Nailing It: The Good-Restaurant-For-A-Second Date Debate

A good restaurant for a date is a hard thing to decide upon. It's got to be anonymous enough that you both feel like you are mingling with a crowd rather than sitting on a stage. So loftily silent high-end Michelin-starred temples should be out of the question. Paradoxically, it's also got to be somewhere that you can hear each others ?hilarious/charming/nervous? banter. So very noisy places are out of the question too. Along with all of that, you also want to show off that you can choose a decent restaurant ... your choice of location probably says as much about you as your choice of footwear - and nobody wants to eat dinner in the restaurant equivalent of beige Crocs.

For smart folks, first dates are preferably conducted over a casual coffee, or something equally non-committal - Initial meetings over a formal dinner add a layer of pressure and commitment that often doesn't lead to primary FaceTime being a relaxed situation. Leave the sitting down to lunch/dinner thing till at least the second or third outing.

So where is good? While Etto ( is perfect for a lunch with friends you haven't seen in a while or a small celebratory dinner - I've done both and each was a fond experience - it's also a good spot for date number two, or three.
The set lunch menu is good value, with dishes coming from a kitchen that certainly deserves its Michelin Bib Gourmand. And its location is a winner too. After a long, (boozy?) lunch, take to the side alley of O'Donoghue's ( for further jollies. If it's a more sedate affair, the RHA gallery ( around the corner on Ely Place is a great post-lunch activity, or perhaps the ?Dead Zoo? ( down the road is a better option, certainly plenty to talk about there.


Ely Winebar

If it's a dinner date, you could do worse than sticking to the same general location, Etto still works well, however, for a slightly more romantically-sheened den, you could also give downstairs in the original Ely ( around the corner on Ely Place a whirl. Here, you've an opportunity to show off how much you know (gleaned from the internet) about wine, and the food is also pretty great. All going well, you've still got O'Donoghue's around the corner if that's your style of drinking joint. Alternatively, for a little more glamour, try Xico (, also nearby.


So, what are you waiting for? Kick off those Crocs and ask the apple of your eye out - Life is too short for watching rom-coms par toi-m'me.

A Novel Romance
For those who've already conjoined, and the month that's coming, splash out on creating the right physical and headspace for the embers of romance to become ruddily re-enflamed. The Romance at The Merrion package starts at a slightly breathtaking €965, however (what price, love?) the entry fee entitles coupling couples to (not only a stay at the capital's most luxe hotel) but also to indulge in a ?His & Hers? hot stone body massage, sip a bottle of fine complimentary Champagne, devour room chocs and follow it all with a cossetted stay in the luxurious Main House - a sumptuous Irish breakfast is served the following morning - just the thing to set young (and youngish) hearts aflutter. (


The Merrion hotel

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