A few years ago, a guy I was interested in suggested that we have dinner at a restaurant participating in Dine Out Vancouver (this year January 15-31). I readily agreed since I’m obsessed with food and restaurants in the city.
As I discovered, Dine Out is an excellent date idea for the following reasons:
- It’s a great deal, with price points for any budget and a wide variety of different cuisines and restaurants to choose from ($20, $30, or $40 for a three-course meal). Since dating can be costly, Dine Out is a chance to try somewhere new and fancy without splurging too much.
- With a select menu, there’s less room for embarrassing indecision, which tends to happen when you’re nervous.
- You don’t have to play the tiresome game of sussing out whether your date wants to order appetizers and/or dessert (“Do you want dessert?” “Do you?”), since it’s all included.
- Because restaurants serve the courses promptly, the meal doesn’t drag on too long if you’re not into the company.
- Most importantly, if the person in front of you is a dud, at least the food will be stellar. If they both cause you to go into ecstasies, then you have a keeper of a date and a restaurant.
For those of you thinking of combining romance and Dine Out, here are some restaurant suggestions, as well as events that you might consider.
Sai Woo (158 East Pender Street) is participating in Dine Out for the first time this year, offering a stellar $40 menu that draws from multiple global culinary influences. The room itself, located in Chinatown, is undeniably alluring, with high ceilings, exposed brick walls, tree design-accents, and roomy booth and table seating. Appetizer selections include a wonderfully aromatic vegetarian laksa with coconut broth, tofu, rice noodles, and Asian herbs; and mains feature pressed spiced lamb neck with squash purée, braised shallot, kale chips, sautéed kale, and sherry jus.
Finish the meal off with mango mousse cake (my personal fave), chocolate pâté, or baklava.
A date at COAST (1054 Alberni Street), part of the successful Glowbal Restaurant Group, is bound to be a lavishly enjoyable affair. Décor is sleek and dominated by their impressive oyster and chowder bar. Their $40 menu includes a velvety corn and Yukon Gold potato soup with crème fraiche as a starter; roasted striploin with half a lobster tail, mashed potatoes, and buttered kale for your main; and a decadent milk chocolate tart with caramelized bananas and rum anglaise for dessert.
If you’re looking for an even more creative date idea, there are also a plethora of exciting Dine Out Vancouver events.
Since well-crafted cocktails are just plain sexy, I’d recommend signing up for one of the Cocktail Masterclasses (3 hours long) at Uva Wine & Cocktail Bar (900 Seymour Street). Each of the five classes will have a focus – cognac, agave vs maguey, vitis contituents, bitters 101, and single malts (January 17, 20, 23, 24, 30 respectively) – and will be led by Lauren Mote, winner of the 2015 Canadian Bartender of the Year award. For $95 (including tax, gratuity, and service charge) per person, the ever-charming Mote will regale you with her wealth of cocktail lore, as well as show you how to make unique creations.
You’ll enjoy three cocktails, along with small plates prepared by sister restaurant Cibo Trattoria (they’re also offering their own $40 Dine Out menu), and take home a Bittered Sling Bitters gift pack (valued at $50). You’ll also get recipes so that you and your date can practice making the cocktails together another time (wink wink).
Vancouver Foodster is partnering with Dine Out Vancouver for different self-guided food crawls. For those of you who haven’t attended one, they’re basically a roving treasure hunt for gourmands. You and your date will receive a map and then a bounty of destinations for trying out food and drink. I’ve gone with my boyfriend and we had tons of fun (and came out happily stuffed). Art, Eat and Sip (January 20) on Granville Island showcases resident artists, as well as local restaurants, cafés, breweries, and distilleries. This year also marks the return of Vancouver Foodster’s neighourhood Brunch Crawls: Gastown (January 16), Olympic Village (January 17), Downtown (January 23), North Vancouver (January 24), Yaletown (January 30), and Main Street (January 31). I attended some last year and feasted on items like eggs Benny, fried chicken and waffles, and quiche.
In short, Dine Out has given you tons of options for livening up your dating life with the best food and drink that the city has to offer.