It’s Valentine’s time again … and couples and wannabe couples are scrambling to get overpriced roses and boxes of chocolates, choosing that perfect dress, picking the perfect romantic movie, and most importantly, picking a location for a memorable dinner for two. To help remove some of the stress, here are five restaurant “must haves” to be the ideal place to escape with your special someone this Valentine’s Day, even if it’s just for desert.
1. Ambiance is everything!
Have you ever entered a restaurant and the lighting was all wrong? It’s too dark or the music is too loud (or too quiet) to have a flirty conversation? There’s a reason business people from all corners of the world dine clients in nice places before closing a deal. Even before the food arrives on a plate, an impression is being made. More importantly, is the ambiance creating the right mood? When it comes to Valentine’s Day, romance is lens though which everything is measured. So tip #1 is to choose a restaurant with lighting that is “easy on the eyes” (not too bright, not too dark either), has a cozy amount of background noise (when you come closer to hold hands, it feels a bit quieter), and ideally a location with a dazzling view or interiors that calm the soul. Remember, this is supposed to be a relaxing evening, that lets you focus on each other. Just the right intimate setting can keep you from ending up in the “friend zone.”
2. Service That Makes You Look Like the Owner’s Best Friend.
A perfectly romantic evening can go terribly wrong if your server is taking too long to refill your partner’s glass of water. Nothing ruins a perfect evening more than bad service, and unfortunately, the brain is hardwired to remember the bad experience over the footsies under the table. I’m not saying you need to be treated like royalty, but a place that where the staff is attentive. When servers pay attention to your partner it’s like you are paying attention to them.
3. Great Cocktails.
You might be planning to go “classy” and order a bottle of red wine or chardonnay, but there are tons of restaurants, especially in Vancouver, with bartenders and mixologists who are creating more memorable (and adventurous) Valentine’s Day feature cocktails! A great selection of cleverly named cocktails helps to tell you more about your potential mate (as they say, know your audience), while showing how unexpected, quirky, or adventurous you are. Better yet, it opens the door to trying something new “together.” These details are what make the evening stickier in one’s memory.
4. Food You Can Share.
Since you’re there for dinner, choose food that brings you closer together. Choose restaurants that feature great dishes designed for two to enjoy. Or pick dishes that you can split, or easily share (or literally serve). After all, this meal isn’t really about filling your belly or showing your knowledge of salad dressing, it’s about romance.
5. Memorable Dessert.
Deserts are meant to be a treat. There’s a reason we use the expression “that would be the cherry on top.” It’s the … everything is already perfect (or maybe it’s not), but there’s still room for a bit more love. Now why would you want to have a desert that is available on any other boring unromantic day? If you can, ask if there’s a special dessert for Valentine’s Day. Not many chefs may be willing to do this (it’s actually a lot of extra work) but the search will be worth it. It means you made an effort in choosing this perfect stage to a romantic escapade, and you’ll leave the restaurant with a more memorable experience (at least more impressive photos for Instagram and Facebook).
For those of us who live in the foodie-heaven of Vancouver, we are very blessed; there is a good restaurant in practically every neighbourhood—and there are many that meet most, if not all of these criteria. But if you’re still looking for something impressive, we have a personal favorite that also sets you up for a romantic stroll through Gastown. We’ve looked at a ton of new restaurants and this year’s favourite amongst our foodies is Bambudda. Not only does Bambudda meet all five criteria, but it’s also one of the most Schema-esque restaurants we’ve seen open in the last couple of years.
Bambudda is a contemporary Chinese restaurant in a modern setting, that takes our conventional notions of fusion and Chinese-inspired cuisine to new heights of yummy. Located in Gastown, Bambudda draws inspiration from traditional Chinese cuisine, and offers a most impressive selection of cocktails. This new, ethnic-cool restaurant, is a great fit for Valentine’s Day. To make reservations, see: bambudda.ca
Have a most romantic Valentine’s Day!