A periodic feature of Pat Evans’ food and dining column, Lavender announces “Pat Asks,” in which Pat will ask people’s opinions on food, restaurants, etc. This issue, Pat asked the Lavender staff their recommendations for romantic date night destinations.
Easy. Café Barbette. It’s where Kurt and I had our first date. I recall seeing this gorgeous guy dashing by the window with a red cashmere scarf and thinking, yes, that’s him…he’s the one! And I was right with that first impression, we’ve been together ever since. Barbette’s cozy and quirky space with its mish mash of décor was a natural meeting spot for two strangers who love to travel. Variety of people, interesting food and vibe reminds of us of the same kind of casual dining places we enjoy while exploring new cities. You know, where the locals meet, have a bite to eat and glass of something. We’ve returned several times over the past five years and invariably order the same things. Yummy quiche, salmon nicoise and my very favorite croque monsieur with ham, mornay sauce and ooey gooey gruyere…c’est magnifique! Good to know: If you want a great table to really get close to someone, ask for the corner banquette near the bar.
I hate to admit it, but it’s true, I love to same-side booth sit. Cafe Maude’s comfy, cushioned seating allows for love birds to sip on cocktails side by side. The dimly lit dining room is often brought to life with live music which serves as a perfect background to a romantic evening. The menu is filled with easy to share small plates and a la carte items, including the should-be-illegal House Cut Fries, covered in truffle oil, dipped in fontina fondue. Added bonus, the three words everyone wants to hear on a romantic evening: Free parking lot.
Be careful you do not drive by too quickly or you might miss them. It looks much smaller from the outside than it is and you better call in for reservations. The classic French food is outstanding. I can’t say enough good things about the Grilled Sea Scallops. I am thankful that we still had some bread left so that I did not miss a bite of this meal. We shared the Crème Brulee but I was secretly wishing that it was all mine. The low romantic lighting makes my hair look fabulous so it was a wonderful evening.
Carolyn T. Lima
It’s not your typical romantic place but Don Pablos is a place we both enjoy. Fun atmosphere, tasty margaritas, great fresh food, attentive service and we don’t have to get dressed up. The place can be loud but then it makes it easy for us to just be ourselves in the crowd. We can hear each other and let the table next to us get drowned out in the other chat. We can typically be found there on special occasions like Valentine’s Day enjoying their sizzling fajitas.
Suzanne & Don
The Harriet Brasserie
Minneapolis, Linden Hills
The candle-lit dining room is cozy and warm in the reimagined fire station. Each dish on the American/French/Brazilian menu is hand crafted using sustainable ingredients. The always changing market entrées, paired with a glass of wine from the extensive wine list, followed with Coconut Tres Leches for dessert make for the perfect date night. The Harriet Brasserie fits perfectly into the quaint Linden Hills neighborhood adding to the romantic dining experience.
Loring Pasta Bar
The Loring Pasta Bar is an enchanting restaurant located in the heart of Dinkytown. The eclectic décor and atmosphere reminds me of a burlesque house you would find in New York City. The theatrical flare is what I adore about this restaurant. When dining at night it transforms into a magical and whimsical place with strands of lights glistening within the trees and throughout as though it was something you would only find in a fairytale. To me that simply makes it the perfect romantic setting. An appetizer that I absolutely love is the Coconut Shrimp Cozumel, and it’s the perfect size for sharing with your date. I’m a huge seafood fan, so for an entrée the Seafood Spaghetti is my pasta dish of choice. This creamy bowl of seafood has scallops, shrimp, mussels, and squid ink spaghetti served in saffron cream. Another dish I enjoy is the Coffee Crusted Lamb Loin. For drinks I prefer a nice glass of wine with dinner, and Loring’s wine list has a great variety of wines to choose from. Finding that perfect wine that you and your date will both enjoy, and that compliments the meal, is part of the romance. Once you’ve settled on the right wine I suggest simply splitting a bottle. I like to keep dessert simple, and the Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée is just perfect.
Lucia’s Wine Bar
The small and intimate setting combined with a warm and friendly ambiance, especially at night with the dim lighting, creates the feel of a European café. The staff is knowledgeable and friendly and the menu is rotating constantly (they like to use what’s in season locally) with a new special everyday. Pairing your meal with a drink option is easy with their great wine and beer selection.
Nicollet Island Inn
Great place to stay, dine, or have a celebration. If you are looking for a place to have a romantic lunch in an elegant setting, this is the place to go. We had a light lunch of soup and a basket of bread. The service and food was wonderful. Then we took a stroll over the bridge, which left us plenty of time for holding hands.
Carolyn T. Lima
If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, Nonna Rosa’s is perfect for a romantic dinner. Homemade Italian food like I used to get growing up in Boston and the best Gelato in the Twin Cities. Afterwards, you can walk off that meal by checking out the great shops along Robbinsdale’s Main Street.
Wilde Roast Cafe
Wonderful ambiance. Beautiful decor, including rich dark wood. A couple of my favorites are the Hangar Steak and Lamb Rack Provencal. For drinks, it’s the Gilligan’s Island cocktail. With the Mississippi River across the street, it’s perfect for a romantic walk after dinner.
Wise Acre Eatery
While you enjoy a connection with your lover, turn on your taste buds with farm grown splendors. Daily specials always feature the freshest foods, but know you may always rely on the CSA Hash (and its bacon) as a classic, nourishing treat. Experiment with select beverages.