For that perfect date night, lovebirds are eager to find the ideal destination for dinner. As Omar Khayyám said, it’s all about “A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou.”
To help your search, here are a dozen destinations with the right recipe for bread, wine and romance. Just make reservations early, and let love take its course.
Sensual Italian cuisine, attentive service and cozy ambience add up to a special dining experience at +39, nestled inside the sprawling Urban Food Market in the Centre of Tallahassee. Open only five months, the white tablecloth restaurant showcases elegant dishes prepared by chef Alessandro Di Maggio (including his sinfully good cheesecake).
The Centre of Tallahassee, 2415 N Monroe St.; 850-536-6843.
319 Wine & Cheese Shoppe
Owners Lynne and Bill Edwards have created a warm, inviting atmosphere that gives this charming bistro a touch of romance. On Valentine’s Day, they’re presenting a three-course, $75 home-cooked dinner prepared by Lynne plus a bottle of I Heart California wine (cabernet or sauvignon blanc). The final touch: music by local singer Bobby Anhalt. 6265 Old Water Oak Rd.; 850-765-7053.
A la Provence
Savor French-Mediterranean cuisine by candlelight at classic A la Provence. You can count on gracious service, an extensive wine list
(plus full bar) and a quiet atmosphere to help set the mood. The pièce de résistance: additions like chateaubriand and lobster for Valentine’s Day. 1415 Timberlane Rd.; 850-329-6870.
Clusters & Hops
Clusters & Hops has long attracted locals with its unconventional mash-up of restaurant and retail. Gourmet goodies (wine, beer, cheese, sausages, chocolate) are up front, The petite cafe and bar are in the back. With dim lights, soft music and a laid-back vibe, it’s well-suited to romance. Chef/owner Kent Steels features European-style dishes like baked eggplant lavosh, ostrich and osso buco plus more than 1,000 wine choices. One option: 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.
A special-occasion favorite, Cypress serves elegant renditions of Southern-inspired regional cuisine in a sophisticated setting with romantic lighting, accommodating staff and a friendly bar. Vibrant paintings by local artists add a creative spin. Along with its regular menu on Valentine’s Day, Cypress will offer a three-course meal for $45 and five courses for $65 with wine pairing options. 320 East Tennessee St.; 850-513-1100.
Essence of India
Spice up your Valentine’s Day with aromatic Indian cuisine served in an exotic setting with glistening chandeliers, long gold curtains and deep coral hues. The soothing space specializes in the food of North India, including breads and dishes cooked in a tandoor (clay oven), and there’s a full bar. For an adventurous feast, share a thali dinner for two. Parkway Center, 1105 Apalachee Pkwy.; 850-656-7200.
Food Glorious FoodThe place has a hidden-away, romantic feel. Adorned with modern artwork, the sleek restaurant features internationally inspired dishes (that change weekly), including more than a dozen small plates, creative cocktails and decadent desserts made in-house. 1950 Thomasville Rd.; 850-224-7279.
Who doesn’t sigh at the memory of the romantic spaghetti and meatball scene in Disney’s “Lady and the Tramp?” Share the love, and generous plates of red-sauced favorites, at this homey Italian restaurant owned by Enver Sulollari and his wife Vjollca for 30 years. The place isn’t fancy but it’s warm, welcoming and wallet-friendly. 111 S Magnolia Dr.; 850-878-7781.
Nefetari’s Fine Cuisine & Spirits
Make your sweetheart queen (or king) for a day at this opulent destination, which promises diners a “royal experience” (There is actually a queen’s table here). What’s more, the one-of-a-kind setting, decorated with Egyptian and African art, showcases a
globe-trotting menu that includes an Ethiopian stew platter, Caribbean jerk and pad Thai. Owners Sharon and Dana Dennard make all customers feel like nobility. 812 S. Macomb St.; 850-210-0548.
Terry White (named “King of American Seafood” at 2014’s Great American Seafood Cook-Off) presents a sophisticated menu served in a comfortably classy space decorated with local art — or dine in the landscaped patio. White is preparing a three-course menu for Valentine’s Day in addition to the regular menu, which includes escargot, Scottish salmon and beef tenderloin. 3534 Maclay Blvd. South; 850-270-9396.
Snuggle in the large, private booths at this traditional steakhouse, ensconced in the Hotel Duval. After a meal of steaks, chops or seafood, zip upstairs to Level 8, the city’s only rooftop lounge, for a cocktail and view of downtown Tallahassee under the stars. 415 North Monroe St.; 850-224-6005.
Z,Bardhi’s Italian Cuisine
Devoted diners praise the traditional Italian fare and warm atmosphere of Z. Bardhi’s, a local favorite for two decades. If the weather cooperates, the lovely patio is best for courting, with white tablecloths, candlelight and landscaping. 3596 Kinhega Dr.; 850-894-9919
Rochelle Koff writes about food and dining at TallahasseeTable.com. Reach her at [email protected]