What makes a restaurant romantic?
There are as many opinions of what constitutes “romantic” as there are medspas in Collin County. In other words, a lot.
A romantic restaurant has flattering, slightly dimmed lights; sumptuous furnishings such as velvet banquettes instead of hardwood benches repurposed from an old country church; appealing music playing not too loud; a gorgeous table setting with a low unscented floral arrangement; attentive but not intrusive service, and a noise level in the restaurant low enough that you can speak softly to your dining companion.
Oh yeah, and the food should be great, too.
February hosts Valentine’s Day, the manufactured “most romantic day of the year” when restaurants roll out the red carpet for experienced and novice diners alike. Prix fixe menus, red roses for the lady, and complimentary glasses of champagne are Valentine dinner trifectas, pre-printed, pre-cut, pre-poured before the first couple crosses the threshold.
Dallas has a lot of romantic restaurants, some classic, some new. Some of the most romantic restaurants are dead, like some romances.
Chez Gerard was a very romantic spot on McKinney Avenue where Doce Mesas now stands. Around the corner from that was L’Ancestral, a gorgeous little boîte where Le Bilboquet is today. Over on Greenville, St. Martin’s Wine Bistro was kitschy romantic with white tablecloths, candles on the table and a live piano player feathering tunes such as “The Way You Look Tonight,” the song my ex-husband and I danced to at our wedding. While that romance is dead, the song lives.
All three were romantic; all three French; and all three closed. Coincidence?
I crowdsourced names of romantic restaurants in town and there was a consistent theme throughout the answers: not too loud, nice lighting, great food and service, all without price gouging.
The Mansion was mentioned many times as one of the most romantic restaurants in town. Le Bilboquet and Georgie also won praise for the ambience, sound level, great food, and warm service. Knox Bistro’s setting was called romantic, but a bit loud for some lovebirds. All of this is good news for French food, though.
Tei-An also made the list, which is unexpected and spot-on at the same time; it’s elegant, quiet, and reverent in its food and service. Dakota’s was also mentioned, as was Las Palmas, Sevy’s, Café Pacific, and Bubba’s. Yes, fried chicken Bubba’s.
There were a handful of new restaurants mentioned as the most romantic in Dallas. Those included Mister Charles, Carbone, and Monarch, all gorgeous restaurants to be sure, but detractors said a romantic meal isn’t worth selling a kidney for. Fair point.
I recently spent an evening with my husband in the West Village, starting at Bar Colette then dining next door at Namo. As first timers there, we had no expectations. The night was lovely, the food and drinks were sublime, and the vibe was romantic and cozy.
Maybe the key to a romantic dinner is about managing expectations rather than reservations. Open minds find open hearts.