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Restaurants to take a date...

I'd be interested in some restaurant suggestions to take a woman for a first date, second date, or a third date.

I have a few restaurants I like that have seemed to go over fairly well in the past, but I would be interested in hearing what some of the people on this board would recommend. I'm looking for a restaurant that has a nice quiet atmosphere, is clean, is downtown (or near downtown), not really a family restaurant (I have nothing against babies, but crying babies can disturb the mood! :| ), and of course, first-class food.

I'm open to any kind of cuisine as long as the atmosphere is nice. I'm not sure about the price range, I guess it depends on how nice the place is, whether she would like the food, and for that matter, whether I would like it myself. :)

I once had a friend who always said "If you want to impress a girl, take her to Barberians steak house!".

Any other suggestions?

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  1. Rent a car, pick her up, and take her out of downtown.

    Via Allegro fits the 'third date' philosophy that a lot of men seem to live by. Plenty of aphrodisiacal ingredients! Impress her with great wine, excellent servers, good food (not perfect but still tasty), and lots and lots of phallic symbols on display (world's tallest pepper grinders are just the start!) Be prepared to empty your wallet - the right woman is worth it!

    If the car rental is out of the question, then stick to oysters at Starfish or Oyster Boy.

    11 Replies
    1. re: Food Tourist

      Weezie's would be a great 'early' date place. Good food, not too expensive, quiet, small. Also has the benefit of being near the Distillery District - take her for a walk over there before/after dinner, sit under the stars, chat, have a coffee/ice cream.

      1. re: georgebell11

        I disagree with Weezie's. Though it would impress a Chowhound, it would not impress anyone else, particularly a woman on a first date. Complete lack of decor and deceptively simple food.

        If you want something along those lines (read 'affordable yet romantic'), try Batifole (though it's not downtown).

        Better yet, get the corner table at Canoe at sunset.

        Speaking of fantastic views, has anyone been to Toula at the top of the Westin Harbour Castle? It's an Italian menu, and the restaurant hasn't rotated in years, but seems like a good spot if you want a great view of the island. Can't vouch for the food yet.

        Fressen is also a great date place, though it's 100% vegetarian. Lovely romantic atmosphere and terrific food. Mengrai Thai also has a romantic atmosphere with great food.

        1. re: Food Tourist

          I guess I was under the assumption that a 'date' involved talking, getting to know someone etc....not wowing them with fripperies;) I think Weezie's has a lovely, understated decor and beautiful large windows facing the small park - perfect setting to have a long, drawn-out conversation. You don't want to go overboard with either expense or 'wow, this is so ostentatiously romantic' on a first date. Play it cool!

          1. re: georgebell11

            No, you're right, expensive and overtly romantic are not necessary for the first date, but definitely could be considered for second/third dates.
            However, all the subtle non-verbal cues that come from the surroundings are important on a first date -- and having a 'conversation piece' ("isn't that an interesting grapevine chandelier?" or "wow, can you believe they have pig's head on the menu?") is good for any awkward silences!

            On another note, many people prefer the "coffee" first date to play it cool, but why not go half-way and pick a quiet lounge instead of a coffee shop, like the cozy bar at the top of the Park Hyatt.

            By the way, tartare354, women are impressed even if you make a mistake in your choice of restaurant -- as long as you show etiquette, thoughtfulness, and complete interest in her! So, don't worry about Barberian's or Canoe, just focus on taking good care of her and pick up the tab no matter what for the first 3 dates.

            One final word of advice. Do not, I repeat DO NOT, go to Milestone's if this woman shows interest in eating good food.

          2. re: Food Tourist

            Yes, I have been to Toula. It was several years back, and I remember it being nice, particularly the view. I remember the food as being good, but standard. Nothing in particular stands out in the memory.

            1. re: tartare354

              I figured "standard" and unmemorable would likely be the case. Thanks.

              1. re: tartare354

                One of my favorite date spots is Starfish....not to loud and very romantic.

                1. re: millygirl

                  I agree - I think Starfish would be a greatplace for a first date. Mr. Cheeze and I often have "date night" there

                  JKWB in the dining room area (you can reserve a table) is lovely - the roome is nice, not asloud as the bar and the tables are nicely spaced apart so no one is too close

                  Kalendar on College is quite nice as well

                  1. re: mac n cheeze

                    i don't think you can make reservations for dinner at JKWB anymore

                    1. re: pinkprimp

                      Really? That's disappointing. It was only about 2months ago that I last did. Ah too bad

              2. re: Food Tourist

                I've tried Toula a couple of times, both times with clients (and they chose). The view is good as long as you sit on the right side. The food, not as spectacular. I've had much better food at much better value.

          3. I 100% agree with georgebell11. Weezie's is one of may all time favourite places to go on a date. It is very romantic. That simplicity you refer to, Food Tourist, in food and decor makes relaxation easy and therefore makes for a better date. Candlelight, great food, a delightful and unobstrusive server, the lovely view of the park, and the tete-a-tete southeast table. These all make for a great night.

              1. re: Dimbulb

                Was just taken for dinner at George this past week and would have to admit it put me in a romantic frame of mind. Cost is higher end but so worth it. Our bill with tip was $280 including 2 bar drinks and 2 glasses of wine.

              2. I like the coach-house at Red Tea Box on Queen West for an afternoon gambol.

                1. Kalendar at College St. Very romantic and intimate.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: merlot143

                    I love Kalendar, because it's not TOO romantic - cute, but no pressure.

                    You might want to try Grace, on College/Bathurst, too.

                    1. re: merlot143

                      Second Kalendar. My SO and I had a date there once (some time last year) and I really enjoyed their Nobilo wine (white), it's hard to find at LCBO but I did see it at Food & Wine show (from NZ) and it's great to introduce it to a girl. It will be memorable. I wonder if they still have it.

                    2. Blowfish at King and Bathurst....you'll need a reservation, but great share plates.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: kmacer

                        I disagree with Blowfish....the music is always too loud, and too pop-ish.

                        Kalendar was great, and nice area to stroll afterwards or head for an after-dinner digestif!

                      2. OK, here's my surefire date with a girl recipe for success:

                        take the ferry to Ward island. Do not go to Centreville. Stroll off the ferry, go the beach (pack a picnic with a blanket and a bottle or two and don't forget water). Wear your bathers under your summer linen pants (linen is v. sexy, trust me). Do a little swim, a little picnic. Then as your day is winding down, say to her, dinner? Stroll along the boardwalk to a rest called The Belfry. It overlooks the beach and the Leslie Street Spit. The food is crap but it's licensed. That's all that matters. Then take a late ferry back to town. Guaranteed best date ever. Trust me. I'm a girl. And report back!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: stapler

                          Or try the Rectory Cafe. It's so interesting to walk around looking at the houses on Ward Island - no cars, no driveways.

                          1. re: Food Tourist

                            right, that's what I meant, the Rectory, not the Belfry!

                        2. for first date vaticano on bellair street ... perfect atmosphere for a conversation and more importantly has good food

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: tedwanzel

                            Vaticano has the distinction of serving my friends and I one of the worst meals ever complete with terrible service. I would only go on a date there if I never wanted to see the person again. Honestly, the multi-page menu should serve as a clue. AH-void.

                            1. re: Googs

                              Vaticano, I second the above ... an almost terrifying exerience and possibly the worst rissotto ever...

                          2. niagara st cafe. recently had a first meal there and thought it was spectacular for a date. good service that wasn't overly present, delicious and playful food, great wine list, nice calm and quiet streetside atmosphere.

                            batifole doesn't really get my vote for romantic because something about the room is just too... cold? not the colours per se but all the hard surfaces lend to loudness and the tightness of the tables makes it a cozy date with the whole restaurant. it is a great place though for small group dinners.

                            rosebud would also get another vote for date restaurant. the cozy booths makes it very comfortable and the service has allowed me to leisurely enjoy my meal (though they were supposed to shut down at 8pm on a sunday night, i ended up leaving far past 9 and left a big tip to make up for it... no pressure to leave at all though). very tasty food. always love rod's pastas.

                            on that note i also enjoy the citizen for something that's more trendy and less candlelight dinner romance. they do have issues with oversalting food there though i haven't been recently and am unsure if this has improved. my friends complain of too small a menu but i always find something i like on every menu of every restaurant so it's generally a non-issue for me.

                            i'll also put out another yay for starfish. especially if you can get the back booth... but if she's a foodie it can be fun to query the shucker of the night about all things oysters and seafood while sitting at the bar.

                            i've actually found george to be oddly loud, but that could be me. plus the average age of the of the diner there to be much older than me which didn't make it uncomfortable per se but didn't make it entirely relaxed either and was the fault of the servers.

                            i love jkwb with more gregarious people as it does become really easy to chat with your neighbours and someone who isn't too concerned with all the focus being on yourselves and just enjoying the moment makes it really wonderful experience to share with each other.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: pinstripeprincess

                              I found the booths at Rosebud ridiculously uncomfortable because you can feel every movement of the person with whom you are back-to-back.

                              But otherwise I suspect we have the same taste in date locations.

                              1. re: Food Tourist

                                i did have the benefit of being only 1 of two tables in the place that evening so no one was left back to back.

                                i would assert your suspicions except these days my nice dining out evenings tend to be relegated to one-on-one friend dinners! i just notice afterwards how lovely it would have been for a date situation.

                            2. As a serial dater (now married, it eventually works out!) and a chowhound, I applaud you on your research and recommend the following:
                              Stapler: love your idea, but just too much and too intense for a first date - maybe a third or fourth.
                              I love it when someone gets me out of my 'hood into a new one, to a *relatively* undiscovered gem or neighborhood hot spot (ie. Batifole, Niagara St. Cafe, and numerous others). Or, trying a new ethnic food (can never forget the guy who I first had sushi with, thai, etc.)
                              Although I love Canoe, Bymark, George, etc., it's just too much for a first date - save it for a special occasion. Impress her with you, don't try and make the venue do it for you!
                              My new hubby and I went to Starbuck's for our first date, but it was right after work (normally wouldn't have chosen this). A coffee/dessert date is great - doesn't have to be too long if it's not going well. A quaint cafe with a decent selection of food is good. If it's going well, talk a walk or find a pub for a drink afterwards.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: thenurse

                                You have captured that non-verbal essence I was trying to describe earlier - MAKE IT MEMORABLE! Be the first guy she experiences something with - such as sushi.

                              2. Two options. Number one is to go to Clafouti, pick up some sandwiches, score a good Rose or Sancerre, get some olives and some cheese and have a picnic in Trinity Bellwoods, High Park on along the waterfront. Or option number two; check out Mezzetta on St.Clair at Christie. Small dishes of tapas from around the Mediterranean, made for sharing and comparing and talking about. Nothing too spicy, a varied menu and best of all, it's not messy eating. Sharing food with someone can be very intimate n'est ce pas?

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: escoffier

                                  Colbourne Lane is a great date spot because the food is absolutely fantastic and its a fun experience for both of you, if you order the tasting menu. The food becomes a mutual source of interest and curiosity and keeps the convesration flowing. It shows you have impeccably good taste and the setting is so uber casual chique it never fails to impress. You may only have one shot with this date so make it a good one and you simply cannot miss at Colbourne.

                                  1. re: escoffier

                                    Oh yeah, esc. has it figured out. Wondering which date he's taking which woman on? I mean a first, a second and a third? The man is busy!

                                    1. re: stapler

                                      Thank you for all the great suggestions! I've read all of your replies and I will have to check out some of these places :). Thank you so much for your answers.