What makes a restaurant romantic?
Have been mulling over this question for a while but, with Valentine's Day only weeks away, now seems as good a time as any to throw it out for discussion.
I'm always at a loss when posters ask for reccos for a romantic restaurant, especially since they almost never describe what romantic means to them. Intimate would seem to part of the equation, though one of the local restaurants that attracts the most lovebirds (I once saw a couple there hold hands throughout an entire meal!) is Au Petit Extra, an airy, bustling bistro that probably has 100 diners at any given moment. Visitors often talk about the romantic Old World charm of places in Old Montreal or Quebec City but that can't be integral to the experience, else there'd be no possibility of romance in less antique restaurants, districts or towns (think Las Vegas).
In fact, for nearly every characteristic that might define romantic, you can find a real-life exception. Your romantic wandering fiddler may make me want to dive under the table. Does that mean romantic is less a universal than a state of mind? Is it simply a place where a couple in love can feel comfortable? Then again, can't solo diners or large groups find a restaurant romantic?
Arrgh! Tell me, please, what makes a restaurant romantic?
NO NOISE! I hate the current trend towards having a lot of noise in the background from tables placed so close you can hear all the intimate details of your neighbors affairs, cell phone conversations, clanging of pots and silverware from the open kitchen etc. I think it's to suggest that the restaurant is energetic or dynamic or something. I just find it nerve-wracking. And yelling across the table isn't conducive to romance.
Pleasant decor. Harmonious colors, elegant furnishings all contribute to a romantic atmosphere. As already said, warm lighting helps too.
Good food and service. This is the biggest problem with Valentine's Day menus, the food is usually trite and staff overworked. I avoid eating out at this time because I've been disappointed with the poor quality of both.
My favorite restaurant for romantic tete a tetes in the Boston area is La Lumiere, but I've never eaten there at Valentine's Day.