The Perfect Romantic Date
Wednesday - February 07, 2007
My e-mail box is flooded this week with people asking where they should spend Valentine’s night. To be honest, I think the best place to spend a romantic night is at my house, having dinner and a bottle of wine. But I realize that this wouldn’t suit most of you - not unless Bobby Curran is your idea of a perfect date.
So I’m trotting off e-mail replies and trying to find out what people really want from a romantic date. Whether it’s a candlelit, fine-dining experience or a casual beer and pupu, customer expectations on Feb 14 are high, tables are turned at the speed of light, and wait staff are generally so stressed they can’t wait for it to be over.
“Actually, I hate it!” says one prominent chef, who asked to remain anonymous. “It’s so incredibly crazy that I don’t know why anybody wants to go out at all!”
If you’re serious about dining out, then you probably should wait a day or two until the rush is over. But where should you go? There are so many places, I’m hard pressed to pick just a few. I’d say that Du Vin, the newly opened French-style brasserie on Bethel Street, would be a great bet for a romantic night out. The restaurant is filled with candles, there’s a great wine list (prices start at $6 a glass) and the food is definitely worth a try.
I’d also bet that Chart House will be, as always, an unbeatably romantic stop. Chart House has a view of some of the world’s great sunsets, a pupu menu of more than 40 items, the best mai tai in Honolulu, excellent bartenders and wait staff, and a dinner menu that features Oysters Rockefeller, fresh fish, shrimp and steak. It’s absolutely on my top five list of places to go for romance. I’ve always thought that 3660 On the Rise had lots of potential for romance. The menu is fabulous (the steak alaea is one of the best in town), great lighting enhances the intimate dining atmosphere, and they have some of the best oysters I’ve ever had.
If you want a restaurant that’s warm and welcoming with prices that are almost too good to be true, then try Murphy’s Bar and Grill on Merchant Street. They serve a New York strip with mashed potatoes and veggies for just $15. It’s hard to beat its quality and value.
And if you want to go Italian on the most romantic night of the year, then head to Vino. Chef Donato is going to be “guesting” in the kitchen, and I guarantee that once word is out, the restaurant will be sold out almost immediately. I’m so excited about the thought of eating Donato’s food again that I might break my own rule and actually venture out on Valentine’s night. Donato thinks it would be a good idea. “You should write about it,” he told me, “You really need to see what it’s like out there on Valentine’s night.” Maybe he’s right.
But here’s my tip if you don’t need candlelight to start your fire, and if romance for you includes sports on TV and vodka specials. Make a reservation at Side Street Inn. It’s practically the quietest night of its incredibly busy year, but the menu boasts dinner specials that would not be out of place at Alan Wong’s.
“I guess people just don’t think of us as a romantic restaurant,” says the shorts-and-slipper-clad owner, Colin Nishida.
“We’re more the place people come to when they haven’t made a reservation anywhere else,” he says with a grin.
So what if the view is of a parking lot and there are neon lights instead of candles? The food is awesome and the atmosphere unique.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
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