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First Date Suggestions in Columbia /Elkridge Area?

I am going on a first date tomorrow with a gent who lives in Elkridge and is new to the area. He has suggested dinner at the Cheesecake Factory in Columbia however he is open to suggestions. I would like to find a place with nice wine available by the glass the is not too expensive. I am curious about Iron Bridge but I know it can be pricey. I live in Baltimore city and have plenty of faves there but I don't know if it would be polite to make the guy schlep all the way to Baltimore.

Thanks in advance for your responses

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  1. Cafe de Paris should fit your bill. Very date-y.
    http://www.cafedepariscolumbia.com/

    1. I love Ironbridge, but beware of long wait times! Since they do not accept reservations, you may find yourself waiting for quite a while. However, the food is terrific and the wine is delicious! Another drawback: my boyfriend complains bitterly about the large-ish prices for small plates... think $18 for a duo of beef that was delectable, but was maybe 6 oz. of beef. Or $13 for a scallop appetizer that had 2 scallops. If you can dig that, you'll love this place. Of course, what you get is perfectly prepared, with yummy sauces and sides, and fabulous service.

      The more I think about it, it might be a good test for this bloke!

      I echo the poster who recommended Cafe de Paris - very nice place - great food. Sometimes it feels a bit empty - not the sort of hubub/crowded/cozy place I tend to like. But great food, service and wine. Both are great choices.

      Of course, you could try to meet halfway - but I don't think there's much in Catonsville or Arbutus that would lend itself to a charming first date. Have you thought about downtown Ellicott City? Maybe someone can speak to the new fusion restaurant that took over for Sidestreets.

      4 Replies
      1. re: heeter

        I love Cafe de Paris, but at $100+ for two I'd think twice about recommending it as an alternative to Cheesecake Factory for a first date. Unfortunately, Columbia is not a great town for restaurants. Jesse Wong's in Columbia Palace is not fantastic food, but it's ok and kind of dark and decently date-ish. Sushi King off Dobbin Road is quite good, but not much of a wine destination.

        P.S. My girlfriend is kibitzing as I write this post, and says you should just make him drive to Baltimore, and an hour wait for average food is not really a good way to start a date. I tend to agree.

        1. re: JonParker

          I've done much more than $100 there with the spouse, and much less. It just depends on how you order. You don't have to get the formule. Plus they have early bird specials.

          1. re: debit

            I realize that, but it still might be sticker shock for a first date, which is the subject at hand.

        2. re: heeter

          Okay so I emailed the gent and suggested Iron Bridge, Kali's Mezze, Minato, and Helmand along with their websites. He chose Iron Bridge. That's one point in the gent's favor ;-)

        3. How about Clyde's? I think that both Iron Bridge & Cafe de Paris are a bit too romantic for a first date (at least for me) - especially if he is recommending Cheesecake Factory! Clyde's is casual and reasonably priced, its also got a louder atmosphere and there are lots of windows in case the conversation starts falling flat - you can at least check out people at the lake!

          Also may want to check out Lee Lynn's. The small plate selections there are pretty good and much more reasonably priced than Iron Bridge. I really like the Crispy Eggplant and Hummus. Plus they have a decent wine selection and there is never a wait.

          1 Reply
          1. re: mariainmd

            I know Clydes Does not have the most glowing reputation on this website, but I agree its a good place for a first date. I've had 3 0r 4 first dates there.....and a couple of second dates as well!

          2. Don't let your first date be at the Cheesecake Factory. Not that it's not OK for chain eats.

            Elkridge is not so far away from Baltimore so make him head up here and go somewhere more original. Having you both go to Columbia doesn't make sense. Elkridge is closer to Baltimore than Columbia.

            But if you aren't going to have him come to Bmore, why not meet in downtown Ellicott City and walk the streets to settle on a place together? Nice way to talk a bit before sitting down.

            1. If one date turns into many more, you may want to look into something a little bit more upscale. In which case, try The Elkridge Furnace Inn. It's fine dining, but not over the top. It's very historic and the ambience makes everything move up one level. A perfect place for a couple.

              1. Thanks for everyone's suggestions. We did go to Iron Bridge. It was lovely.

                2 Replies
                1. re: amethiste

                  Iron Bridge or the date? ;-)

                  1. re: debit

                    That's my secret ;-)