If you’re really, really keen to impress
Food plus romance to many, equals the perfect date night. Regardless of whether you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day, a monumental anniversary or preparing to pop the question (and the champagne), special occasions call for a little decadence. Oysters in New York? Foie gras in Bali? A seafood smorgasbord in Croatia? There’s a world of gastronomy out there to explore. So if you’re ready to pull out all the stops (and possibly have a gold Amex and a private Learjet on hand), take a look at some of the world’s most romantic restaurants.
Clos Maggiore, London
Located in Covent Garden, this beautiful sunlight-capturing conservatory has a retractable, glass roof and is perfect for a romantic meal in summer (look at the stars!) and is a cosy hub in winter, where you and your amor can savour locally sourced cuisine by chef, Marcellin Marc, beside the ambience of a roaring fire. If you’re looking to raise your glass for a toast to clink a memorable occasion, you might also be enticed by the fact that the wine cellar houses over 2500 selections.
Ristorante Aroma, Rome
Like to woo your partner with Michelin-starred cuisine? And who wouldn’t when it’s someone fairly spesh. This restaurant, located on the top level of a 17th-century palace, boasts breathtaking views of the Eternal City and the Colosseum. Chef Giuseppe di Iorio serves up exquisite Italian fare using seasonally inspired ingredients. One mouthful and you’ll feel like royalty indeed.
La Sponda at La Sirenuse, Positano
Dine cliff-side amid the glow of a hundred candles at another Michelin-starred winner whilst taking in the vista of the Amalfi Coast’s magnificent views. Positano is coupledom personified. With a delectable menu featuring a distinctly Neapolitan edge, it features the best of the local bounty, ensuring an unforgettable culinary experience.
Solo per Due, Italy
What could be more dreamy than a restaurant named ‘Just for Two’? Nawww…. Set in the remains of a Roman villa, it seats only two loved-up couples at a time. Now that’s an intimate high-five. Known as the Smallest Restaurant in the World, all you need do is tinkle a little bell and your waiter appears, ready to serve up a heavenly meal of seasonal cuisine (including wild produce and exquisite meats) in a flash.
Ristorante Quadri, Venice
Elegantly set in a historic palazzo on Piazza San Marco (one of the most beautiful squares in the world), this former Michelin star winner is run by noted Italian restaurateurs, the Alajmo family and features damask-lined walls and Murano glass chandeliers (sigh). Serving up contemporary takes on classic Venician cuisine, it sources seafood directly from the Venetian lagoon and produce from the Rialto market.
Restaurant le Meurice Alain Ducasse, Paris
Boasting three Michelin stars, this decadent establishment (designed by Philippe Starck) features sumptuous décor (think decadent marble and exquisite frescoes) and is owned by 21-starred chef, Alain Ducasse. The menu features simple produce prepared with a subtle, yet masterful hand, retaining the organic quality of its ingredients. In Al’s own words, “each dish expresses the truth of the product around which it is built”. Ooh la la.
One If by Land, Two If by Sea, New York
Tucked into a historic carriage house in the heart of the West Village, this intimate little spot has been a favourite lovin’ persons dining locale since 1973. The décor is simply stunning, encompassing wood panelling, flickering fireplaces, an inviting private garden and a baby grand piano (cue serenade) with passion-inducing dishes including ‘oysters in cucumber liquor’ (yep, an aphrodisiac) and chocolate soufflé.
The Little Door, Los Angeles
If you’re US bound and particularly after a little LA action (or a little action in LA), check out this West-Hollywood icon. An American version of a Parisian-style brasserie (well, Paris is the City of Love) is set in an idyllic courtyard and offers a worldly smorgasbord of dishes including a menu filled with farm-fresh delights and traditional French fare.
Located in the courtyard of the art-deco-inspired Soho Beach House in Miami Beach, this intimate little spot brings the passion and cuisine of Venice to downtown Florida. Enjoy refined Italian dishes (including melt in the mouth home-made pasta), amid a breezy atmosphere filled with illuminated décor and cushion-filled couches.
Geja’s Café, Chicago
Candlelit corners and rich, heavy drapery epitomise this lover’s delight, which has been operating since 1965. The house specialty is fondue. Rich, gooey and gorgeous, it’s a rendezvous-inspiring experience that’s sure to ignite some proverbial fires. Be sure to end your feast with a chocolate version, fittingly serenaded by the dulcet tunes of a classical guitar.
Sheesh Mahal, India
Forget the faux-romance of Bollywood movies, there’s nothing quite as love-inducing as dining under the stars. Ensconced in the luxurious 5-star Leela Palace, couples can enjoy dining on a mix of contemporary and traditional Rajasthani cuisine (sure to spice up your love life) seated on a divine candle lit terrace overlooking Lake Pichola. Scented flowers and ceremonial entertainment are included.
Situated north of Kuta, paradise-lovers will find plenty here to excite the palette (and that’s not all). Overlooking sprawling rice paddies, this batik-trimmed restaurant features a private dining area in a wine cellar (choices, choices), with a menu dedicated to French Mediterranean cuisine (plus there’s a gob-smacking selection of foie gras to taste as well).
Nautika Restaurant, Croatia
If stunning views incite an exotic interlude, this venue, situated in downtown Dubrovnik, will astound and delight. Renowned as one of the city’s most prestigious dining locations, guests can dine on luscious Mediterranean cuisine (fresh seafood anyone?) whilst marvelling at windswept views of the Adriatic Sea.
Kanoun Restaurant, Morocco
Old Dickie Branson owns this fine-dining establishment, which is discretely nestled in the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains. The views are panoramic and unparalleled and the food – well, undoubtedly superb. Prefer a little privacy while chowing down? Ask for a rooftop table, pool-side service or well, somewhere a little more discreet. It’s all part of the service.
Terasa U Zlaté Studně, Prague
With a history dating back to 1528 (the restaurant was refurbed by Italian architects in 2008), if offers magical views of the rooftops of Prague. Enjoy fine dining on the eloquent terrace (and discover why the city’s called the City of One Hundred Spires) and if here in summer, enjoy the privilege of an exit via private gate to the Royal Gardens of the Prague Castle.
Turtle Island, Fiji
If you’re lucky enough to find yourself stranded on an incredible 200 hectares of blindingly white beaches and too-beautiful-to-be-real views, you’ll jump at the chance to wine and dine your better half on a floating pontoon perched above the impossibly blue azure ocean. This is paradise and the ultimate in woo-fests.