Recommend me a type of restaurant for a first date

I have a date tonight (yes, I know, it’s incredible) and I’m looking for suggestions of what type of restaurant to take a a girl to, when that girl has said this:

“I remember you saying that you liked to try various cuisines, so I’ll leave the time and place for you to pick. I’m in an adventurous mood :)”

So - Mexican? Vietnamese? Chinese? Thai? I need something that’s first-date suitable, and I can’t decide. I know nice places for all these cuisines, but are they adventurous enough? I live in London, so anything that’s named can be found.

Help! :smiley:

Provided you don’t go to MacDonalds, KFC or the local Tandoori Shop, I’d be guessing that pretty much anywhere is OK for a first date. Don’t go too expensive, but at the same time, try to avoid a ‘cafeteria’ style place as well.

My suggestion would be to check out a Viet joint with some pho, spring rolls and a delicious assortment of roasted chicken/duck/pork that will give you HEAPS of time to get to know each other as well.

We’re expecting updates too yannow? :smiley:

I’d try French food. It seems romantic. I’ve always personally wanted to try it.

She says she’s expecting something adventurous, so at least try some place you suspect she’s never been. And make sure the atmosphere is romantic: “feeling adventurous” sounds a lot like flirting.

I know that would seem obvious, but I do know women who prefer more homy places for first dates, rather than the more romantic ones.

Go Italian. <cue the Billy Joel>

Hmm. Perhaps some background about said girl is in order. I’m quite happy with the suggestion of “not too expensive”, and I wasn’t planning to take her to the Ritz anyway, but she’s the friend of a friend, and I quite like her. She about my age (30ish) and a French citizen of Syrian descent. So I suspect that anything European isn’t really going to qualify as “adventurous”, even if they are playing Billy Joel.

I know a couple of nice places that I’ve been to several times, and I suspect she might not have, but they’re somewhat noisy. Atmosphere is nice, but tends to drown out conversation.

I’m thinking of here: http://busaba.com/locations/storestreet/
Or perhaps here: http://www.bangaloreexpress.co.uk/waterloo-home.shtml

Both places I’ve been to; somewhat quirky, excellent food. There’s also this place: http://www.wahaca.co.uk/html/1_restaurant1.html but it’s the noisy one. Perhaps not on a Sunday evening, though. I’ll call them and ask.

Updates to follow! This evening, if I’m not otherwise occupied!

Ah, so you’re in London?

What’s your budget like? (Wahaca’s a great choice, but you’re right that it’s not necessarily quiet and romantic.)

Let’s just say I’m gainfully employed, but have financial responsibilities which leave me with a moderate amount of disposable income.

Oh, you wanted a number. Hmmm. Shall we say around the £50-60 mark, not including drinks? Is that overkill for a first date? Too little? Can you tell I haven’t done this in a long, long time? Further relevant note: I’m vegetarian; does that influences your choice of recommendation?

Tierra Brindisa in Soho does very good (but definitely not cheap) tapas.

Latium in Bloomsbury is quiet and romantic (but when it’s not busy can verge on too quiet) and specialises in pasta and ravioli. Good value fixed price menu, too.

For something more adventurous, if she wants something less fussy and a bit more unusual:

Lalibela is an Ethiopian in Tufnell Park, which I’ve had good means at before, but lately the reviews haven’t looked so good. There used to be a phenomenal Ethiopian restaurant in someone’s front room off Finchley Road, but it seems to have closed.

Calabash, buried underground next to Covent Garden, does plain and simple West African food.

St John in Smithfield is expensive but different, basically a British and offal restaurant. Their menu is currently showing dishes like venison offal, ox heart, mallard, rarebit and the like.

Lemonia is a decent Greek Cypriot restaurant in Primrose Hill - not too pricy, nice meze, close to the hill for a romantic walk afterwards. Not very intimate though.

Sorry - just saw you’re vegetarian. Not an area I’m as familiar with, only two spring to mind:

Manna in Primrose Hill is supposed to be romantic.

Woodlands is a chain of vegetarian Indian restaurants.

Both seem to have mixed reviews lately. I’ve never eaten at Manna but it looks nice from the outside. I ate once at the Woodlands in Hampstead and it was very nice, but that was a few years ago.

The only other place I can think of is Jai Krishna on Stroud Green Road, something of an institution I’m told, but not romantic in any sense. Formica tables, outside toilet, mixed cutlery, and bring your own drinks from the off license across the road.

Something I have suggested to several people for a first date, particularly in a big city, is mobile gastronomy. You go somewhere to have something that you know is great, then walk somewhere else for the next course, then go somewhere for dessert. Any decent city has several chocolate places.

Dopers generally seem to think this is a stupid idea. People I suggest it to that do it, say it works out great. Lots of strolling around talking about stuff without a room full of people around you.

A great idea in principle, but possibly not applicable in London in mid-February? In summer it’d be cool, but with the weather as wet and windy as it has been you’d need to be with a girl who didn’t mind her hair being blown all over the place and will wear a sensible pair of shoes if you’re going to be schlepping through the rainy streets of ol’ London Town at this time of year!

Go to a place you feel comfortable, maybe where you go a lot and where they know you.

Good point. Although hopefully I would be with a girl who didn’t mind her hair being blown all over the place and will wear a sensible pair of shoes. But yeah, a cold Winter in London is hard work.

I’m in New York so don’t know if you have similar places, but I like Gyu-Kaku and similar restaurants where you cook the food yourself on a grill on your table. Also there are Japanese places where you make your own soup in a soup pot on your table. In my experience these places can be expensive or quite reasonable depending on if you choose massaged ferret tongue versus lots of veggies and a little meat. Do-it-yourself is fun and gives you something to pass the time if gazing into each others’ eyes is getting awkward.

I’m in California, and all the cuisines seemed very mundane until you said you’re in London! Obviously I can’t recommend specific restaurants, but I’d say important factors are conversational noise levels and a variety of dishes to choose from. I agree that European cuisine is not “adventurous” enough. Do any of the places you are considering have a wealth of appetizers to make a meal out of (similar to tapas) or can you order two dishes to share?

Are fussion cafes getting popular across the pond? I’ve seen a couple crop up around where I live (Texas).

Anyway, I’m not a 100% sure what the heck a “Fussion” cafe is but it sounds interesting.

Try something fun that has some level of interactivity about it - like fondue. You can do a fun fondue dinner without meat of any kind, and there can be a lot of playfulness involved in the meal.

Also, Spanish tapas is fun. Small plates for sharing, so a lot of “ooh, try this one.”

I’ve found both types of restaurants to be pretty romantic as well.

Fusion, Shakes? As in, fusion of two or more cuisines?

Yep, we’ve got 'em here.

I vote for Thai. Great vegetarian dishes, delicious food.