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What makes a restaurant romantic?

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  • Peter Flom Jul 7, 2005 11:39 PM

In the Manhattan board there's a short thread about L'Impero, which got me thinking about what makes a restaurant 'romantic'.

To me, so much of this depends on mood. The most romantic meal I ever had was at a not-very-good restaurant in Manhattan. Everything went right. We were recently engaged. The couple at the next table was friendly, but not too friendly. The waitress brought food at just the right times, and poured wine at the right times, unobtrusively. I don't remember what we ate.

I've eaten at restaurants billed as romantic, and not been impressed that way at all.

So, what makes a restaurant romantic? Can a restaurant make you or your loved-one more romantically inclined (other than just being happy to be with him/her, eating good food). Is it the food? or what?

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  1. Mostly, I think, it's the chemistry between the two of you...BUT, adding to the mood would be 1) good lighting (soft is good! glaring and fluorescent, bad!) 2) unobtrusive, intuitive service 3) good, not show-offy or pretentious, but delicious food. Good lighting in the bathroom helps too. No music, or good music (not techno, or pseudo jazz, or anything where all you hear is "ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch").

    2 Replies
    1. re: LT from LF

      in addition to this list.. minimal noise level so that you can talk without yelling.. enough space between tables so that people sitting next to you can't eavesdrop and won't feel inclined to start a conversation with you...

      1. re: ivie

        Oh, and ONE MORE THING...if it's known as a romantic place via word-of-mouth, that's one thing, but if the restaurant bills itself as "romantic"--ew, ick, turn-off! It's a restaurant: food should come first. If they go out of their way to stress the "romantic" aspect, it doesn't bode well for the quality of the food.

        Sorta like, if you have to TELL me you're smart....

    2. Just curious...What place in Manhattan are you talking about?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Matt M.

        One if by land, two if by sea.

        We've been back. It's been bad. We won't be back again.

        That night was just magical, though

      2. tight white t-shirts & skimpy orange shorts? ;-)

        actually, i think it's the company & mood we're in. if i'm not in a romatic mood, then a dim, sultry restaurant is just the place i'm eating in the dark. if i'm in the mood, then the corner burger joint can be romantic. i think when a place is advertised as romantic, they're just telling you that, if you're into conventional romance and in that frame of mind, then they're set up for that.

        1. The person I am with. When I first dated my husband we had the most romantic meal on a ferry, eating ferry dogs and drinking watered down bad American beer. But the sun was shining; the breeze was warm and the view fantastic. Best damn hotdog I have ever eaten and I loathe hot dogs. Oh what we do for love....

          1. Being able to sit next to each other in a rounded corner booth can make the meal romantic. Its nice to sit next to each other rather than across from each other which is so standard and boring.

            3 Replies
            1. re: wild child

              A heartily second your opinion, because sharing food is romantic to me.

              1. re: nooodles

                That reminds me of one of the first dates my wife and I had. She took me to a Moroccan restaurant where you only eat with your hands and you sit on little sofas next to the table.

                When dessert arrived (fresh fruit) she was feeding me the orange wedges.

                And I guess you could say that she's had me eating out of her hand ever since.

                1. re: Ray

                  aw, that was sweet ;)

            2. I really think who you're with makes all the difference in the world. If you're in a restaurant that allows you to enjoy the company of someone you're in love with, it is romantic. Having said that, I think having attentive but not intrusive service is important. Being able to sit close to each other helps. Also, you want a place where you can hear each other talking. Having to shout at each other just isn't romantic to me.

              2 Replies
              1. re: anna

                Table for 2.

                1. re: Jon36

                  Not sure what this means, but in truth, at many of the restaurants where you have to shout to hear each other, or where you have to listen to neighbor's conversations, the problem *is most emphatically* that table for two (placed in a row waaayyy too close to all of those other tables for two!) To me, a restaurant is romantic if they will seat the two of us in a nice, cozy, private and comfortable booth for four!(and of course, if we want to snuggle we can always both sit on the same side of the booth, although personally I'd rather look into his eyes....)

              2. You and your loved one.