Romance and food are a natural coupling. And not just in those stereotypical dishes we think of when we imagine romantic dates, like oysters, caviar and chocolate-covered strawberries. An expertly prepared dish of pasta or even a plate of tacos can be used to woo someone.
Whether embarking on a new romance with a first date or keeping a long-burning one alive by escaping the house and kids, you’ll find these restaurants in Calgary and Edmonton have all the ingredients needed to make a love connection.
Linger a little longer
Long, lingering meals with multiple courses, candlelight and perhaps a bottle of wine are a recipe for romance. The sense of needing to be nowhere else combined with exquisite dishes makes the rest of the world fall away.
River Café – Calgary
The romantic setting alone of this restaurant, nestled among the greenery and trees of Prince’s Island, makes it ideal for date night. The walk into the park starts the date – and the escape from daily life – even before you’re welcomed into the warm, inviting room, complete with fireplace. The restaurant’s ethos of serving dishes made from ingredients as close to home as possible means the creations are all local, seasonal and sustainable, which also warms the heart.
Rouge – Calgary
Between the historic house and the accolades the restaurant has earned – including a spot on the prestigious S. Pellegrino list of the world’s 100 best restaurants – Rouge has a storied history of serving up fine dining dishes in a restful atmosphere. Settle on the well-crafted and seasonally focused chef’s tasting menu and then there’s no need to make decisions, just enjoy each other’s company and the parade of dishes that appear before you.
Rge Rd– Edmonton
From the outside, this restaurant and its semi-strip mall setting may not seem like the spot for romance. Inside, the intimate space, the smell of smoke from the wood-burning oven and the rustic dishes with a farm-to-fork focus make for an alluring evening. For a conversation starter, order the Questionable Bits appetizer, which embraces nose-to-tail ingredients or settle in by choosing the Road Trip, their name for the chef’s tasting menu.
Red Ox Inn – Edmonton
With just a dozen tables, the Red Ox Inn is inevitably intimate. With a well-curated and constantly changing menu, it’s easy to settle in for a long and lovely evening. Service is impeccable and unobtrusive, meaning you will be well taken care of but never feel interrupted. You won’t want to leave until the last crumb of dessert has been enjoyed.
Share and Share Alike
First-date nerves are inevitable, but there are a few easy ways to get past that hurdle. Sharing plates and eating with your hands – where it’s encouraged – break down barriers and make it easier to relax and let romance follow.
Native Tongues Taqueria – Calgary
A boisterous room and bold flavours make a night at this authentic Mexican hotspot something of an adventure. Starting with seasonal appetizers, like the much-coveted elotes or esquites – opt for the off-the-cob option to save the first-date-disaster stories – gives you the chance to try lots of little things and make mutual decisions on what to share. Then move on to a tray of pre-assembled tacos or, better yet, the large format versions, where you build your own at the table.
Pigeonhole – Calgary
Sharing is caring and the menu items at this spot tucked in next to Model Milk in the old Victoria’s space are focused on just that. Echoing the mismatched plates they’re served on, the dishes – like nori crumpets with shrimp butter or the charred cabbage – are a mix of all the best parts of cuisines from around the world. The space is evocative of Paris and the wine list is a tempting and ever-evolving collection.
Corso 32 – Edmonton
By definition, Italian food is romance. Corso 32 takes that seriously by encouraging the sharing of their signature dishes, like crispy-edged but tender arancini, rustic and robustly flavoured pastas – all made by hand, and surely that means love – and a decadent chocolate torta for dessert.
Share Restaurant – Edmonton
As the name suggests, this gem at The Westin Edmonton hotel has reinvented itself with an eclectic sharing menu that celebrates Canadian cuisine. Share the beef carpaccio – AAA Alberta shaved tenderloin, with artisan vegetables, horseradish cream and Parmesan crisp – followed by an Alberta bison ragu, with wild mushrooms, ricotta and toasted pine nuts.