Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My Top Five: Most Romantic Restaurants

There’s a saying that the way to a woman’s heart is through the door of a restaurant. While it must also be said that who you’re dining with is as key as where you’re dining, I’m no stranger to the exhilarating effects of a memorable meal.

A great restaurant offers the perfect backdrop for romance. Over the years, it’s been my good fortune to experience gastronomic delights a deux in some of the world’s most enchanting destinations. From Manhattan to Morro Bay, Bali to Vancouver and so many other exciting cities in between, I have enjoyed an array of fabulous restaurants across the globe. Here are my Top Five and the significant others who joined me in culinary flights of fancy:

Number 5 - La Boite en Bois, New York: Countryside French is served to perfection at this Upper West Side bistro, where I shared an affectionate evening with financial analyst Brooklynite Larry. A man of dizzying intellect and endless restaurant savvy, Larry broadened my culinary horizons – and had me truly smitten during our dinner at La Boite en Bois.

Rustic French Charm: NYC's La Boite en Bois

With an Italian Chef who honed his talents at London’s Le Coq D’Or and authentically French memorabilia on the walls, La Boite en Bois delivers fabulous French fare in a charmingly rustic setting.

Number 4 - Eiffel Tower, Las Vegas: A New Year’s Eve getaway with Match.com boyfriend SW included dinner at Chef J. Joho’s first-class French restaurant. Situated on the 11th floor of the Paris Hotel’s Eiffel Tower replica, this dining venue offers breathtaking views of the Vegas strip and an intimate Art Deco setting.

Paris, Sin City Style: Eiffel Tower restaurant in Las Vegas

Number 3 - Tony’s, St. Louis: This internationally renowned award-winning restaurant has been delighting diners for more than fifty years. Located in the heart of downtown St. Louis, Tony's was the setting for a romantic repast with my Illinois-based beau Steve. Service is truly an art here, where accommodating five-star staffers elegantly plate food at your table. Tony’s boasts an extensive wine cellar and melt-in-your-mouth signature dishes such as toasted ravioli, a local specialty.

Number 2 - Terrace In The Sky, New York: Tucked away in Harlem in a Columbia University residence Hall, this four-star restaurant set the stage for a magical evening with SW. Though foggy skies obscured Terrace’s 360 degree panoramic views, it nevertheless delivered a truly transporting experience -- and a sublime seasonal truffle dish that still conjures up a smile four years later.

Number 1 - The Belvedere, London: Nestled in London’s picturesque Holland Park minutes from High Street Kensington, my #1 most romantic restaurant dates back to the 17th century when it was part of a sprawling Jacobean mansion.

17th Century Elegance: The Belvedere in London's Holland Park

Surrounded by lush lawns and gardens, The Belvedere serves delicious modern European fare. It was here, in the restaurant’s upper dining area back in 1994 that I enjoyed a delightful dinner with my first love Mark (a.k.a Sparky). The restaurant made a lasting impression on Sparky for an artichoke appetizer so flavorful, he raved about it for years.

Some of the happiest moments I have spent with significant others have taken place over a good meal. When romance is on the menu, I've found the experience of dining with the object of my affections is always a memorable one.

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