Valentine's Day is over but its spirit lives on in this post. In light of that romantic holiday and our romantic dinner at River Oaks, we thought that it would be appropriate to throw out the best places to initiate a romantic relationship.
Now, you might be asking how is this list different from our most romantic restaurant list? The simple answer is that the standards and goals are different for this list. You don't necessarily want to take a first date to a place where you would take someone you have been dating for a long time. For example take price. You want go to a nice place on a first date but not too nice. You have to leave room for upping the ante later on in the relationship. Besides, what if the first date remains just that, just one date? Another problem is the information gap. You probably don't know what food your date likes and she might be too embarrassed to tell you. For that reason, it's imperative that you don't try something too funky (i.e. Ethiopian food). Probably need something with a relatively broad and safe menu. Nor do you want to go to a place that is too romantic. That could be perceived as cheesy, presumptuous, and a bit over the top.
With all that in mind, here are the standards for good first date places: mid-level price range, place that allows for intimate conversation but is not cheesy or over the top, good quality food and service, safe menu with moderate to wide selection. Perhaps, the ambiance and price could be described as up-scale causal. Here we go.
1. Cafe 1912: This is an easy selection as #1 since it was the place I took my wife on our first date. So, at least it has a history of success. We like this place so much that we have gone back countless times and have never been disappointed. The menu is a mix of American and French. Everything we've gotten has been great including the goat cheese ravioli, scallops, and duck. Price range is pricey but not too much. There is also a fair price range; so you can see if your date orders the most expensive thing on the menu. Finally, the atmosphere is great. It really allows for good conversation without being too romantic or cheesy. It is also located in midtown, and so it gives you some flexibility whether you want to go back out east or go some place downtown after the date.
2. Harry's Detour: There are actually two Harry's Detour(one downtown, one midtown), but here we are speaking of the one downtown, on G.E. Patterson. This is another restaurant that fits nicely into the medium range of pricey but not too pricey. It's menu features mostly American food. The restaurant itself is very quaint and somewhat small, mostly a long hall. That makes it great for conversation. You also get to bring your own wine which makes the price even more affordable and allows you to wow your date with your wine knowledge. Another huge bonus is the location. Located on South Main, you can go and walk around the south main area after dinner and go into some art galleries. Even better, it is located right across the street from the Cheesecake Corner, a great dessert location to go on a first date.
3. Bosco's: I admit. I am somewhat hesitant to put any chain on any list that we do. But Neel and her friends all agree this would be a great first date place. And I can see why. It's definitely a safe option with a wide menu selection and a great beer selection. I think the food is good, not great, but everything I've gotten there has been good. In this respect, it's much like Houston's. But what separates Bosco's from the others is the patio. The patio is awesome in the summer and it really makes for a cool environment. The atmosphere is pretty good on the inside too, with a definite midtown feel. I also really like the location too (midtown) that gives you flexibility to either go downtown or go hang out in the cooper-young area.
4. South of Beale : A relatively new restaurant in the downtown area located on Main St. Oh and excuse me, it's not technically a restaurant....it's a gastropub - Memphis' first gastropub. What is a gastropub, you ask? On its stylish website, South of Beale has a window that offers a series of definitions for gastropub: "combining a pub with the concept of gastronomy"; an "environment with a strong emphasis on chef-driven food, paired with good ale & wine, in a casual setting"; a "public house with high quality food a step above the basic 'pub grub'." So, in my opinion, it's basically a bar with fancier and funkier food. SOB is a perfect place to take a first date because of its casual bar atmosphere, affordability, fun and out of the ordinary menu choices, delicious food (sesame seared tuna and five spice seared duck), and rustic and relaxed setting. And if the conversation is going extremely well, it would be a great place to stay for a few after dinner drinks or walk around downtown along main street.
5. Do Sushi: Ok, I know that in the introduction I said that you need to pick a place with a "safe" menu. And sushi is a bit risky. Not everyone likes sushi; so beware. On the other hand, most girls love sushi. Therefore, Do offers the potential to impress. Regardless, I think the potential reward is great compared to risk. I know that there might be "better" sushi at other places. The sushi is good at Do (highly recommend the kona strawberry and the surf & turf), but again the atmosphere sets it over the top. It's classic cooper-young. Real cool atmosphere and laid back. After dinner, you can then walk around the cooper-young area or grab dessert at a nearby restaurant.
Runners-up: Bhan Thai