Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger Shares First Dinner Date Tips for Valentine’s Day

Headed out this weekend for a first dinner (or brunch or lunch) date in honor of Valentine’s Day? Here, world-renowned Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger shares first dinner date tip for a date so delicious he or she is sure to delete Tinder. The essential ingredients for a great date? “Communication, chemistry, and compliments — with a big amount of manners thrown in!” But, there’s a lot more to it, as well.

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The first step toward dinner date success is selecting the right restaurant for romance. Should you look for a hip, sexy spot or something more lively? “Quiet, an intimate setting, ambience, and lighting are key,” according to Stanger. “A girl always looks beautiful under candlelight.” And don’t forget to use the notes/special requests to the maître d’ option when booking on OpenTable. “It’s always nice when the person who made the reservation requests a quite table so they can hear each other talk. If it happens to be close to the kitchen, only accept the table if the kitchen has soundproof glass windows.”

Famous for issuing a strict two-drink maximum at her Millionaire Matchmaker mixers, we wondered if the same rule applies when you’re out on an actual first date? “Yes, I recommend ordering one bottle of wine.  A bottle of my sweet red sparkling from PS Match is perfect as it has four glasses total, which is ideal for any romantic date,” she suggests.

Waiter Serving Delicious Food to Young Couple in Restaurant

Now that you’re past the drinks, should you go with shared plates or items with grand tableside preparations – or something else? Stanger recommends trying the tasting menu together. She notes, “A tasting menu with great wines is the perfect shared romantic experience because it allows you time to get to know your date and enjoy the food. Since it is small portions, it is not over the top filling, which gives you energy for what’s to come next!” For those with special dietary restrictions or picky eaters, convey the information politely and in a matter of fact manner. “Nowadays, it is not unusual for someone to say, “I’m gluten free, allergic to shellfish, and so on.’ It’s better to be safe than sorry just to go along. Just tell your date, ‘I don’t want to be a pain because I’m sure any restaurant or menu you pick will be fine, just please know I’m allergic to ___.” A good date will inform the chef and management ahead of time because that shows that they care.”Continue Reading

Frost and Bloom: A Connected Event with Vedge + Vernick in Philadelphia

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“There is no beauty without some strangeness.” — Edgar Allan Poe

Under the cold there was, in fact, gold. This week, on a snowy evening in Philadelphia, OpenTable gathered with foodies, lifestyle contributors, and local influencers and chefs Kate Jacoby and Rich Landau of venerated plant-forward restaurant Vedge and Greg Vernick of new American favorite Vernick Food & Drink for Frost and Bloom, an unlikely Valentine’s Day soiree that is part of Connected, our series of talks and gatherings that bring together the restaurant and tech worlds with food, drink, and local culture.

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Seeking a deeper and unconventional connection to the notion of love, we set out to dig deep within the chill of winter for true connections — to food, to drink, and to one another, turning the holiday and its all-too-often saccharine associations on its head. Drawing inspiration from mavericks such as Saint Valentine, Chaucer, and Spenser, Philadelphia’s storied The Mask and Wig Club was given an enchanting costume of winter blooms and evocative artwork from Nitsua, Kyle Huff, and Conrad Benner, curated by OpenTable brand director Cort Cunningham, and the intrigue kicked off at 6:30PM with food and drink to mirror the mood dreamed up by these top chefs and Vedge beverage director Ross Maloof.

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We shrugged off the chill of the evening within the warm confines of The Mask and Wig Club as hearts were gently melted with intoxicating piano music, and we sipped one-of-a-kind creations from Maloof that embodied the spirit of the evening, including the Cupid Makes Me Retch with vodka, chocolate, espresso, beet, and rose water rinse, and the non-alcoholic Pickpocket, forged out of plum, Meyer lemon, thyme, citrus, and club soda. Guests scooped up cards with quotes about love in all its many forms as they nibbled on sexy bites from Landau and Jacoby, such as  smoked hearts of palm on crostini, jerk spiced carrots with rutabaga “fondue”, celery root “cacio e pepe” with fregola and black pepper, and crispy sunchokes with black garlic buffalo sauce and celery leaf ranch.

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The festivities later moved upstairs, where DJ duo Maggs Bruchez raised the temperature in the room, laying down the PHL’s best beats. Chef Vernick and his team headed behind the burners for the second half of the subtly sultry evening, serving a trio of savory dishes featuring flavors designed to delight the senses, from salt cod and semolina croquettes with saffron cream and avocado crostini with spicy radish to tuna poke complemented by macadamia nuts and sweet soy and spicy veal meatballs swathed in ancho chili caramel served on appropriately dagger-like toothpicks.Continue Reading

The Sweet Spots: Sweets for Your Sweet on Valentine’s Day

Whether you’re in the honeymoon phase of a new relationship, losing track of the years spent with the love of your life, or feeling the sting of unrequited love this weekend, what better way to express how you feel than with something sweet? (Chocolate, mousse-filled, deep-fried, sugar-dusted, sprinkled with rose petals and paired with booze doesn’t hurt, either.) Here are 10 top spots to order sweets for your sweet on Valentine’s Day.

Sinfully Sweet at L’Atelier De Joël Robuchon, Las Vegas, Nevada
What happens on Valentine’s Day in Vegas stays in Vegas, right? Wherever the night takes you in Sin City this Valentine’s Day weekend, you can at least bet on a memorable dessert at the sleek, French-leaning L’Atelier De Joël Robuchon at MGM Grand. La Rouge Cerise stars its namesake red cherry in a compote with vanilla and dark chocolate cream while La Framboise comprises a white chocolate sphere filled with yuzu ice cream that’s revealed when cascaded with warm raspberry chocolate sauce at the table. Make a reservation at L’Atelier De Joël Robuchon.

Sweets for Your Sweet

Wine-Friendly Sweets at Five Fifty-Five, Portland, Maine
As part of its four-course Valentine’s Day menu, upscale American eatery Five Fifty-Five is tempting diners with three sweet conclusions from pastry chef Yazmin Saraya. Delicate Wine, Chocolate & Roses combines wine and berries pate de fruit, passion fruit truffles, and rose petal macaroon, lavender-laced cheesecake gets sweet tang from Meyer lemon and lightness from meringue, and a mouth-coating flourless chocolate brownie gets sweetness from white chocolate sorbet and sticky dulce de leche. Wine director/co-proprietor Michelle Corry’s carefully selected wine pairings will make dessert taste even sweeter (and your spoken love poems sound all the more impressive). Make a reservation at Five Fifty-Five.

Sweets for Your Sweet

Decisions, decisions! at 312 Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
For lovers who can’t commit (at least on a dessert choice), 312 Chicago chef Luca Corazzina is offering three sweet meal enders this Valentine’s Day. Torta di Cioccolato comprises rich flourless chocolate cake with pistachio cream atop a smear of wild berry sauce; Bombolini, or Italian fried doughnuts, sit atop white chocolate mousse with Champagne; and Panna Cotta de Lamponi pairs light vanilla custard with raspberries and kiwi salad. Don’t worry; dessert sharing is encouraged (though it may not resolve monogamy issues). Make a reservation at 312 Chicago.

Sweets for Your Sweet

Red Velvet Cake for Two at The Gage, Chicago, Illinois
The Gage pastry chef Kym DeLost aims to melt the hearts of even staunch non-dessert-sharers with her amorous Red Velvet Cake for Two. Rich with the color and flavor of cocoa, this layered cake is filled with cheesecake frosting and strawberry-wine jelly and then topped with crunchy meringue kisses and raspberries and strawberries glazed with sparkling red Brachetto wine and finished with candied rose petals that pop with desire on the crisp white plate. Make a reservation at The Gage.

Sweets for Your Sweet

Cupid’s (Semolina Cake) Arrow at Hinoki & the Bird, Los Angeles, California
According to Persian culture, if you bake a semolina cake for someone, the person who eats it will fall in love with you. So if you’re sensing your love might be unrequited, take your date to travel-inspired Hinoki & the Bird for the Semolina Almond Cake. This airy, not-too-sweet cake is infused with ground almonds and fragrant lemon zest and plated with fresh berries, crème fraîche, and honeycomb. In other words, Cupid’s arrow in dessert form. Book a table at Hinoki & the Bird.

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Love Bites: Decadent Valentine’s Day Chocolate Desserts

It’s estimated that Americans buy a beyond impressive 58 million pounds of chocolates during Valentine’s Week. So when you go out for a romantic dinner to celebrate Cupid’s holiday, chances are your meal will end with a chocolate-y extravagance. Pastry chefs and chocolatiers spend months conceiving decadent desserts that highlight cocoa in a myriad of clever – and exceedingly delicious – ways. Here are 16 decadent chocolate desserts (including one that will set you back a cool grand!) that will melt your heart, blow your mind, and give your belly afterglow on Valentine’s Day or any day.

Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria, New York, New York
Here’s a heart-shaped boxed we’d like to be locked inside for weeks. Pastry chef Genevieve Meli forges a lid out of chocolate bark speckled with almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, and a galactic scattering of Maldon sea salt. It covers an assortment of beautiful bonbons sure to impress any date. Make a reservation at Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria.

Chocolate Desserts

Daniel, New York, New York
Should you share a French kiss at a restaurant? In this case, absolutely. Executive pastry chef Ghaya Oliveira created a pair of dark chocolate lips for you to share with your sweetie. One is filled with triple vanilla mousse, ruby red grapefruit jam, and rose water Turkish delight. The other boasts dark chocolate marshmallow, passion fruit caramel, and hazelnut praline. Make a reservation at Daniel.

Chocolate Desserts

Fire, Denver, Colorado
Goodness gracious, great ball at Fire! A globe formed with chocolate and orange mousses is doused with warm caramel to melt it into a craggy meteor of delicious proportions. We would instruct you to eat it quickly before it dissolves into a puddle of goodness, but we doubt this dessert will last three minutes after it arrives at your table. Make a reservation at Fire.

Chocolate Desserts

America Eats Tavern, McLean, Virginia
George was a lucky fella. Turns out Martha Washington made a killer chocolate cake. Buttermilk and coffee add fluffiness and a bit of acidity to the cake, which is interspersed with cocoa butter icing. The triple layer treat is covered in chocolate Chantilly. A big wedge of it with a bracing cup of locally roasted Compass Coffee and we’re in heaven. Make a reservation at America Eats Tavern.

Chocolate Desserts

Veranda, San Diego, California
There’s no flour in these chocolate cakes, but there is a whole lot of love. Pastry chef Margaret Carvallo molds dark chocolate ganache into Cupid-worthy hearts, which she enrobes with 70% chocolate glaze. Perfect for sharing with your sweetheart. Make a reservation at Veranda.

Chocolate Desserts

Max Brenner-Union Square, New York City
Here’s a pizza for sweet tooths. A crusty round is topped with melted milk and white chocolate chunks and two toppings, which can include crushed hazelnuts, banana rounds, peanut butter, or roasted marshmallows. And, yes, it’s absolutely acceptable to eat a cold slice of it for breakfast the next morning. Make a reservation at Max Brenner.

Chocolate Desserts

Aureole, New York, New York
Pastry chef Pierre Poulin took inspiration from classic love songs – including the Bangles’ “Eternal Flame,” Seal’s “Kiss From a Rose” and “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses – to create his “Chocolate Mixtape Collection.” The 12-piece set showcases flavors that range from the enervating (coffee) and passionate (lychee-rose petal) to the purely decadent (foie gras). Consider it the edible soundtrack to your satisfaction. Make a reservation at Aureole.

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Arnaud’s, New Orleans, Louisiana
This dessert is the bomb. A chocolate toffee bomb, to be exact. Its cookie-crisp base is topped with English toffee-chocolate mousse and a rich ganache. Goes down well with a flaming Café Brûlot perked up with brandy and Curaçao. Make a reservation at Arnaud’s.

Chocolate Desserts

RPM Steak, Chicago, Illinois
Spangled with 14 karat gold flakes, this chocolate cake sports some serious bling. Dig in and you’ll find both milk and dark chocolate beneath the chocolate coating. Think of it as a candy bar for the 1%. Make a reservation at RPM Steak.

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