Hey, what do you know? We were just celebrating Christmas and now Christmas of the hearts or Valentine’s Day is here upon us!
I was going to postpone responding to the feedback I’ve been getting (thank you, thank you and thank you to the generous souls who stop by and take the time to drop me a line in my little corner of the web!) — but I am excited to give my own two cents’ worth on recommendations for a simple romantic date.
I’m not trying to get on Alan’s good side by saying that my most romantic valentine’s days have been the ones spent with him. From the first one in Manila (Schwarzwalder in its old spot over at Makati Avenue in 2000 to last year’s belated celebration in Paris towards the end of February, it has always been a special dinner wherever it may be.
Now I actually had to go back to my archives to find out where we’ve been the past 6 Valentine’s days we’ve been together (which I will write about in another post on Valentine memories), but here are my recommendations for a romantic dinner for two in New York:
Cafe Charbon is one bistro I wrote about sometime in March of last year just after our trip to Paris. Here is what I wrote over at my Pinay Francophile Blog:
Cafe Charbon at 168-170 Orchard Street (212) 420-7520
We discovered this little corner of Paris downtown a few months ago and have been going there for quiet dinners every few weeks or so. It was my first time to go there again after my trip to Paris.
Cafe Charbon.. I went to the google translator and I found out that “Charbon” meant charcoal. This place is a rather spacious restaurant with a tapas bar on one side, and a French bistro on another. Outside, you will see what looks like several French retail establishments in a row.. an epicerie (grocery), cremerie (dairy shop), tabac (tobacco or smoke shop), and then the cafe. On the outside it looks like you suddenly see a chunk of Paris downtown, when in truth, inside there are only two distinctive outlets which are actually one.
The main dining hall is inside the epicerie and cremerie, and the walls are lined with authentic French grocery goods. The food is definitely French cuisine and offers something novel to the discriminating palate.
Of course we talked about Paris again — a favorite topic between Alan and I. Perhaps next time I read their menu, I’d have a better chance of understanding the French terms there, and I might even get to order in the language if I feel brave enough to.
Ambience is very casual, food is reasonably priced and the air is cozy and romantic with the dim lighting. It’s in the same area as my next recommendation: CHUBO which you would’ve read up on in my earlier posts.
There’s another French restaurant (not bistro style, though) which has a spacious and nice bar on the lower level, with it’s dinner seating upstairs. I’m talking about Savoy Restaurant located at Prince Street. We’ve gone to this place for casual dinners and had celebrated one of my mother-in-law’s birthdays here with just us and her. (It was impractical to bring everyone because again, the cuisine is a little tricky and the price is not exactly for family style dinners.)
If you’ve been in New York long enough I suppose you’ve heard of and probably been to Cendrillon on Mercer Street — it’s an Asian-fusion restaurant owned by a Filipino Chef and his wife (Mang Romy Dorotan and Amy Besa). We prefer to visit them for Sunday Brunch, but if you haven’t been to their place yet, Saturday evening would be a good time to see a successful Filipino-owned restaurant in the heart of New York City. Presuming it’s your first time to visit, please take note that this is Asian-Fusion — so their lumpia is not your typical fresh lumpia and might be a tad bit jolting to your palate. Their sotanghon is also rather spicier than the sotanghon we know back home, so tread with caution. Their ukoy is fantastic and their ube-macapuno pie to die for, and try their crepes if they are available when you go. They serve a traditional halo-halo you might prefer to try out on a hot summer day. Some Filipinos complain they find the food so unlike homecooking but that’s the last thing Cendrillon is serving up — it’s supposed to be Asian Fusion, so it’s Filipino food with a twist.
For something more casual, have you heard of DRAGONFLY? They’re over at 7th Avenue and serve a wide range of Filipino, Chinese, Thai and Indonesian cuisine. Their seating area is a little funky, though, because part of their dinner area has sofas and coffee table sets instead of your usual dining table.
If you ask me, though, something casual and romantic would be CAFE CHARBON, and a notch above, CHUBO. Let me know what you decide on, Ces, even if you go someplace not on my list of recommendations. Enjoy!