A Dinner to Remember
by Dave

Romantic table set up for dinner
When it comes to dating, memorable is good. Not the "Yeah, we had lobster" kind of memorable, but the "You wouldn't believe the night he planned for us!" kind of memorable. Think about it, what sounds more fun, eating pasta at Olive Garden or having a meal by candlelight on that dock up there? Take your time...there's no hurry. Okay, if you chose the dock, read on, otherwise enjoy your evening at Olive Garden. I recommend the linguini.

So what are some of these "amazing" places to have a romantic dinner? Here are just a few ideas:

  • Overlooking the City
    Can you think of a spot with views of a beautiful landmark, like a bridge, or a hilltop where you can watch the city lights twinkle as the sun goes down?
  • On the Water
    The sights and sounds of water always provide a romantic setting, this includes the ocean, lakes, rivers, streams, or a nice waterfall. A note of caution: the beach is a great spot, but the wind can start blowing around sunset and kick sand up into your perfect meal.
  • Public Buildings
    There are tons of large public buildings with beautiful courtyards, gardens, and side walkways where you can have dinner. Think about museums, libraries, and other places with great architecture that close early. Call ahead to make sure you won't get ejected by security.
  • Rooftop
    If you live in the city it may be possible to set up a table on either your rooftop or a friend's. These are ideal spots because they're secluded, have nice views, and don’t require the travel that some of the others do.
  • On Stage
    Dinner on the stage of a nice open air theater is very romantic; something about the open space and architecture I think. If you have one nearby, check to see when it's not in use and if it’s possible to access the stage after hours.
  • Art Gallery
    There are tons of small art galleries that would be happy to rent space out for an hour or so after closing. The setting is romantic, there's no worry about weather, and they will probably have a sound system you can use. Find one you like and ask what it would cost for them to stay a little late one night and work on the books while you eat. You can even offer to bring extra for them!
  • Parks, meadows, and other outdoor areas
    These are just a few of the romantic places you can choose, use your imagination to think of other spots that provide great views of the sunset while you enjoy each other's company.

At first blush this may sound like a complicated date, but I promise that it's a snap to pull off with a little preparation. Let's start with the basics. You'll need a small table and chairs - folding ones are good choices if they need to be transported by car, a tablecloth is a must, and I highly recommend breaking out the linen napkins. Carefully pack a set of plates, bowls, glasses, utensils, and whatever else you need in a bag, taking care to protect dishware from chipping or breaking. For a little extra ambiance, consider bringing along some candles (with hurricane candle holders if wind is an issue) and a music player. Don't forget a bag or two for cleanup, matches for the candles, and a flashlight for getting back to the car. That's it!

As far as the food is concerned, you know your date a lot better than I do so go with your gut. Choose anything from a home-cooked meal, take-out from a nice restaurant, or even something simple like pizza. You're thinking "All this work for pizza?!?", but your date will be so impressed by what you've planned that something simple like your their favorite pizza can come off as very charming. Also consider cold dinners like sushi because they're easy to store and transport. If you decide on a hot meal, one trick for keeping it warm is to put a few bricks in the oven at 250 degrees F for 45 minutes or so, and then wrap them in tin foil and place in a cooler on top of a towel (so they don't melt through). This will keep anything you put in the cooler warm for up to an hour.

Setting it Up

In a perfect world you'd set everything up in advance, go pick up your date, and return together with the meal. Unfortunately, unless you're going for the rooftop location, if you were to actually do this I fear that some of your stuff would be missing by the time you got back. Think about setting up the table and chairs ahead of time, leaving a "Back in 10 minutes" note, and then when you arrive having your date close their eyes while you put out the tablecloth and dinnerware. Or you could forgo it and simply have your date close their eyes while you put the entire thing together. Remember that if you're bringing a hot meal your date will probably be able to smell it from the trunk, so maybe a simple "It's a surprise" will suffice?

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If having wine, make sure it's okay to drink alcohol at the spot you choose.

You'll Need

2 chairs (folding or other)
Small table (folding)
Tablecloth and linen napkins
Plates, bowls, glasses, utensils
Candles (with hurricane holders if windy)
Lighter or matches
Bags for cleanup
Cooler (optional)
Corkscrew (optional)
Music (optional)
Bug spray (optional)


Phase of the Moon
Wind forecast

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