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Monday, June 7, 2010

Make Tonight a Date Night

Dates should never be underrated. Whether with a long-term partner, a good friend, or a new prospect, dates are great ways to explore a relationship. In the recently released movie “Date Night,” the Fosters, played by Steve Carrell and Tina Fey, are a married couple attempting to break their routine and reignite their romance. But when they take another couple’s reservation at a nice restaurant, their date night turns into something much more than they expected. Their identities are mistaken and a wild and high action chase ensues. Hilarious for a movie with such great comedians, terrifying for a real night out.

Dates don’t need to be high chase to be exciting, and they don’t even need to be high stress or cost. Here are three easy ideas for three different types of dates that are sure to impress. They all incorporate our favorite ingredient for happiness: food. Each are placed in unique settings, and when matched with good company are perfect recipes for a great time.

FIRST BITE: High Line picnic with your sweetheart…

Dates don’t have to be nighttime affairs. A daytime picnic at the High Line, explored on our Chelsea Market/Meatpacking District Tour, is a great way to feel like you’ve left the city for a day with your loved one. And it’s perfect for the beautiful weather we’ve been having! The High Line is a 1.45-mile stretch of park raised 30 feet above the Lower West Side of Manhattan. My favorite thing to do is grab a few snacks from The Chelsea Market before heading up to the High Line, and staking out a spot on their oversized lounge chairs. Think finger-food for this type of date. My boyfriend and I like to grab a loaf of freshly baked, handmade, organic bread at Amy’s Bread—I would recommend trying the artisanal seeded peasant bread. We then head to Buon Italia for cheese, meat, olives, peppers, and our favorite artichoke spread. The ingredients are fresh and authentically Italian. My boyfriend doesn’t believe any meal is complete without dessert—we even order ice cream with brunch—so we finish it off with cookies or cupcakes from Eleni’s. After claiming our spot in the High Line, we nosh casually, while soaking in the sun. If you’re looking for something easier (though I promise you, picky food is simple!) you can grab a sandwich from Friedmans Lunch, which sells comfort food at affordable prices. This kind of date is perfect for a casual and relaxing afternoon with great conversation, and a change of pace from New York City life.

MIDDLE BITE: Aperitivo at Cenro Vinoteca for a first date…

The aperitivo hour at Centro Vinoteca, on our Greenwich Village Tour, is the perfect way to create a formal feeling date, with a shockingly informal feeling bill. To set the mood, the bar is stylish and rounded, with a glittery, vintage three-tiered chandelier above. An angled wall of windows gives an almost panoramic view of the West Village. It’s bustling and talkative, which may not be the best setting for an intimate night, but is a perfect place for a first date. Cocktails ease the mood, and high-energy keeps the pressures of a first date at bay. Aperitivo is from 5-7, and serves up a shocking deal. The quartini, the equivalent of about a third of a bottle of wine that is usually priced around $12, is served for $7. The usually $12 cocktails are served for $8. With each drink, you receive a complimentary trio of bites from the piccolini menu: truffled deviled egg, shrimp-chickpea fritter with lemon aioli, and a tiny BLT made with pancetta over smoky tomato confit on an oily crostini. The unusual take on basic concepts leaves each bite lingering with distinctiveness. With those prices, there will be no pressure for who offers to pay the bill. Ladies, be assertive! Men, be chivalrous! And because the apertivo hour ends at 7 pm, the night is still young. If cocktails went well and conversation is still heated, the date can continue on! If the cocktails went well (try the “Spring Thyme”, or the cucumber-gin martini, and we promise they will) but you found yourself more preoccupied with the stem of your glass than your date’s banter, you’ve got plenty of time to salvage the night by meeting up with friends.

THIRD BITE: Comedy Cellar whenever, with whomever!

Going to a comedy club is great for any point in a relationship. I went to The Comedy Cellar, a stop on our Central Village/SoHo Tour, on one of my first dates with my boyfriend, and it proved to be a great opportunity to really let loose and show our fun sides. Learning to gauge what makes someone laugh is a great way to get to know him or her. Since then, we have gone on four more comedy club dates around the city, but The Comedy Cellar is unmatched. It brings top comedians, and guarantees side-splitting comedy. Comedy clubs usually have pricey tickets, plus a two-drink minimum, so the bill can easily rack up quickly. But at the Comedy Cellar, the tickets are only $10, and the two-item minimum can include food from their tasty Olive Tree Café menu if you’re not in the mood to drink. The options are mostly Middle-Eastern, with incredible Kebob Platters if you’re feeling hungry. The burger is one of the best I’ve had—and as someone who normally doesn’t order burgers, I find it hard to pass up here. They also serve unlimited pitas! The show runs from 9 pm- 1:30 am Sunday through Thursday, while Friday and Saturday shows run a bit shorter. A night out at the Comedy Cellar is a great first date and a great 50th date, and a great group date or friend date! It doesn’t get much better than a night out with guaranteed laughter, good company, food, and maybe a few drinks. It’s stress free—just sit back and enjoy the show.

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