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First "getting to know you" date?

I'm getting ready to meet a guy for the first time. Naturally we met on the internet and I feel very comfortable to finally meet him. I am newly separated. Any suggestions on where we could go to have a comfortable time. I am not interested in Timmy's or those places. Something quiet, but different. I don't think it will be coffee - but it could be lunch or dinner. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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  1. For something entirely different, you could suggest Ethiopian food...? It's different, exotic, and you eat with your hands, communally if you wish. I find you can learn a lot about people when they eat with their hands...;). Ethiopian House is good...and has a patio for a sunny lunch...

    7 Replies
    1. re: morrigan

      Boy, that sounds daring. What kind of food is it and what does it taste like. Where is it located? Something worth thinking about.

      1. re: debbygo

        Actually, whereas the seasoning is exotic, the actual "food base" isn't. Ethiopian food is generally a stew, served on a thin, sourdough flatbread called injera. The injera is like a pancake that is only cooked on one side, so there are lots of little holes in the other. Food is served with a "side" of injera and you tear off bits to scoop up the stew with. the stew components include veggies (potato, carrot, cabbage, green beans), beef, chicken, and beans/pulses (chick peas, etc.). The Ethiopian House is on Irwin, between Yonge and St. Nicholas. It might be a little daring for a first meeting, but I admit that I like having something to talk about, should the actual "date" aspect not be up to par... Good conveyor belt sushi can also provide that opportunity. Additionally, you can linger and eat more, or eat less and run...

        1. re: morrigan

          Years ago, I went on a date and she took me to Ethiopia House, we had fun and I thought she was soooo worldly *sigh*...well, in the end she wasn't all that, but EH was good!

        2. re: debbygo

          I wouldn't have thought of Ethiopian myself, but it might be a good idea. You need to have a sense of adventure if you haven't had this food before and you must like spicy food (though not everything is actually spicy hot). This food is very flavourful. Most of the ingredients aren't unfamiliar (beef, lamb, chicken, veggies), but the preparation of them likely is.

          Eating "communally" is really a requirement; not an option. You get a large, slightly fermented pancake called "injera" covered with little mounds of different dishes. Most are stews; some are grilled or sauteed. Most places let you order combinations, and one meat + one veg combo should leave you both stuffed. It isn't very expensive. You tear off pieces of injera to scoop up the food. I suppose one could get utensils, but I have never seen this happen.

          Assuming you are both up for this style of eating, it can be a great stress reliever and provide some conversational fodder. It is virtually impossible to eat like this and be overly reserved, standoffish, or shy. But it isn't overtly romantic either. If you don't hit it off, you can busy yourself with the food. If one of you likes this and one doesn't, there could be an implied compatibility message ;-)

          If all goes well, have the "coffee ceremony" to finish off.

          There are at least a couple of dozen places. Ethiopian House near Yonge/Bloor is probably the most mainstream. Addis Ababa (Queen/Dufferin is likely the most atmospheric. Dukem on Danforth is somewhere in between.

          (My latest favourite is Lalibela on Bloor, but I think the atmosphere isn't conducive to a good first date.)

          1. re: embee

            Ethipian cooking may be dangerous for both of you . After my one experience, I couldn't resist falling asleep (from the spice and heat), and this was in the middle of the day. I ended up prostrate on a park bench.

            When I was in your situation I would take someone on a first date to Nick and Leslie's Hungarian Goulash Party Tavern to test her character and values..I ended up with soneone who after marriage decided to become a vegetarian more or less! ( Keeping kosher lite wasn't crazy enough. It could be worse. I know someone Jewish who is militantly secular and rejects kashruth but became a vegan with a thousand supplements.) There are no guarantees in life. In any event, Nick and Leslie have been closed for many years now and Leslie died recently..

            In what part of town are you located, or in which you would like to eat. what do like to eat , and how much.

            1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

              Sorry to hear about Leslie from the Goulash Party. They had the best goulash soup I've ever tasted.

        3. re: morrigan

          I always enjoy the comfortable, not-too-stuffy atmosphere at Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar...but it sucks when he isn't there (and I don't think he was there when I went last week, so it was sub-par...some over-salted dishes and alternate turns of weird and bland flavour pairings). The bright spot was the duck confit with cassoulet beans. I normally love the sparkling sorbet, but the texture was off (lumpy!)

          The time before that, I was in the JK dining room (Dec 2006) and it was great. The duck breast was also delicious.

          Heard the JK @ Gardiner is lovely, but, only when he's working!

        4. Julie's on Dovercourt is delicious, and great atmosphere.

          2 Replies
          1. re: alisonb

            Agreed Julie's is a lovely date place!

            Also, what about 7 West? They have coffee and lunch/dinner options.

          2. I would suggest one of the places in the Distillery for a first date, as that gives you a lot of options for wandering, chatting etc, which takes some of the pressure away. Pure Spirits is nice, as is the Boiler House, or for more casual, there is Balzac's coffee, or the Creperie. Then, if all goes well, you can get some of the mayan hot chocolate at Soma.......

            1. If this helps, I met my wife at Julie's. So it has been proven effective at least once.

              Of course, if either of you are vegetarians, Cuban is probably not the best cuisine...

              2 Replies
              1. re: childofthestorm

                I think you should do something where you move around and explore food together (assuming you both enjoy it :)
                Going somewhere like pacific mall, with food and shopping would be fun.
                Or kensington market, or chinatown.
                At least you'll have background entertainment.
                Pool halls are also good first "internet date" spots.

                1. re: pancake

                  For pool halls I can think of the Charlotte Room and the Academy of Spherical Arts. Want to suggest some others?

              2. What about Richtree downtown at Wellington and Yonge? I know I know, the food is not superb, but it can be quiet if youre situated in one of the rooms, yet its exciting enough that you can both explore the marketplace together. AND, if you dont feel comfortable with him paying or whatever... you can go dutch without being embarrassed!

                1 Reply
                1. re: jennjen18

                  beer bistro....you could sample the beers, share an appetizer. Nice atmosphere and lots of fun (if both of you like beer)

                2. on Parliament and Gerrard, there is a gem called "Ben Wick's Pub" , it sits downstairs of a fancy restaurant (the chef is the same) and the ambience is "pubby elegant". Not too expensive and everyone who works there is in a perpetual good mood and always suggesting items. I went there on a date and found myself really comfortable. If you can get a spot on the patio (which is kind of like a submerged courtyard from streetlevel) its perfect for the summer.

                  1. Really depends on where you are/where you want to be - and how much you want it to cost.

                    1. I was responding to a separate review of Linda (the Thai restaurant above Salad King) when it struck me that Linda might be a perfect "first date" location.
                      I always used to take 'first dates' to Michi a Japanese restaurant on Church St (long gone) - but trying relatively new foods is a perfect way to keep the conversation flowing in neutral territory (Thai food is eaten with spoon and fork, not chopsticks so no embarrassment there). If it sounds interesting check out the threads on Linda's.

                      1. Swiss Chalet <g> That's where I had my first internet date and we've been married for 10 years now.

                        But seriously, I agree with Lovestoeat. 7 West is a great spot for a first date. It's cozy and casual. Ethiopian just seems a bit too intimate for a first meeting.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: mrsleny

                          The service at 7west can be spotty and it buggs me sometimes how close the tables are together...I've done a few first dates at the Duke of York...easy subway access (st. George), you can always distract yourself by watching sports and the waiters will sympathize when you tell them you're on the date from..well...let's just say if he orders chicken wings, fake a bathroom trip and move on with your life.

                        2. If either of you are interested in higher-end beer, I would suggest Volo on Yonge near Wellesley. http://www.barvolo.com/
                          My boyfriend and I had our first date there 2 years ago and I really enjoyed it. We go back at least once a month. Great beer list and the food, though not amazing or anything, is consistently good and fresh. Nice patio too. Closed on Sundays.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: JennyBenny

                            Ooh.. Volo. That's where I went on one of my dates with The Boy when we were first getting acquainted.

                            It's a nice little place and well suited to romantic evenings, but I'd only suggest it for drinks.... sadly, the food is merely passable when it's not seasoned with a good dash of sexual tension. :)

                            1. re: tartiflette

                              Unless you know from prior experience that the person is an adventurous eater, I'd probably avoid Ethiopian food. I think it's still at the stage where 95%+ of people are completely unfamiliar with it, so for some people that wouldn't make them feel at ease for a 1st date. Add in the concept of the fermented pancake and you're potentially making somebody uncomfortable.

                              For the record I enjoy the food...and I hate bland generic food....but for a first date, unless the other person is obviously keen, maybe there is a happy medium out there.

                              1. re: egon61

                                Don't opt for anthing too exotic, or else he might think he's dated a real flake.

                                One word of advice I heard about such situations is, watch the way he treats the server. If he's polite and reasonable, that's the way he will end up treating you. Likewise if he is rude, noisy or overbearing, that's also the way you can expect to be treated further on down the road.