Where Do You Escape For A Romantic Dinner?

October 1, 2012 | By | COMMENTS

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Sometimes the most romantic restaurants are the ones that don’t present themselves as romantic restaurants. Other times, you want all of the trappings of a romantic dinner spot, Lady and the Tramp style. In my life, I tend to avoid traditionally romantic restaurants on occasions where romance is expected (Valentine’s Day, our anniversary). Instead, I just think of those days as opportunities to splurge on a nice meal, regardless of venue. And sometimes that decision comes back to bite me: cerebral food in a sterile environment does not a romantic dinner make. So, when I make up my mind to turn up the dial on romance, these are the restaurants that totally do the trick.

1. Canelé (Los Angeles, CA)

2. iSodi (New York, NY)

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Hidden away on Christopher Street in New York’s West Village, surrounded by X-rated video stores and leather shops, iSodi is the kind of restaurant that’s easy to miss…which is precisely what makes it great. There’s a narrow bar, where it would be totally appropriate to come order a drink by yourself. Only this is date night, so make a reservation for one of the discreet, dimly lit tables where you can disappear with your date, drinking good Italian wine and eating some of New York’s best homemade pasta. Tip: the restaurant has an entire menu of Negronis (the classic Italian cocktail made with Campari)…start your meal with one of those and your date will almost certainly end well.

3. Sitka and Spruce (Seattle, WA)

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I’ve only been to Sitka and Spruce during the day (and if you’re having a daytime date in Seattle, there’s no better place to go, really) but I have complete faith that the place only gets more romantic at night. The giant windows look out on to the city, the shelves are lined with small pots and pans and jars and plates. The best part is that the dishes are all meant for sharing, so you and your date will go through this very sensual, very stimulating experience together. Tip: There are only a few scattered tables for two (otherwise, it’s a communal table) so make sure to reserve one of those for privacy’s sake.

4. The Floataway Cafe (Atlanta, GA)

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It’s been years since I first went to the Floataway Cafe in Atlanta, GA but I still remember it as one of the most romantic restaurants I’d ever been to. It starts with the name: it evokes an image of hovering with your date, dining in the clouds. And even though I’d only been there with Lauren, my old roommate (pictured above), for very non-romantic dinners, I would often imagine this to be the place I’d like to bring a date some day when I was in a serious committed relationship. Sure enough, years later, when I visited Atlanta with Craig, I took him to Floataway Cafe and we had a lovely time indeed. The place holds up. Tip: If you have a successful date at Floataway, and things continue to go well, spend your one year anniversary at Anne Quatrano’s fancier restaurant, Bacchanalia. It’s one of Atlanta’s best.

5. Esca (New York, NY)

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It’s true that Craig and I had a huge fight the last time we went to Esca (he took time responding to a text during dinner and I probably overreacted) but it still remains one of my favorite romantic spots for a post-theater, mid-winter New York City dinner. True, it’s expensive, but that’s part of what makes going there special…you can’t do it often. When you go, though, you’ll be treated to some of the freshest seafood in the city, expertly prepared by David Pasternack (who’s also a fisherman), and incredibly decadent and rich pasta dishes. Tip: Order the crudo–the classic Italian raw fish preparation–it’s the best of its kind not only in New York, but possibly the country.

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