A romantic dinner is a pleasure, but it need not be a special occasion. It can be spontaneous and casual. Whether you are creating or attending a romantic dinner, the key is to enjoy yourself, your company and your meal. Highly formal dinners are no longer the norm, because they can be tiring, expensive and difficult to prepare. Instead, follow the contemporary rules of simplicity, comfort, ambiance and intimacy.
Ambiance and Table Setting
A warm, inviting ambiance is the center of a romantic meal. Choose a private setting. It can be outside, inside or next to a window. Try to please all five senses: sound, smell, sight, taste and touch. Low music, soft lights, interesting textures and a colorful, fragrant meal account for all five. Remember, however, that you want to be able to hear, see and reach each other easily. Candles provide the most flattering lighting.
For settings, start with a clean table free of clutter. Use a basic low centerpiece for interest. A bowl of floating tea candles or a handful of fresh flowers in a small vase will do. Forget elaborate china and silverware, but do use cloth napkins and stemware. Plates can be mixed and matched, but food looks most attractive in plain white dishes. Keep a pitcher of water close by. Add fruit slices if you wish, or bind napkins with fresh herbs.
Dress and Manners
Dress should be attractive and appropriate, but not overdone. If you are not comfortable, you will not enjoy yourself. Keep clothing, shoes and hair uncomplicated for easy movement. Be clean and groomed, but avoid heavy colognes. Casual clothes are acceptable at home but not for a restaurant. Women can wear a simple up-do, nighttime dress and a pretty piece of jewelry. For men, an evening jacket and trousers will do.
Remember your manners. Be punctual, polite, open and thoughtful. Drink moderately, eat slowly and use your napkin gingerly. Speak with an empty mouth. Keep proper posture and hold cutlery correctly. In conversation, avoid unhappy personal topics, crude jokes and tacky inuendos. Show interest, good listening skills and relaxed body language. Make eye contact. Remember to thank your date and compliment him and the meal.
Menus, Food and Drink
Keep food simple, delicious and colorful. Every dish tastes best when it is well prepared, lightly seasoned and fresh. Foods should complement one another and be easy to eat. Choose a handful of textures and colors but avoid anything heavy, overly spicy, stinky or that sticks in your teeth. Do not worry too much about drink pairings. Rather, focus on something fragrant and tasty that looks attractive on the plate. You can select seductive foods that have aphrodisiac properties like figs, oysters or avocados.
If you are cooking, forget complicated recipes. You want to have time to relax. Cook with love and be respectful of your date's food tolerances. Have fun with food preparation and presentation and feel free to be creative or whimsical.