Thursday, 17 January 2013

What makes a great dinner date?

New Year's Resolution 1: Dinner out at least once a month.

Well we're over half way through January now, so it's clearly time for me to get booking if I'm not to break this one in the very first month. But it's got me thinking, how do you make a dinner date, well, great?

I've always found it quite hard to pinpoint exactly what it is about a restaurant that makes it work for dates. It sort of either has it or it hasn't, doesn't it? Think of your absolutely favourite dating spots, and I bet they're all totally different from each other. It's something about the 'vibe' that needs to be just right, and I've been trying to work out exactly how that's done...

1) Lighting & Decor: It's amazing how many restaurants look really quite terrible in the daylight, particularly some of the more 'industrial' themed spots. Given the right lighting however, almost any decoration can be given 'the vibe'. Warm, intelligent lighting, clever division of space (little alcoves work brilliantly for creating that dating atmosphere) and space between you and your neighbours are all pretty key. It's got to feel cosy and inviting yet still sleek and chic. Hard to do.

2) Food: Clearly this is pretty important. It's got to be good or really, what's the point? The very best date restaurants in my book are ones where the cuisine on offer enables an element of sharing, like tapas for instance. We love Wahaca for this kind of thing, or El Pirata DeTapas.

3) Drink: Cocktails. Cocktails are always a winner if you ask me. Pre or post-dinner, they add a sparkle of excitement to even the most boring of dates. Yes, a good cocktail menu is a must.

4) Hip factor: The old fashioned, smart, 'white table cloth' type of restaurant just doesn't tick the boxes for dates in my opinion, unless they really are particularly good, and even then I'd never choose one for a first or early days date. What you want is the kind of place that you walk into and feel instantly cooler for doing so. Ideally you want somewhere a little dressy, a little trendy and a little seductive. We love Eight Over Eight in Chelsea for this sort of atmosphere.

5) Service: Yes, we all want to be treated like a favoured local wherever we go. Some places pull this off brilliantly and the results really can be dramatic. It gives you that warm feeling of being wanted and valuable, just the sort of sentiment you need to conjure up on a date.

6) Loos: Nice loos are weirdly high up my list of importance when it comes to restaurants. Nice loos and flattering mirrors. Or is that just me…?!

Miss Mary x

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