I preface this by saying that I am married, so my take on romantic dinner dates may not be as subjective nor as sensitive to the nuances of ‘stranger dating’ to make it particularly helpful. I do, however, take great interest in matters of the heart, particularly when I am dining and enjoy noting which couples on the surrounding tables are engaging in initiation dances of extreme awkwardness. So, taking this into account, along with my experience of dining with other couples, some of whom may be on second dates, I can suggest that date dining comes with its perils. There is always a very high chance of a comical misstep. As with all dining, in my opinion, ambience is paramount — never go for a setting that screams romance or is overly intimate. While dimmed lights, soft music, and cosy corners can be ideal to set the stage, be cautious not to choose a place so quiet that the sound of your silverware becomes a public performance.
The cuisine should be adventurous but not too wild. You’re not trying to impress your date with your fearless palate for exotic dishes that may lead to unexpected gastrointestinal issues. And there are a lot of ‘dietary issues’ in today’s dating landscape. Opt for a menu that strikes the right balance between tantalising and approachable.
Choosing the right wine is also a tricky tightrope. Do they even drink wine? What if they like white and you only drink red? This is the first test of your knowledge and finesse; mispronouncing a French Bordeaux can quickly turn into an embarrassing linguistic disaster. Service is where things can get interesting. A waiter who hovers like an overprotective parent can induce anxiety, but one who forgets your table exists can be utterly annoying.
Lastly, the element of surprise. Choose a place for your next romantic dinner date that has something else to look at other than each other, just in case things go south, or get surly quickly. Diverting your attention to other diners can offer a quick redirection of the conversation especially if it enters into the geopolitical arena.
The failsafe approach here is to avoid weird and eccentric, which will no doubt reflect upon you and your personality. Instead, opt for classics that never falter and those that bring a bit of energy to the evening will always win.