Romance is a natural ingredient at these four restaurants
Romantic restaurants don’t necessarily require dramatic views, customized menus and surprise serenades. Sometimes, the most romantic meals just call for good food prepared well in an ambiance that makes you want to linger longer with your loved one. The following restaurants turn on the charm, each the perfect palate for a different taste.
Recently moved from Tribeca to under the High Line in the Meatpacking District, trendy Flor de Sol serves Spanish food, in copious ways. Beginning with libations, there’s a cocktail menu with a mojito sub-menu in addition to the larger wine menu. Food-wise, go for the tapas. Over 40 different small plates incorporate imported Spanish hams and cheeses into both traditional and fusion recipes, such as ceviches, croquettes and every possible preparation of camarones (shrimp). Entrees, such as chicken with mint mojito leaves and, of course, paella, are generously portioned and easily shared. Chandeliers and red curtains add to the sumptuousness of the experience, as do the live Cuban music and flamenco nights, which pair perfectly with a glass of champagne sangria. (100 10th Ave. nr. 17th St.)
For a quieter night – or brunch, lunch or afternoon tea – Kings’ Carriage House harkens back to the days of turn-of-the-century New York. In a formal town house on the Upper East Side, the restaurant is divided into different rooms – the Willow Room, Mandalay Room, Hunt Room – each elaborately designed in accordance with its namesake. Gilt-framed murals and crystal chandeliers adorn throughout, and like being a guest in a home (which is the goal here), the dinner menu changes daily. Meals are formal: grilled quail with caramelized figs, for example, or grilled Moroccan spiced loin of lamb. Even brunch offers seared salmon with pistachio nut crust; tea, tartelettes and finger sandwiches. But it’s not hard to be on your best behavior when you feel like you’re dining in the home of a Rockefeller. (251 E 82nd St. nr. 2nd Ave.)
Homey in a different sense, Italian restaurant Peasant offers Tuscan fare in an ambiance about as rustic and cozy as restaurant settings can come. In true Italian fashion, the focus here is on accentuating the quality of the ingredients, which are cooked over open fires into simply composed dishes: Burrata, cuttlefish and razor clams to start; game dishes, sweetbreads and suckling pig prepared two ways for mains. And, of course, no Italian menu would be complete without wood-fired pizzas, gnocchis and a tailored selection of wines. The lighting is dim, and don’t let the wooden chairs fool you – their form-fitting seats will easily coax you to sit and chat through multiple rounds of tiramisu. (194 Elizabeth St. nr. Prince St.)
Ever since Mad Men took the televised world by storm, it has projected the Empire Deco look into a romanticized throwback into old Americana. Soak up the real thing at The Lambs Club, award-winning chef Geoffrey Zakarian’s (formerly of Le Cirque) restaurant at the landmark Chatwal Hotel, which was a favorite watering hole during that era. The cuisine, appropriately, is Modern American, giving well received quirks to expected dishes: grilled swordfish with glazed pork belly; loin of lamb with pistachio sponge cake; and New York Strip with short ribs, beef tongue and black trumpet mushrooms. The menu is seasonal, but rarely will it be found without upscale staples such as foie gras, tuna tartare and a paté of sorts. The sommelier here recently earned a two-glass award from Wine Spectator, and wine enthusiasts flock here for its wine menu, which is regarded as one of the best in the country. Every Tuesday and Wednesday, live jazz compliments meals, and only half a block from Times Square, the restaurant is a favorite for pre- and post-theater meals. Don Draper would surely approve. (132 W 44th St. nr. 6th Ave.)