ceiling fan. I am going to screen it in soon too.

                                          I love being outside:)

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: sedimental

                                            "put several years of design and work into my set up and I am very happy with it."

                                            if it is not too nosey can we see a picture it sounds beautiful

                                            1. re: girloftheworld

                                              Right now, the kitchen itself is filled with stuff from organizing space yesterday. I won't be able to clean it up until the end of the week. So....don't look at the mess! Lol

                                              1. re: sedimental

                                                it is beautiful..I would love to eat out there

                                            2. re: sedimental

                                              Sound's similar to what my "ideal" out door cooking and living area would be. I've had similar mental plans of doing something like that, but like so many things plans and execution are two separate things. If you don't mind me asking where to you live? How much use to you get out of it?

                                              1. re: jrvedivici

                                                I live in Washington state. It rains a lot here, so I designed the cover myself. I can use it when it pours....and I do!

                                                I use it more when I have condiments in the fridge out there and cookware. You can't be running back and forth...oops...forgot the mayo.... Oops....need another spatula, etc. IMO on something like this, it is kinda "go big or go home" because there is no point in just using it as a grill if you really want a kitchen. Does that make sense?

                                                1. re: sedimental

                                                  My Uncle was from Washington State, sadly the only trip I made out there was for his funeral. He lived in Snohomish(?) and he was a sports writer for one of the papers out there. It was some beautiful country when I did go to his funeral, beautiful part of this countries landscape.

                                                  You have a great outdoor dinning area, use it in good health!

                                            3. 2-3 times a week in the spring/summer/fall. We have a deck right off the house with a 4 person table. I live on the east side of LA, so evening weather is often perfect. We get a few mosquitos since we live near a lake, but not bad enough to be worth skipping the outdoors in the evening.

                                              2 Replies
                                                1. re: girloftheworld

                                                  We have one! Sadly, no bats. I think it's not high enough, but I don't see a lot of bats in our (suburban) neighborhood. The mosquitos really aren't bad at all- it's a 1 or 2 bite situation at most.

                                              1. Once or twice a week when it's not too hot outside and the breeze keeps the bugs away.

                                                1. I have a screened porch that we use a lot. At least a couple of times a week, in good weather.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: jeanmarieok

                                                    I won't go into what I have in the way of 'outdoor eating area(s) but your screened porch is something I've always loved and don't have.
                                                    A few relatives have one and I find it one of the most relaxing, quiet and comfortable aspects of their home.

                                                  2. We eat outdoors as often as possible. Unless it's raining, we're outdoors for just about every meal. We have a deck -- no outdoor kitchen or anything like that, but we do have a grill out there that gets used fairly often. (A couple of years ago we switched from gas to charcoal and never looked back.) Dining outdoors is SOOOOO pleasant, why would we NOT want to be out there?

                                                    As for insects -- we're not bothered to any great extent, and we can sit out until late into the evening. We have a pond on our property, about 150 feet from the house, and you'd think it'd bring all kinds of nasty critters, but the neighborhood bats seem to keep them in check. Bats are really our friends. We lost most of them a few years ago when we had our shutters removed to have the house painted, and disturbed their habitat. We did put up a bat house on a tree, but I'm not sure they've moved in. However, as the skies darken, we're happy to see them flying overhead again.

                                                    We also enjoy the free outdoor summer "concerts" performed by the birds, the bullfrogs, and coming soon, the cicadas. Ahhhh... life is good!

                                                    5 Replies
                                                    1. re: CindyJ

                                                      I am glad to hear your Bats are back!
                                                      We had a very large colony of small Bats living between aluminum siding and house wall at our small cottage in NE Pennsylvania.( And no, there was no way they could get through the walls or into the house) We used to sit outside next to the pond on warm Summer evenings and watch the Bats coming out at dusk. Unfortunately they all died a few years ago ( White-nose- syndrome killed most Bats in that Area) and we did not see a single one since then. We really miss them.

                                                      1. re: RUK

                                                        When the bats were living behind the shutters, I'd often hear scratching sounds signaling that they were returning "home" at dawn, because they were right outside my bedroom windows.

                                                        I had wondered if their disappearance had anything to do with that white-nose syndrome. These days, we don't see nearly as many bats as we used to, but their numbers do appear to be growing here in southeastern PA, and we're very happy about that.

                                                        1. re: CindyJ

                                                          That is truly good news!
                                                          So perhaps they are slowly coming back and hopefully they will spread on Northwards. :-)

                                                      2. re: CindyJ

                                                        My last office building had a "bat" problem, but no matter what I did to relieve it, they came back. The most common approach was to "smoke" out the attic, then from the outside see where they flew out of, then plug the hole. We did that at least a half dozen times but they kept finding new breaches to squeeze themselves into. Granted my old office was originally an old Church building, corner stone dated to 1869, so it was porous at best.

                                                        Our file's were kept in the attic and when you would go up there, the bat's would actually "hiss" at you, which was a sign you were violating their area. About once a year one would find their way into the 3 floor's below, including our conference room, always exciting.

                                                        1. re: CindyJ

                                                          Barn swallows are also excellent for keeping outdoor areas insect-free, and they come back year after year.

                                                        2. We love eating "Al fresco" and take every opportunity to enjoy as long as the weather permits.
                                                          Breakfast on the patio is my favorite.
                                                          Waterfront restaurants with outdoor dining rock our world!!

                                                          1. we enjoy eating outside and we do plenty of it in the summer and even in the winter in the spa but I enjoy eating on a boat a bit more. something about dining on the water makes me happy!

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                              I am having a glass of wine after dinner on a small island in the PNW tonight. Beautiful. Nature is a wonderful thing!

                                                              1. re: sedimental

                                                                fabulous! now that is good for the digestion!