Romance on the Menu

With Valentine’s Day less than a week away, the search is on for that perfect, romantic dining destination. No pressure, right?

But what makes a restaurant romantic? For some couples, it’s just the site where you had that first date or a memorable night. With the right recipe for romance, sharing a big juicy burger can be as magical as diving into beef bourguignon.

Still, there are some places that help set the mood. Maybe it’s the candlelight, the pampering service or the delicious meal — or likely a combination of all three.

To help your search, here are 14 places we (with help from Tallahassee Table readers) think have that special something. Make reservations as soon as possible, and let love do the rest.

+39
The white tablecloth restaurant is named for the country code of Italy. Chef Alessandro Di Maggio, who graduated from culinary school in Tuscany, presents creative fare at the handsome Italian restaurant, ensconced inside the Urban Food Market. +39 will be serving Valentine’s Day specials including roast duck, scallops in a cream sauce and a rib-eye with pine nut truffle butter. The Centre of Tallahassee, 2415 N Monroe St.; 850-536-6843.

319 Wine & Cheese Shoppe
The charming  cafe, owned by Lynne and Bill Edwards, is offering a three-course Valentine’s Day menu with a complimentary glass of champagne for $80. The evening will feature live music by acoustic singer Kevin Wahoo. You can also order a wine and cheese dinner to go if you prefer to spend the holiday at home (order in advance, $50). 6265 Old Water Oak Rd.; 850-765-7053.

– Joe Rondone, Tallahassee Democrat

A la Provence
This classic dining destination presents French-Mediterranean cuisine, with items like foie gras, pot au feu and a charcuterie. Expect the regular menu plus Valentine’s Day specials like chateaubriand and lobster in a romantic setting. 1415 Timberlane Rd.; 850-329-6870.

Blu Halo
The swanky space, owned by Keith Paniucki, offers an elegant menu featuring huge steaks, an array of seafood and a decadent selection of desserts you can pair with after-dinner drinks. A special Valentine’s Day menu will be available Feb. 13 through 17. Bannerman Crossings, 3431 Bannerman Rd.; 850-999-1696.

– Joe Rondone, Tallahassee Democrat

Clusters & Hops
Wander to the back of this gourmet wine and cheese shop and you’ll find an intimate, 45-seat cafe featuring adventurous cuisine like reindeer sliders, elk carpaccio and rack of lamb from chef/owner Kent Steels. The cozy spot offers a wine list with more than 2,500 choices. Here’s a bonus: You can pick a wine off the shelf and pay the retail price with an $8.50 corkage fee. 707 N. Monroe St., 850-222-2669.

– Joe Rondone, Tallahassee Democrat

Cypress Restaurant
Known as a special occasion destination, owned by chef David Gwynn and his wife, Elizabeth, the up-market venue offers elegant versions of Southern-inspired regional cuisine in a sophisticated setting, 320 East Tennessee St.; 850-513-1100.

– Hali Tauxe

Food Glorious Food
The contemporary restaurant, open for more than 30 years, serves a global menu in an intimate space decorated with vibrant art work. Sinfully good desserts made in-house. 1950 Thomasville Rd.; 850-224-7279.

Georgio’s Fine Food & Spirits
Owner Georgio Koikos has been at the helm of the Greek-Mediterranean venue for more than 50 years, and still makes an appearance daily. The commendable service, attention to detail and extensive menu help make Georgio’s a Tallahassee staple. The Valentine’s Day menu will feature specialty dinners, cocktails and desserts. 2971 Apalachee Pkwy., Tallahassee; 850-877-3211

The Hawthorn
The upscale restaurant is the third dining destination from chef Jesse Edmunds (Liberty Bar & Restaurant, El Cocinero), who creates a sophisticated, white-tablecloth dining experience at The Hawthorn. Edmunds features cuisine inspired by the dishes of the American South and the south of Europe with special embellishments for Valentine’s Day. 1307 N Monroe, Unit #1, 850-354-8275

Little Italy
The classic Italian restaurant, owned by Enver Sulollari and his wife Vjollca since 1987, offers traditional red-sauced fare in a homey, welcoming space. On Valentine’s Day, Little Italy will offer its regular menu and a special holiday menu with a bottle of wine for $65 per couple (available all day if you prefer a Valentine’s Day lunch). 111 S Magnolia Dr.; 850-878-7781.

Melting Pot
Diners like Tallahasee Table reader Eric-Kim Justice consider the Melting Pot a Valentine’s Day staple because “it’s more than a meal. It’s an experience.” Justice said the fondue dinners “take two hands and focus. No time for phones.” The Valentine’s Day menu is available now, through Feb. 18. The prix fixe menu will be offered exclusively on Valentine’s Day. 2727 N. Monroe St.; 850-386-7440.

 

Nefetari’s Fine Cuisine & Spirits
The lavish destination, decorated with Egyptian and African art, features a special Valentine’s Day menu showcasing its international menu, plus there’s live entertainment by The Few G’s, a jazz, neo-soul ensemble. Owners Sharon and Dana Dennard tout a “royal experience” (there’s even a queen’s table) in this unique space. 812 S. Macomb St.; 850-210-0548.

Sage
Chef/owner Terry White is known for his from-scratch gourmet cuisine, particularly his array of seafood (he was named “King of American Seafood” at 2014’s Great American Seafood Cook-Off). Dine in a cozy space surrounded by local art or the landscaped patio. 3534 Maclay Blvd. South; 850-270-9396.

– Shula’s 347 Grill

Shula’s 347 Grill
Tallahassee Table reader Alix Kalfin touts Shula’s as a favorite for Valentine’s Day “because it’s a quiet, intimate atmosphere with excellent service.” The quintessential steakhouse, inside the Hotel Duval, will extend its dining room on Valentine’s Day to include its LeRoc Lounge. Customers seated in the lounge can listen to classical guitarist Morgan Stuart from 6 to 9 p.m. Diners will have the option of the regular menu or a five-course Valentine’s Day special. Top off the night at the hotel’s Level 8 rooftop lounge, for a cocktail and view of downtown Tallahassee under the stars. 415 N. Monroe St.; 850-224-6005.

Z.Bardhi’s Italian Cuisine
A longtime favorite in Tallahassee, Z.Bardhi’s has served fine Italian fare for more than two decades. Dine in the cozy dining room or the lovely patio, with white tablecloths, candlelight and a romantic atmosphere. 3596 Kinhega Dr.; 850-894-9919.

Rochelle Koff writes about food and dining at TallahasseeTable.com. Reach her at TallahasseeTable@gmail.com

 

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