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Food & Dating

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Augie6 Jan 12, 2011 05:16 AM

My fellow hounds need some advice/sugguestions basic help. This topic can bleed into a couple of my ongoing stuggles with dating and converting the frozen dinner guru into a foodie.

1. Dating: I am 25 and enjoy going to eat at unique quality food eateries. While most ladies in my age group, see this as a negative attribute on a first /second date... It is as if , going to a chain i.e. olive garden is more appealing..?? Am I missing something?

So this leads me to think, What makes a good first date choice? Is it location, variety , price

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    ediblover RE: Augie6 Jan 12, 2011 05:40 AM

    My guess is that most would go with a quiet setting, low/moderately priced and familiar food. That way the focus can be on the discussion (getting to know each other) instead of the food. The concern of choosing a higher end place may be over sending a "high maintenance" message and has the double-edged factor of "trying too hard." Anyway, a chain is a comfy place where two people can talk and get to know each other. And, that's something I'm totally against.

    When getting to know someone, I don't like comfort zones and/or rehearsed situations. I'm more concerned with how a person acts in an unfamiliar situation and the decisions made. That is, it's one thing to say that you like food or like to try new things, but another to actually go through with it. Besides, even if the date turns out to be bad, at least the food was new and/or enjoyable.

    There's no right/wrong, just different approaches and philosophies.

    1. d
      Diane in Bexley RE: Augie6 Jan 12, 2011 06:37 AM

      Having 2 DDs in their early 20s, I can comment that they are avid Chowhounds themselves and would be aghast at being taken to a chain restaurant. Price isn't the issue, it's the fact that they enjoy local food, lovingly and carefully prepared. They also love trying the food trucks popping up in our area with all kinds of ethnic varieties. Sounds to me like you aren't meeting the right kind of women, branch out more. The fact that they wouldn't try something new tells a person A LOT about their personality, not curious, not willing to be flexible or adaptable. As I tell my daughters, you have to kiss a lot of frogs till you find your prince(ss).

      1. m
        mpjmph RE: Augie6 Jan 12, 2011 06:43 AM

        From the 20-something woman's perspective - I don't want to go to the fanciest, nicest place in town on a first date. It's just too much pressure. On the other hand, I generally don't like most of the casual, full service chain restaurants available either. To me, the best place is a local independent or regional chain that is casual. Unique is good! Of course, this applies for eating out in general, not just dates. My favorite first date place is a small Vietnamese restaurant - it's casual and relatively inexpensive, but the food is good and the staff is thoughtful (that have a first date 6th sense, and know exactly when to interrupt and when to back off).

        11 Replies
        1. re: mpjmph
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          Augie6 RE: mpjmph Jan 12, 2011 07:13 AM

          Great advice soo far everyone. (mphmph-- hit a nail on the head) Price is very subjective (probally should of left that factor out )..

          More detail in my recent situation... taking a girl out, that i had a past with to "catch up" . First plan was to take her to a new place in city on sat night.. Plans changed now to Friday evening at a newer local restaurant .. It is on slightly higher price side and very nice inside.. (for subarb Pittsburgh prices is $16-25 subjective lol ) Initial plans eat in the bar area, either at the bar or small tables near ?? Im attempting to pull off a date that doesn't feel like a date

          1. re: Augie6
            m
            mpjmph RE: Augie6 Jan 12, 2011 07:20 AM

            Having been in the same situation not too long ago... Sit at a table in the bar area. It will feel more causal, like you're "just catching up." Sitting at the bar will make it difficult to talk and take in body language.

            1. re: Augie6
              r
              ribeye621 RE: Augie6 Jan 18, 2011 03:16 PM

              Is she aware that it's a date? I'm half-joking but there was something odd about that last sentence, like you're trying to "trick" her into a date.

              One thought, not judging at all because I don't know if you've done this, but a local restaurant in Milwaukee, Ill just call it X, is always voted "most romantic," though I'll never know why. The food is decent but it's cramped and extremely drafty, not good in Wisconsin winter.

              Anyway, every guy I've ever known who wanted to get laid would take date to X because of it's reputation as romantic. Most women I know have avoided guys who've wanted to take them to X too soon in the dating phase because they felt he was either A. expecting sex or B. trying too hard to fit into that romantic cliche, kind of like the guys who would make some sort of embarassing public marriage proposal.

            2. re: mpjmph
              im_nomad RE: mpjmph Jan 12, 2011 07:33 AM

              I agree with this one, even as an older woman. Unless I'm going out on a date with someone who is rolling in money to begin with or something and it's an every couple of days thing anyway (would like to point out this has never happened, haha) the "fanciest, nicest place in town" who set off some alarms, and make me a little squirmy. Comes off as trying too hard, and it's overwhelming. You know, like a guy who tells you that he loves you three dates in or something. Save the big gestures for later.

              And speaking only for myself, for years I didn't do the first date dinner unless I already knew the person well. You feel a little self-conscious on a first date, and don't want to worry about what you might have stuck in your teeth, or what not, plus first date butterflies always kept me feeling like I didn't want to eat anyway.

              It also depends on what you mean by "unique" food eateries. Someone who might not be able to tolerate certain foods, might not be able to appreciate certain restaurants.

              1. re: mpjmph
                invinotheresverde RE: mpjmph Jan 14, 2011 03:27 PM

                The first date my husband and I went on that involved food was Vietnamese (good call, mpjmph). Something ethnic lets you know the other person has a fairly open mind and isn't afraid to try new things. Since we're drunks, our first date was drinks, of course. ;)

                1. re: invinotheresverde
                  mariacarmen RE: invinotheresverde Jan 18, 2011 09:14 PM

                  "Since we're drunks, our first date was drinks, of course."
                  +11111111!!

                  1. re: mariacarmen
                    linguafood RE: mariacarmen Jan 19, 2011 08:02 AM

                    our first, second, and following dates were mostly drinks. pizza at 1 am maybe.

                    1. re: linguafood
                      gaffk RE: linguafood Jan 19, 2011 02:45 PM

                      Ah, to be young, in love and drunk :)

                      1. re: gaffk
                        mariacarmen RE: gaffk Jan 19, 2011 09:18 PM

                        well, we still have the latter two going.... ( :

                        1. re: mariacarmen
                          linguafood RE: mariacarmen Jan 20, 2011 09:26 AM

                          you betcha. let's hope we never sober up '-P

                      2. re: linguafood
                        invinotheresverde RE: linguafood Jan 19, 2011 02:54 PM

                        Or bad Chinese. ;)

                2. pdxgastro RE: Augie6 Jan 12, 2011 11:21 AM

                  Forget what everybody has said so far. Be true to yourself and find someone whose interests in food match yours.

                  11 Replies
                  1. re: pdxgastro
                    c
                    Cathy RE: pdxgastro Jan 12, 2011 11:27 AM

                    +1

                    I could tell you a long story. Just know the ending is that we are still married. Since 1979.

                    1. re: pdxgastro
                      chowser RE: pdxgastro Jan 12, 2011 01:51 PM

                      Exactly--who wants a second date w/ someone who loves the Olive Garden, if you're a foodie? And, how great would it be if you took her to a great hole in the wall place and she loved it? It's instant weed out. The goal isn't a future date for the sake of a future date. Oh, or maybe it is. Let me change that. If you're looking for someone compatible for long term, go w/ what you enjoy. If you're looking for a quick one or two nighter, Olive Garden might be the place.

                      1. re: chowser
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                        ediblover RE: chowser Jan 12, 2011 02:16 PM

                        I think that's missing the point. It's not really about the food, but getting to know a person and not sending the wrong message out.

                        If I'm going out to eat, to me it's more about the food than anything else. So, I may (and have) choose a fairly pricey place or a downright dirt cheap place, all for the food/cultural experience. But, what's my dinner companion going to think if the bill comes to $300+ for the two of us or if the place is a ramen stand? Remember, this is two people that don't know each other that well. Some very reasonable questions that the person may be thinking are:

                        "I don't have enough $ to cover this if we have to split the bill. What do I do?"
                        "Is this person putting on an act in order to impress me?"
                        "Is this person expecting breakfast?"
                        "Is this cheap place reflective of how this person values me?"

                        If you took a person to an off-beat place and the person seems agitated, what do you do?

                        1. re: chowser
                          im_nomad RE: chowser Jan 12, 2011 02:40 PM

                          I think we've seen a couple of threads on here from long-standing couples in which one is a food fanatic, and one is not. They would probably tell you that they were happy to have not "weeded" someone out.

                          I wouldn't personally ditch someone if they liked a chain, but were still open minded about trying new things, if they had other/many great qualities. It's not always all about the food.

                          1. re: im_nomad
                            chowser RE: im_nomad Jan 12, 2011 04:34 PM

                            Right, so if you brought someone to an unusual place and they turned their noses up at it, you'd know the person wasn't adventurous.

                            1. re: chowser
                              im_nomad RE: chowser Jan 12, 2011 04:45 PM

                              Depends on the reason. Ever watch that restaurant scene in "Along Came Polly" ?

                              1. re: im_nomad
                                chowser RE: im_nomad Jan 12, 2011 04:48 PM

                                I'd have no problems if a guy told me he couldn't eat certain foods for medical reasons. I don't understand why Ben Stiller's character didn't but then it wouldn't make for a good movie.

                                1. re: chowser
                                  linguafood RE: chowser Jan 16, 2011 10:28 AM

                                  Which it really wasn't, unless one is into gross-out humor.

                                  1. re: linguafood
                                    Servorg RE: linguafood Jan 17, 2011 08:47 AM

                                    Food and Movies - something for everyone. From 9 1/2 Weeks to John Belushi doing his "zit" impression at the campus dining hall in Animal House to Babette's Feast and Like Water for Chocolate. Something (or someone) for everyone. Just like dining and dating.

                                    1. re: Servorg
                                      linguafood RE: Servorg Jan 17, 2011 08:48 AM

                                      Thankfully. Though I'd say Belushi was funnier than Stiller.

                            2. re: im_nomad
                              n
                              Nocturnalbill RE: im_nomad Jan 19, 2011 08:50 AM

                              I've definitely converted my wife over the course of the marriage. When we first got together, she ate nothing not boxed or chain. I nearly teared up the first time that she said that roasted potatoes weren't complete without truffle oil. So I am very glad that I didn't weed out the non-food person.

                        2. mtngirlnv RE: Augie6 Jan 12, 2011 02:33 PM

                          I had a few local restaurants that were casual, low key and midpriced that I always suggested for second dates. Like others, I prefer a first date to be a coffee or something similar, that allows it to be shortened if necessary. As a veteran of dating in my 20's, then late 30's, and then again in my 50's, this is a tried and true method. And second dates are a fun way to find out about a person's tastes in food.

                          1. n
                            NicoleFriedman RE: Augie6 Jan 12, 2011 04:30 PM

                            You know you may have found the "one" when a first date does not feel like a first date. For myself and my husband, we are both food lovers. Ask us about the food on our first date, and we'd say "huh?" We actually met at a local cafe (my pick) that was cheap and casual. I picked it because it's great for dessert/coffee but also serves dinner in the case the date went well. It turned out that as soon as we sat down, we talked non-stop for almost 3 hrs. We only let up for air when we realized it was almost 11pm and we hadn't eaten dinner yet. If we had met at a high end restaurant, of course we would have had a fantastic time but we would have both been frustrated because it would have distracted us from our mission at hand- to make googly eyes at each other and not shut up:} You shouldn't be worried about "weeding people out"; that will set you up for disaster. Focus on finding out about the person you are with and hopefully you will have a great time. If red flags come up of course you should listen to them, but try to avoid making judgements so quickly. I've had dates who've pushed too hard for me to come over when I clearly was not going to. No way in **** would there be a second date. However, a date who chooses the Olive Garden? Having dated almost all of the Jewish single men in NYC (you think I exaggerate!), I can honestly say that unfortunately, there are good men out there, but they are so so hard to find.... I learned not to rule someone out based on one aspect of their personality until you get the big picture. As for a good first date locale, if the weather calls for it I think a walk in a park or a museum is a perfect first date. In fact, the endorphins from even slight exercise can help relax you, upping the chances of having a pleasant and happy experience. Save the high end restaurant for a 2nd or 3rd date, when you both feel comfortable with each other and you can focus a bit more on the food.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: NicoleFriedman
                              chowser RE: NicoleFriedman Jan 12, 2011 04:44 PM

                              I think you found out that you were compatible also because you were both happy at a cafe that had great food and was cheap and casual. I have high maintenance friends who would have turned their noses up at that and at any guy who would not spend a fortune on them. And, those types of women would have turned your husband off, too. So, there is an element of weeding people out based on what they expect/want from a date or relationship.

                              Personally, my husband had me when he made me a complete home cooked meal on our second date. That was far better than any high end restaurant. And, we both still like to cook together, almost 20 years later. It was much better than his taking me to a high end restaurant (which he did do, too, eventually). My high maintenance friend (the one who got a 3+ carat diamond for an engagement ring was mortified that we didn't go to a nicer place. Yes, her husband took her to nice expensive restaurants from day 1 and is still paying for it, almost 20 years later!:-) It's about finding compatibility.

                              1. re: chowser
                                Seeker19104 RE: chowser Jan 16, 2011 09:59 AM

                                I've always found cooking to be an attractive quality in a man -- One of the few ways they have to show nurturance.

                                1. re: Seeker19104
                                  c oliver RE: Seeker19104 Jan 16, 2011 10:52 AM

                                  I think men have as many ways to nurture as women.

                            2. deet13 RE: Augie6 Jan 12, 2011 05:23 PM

                              IMO, food preferences are about as personal and as meaningful to the individual as sexual preferences are.

                              So go slow, take your time, and don't make them recoil in disgust and horror. In other words, if you choose to take your first date to your favorite little taqueria, don't order the cow brain tacos.

                              As for what kind of eatery to take a young lady to on a first date? Dinner was never the centerpiece for my first dates. Way back during the Bronze Age, when I was dating, I always found that someplace that served breakfast after 6pm was always a solid choice.

                              As a personal observation, women always seemed to enjoy chatting over pancakes after dark. The key here is the pancakes part. I find that my own success in finding the most wonderful woman in the world was due to my liberal application of pancakes, and a spoonful of dogged perseverance.

                              1. ipsedixit RE: Augie6 Jan 12, 2011 05:31 PM

                                Go somewhere where the food is safe. Not a chain per se, but not a place like WD-50. And generally avoid ethnic unless you know your date enjoys that particular cuisine.

                                Go somewhere quiet. Self-explanatory.

                                Go somewhere where there's table service.

                                Go somewhere that's not too pricey, nor too cheap. If it's too expensive you might come as trying to show off, or overbearing. Too cheap, well, you just come off looking like a schmuck.

                                1. meatn3 RE: Augie6 Jan 12, 2011 05:33 PM

                                  As much as I love food, I prefer a somewhat limited menu for a date at the getting to know you point. If it is going well we are usually talking so much that it makes it hard to take in a menu that is very involved or offers a large number of options. If I'm unsure how it is going, then I'm a bit nervous and have trouble concentrating on an involved menu.

                                  A casual place with a manageable selection of well prepared dishes works. I also prefer a place that is quiet enough to converse easily.

                                  I'm not fixated on money and I appreciate good value. I once had a first date who inquired as to how much of an entree I was going to eat (before I had decided what to order). Suggested we could split something. Entrees were not huge or expensive. We went out for a few months, but this "suggestion" set the tone for the future. This person had major money issues (among others).

                                  1. Veggo RE: Augie6 Jan 12, 2011 06:02 PM

                                    I did all that untold times in my dating years. If she ordered chicken, I got the red light. If she ordered lobster, I got the green light. It wasn't rocket surgery. And I always favored lobster.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Veggo
                                      a
                                      Augie6 RE: Veggo Jan 13, 2011 06:29 AM

                                      GREAT FEEDBACK from EVERYONE .. I hate to misrepresent myself as a real adventerous eater, I just dislike (shouldn't use hate) chain restaurants, with a passion. I also do not usually date on a regular basis at least in the normal sense of dating. (normal sense as complete stranger ) I really dig the idea of a non food first date. Keeps it short and simple, wich can be extremly important.

                                      In my immediate area, it is hard to meet a steady medium. It's either hole in wall (not good) or more upscale (for area not for everywhere) . Upscale has better food , much better food, but comes along with a stigma.

                                    2. s
                                      silence9 RE: Augie6 Jan 14, 2011 02:46 PM

                                      Hello... I would say that a 'small plates' or tapas-type restaurant would be a great first date option. Each ordered small plate selection is a sort of metaphor for what's happening on a first date, i.e., there's not the full commitment of a full entree; a small plate or tapas is _just a taste_ of what the kitchen can tantalize one's appetite, much as a first date is just an initial sampling of what each individual has to offer once you become better acquainted with their life's 'menu'. A couple of small plates shared seem so much less daunting a commitment than a 32 oz. chateaubriand for two, n'est pas? Also, small plate and tapas bars allow for sampling a glass or two of low-key adult beverages, as opposed to plunking down $100+ dollars for an imposing bottle of vin that may reek of overcompensation... In a word, small plates are exploratory in nature, as might best befit and mirror a potential budding relationship...

                                      9 Replies
                                      1. re: silence9
                                        gaffk RE: silence9 Jan 14, 2011 02:57 PM

                                        Great idea\analogy.

                                        1. re: silence9
                                          t
                                          teemo RE: silence9 Jan 15, 2011 01:19 PM

                                          I'm not so sure tapas is a good idea for a first date. Not everyone is okay with sharing plates, and I think most women would be uncomfortable sharing food with a man they don't know that well. And then, since neither partner knows the other's tastes, one person might order things the other person hates, and then they *really* wouldn't want to share...but might feel uncomfortable expressing that. I personally love tapas, but I would save that experience for later dates.

                                          1. re: teemo
                                            gaffk RE: teemo Jan 15, 2011 03:29 PM

                                            and I think most women would be uncomfortable sharing food with a man they don't know that well.
                                            --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                            Really? You don't think 2 adults could look at a menu of small plates and agree on 3, 4 or 5? And women are such delicate creatures that they couldn't possibly share a plate of food with a man? To me, a few small shared plates with a glass of wine would be the ideal first date.

                                            1. re: gaffk
                                              KarenDW RE: gaffk Jan 15, 2011 08:44 PM

                                              for me, anyone who doesn't share food, doesn't get a "next date". Generosity spans many areas.

                                              1. re: gaffk
                                                c oliver RE: gaffk Jan 16, 2011 10:55 AM

                                                I know a man who doesn't share food. There are people here on CH who probably wouldn't share food with someone they don't know. Concern about disease. I'm with you, gaffk.

                                                1. re: gaffk
                                                  j
                                                  julesrules RE: gaffk Jan 20, 2011 04:43 AM

                                                  I know people who aren't really comfortable with the whole shared plates thing, even among friends. These days a lot of first dates are between strangers who 'met' on the Internet and don't even have mutual friends. I'm game to eat anything and not germ phobic, but if I was getting a weird vibe or whatever from a guy I had literally just met, a forced shared plates scenario might not help things. I also hate the feeling of being 'tested' on a date.

                                                2. re: teemo
                                                  jfood RE: teemo Jan 16, 2011 10:59 AM

                                                  There is a simple solution...

                                                  You ask for a couple of plates and serving spoons. The tapas arrive and you split and place half on each of the separate plate and then eat with your own utensils. Do sharing, n double dipping. We do this all the time. Hardest part is getting the server to bring a bunch of spoons.

                                                  1. re: teemo
                                                    mariacarmen RE: teemo Jan 18, 2011 09:22 PM

                                                    "most women would be uncomfortable sharing food with a man they don't know that well"?? i don't know any of these women - and maybe i'm generalizing (ok, i am, but so were you) but women like that (or anyone) would seem to me to be closed off and not of a very generous spirit. Now, maybe the guy is the same way - then they're made for each other.

                                                    To the OP, i hate chain restaurants. If my BF had taken me to one on our first night out, I probably would have still gone out with him again, but I still would have been bummed about it. Instead, he made me a wonderful little appetizer late night plate of things he had at home in his fridge, after a night of casual bar-hopping where we got to talk for hours. It was a blissful night, and I fell for him right then and there (of course, his other stellar qualities had SOMETHING to do with that). We've been together for over 8 years now.

                                                    1. re: mariacarmen
                                                      linguafood RE: mariacarmen Jan 19, 2011 08:02 AM

                                                      awesome story, mc!

                                                3. Will Owen RE: Augie6 Jan 14, 2011 03:05 PM

                                                  Back when I was doing that, my usual first sit-down was a lunch date, but this was in a town where lunch hours were generally less strictly monitored than in many places, and it was a small city besides. The getting-to-know-you procedure here in the Los Angeles area seems to flow more along the lines of meeting for drinks, and then perhaps staying (or going on) for dinner. If I were still on the market that's almost certainly how I'd work it. That's a very good reason to pick a place such as a tapas bar or a wine bar/bistro, since the food part is as casual as the drinks part.

                                                  As for comfort levels, I'd never want to make a woman uncomfortable, but if her "zone" was restricted to places everyone's heard of with branches coast to coast, I'd probably have figured long before that this was not going to be a good match.

                                                  For the record, my first date with the now-and-forever Mrs. O *WAS* dinner, in Nashville, at what is now the Tin Angel on West End. There is a good-sized tree alongside there that was a sapling when we had our first kiss under it, following dinner and immediately before the rest of our lives.

                                                  1. b
                                                    bobbert RE: Augie6 Jan 15, 2011 09:51 AM

                                                    Brunch. Low key. Good food that runs the gammut. Don't have to dress up. Jazz brunch gives you option to listen to music if talk is not going well. Oh yeah, its pretty inexpensive as well. A bonus if this first date turns into a last date.

                                                    1. s
                                                      spinachandchocolate RE: Augie6 Jan 15, 2011 02:58 PM

                                                      Maybe you're dating the wrong girls? When I was 25 (only a few years ago) I would not be impressed if a guy took me to a chain. I would want to unique/cozy/fun atmosphere type place. A chain would be a big turn off if that was his choice.

                                                      1. GraceW RE: Augie6 Jan 15, 2011 06:15 PM

                                                        I think you should go where you want to--because if it does not sit well with her now, then just cut it off before you invest any more time. Frankly, I am roughly the same age group, and female, and slightly hound-natured... and I think the economy makes it really hard to execute a meal-date smoothly, especially if you want to go somewhere relatively nice.

                                                        One thing I would add is that if you are going somewhere adventurous, ask ahead of time about allergies and food-preferences. I am not talking about those salad-eating-only girls, but if she's a veg be respectful and make sure there are 1-2 options for her ahead of time. I went out with an older man (the older part was probably 1/2 the problem), and we were at a Tapas place--which is great, I love Tapas--but I am a vegetarian, and he kept ordering things with meat. It was absurd; he would say things like "Oh, bacon should be ok, Ok, we'll have the bacon wrapped dates..." Which led me to believe either: a) he did not want me to physically eat anything and just wanted what he wanted, b) he was so much a moron that he did not understand what being vegetarian means, or c) he just really did not think before he ordered.

                                                        I don't know, just be considerate. And, slightly unrelated, be careful with what you say about what she eats on the date. I am a lithe person and guys always comment: "I had no idea you could eat so much--oh my Gawd!" Which is fine because I am over it, but I know girls who would be turned-off.

                                                        5 Replies
                                                        1. re: GraceW
                                                          im_nomad RE: GraceW Jan 16, 2011 06:59 AM

                                                          While I wouldn't necessarily tell a first date before hand that I don't eat meat, unless he already knew me well enough before, but someone who knows, and keeps ordering stuff like that to share makes me scratch my head. Did he not ask you at any point "is this ok?"

                                                          1. re: im_nomad
                                                            GraceW RE: im_nomad Jan 16, 2011 10:26 AM

                                                            This individual and I had been friends for a long time; he had known I was a vegetarian. He didn't ask if it was ok. Just went on and on about how much he liked some of the (meat) dishes.

                                                            It was all very revealing (partly because I thought we were just friends, aka, I am not interested). And the night got worse afterward, so I ended up not talking to him again.

                                                          2. re: GraceW
                                                            c oliver RE: GraceW Jan 16, 2011 10:58 AM

                                                            I vote for door number B.

                                                            1. re: c oliver
                                                              GraceW RE: c oliver Jan 16, 2011 11:39 AM

                                                              He graduated from Stanford and Harvard.. so I assumed he wouldn't be that much a 'moron;' and he is of 'high-cultural intelligence' since he is well-traveled... so that seemed more evidence he would understand that vegs don't eat bacon.

                                                              1. re: GraceW
                                                                c oliver RE: GraceW Jan 16, 2011 11:48 AM

                                                                I don't use "moron" in a scientific or medical way (is that a bad word? Maybe I should be more careful.) I'd say social moron. Glad it was a first date only. :)

                                                          3. jlunar RE: Augie6 Jan 15, 2011 07:42 PM

                                                            Basic first-date (with people you don't really know) restaurant selectors:

                                                            - The ability to cut your date short, or extend it, as necessary.
                                                            - Not expensive. Expensive is not necessary on exploratory dates.
                                                            - Good, solid, food. Cheap is fine, but cheap and bad is never a plus.

                                                            So, this equates to things like:
                                                            - Happy Hour. You can easily end before dinner starts or transition to dinner if things go well. Usually inexpensive snacks.
                                                            - Ethnic places are decent, as they're usually not long meals anyway (I'm thinking pho, ramen, udon, etc). Usually inexpensive.

                                                            Food is important to you, so whether it's a deal-breaker or not, you still need to figure out where the other stands.

                                                            ---
                                                            http://www.foodpr0n.com -- food. is. love.

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: jlunar
                                                              s
                                                              soupkitten RE: jlunar Jan 15, 2011 08:28 PM

                                                              i'm totally in the coffee shop with nice pastries and/or light apps camp. you meet for coffee and if it goes swimmingly you can order noshes a la carte and talk for hours. or you can slurp your latte in 10 mins and call your kid brother from the bathroom and ask him to call you in 5 mins with a "work/friend/family" situation and oh gosh i gotta run. . . first dates for dinners can be really awkward, and sometimes happy hours can be too, uh. . . "happy?"

                                                              at a coffee date you can bring up restaurants, cooking and food in general as a light conversational topic along with your other interests and hobbies. people light up and start talking about their favorite hmong restaurant or charcuterie project. . . or they don't. you can base your next date around what they are excited about foodwise. if nothing excites them foodwise, you can call it a deal-breaker, or you can go in fully warned.

                                                              some women (some men too, but mainly women) have food hangups and won't do well with sharing a plate of food, or slurping down a messy food like a bowl of ramen or fried chicken in front of a potential mate that they are trying to impress with their, whatever, ladylike femininity or some such bullshit :) and some women have been "trained" by their elders that they are not to order certain items on a first date-- fwiw these ladies would fail some of the menu "tests/traps" put forth by some of the gentlemen in the thread. i just don't think there is a magic menu formula to selecting a potential ltr, though.

                                                              1. re: soupkitten
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                                                                DGresh RE: soupkitten Jan 16, 2011 05:50 AM

                                                                a coffee shop following a movie was my husband's and my first date (though we knew each other lightly before that). It seems perfect. You can stay as long or as little as you like.

                                                                1. re: soupkitten
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                                                                  NicoleFriedman RE: soupkitten Jan 16, 2011 01:32 PM

                                                                  I highly resent anyone who thinks they should have some kind of litmus test on a first date. Granted, some aspects of one's personality may just be deal breakers; Republican vs Democrat, you're religious and the other person isn't , etc. However, I'm talking about not wanting to date someone because they won't try the ox-tails on a first date. To me, that's absurd for a few reasons.
                                                                  #1 This is no indication of the person's openness to trying new foods. Some days I'm just not in the mood for something new or exotic, ESPECIALLY on a first date when the nerves are already on overdrive.
                                                                  #2 If your date is aware of your intention or even suspect it, how would you expect them to react? If I had a suspicion that I was being tested, even if I were to "pass" the test with flying colors, YOU would not pass my test for a second date.

                                                              2. KarenDW RE: Augie6 Jan 15, 2011 08:50 PM

                                                                When I was dating (back in the Dark Ages), first date was never dinner. Lunch, with it's well-defined timeline was sometimes entertained. A coffee date usually provided ample time to discover the other person's tastes re: food and drink, including which of the two was more important :P
                                                                For 2nd dates, a casual, somewhat quieter restaurant provides opportunity for further exploration of person. I actually find that chain restaurants are too noisy for my tastes, so if a series of dates occurred at chains, I'd probably jettison.

                                                                1. jfood RE: Augie6 Jan 16, 2011 07:13 AM

                                                                  Wow...great reads.

                                                                  Mrs J and I had the best 1st date...we shared a turkey sandwich at my house over the sink because I was packing to move. Second date was a double date for a Sinatra Concert, yes Frank, and the other couple male was a classmate who was a bot of a jerk. Neither me nor mrs J like very spicy and he chose a Szechuan. Now he leaves the table and tells the server that we all like spicy. First bites and OMG.

                                                                  30+ years later we have shared incredible meals out, fantastic joint meals in and have avoided chains. Now kids who were picky eaters as infants enjoy sweetbreads, foie gras and lasagne.

                                                                  Point is...who knows what will work and you have to trust your instincts and go with the flow. True love and longevity is not a math equation with a correct answer...it is an essay.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: jfood
                                                                    im_nomad RE: jfood Jan 16, 2011 07:36 AM

                                                                    :)

                                                                    1. re: jfood
                                                                      mariacarmen RE: jfood Jan 18, 2011 09:25 PM

                                                                      "True love and longevity is not a math equation with a correct answer...it is an essay."

                                                                      that's lovely.

                                                                    2. s
                                                                      smartie RE: Augie6 Jan 16, 2011 07:39 AM

                                                                      if there's attraction (chemistry) and you like each other then the first date place does not matter. I'd agree with the others make the first date coffee/drinks unless you already know each other through friends or work etc. You definitely need an escape plan if you meet and there is no attraction so a full scale meal is uncomfortable and unnecessary.

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                                                                        LeoLioness RE: Augie6 Jan 16, 2011 08:22 AM

                                                                        I always preferred just going out for drinks on first dates--easy to extend if it's going well, easy to bail on if it's obviously not.

                                                                        It's funny, but while a guy choosing a cool place for a first date wouldn't make me any more attracted to him, I'm pretty sure that choosing a place like the Cheesecake Factory would be a deal-breaker.

                                                                        15 Replies
                                                                        1. re: LeoLioness
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                                                                          NicoleFriedman RE: LeoLioness Jan 17, 2011 08:17 AM

                                                                          Granted, CCF is a chain but I really do not get the disdain for it on CH. I have always found CCF to have a very fun vibe, and even if I wasn't loving my date I would probably still have a good time there unless he was a real d****e:} Also, the menu is extremely diverse. Yes, nothing is actually "authentic" but it's an easy first date. If nothing else, share some appetizers and enjoy the drinks and desserts.

                                                                          1. re: NicoleFriedman
                                                                            Naco RE: NicoleFriedman Jan 17, 2011 08:42 AM

                                                                            Ridiculously large portions, a noise level appropriate for a bombing range, decor that looks like it came out of a Ferengi bordello. Also, the average entree contains enough salt to pay a Roman legion for several months.

                                                                            1. re: Naco
                                                                              c oliver RE: Naco Jan 17, 2011 08:49 AM

                                                                              Stupidly large menu, laminated, right? Cookie cutter. Same old, same old. It makes me wild (not in a good way) when I see people standing in line to get into the one in Macys at Union Square in SF when they had a world of interesting food in walking distance.

                                                                              1. re: c oliver
                                                                                Naco RE: c oliver Jan 17, 2011 08:56 AM

                                                                                I think chains have a place in this world, but this is a forum which is hard on them, and I don't see what The Cheescake Factory has to recommend it, even relative to other chains. There are plenty of other chains I'd rather go to.

                                                                                1. re: Naco
                                                                                  c oliver RE: Naco Jan 17, 2011 09:03 AM

                                                                                  Agreed. We're on the road ALOT with two dogs and eat drive-thru McDs fare often. But, yes, for the same amount of money as CCF, you can get non-chain food. If a date (gee, not sure I can remember dating) had so little imagination as to pick that, it would give me an eyebrow raising moment.

                                                                            2. re: NicoleFriedman
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                                                                              LeoLioness RE: NicoleFriedman Jan 17, 2011 09:45 AM

                                                                              I don't see anything "fun" about the vibe and I find the food bland and the portion size absurd. It's like they have something for everyone...and providing your standards aren't terribly high, you might even enjoy it! So that's where my disdain comes from.

                                                                              I'd be really turned off if a guy suggested this to me.

                                                                              1. re: NicoleFriedman
                                                                                jfood RE: NicoleFriedman Jan 18, 2011 04:14 AM

                                                                                I have never eaten in a CCF but have purchased 2 slices to eat at the hotel after a nice seafood dinner in the area. I found the cheesecake really bad, the banana is the one that sticks in my mind as incredibly sweet and the oreo or chocolate something was the same. I actually had two bites of each and discarded. It was just not to my liking but the place was abuzz so it may be good for a first date.

                                                                                1. re: NicoleFriedman
                                                                                  mariacarmen RE: NicoleFriedman Jan 18, 2011 09:28 PM

                                                                                  (Ok, Nicole, what is "d*****e"?? i can't figure that one out! of course, you can't really tell me here, but.....)

                                                                                  wait. i just figured it out. sorry, slow!

                                                                                  CCF IS a bit loud, and don't you have to wait like forever to get into one?

                                                                                  1. re: mariacarmen
                                                                                    im_nomad RE: mariacarmen Jan 19, 2011 03:24 AM

                                                                                    think douc......etc. ;)

                                                                                    1. re: im_nomad
                                                                                      jfood RE: im_nomad Jan 19, 2011 04:45 AM

                                                                                      The only thing that works on dogs when sprayed by a skunk

                                                                                    2. re: mariacarmen
                                                                                      linguafood RE: mariacarmen Jan 19, 2011 08:03 AM

                                                                                      wha? now we can't spell out douche? i don't think that's on the 7 word list....

                                                                                      1. re: linguafood
                                                                                        mariacarmen RE: linguafood Jan 19, 2011 08:13 AM

                                                                                        AAHAHAHAHAHAH you're right, i was being stupidly p.c. i wrote douche all over that Top Chef thread!

                                                                                        1. re: mariacarmen
                                                                                          c oliver RE: mariacarmen Jan 19, 2011 08:20 AM

                                                                                          A completely benign, though generally unnecessary, activity :)

                                                                                          1. re: c oliver
                                                                                            mariacarmen RE: c oliver Jan 19, 2011 08:26 AM

                                                                                            i know, and SO out of character.

                                                                                            1. re: mariacarmen
                                                                                              GraydonCarter RE: mariacarmen Jan 19, 2011 12:27 PM

                                                                                              The funny thing is, if she had just written the word, it would have gotten zero attention, instead of eight responses! :-) The law of unintended consequences...

                                                                                2. q
                                                                                  queencru RE: Augie6 Jan 16, 2011 09:07 AM

                                                                                  I think a good first date choice is usually inexpensive, relatively familiar, and not time consuming. This does not have to be a chain by any means. I think the issue with higher end places is that they tend to give off the wrong impression and can take much longer than the inexpensive ethnic eateries.

                                                                                  As a non-drinker, I am not too fond of drinks as a first date. I think regardless of whether I did drink, guys tend to go into TMI mode with spilling their life stories to me after just a few drinks at a bar. I want some mystery after the first date.

                                                                                  13 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: queencru
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                                                                                    Augie6 RE: queencru Jan 17, 2011 07:30 AM

                                                                                    I am amazed of all the feedback from this post.. I thank everyone who shared thier thoughts!!! One of the biggest lessons I learned so far, is to really fact find into what date is looking for.. If drinks /coffee is her expectations a steak dinner is a deal breaker.. (also works the opposite )

                                                                                    Over the weekend had a fairly good date.. went to a small local italian place. Everything was going good, until she HATED her FOOD!!! This automatically turned a great atmosphere into a post apocalyptic aftermath.. WHAT TO DO WHEN SHE IS DISSAPOINTED IN MEAL? (even though I was amazed she had a legit reason not to like her food; put tons of cheese on her seafood pasta... )

                                                                                    1. re: Augie6
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                                                                                      NicoleFriedman RE: Augie6 Jan 17, 2011 08:15 AM

                                                                                      If she was freaking out and having a hissy fit, then you should see a red flag. However, if she was able to laugh it off or just not dwell on it, then that shouldn't be a deal breaker. I was on a 3rd date with someone who had a legitimate reason to be angry with another driver on the road who cut him off. An initial response, even a few curses and I'd understand. However, he was still cursing about the incident several hours later. I never dated him again.

                                                                                      1. re: Augie6
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                                                                                        queencru RE: Augie6 Jan 17, 2011 08:35 AM

                                                                                        Was she acting like a drama queen? I wouldn't ding her too much for putting cheese on her pasta if she was just trying to cover up some flavors she didn't like to be able to eat it. Did she have specific reasons for disliking it? I've been to lots of disappointing meals and normally I just laugh it off if it's just a matter of my taste being different from the chef's taste. It's really no big deal. Not every restaurant meal is going to be wonderful. I know with my coworkers we have a lot of heated discussions about which Indian or Greek restaurant is better and it's really all a matter of taste.

                                                                                        1. re: queencru
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                                                                                          soupkitten RE: queencru Jan 17, 2011 09:09 AM

                                                                                          I read it differently: that the date's seafood pasta *arrived* covered w cheese, and that's why she hated it. in which case, i'd say, date that lady again :)

                                                                                          1. re: soupkitten
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                                                                                            queencru RE: soupkitten Jan 17, 2011 09:34 AM

                                                                                            No disagreements there. I am hoping I misunderstood the OP and that was the case.

                                                                                        2. re: Augie6
                                                                                          GraydonCarter RE: Augie6 Jan 17, 2011 09:26 AM

                                                                                          Gives you a chance to be chivelrous and make the restarurant get it right.

                                                                                          Also tells you a great deal about your date.

                                                                                          1. re: GraydonCarter
                                                                                            q
                                                                                            queencru RE: GraydonCarter Jan 17, 2011 09:34 AM

                                                                                            If my date tried to "make the restaurant get it right," he would not get a second date. That is something for me to decide to do, not my date.

                                                                                            1. re: queencru
                                                                                              c oliver RE: queencru Jan 17, 2011 09:48 AM

                                                                                              Yep.

                                                                                          2. re: Augie6
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                                                                                            LeoLioness RE: Augie6 Jan 17, 2011 09:48 AM

                                                                                            I don't think you have an obligation to do anything. She didn't like her meal. It happens.

                                                                                            1. re: LeoLioness
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                                                                                              Augie6 RE: LeoLioness Jan 17, 2011 11:58 AM

                                                                                              To be more specific, she did not like that they put cheese on her seafood pasta (the fact she knew this was GREAT!!) and they also used a different pasta than listed(not a life changer) .. She did not throw a hissy fit and did end up still eating some of it...

                                                                                              Although, as her date the focus went from us having a good time to the restaurent messing up.... even if she didnt come out and say it.. (women usually dont have to say much to know when something is wrong) ...

                                                                                              1. re: Augie6
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                                                                                                LeoLioness RE: Augie6 Jan 17, 2011 12:13 PM

                                                                                                I think you are overthinking this.

                                                                                                1. re: Augie6
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                                                                                                  NicoleFriedman RE: Augie6 Jan 17, 2011 05:59 PM

                                                                                                  If this is the lasting impression you have from the date, then either the date wasn't that good (and I'm not talking about the restaurant) or your focus is in the wrong place. Even if the date had been "messed up", if I really liked the person, it wouldn't matter. Sometimes you learn the most about someone in situations like this than when things go "perfectly".

                                                                                                  1. re: Augie6
                                                                                                    q
                                                                                                    queencru RE: Augie6 Jan 18, 2011 02:34 AM

                                                                                                    This doesn't seem like a big deal to me. She was disappointed with her dish, ate some of it, and didn't say that much about it. I think that's the best you can expect from the situation. Not every date is going to go perfectly or be a wonderfully magical experience.

                                                                                            2. q
                                                                                              Q47 RE: Augie6 Jan 17, 2011 09:34 AM

                                                                                              Chow needs a dating thread:

                                                                                              55 YO DWM d/d-free Chowhound seeks financially secure woman for food adventures in the Rockville - Germantown - MOCO area.

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: Q47
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                                                                                                ultimatepotato RE: Q47 Jan 18, 2011 05:08 AM

                                                                                                Dating thread would be a win, but might make for some awkward moments when people review the date/meal here too!

                                                                                              2. t
                                                                                                tastesgoodwhatisit RE: Augie6 Jan 17, 2011 11:42 AM

                                                                                                I'm curious - do you decide on the restaurant yourself, or do you ask the woman's opinion when making plans? Even for an adventurous eater it might be offputting to be taken somewhere unusual by a guy who doesn't know you well without him asking you if you actually like that sort of food - it could come across as more about him showing off than being interested in whether or not you have a good time.

                                                                                                So if you're doing an unusual place, asking "Do you like cow's brains tacos?" or "What about checking out the new raw foods restaurant?" are better than simply taking them there.

                                                                                                In general, going for high end on price on an early date can easily be a turnoff. One one hand, it can seem like the guy's trying too hard to impress you. On the other hand, there's the old "I bought you lobster so you have to put out" attitude.

                                                                                                As far as what makes a good first date - something not too expensive, but not too cheap and nasty either, and something that doesn't take too long. Meeting for drinks or coffee - great, but dinner plus a movie plus drinks is a really long time if you don't like the guy.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit
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                                                                                                  Augie6 RE: tastesgoodwhatisit Jan 18, 2011 05:32 AM

                                                                                                  I am exagerating some of the points just for converstaionial purposes. I do overthink almost everything I do, but also belabor points to get responeses.

                                                                                                  Tastesgood-- ironically, i use to always just pick a place that i thought was a good fit, quickly realize that myidea of a nice place is not always same view point. Case in point-- last saturday, i was going to take her to a "trendy" supper club with a neat gastropub. (wide food selection, moderate priced, soft rumbled noise) But after speaking with her she really was in the mood for a italian meal.. not fancy ital, but a local hole in wall , ended up GREAT..

                                                                                                2. v
                                                                                                  vanierstudent RE: Augie6 Jan 18, 2011 09:34 PM

                                                                                                  My first date with my current girlfriend were fireworks in the old-port of Montreal and A Canadian snack known as a Beaver tail(not an actual beaver tail, more like the stuff Obama eat when he visited Canada). Second one was Crepe Bretonne, beer and hot chocolate after. While you should try to play safe, always think outside the box=).

                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: vanierstudent
                                                                                                    j
                                                                                                    julesrules RE: vanierstudent Jan 20, 2011 05:33 AM

                                                                                                    Yes, when I was a student in Montreal some memorable first dates that friends and I had were crepes in the Faubourg and Liege Waffles at the Eaton Centre. VERY casual, but good, fun food. An example of a BAD student date would be the guy who suggested we meet at Van Houtte's (are those still around?) then brought his own tea bag and asked for free hot water (they charged him for a tea - at least he didn't make a huge fuss about that). Way to make a girl feel special...
                                                                                                    But even the good first dates did not lead to relationships. There's only so much you can control about the whole dating thing, and I think a guy who is trying really hard to make everything perfect can also be a turn-off. It creates pressure to live up to the expectation that this will be the BEST DATE EVER regardless of whether the people involved are actually having fun together. In the end the most important thing is the intangible chemistry.

                                                                                                    1. re: julesrules
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                                                                                                      vanierstudent RE: julesrules Jan 20, 2011 11:46 AM

                                                                                                      >> An example of a BAD student date would be the guy who suggested we meet at Van Houtte's (are those still around?) then brought his own tea bag and asked for free hot water (they charged him for a tea - at least he didn't make a huge fuss about that). Way to make a girl feel special...

                                                                                                      LOL. Yes they are still around. They even expanded to eastern Ontario. There's one on campus at the University of Ottawa... The coffee still suck btw.

                                                                                                      I'm happy she's a foodie, most of our night out usually involves great food(which is now debatable, since we are both attending UofO lawschool, not a great food city) and alcohol=).

                                                                                                      I remember a friend of mine took her Girlfriend to an arcade once, he should know better, he is in his 20s, and wonder why she never called him back...

                                                                                                      1. re: vanierstudent
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                                                                                                        julesrules RE: vanierstudent Jan 20, 2011 12:09 PM

                                                                                                        Actually Van Houtte's had a mid-90s incursion into Toronto. I know because I worked at one :) At the time, with no Second Cups or Starbucks or indie cafes, it really was one of the nicer places in our hood for coffee - now there is a cafe on every block.
                                                                                                        In some ways our model was better than today's chain cafes. We baked everything in-house daily - no not from scratch, but there was none of this wrapping up muffins and cookies for tomorrow or trucking in croissants from across town.

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