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Jan 31, 2012 08:31 AM

Recommendation for a Romantic Dinner

Hi folks, I'm planning on bringing my girlfriend on a surprise trip to Philadelphia in a couple weeks, because we've never been, the hotels are cheap, and we like exploring new cities. I was wondering if someone could suggest a really great place for a Saturday night dinner. Cost is not really an issue, although if it's someplace where I couldn't get a reservation now for a couple weeks out, that won't work. We like almost all types of food; what I'm looking for is someplace special that will be romantic and will be a great experience. Any suggestions welcome. Thanks.

(Also, I'm not sure what neighborhood we'll be staying in, so any recommendations on that front are good too. The plan is to eat good food, go to museums, see sights, go shopping, etc.--touristy stuff).

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  1. If cost is really no issue, go to Vetri. You might not be able to get Saturday reservations on short notice, but it never hurts to check, and someone may cancel.

    For a more budget-friendly option, I think Butcher & Singer is a really cool place to take a date. It's got that old-timey supper club thing going on. They have to like steak, though. You should be able to get in on Saturday night.

    7 Replies
    1. re: deprofundis

      Vetri looks perfect, but no reservations currently available on Opentable; maybe they have a waiting list I can get on. Butcher & Singer definitely looks solid--I'll have to think about whether I want to go for a steakhouse vibe, but it looks like a great place.

      I was also looking at Amada, which seems really good, do you recommend that place?

      1. re: broodingomnipresence

        Call the restaurant. Some places don't put all their tables on OpenTable.

        I've never been to Amada, but I have been to Tinto. Both are Garces restaurants, and probably on similar level in terms of quality. Amada is the "flagship" place, though. Based on my experiences at Garces places, I would say yes I recommend it, but not as highly as the 2 I listed above. Some of Garces' dishes are great, and some... eh. You can have a great meal if you know what to order.

        1. re: deprofundis

          I don't find Amada particularly romantic, it's kind of crowded and loud, though if you request a table in the back, maybe it could be. Tinto could be more romantic, it's not as loud, but you have to request to not sit at one of the bar-style high top tables, those are definitely not romantic and that room is echoey. B&S I think is far too loud for a romantic dinner but maybe the side tables are better, I've only sat in the center section. Barclay Prime is a more expensive steakhouse that is more elegant and quieter.

          If you think a fine dining atmosphere can be romantic, I really like Lacroix. Request a table overlooking the park. Great atmosphere, service, and food. The chairs are very deep and comfortable so you won't be that close to each other physically, but otherwise I think it's very romantic. It's expensive, but very well worth it.

            1. re: barryg

              viz-a-viz neighborhoods, Rittenhouse Square is probably your best bet. Lacroix is actually in the Rittenhouse Hotel, it's one of the best hotels in the city. But there are several in the neighborhood.

              1. re: barryg

                Never been to Lacroix, but probably a good choice as well.

                I prefer B&S over Barclay Prime. FWIW I've always been seated at a side table, and I've never found the noise level too bad. I will admit that the food is better at BP (the prices higher too), but it's not *that* much better. And although BP is damn nice and elegant, I think the atmosphere at B&S is much more fun and way better for a date. BP is good for a business dinner or a group of guy-friends.

            2. re: broodingomnipresence

              Definitely call before giving up on it. It is exquisite (and very romantic). We took a trip to Philadelphia just to go to Vetri for an anniversary.

          1. What do you find romantic? Are you more about luxurious setting, or small and cozy? Is atmosphere more important than food?

            I agree with the Lacroix rec for a fine dining romantic spot with excellent food. Personally, I find small, intimate places with excellent food to be the most romantic. For that, my top pic would be Bibou. It's a little French BYO (so you'd have to bring your own wine) with some of the best food in the city and charming service. It might be tough to get a reservation at this point, but you never know.

            Rittenhouse is a great area to stay, with great eating options for all meals, fun shopping, and easy access to the museums (not a far walk, especially on a nice day). The Sofitel is very nice (but don't eat in their restaurant).

            1. I'm on the Vetri waitlist, but it sounds unlikely that that will happen. Unless that works out, I'm going with La Croix, which seems great--their tasting menu looks good, as I was looking for somewhere that would be an "experience" like that.

              8 Replies
              1. re: broodingomnipresence

                I don't think you can go wrong either way. At some point though, you should plan a trip for Vetri. It really is a special restaurant. Enjoy your trip!

                1. re: broodingomnipresence

                  You can't go wrong with Lacroix! We always find it the perfect place for a special occasion.

                  1. re: broodingomnipresence

                    My wife and I celebrated our 10th anniversary at Lacroix last October. It was a wonderful meal on all fronts (service and food). If you can't get into Vetri, it would be my choice too.

                    1. re: Philly Ray

                      Snag a seat near the window at XIX (Nineteen) on the 19th floor of the Hyatt at the Bellevue. Show up early and enjoy a coctail in the adjacent bar and then have a lovely, romantic dinner in the main restaurant. I think it's very classy, romantic, and the food is very good. Not cheap but way cheaper than Vetri and probably cheaper than Lacroix (which probably gets the nod for food but not atmosphere). I think XIX is a can't miss....

                      1. re: Schpsychman

                        Have you been to XIX recently, like within the last 10-12 months? I heard the restaurant was "downgraded" by Hyatt and that the chef was reassigned and their budget cut. I haven't heard from anyone who's been since that happened (if it happened). It was about a year ago.

                        1. re: Buckethead

                          Wow, I did not hear this and no, haven't been there this past year. That's a shame....

                          1. re: Schpsychman

                            Well, it may not be true, I was just hoping you'd been there, any time anyone mentions XIX I ask but no one seems to have been there recently. The view certainly hasn't changed, though.

                            1. re: Buckethead

                              If you look at menu online, you will see that they call themselves a bistro and the menu is significantly reduced. Feels more like a Marriott restaurant, except with exceptional views of the Philadelphia skyline. Frankly they need to give up the space and allow someone who is not corporate to run it if they are going to be able to create a destination restaurant, combined with the wonderful views.

                  2. If you do stay around Rittenhouse, consider Parc for brunch the next morning. I much prefer it at that time of day to later. It's a little ersatz, but a pleasant experience, especially with a view of the park in the morning.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: lsmutko

                      My wife and I went to Parc the morning after our anniversary dinner at Lacroix and while the food was good, the service left a lot to be desired (especially after the great night we had at Lacroix). It took forever for my wife to receive her cappuccino and then they brought her the wrong entree. By the time she received the right dish, I was almost done mine. So much for having breakfast "together".

                      If we had to do it over again, we probably would have had breakfast at Lacroix since we stayed the night at The Rittenhouse.

                      1. re: Philly Ray

                        I like The Dandelion for brunch. Of course, Lacroix's brunch is legendary.

                        1. re: deprofundis

                          This would not have been for Sunday brunch at Lacroix (however, we have done the brunch there and it is fabulous). They also do a "standard" breakfast during the week that isn't much pricier than Parc.