With Tinder taking over, night clubs are no longer the sole birthplace of romance – chances are whatever restaurant you are in you’ll spy at least one first date unfolding. As First Dates Ireland has so spectacularly demonstrated, the dating scene around these parts can be hilariously awkward….and that’s without the paralysing fear of choosing the wrong place to take your prospective belle/beau! While we traditionally rely on a couple of beverages to act as social lubricant, adding in some amazing food means conversation starters galore and zero chance of staring blankly into your wine glass looking for something witty to say. More importantly, in a throwback to our Neanderthal roots, we are at our most content when we are well fed, thus increasing the chances of leaving your date with a serotonin-sponsored smile!
Even after successfully wooing your significant other, it helps to keep the flames of passion alight with random acts of ingratiation….cue delicious date days and nights. Choosing one of the Dublin date spots below will ensure satisfaction is guaranteed and win you some major brownie points going forward.
While the traditional dinner date springs to mind immediately, lets not rule out seizing the day, but prematurely exiting bed at the weekend has to be worth it. The Dublin brunch scene is filled with monster burgers, pancake stacks of epic proportions and eggs in every incarnation, most often wheeled out to cure the ills of the night before. Widely considered the best meal of the week, why not hijack this built in feel-good vibe and make it the main event by bringing your dalliance forward a few hours?
If there is one place worth cutting your Saturday sleep-in short for, it has to be Forest Avenue. The only downside to this hybrid mealtime is having to choose one dish out of a multitude of temptations, but John and Sandy Wye have the perfect solution to this conundrum. Whisper these three magic little words to your date and consider the deal sealed: Brunch Tasting Menu. Five petite courses from a dainty donut to suckling pig means there is no need to make the ever so difficult brunch decision of sweet or savoury. This is an unforgettable experience in one of Dublin’s finest restaurants, for a mere 26euros a head. Throw in a blood orange mimosa and I defy you to find a better way of spending a Saturday morning with your partner in crime….
For a slightly later affair, many of the city’s eateries offer amazing lunch options which can be much easier on the wallet than their evening counterparts as well as having a more relaxed atmosphere. A fine example of this trick in action is the cosy Il Posto, where a two course Italian pranzo for two is a sexy steal at 18 euros a head. Bonus: weather-permitting, you can dine al fresco on the terrace and show off your great taste in dining companion for all of St.Stephen’s Green to see.
Continuing on the daytime date buzz, you could certainly do worse than spending an afternoon in Klaw Temple Bar, gazing into eachother’s eyes through the magnificent three-tiered offering that is the seafood tower. Despite the informal setting, you’ll feel positively luxuriant tucking into lobster, snow crab and langoustines. We all know oysters are a serious aphrodisiac and here you can choose to have yours dressed or naked. In my experience these slippery little shuckers act as more of an ice-breaker than fire-starter, as invariably one of you will fail to execute the art of elegant oyster eating and end up with a little dribble. Embrace it.
Moving into the evening, a little stroll out of town (i.e away from the prying eyes of friends wondering how your date is going) is a relative new comer to the restaurant scene: Richmond. Twinkly fairy lights and red leather seats contrast with dark wood, vintage school-house chairs and red brick, all of which give it a funky and laid back feel completely free of pretension. Better yet, from Wednesday to Friday you can avail of their amazingly priced three course early bird menu all evening long, making Richmond a perfect midweek date option.
If you want to leave a lasting impression on your date, there is something extremely seductive about the concept of Taste at Rustic. Focusing on the sensory experience of eating and the five taste receptors of the tongue, getting your mouth around Dylan McGrath’s innovative creations may well get you hot under the collar, as well as giving you an insight into how adventurous your dining companion is…What’s more, dining at Taste at Rustic will ensure you and your date remain in peak physical condition, with an emphasis on nutritious and invigorating food- no post dinner carb coma here. All the more reason to feel good about ordering a round of dessert cocktails I say. Trying new experiences with a partner apparently accelerates the bonding process…and Taste at Rustic will be an entirely unique meal for even the most seasoned palates.
If I was faced with this next proposition, it would be an automatic yes – heading to Cavern on Baggot Street for a bottle of wine and a sharing board of nibbles is the stuff my dream dates are made of. Avoiding the panic-driven Irish reflex to pick the second cheapest bottle on the wine list by taking your time to pick one up in Baggot Street Wines makes this date perfectly laid back and casual. Head downstairs to split your bounty over a cheese and charcuterie board and let the wine fueled ramblings and revelations flow unimpeded. If I’m honest, for the promise of a fine cheeseboard and wine I’d happily descend upon Cavern alone, if such behaviour wouldn’t be classed as mildly worrying.
Now I’m not suggesting you take just anyone here (after all, burritos are better than bankruptcy) but if you want to pull out all the stops a trip to SMS Luna is guaranteed to leave your lucky object of affection a little weak at the knees. As soon as you step through the red velvet drapes the tone is set for a very sultry evening indeed, Luna is essentially the Jessica Rabbit of Dublin restaurants. With a Negroni in hand, drink in the seductive ambience, cosy up in a plush booth and maybe have yourselves a Lady and the Tramp moment by sharing a plate of luxurious Spaghetti al Tartufo Bianchetti. If this doesn’t impress him or her, consider the dust well and truly bitten.
On the other hand, If you really don’t fancy formally breaking bread with a new suitor but want to look like you put a bit of thought into your plans, why not try a drinks tasting? As it is infinitely better to be someone’s shot of whiskey than everyone’s cup of tea, a trip to the Teeling Distillery could be the making of a wonderful day time date. Plus there will be no room for nerves with samples of the good stuff at every turn. Ending on a high note with a cocktail, this leisurely afternoon could easily end up lingering into the evening.
If whiskey isn’t your thing, P.Mac’s offers a brilliant range of craft beers so you could plan your own little tasting, with the added bonus of offering vintage crisps (Snax anyone?), which will almost certainly lead to sharing some cringe-worthy school yard tales to keep the laughs flowing. On the other end of the scale, you could wow your date with your up to the minute knowledge of stylish hotspots and whisk them to Zozimus. All going well, you may want to order a Finnegan’s Wake, made with Patron XO and Cloudpicker Espresso, in anticipation of a late night ahead…
Growing up with the name Darina, I was constantly asked if I could cook like my namesake. With that (and greed) as the ultimate motivators, I quickly realised that home-baked goods make excellent bribes and an obsession was born! With bachelor’s and master’s degrees in law I undertook a PhD, but a preference for cookbooks to textbooks persisted. As a (self-confessed!) demon in the kitchen, I am the only person to have contested both Masterchef and the Great Irish Bake off, which fuelled my desire to set my focus on food in a serious way. Working with The Taste allows me to satiate this craving and marries my food fascination with my love of writing and ranting. Follow me as I share my food adventures and hopefully inspire others to indulge their passion for cooking and food in the process!