Everyone is a sucker for a dinner date and I am no exception. Be it candles, canapés and a bottle of French wine, or background jazz and a sumptuous dessert, the way to the heart is definitely through the stomach and I love being treated to a fancy meal. But where in Melbourne can one go for a spot of gastronomic romance? In the hope of providing inspiration for your own dating ventures, I have included a list of just some of the places that make me swoon. These I impart with a wink and a nudge, for should your partner be sufficiently impressed by your choice, the night might just last longer than dinner.
Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar
Nothing oozes romance and charm like this authentic Italian eatery on Bourke Street. With the nonnas yelling from the kitchen, the scent of coffee and fresh Bolognese tickling your nostrils and the cool comfort of an iced watermelon granita pressing against your palm, the atmosphere is all-encompassing in a chaotically friendly way. Your date will be so overwhelmed by it, you won’t even have to make lively conversation. Just let the Italians woo them for you while you dig into a hearty ten-dollar bowl of pasta.
This is definitely one of my favourites. Tucked into an alleyway off Flinders Lane, this tiny little crêperie has oodles of character. With only a few tables inside and out, it is the perfect environment for an intimate meal as its surreptitious location guarantees you and your date plenty of seclusion from the prying public. Sip from bowls of Normandy cider as you practice your French on the sympathetic wait staff, before digging into a hearty escargot galette, or admiring the flames of a crêpe flambée. Open for lunch, this is a great option for a schmaltzy afternoon rendezvous.
For a romance venture within close proximity to uni, Kaprica off Lincoln Square is the place to go. Boasting tasty gourmet pizza and a small but quality selection of lip-smacking cocktails, this classy little joint is guaranteed to win hearts. Settle down in the rustic interior or grab an outdoor table overlooking the park as you nibble on a bowl of olives and gaze into your lover’s eyes. Quality background jazz will impress the ear of any musical connoisseur and be sure to try the delicious cakes on offer, provided you have room left after gorging yourself on pizza!
Hell of the North
This place is the ultimate in dating venues. Housed in an imposing black stone building just off Smith Street, the name alone is bound to impress by sounding vaguely like something from Game of Thrones. With an extensive drinks selection and creative range of cocktails (for example ‘Still Life with Pear’: vodka, absinth, lemon, pear purée and mint), even the less food-oriented types will have something to entertain them. The food is served by way of shared platters, so be prepared to get cosy with your date as you dig into a tasty mutual dish. The ‘Let Us Feed You’ option is a terrific choice for adventurous eaters, involving the staff choosing selections from their seasonal carte du jour and delivering them to your table in a six or seven course banquet. Beware though: this place does require a fair degree of splashing out, so save up beforehand. I highly recommend it for special occasions, such as a romantic anniversary or an important birthday.