Back when I blogged about online dating, my friend JL suggested that I have a series of posts about the restaurants and bars where I went on my dates and rate them for their “date quotient.” I thought it was a terrific idea, but I never figured out how to fit it into that blog. But here I am, writing about food, and what better way to convince myself that online dating wasn’t a complete waste of time than to share my experiences?
First, let me define what I consider a Great Date Place. These are places you go on a first or second date, when you’re still getting to know each other. Part of it is the charade — going to places that are out of your normal budget range, typically with sub-par food but good drinks. With the higher budget comes good service to ensure a smooth evening (usually true, but not always). Mood lighting and ambiance are a must, as well as good acoustics.
An obvious inaugural choice for the Great Date Place series is Cesar. Berkeley, great town that it is, doesn’t have too many Great Date Places, but Cesar is definitely one of them. They serve tapas, delicious cocktails, and have a great wine list. Besides having all of the qualities listed above (great ambiance, lighting, drinks, and expensive food), the main reason why Cesar is a Great Date Place is because food can be shared. And for a foodie like me, it’s important to know sooner rather than later whether I’m gastronomically compatible with someone. Plus, isn’t sharing food fun and romantic? (I draw the line at feeding though. That’s just gross, especially for your fellow diners.)
A word of warning, if you choose to take a date there: avoid the window seating at the North Berkeley location. Unflattering lighting from the sidewalk spills into the restaurant, casting strange (i.e. unattractive) shadows. Seriously. It’s very distracting and unfortunate. Don’t let it happen to you.