Ask male and female diners what makes a restaurant romantic and their answers are generally the same. Not too much bright lighting, comfy seating, and something special about the establishment all fall into the thumbs-up category. By contrast, there’s nothing tender about saying “I love you” over a salad bar or in a noisy canteen. In older hotels, historic architecture lends a helping hand in creating starry-eyed experiences. There is a sense that lovers of ages past have stolen kisses in the corners and exchanged knowing glances on weighty staircases as they wondered how to pull the sky down for one another. Gone are the days when hotel dining was second tier. Luxury lodging has become synonymous with fine dining. Here a few of our favorite romantic hotel dining rooms.
The Terrace Room at Omni William Penn Hotel, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
None other than big band leader Lawrence Welk launched his career at the Omni William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh. The year was 1938 and, ever since, couples have suspended dinner for a quick spin around the dance floor. The soundtrack of this stately structure continues to lure lovers looking for chef Michael Fischetti’s locally foraged mushrooms prepared on Naan bread with Boursin and arugula. Even what seems like a simple dish, Parmesan chicken, melts in the mouth. The menu changes seasonally, but diners have a longstanding relationship with chef Fischetti’s New Orleans-style seafood pasta. Make a reservation at The Terrace Room at Omni William Penn Hotel.
Che-Ah-Chi at Enchantment Resort, Sedona, Arizona
Take a deep breath. This is where your phones aren’t likely to work, where a walk through the resort to Che-Ah-Chi is like a first kiss, and where the sunset is unlike any other, against the backdrop of ancient Boynton Canyon. Che-Ah-Chi is located within Enchantment Resort, one of Sedona’s legendary spa destinations. Despite the luxe surroundings, the cuisine is as unpretentious as the resort itself – bent on making sure you feel at home and leave happy and fulfilled. Chef Franck Desplechin shares the love with dishes like crispy skin Campbell River salmon with barley yam risotto and braised artichoke agnolotti in a positively sinful lemon butter sauce. Make a reservation at Che-Ah-Chi at Enchantment Resort.
Velvet Buck in the St. Regis Hotel, Aspen, Colorado
The St. Regis has always been one of Aspen’s sexiest destination hotels, a ski palace holding court on the far side of town. Its restaurants are just as intoxicating. The recently-opened Velvet Buck welcomed its first guests in December to sample chef de cuisine Hunter Kepley’s mountain fare. The menu features items like bison tenderloin, Colorado meat and cheeses, and duck cassoulet. Kepley offers Velvet “Socials” shareable plates – think bone-in ribeye weighed for two, marrow candles, and Tête de Moine cheese with a Girolle curler and aged balsamic. Dessert, such as the warm s’mores skillet, are the perfect excuse to linger in the sultry space. It registers in real life just like you think a place named Velvet Buck would — rustic and enchanting. Make a reservation at Velvet Buck in the Aspen St. Regis.
The Katharine Brasserie in Kimpton Cardinal Hotel, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Before the Empire State building captured proposals and captivated skyscraper enthusiasts, there was the historic R.J. Reynolds building, which served as the architectural muse for the Manhattan structure. Tobacco royalty R.J. Reynolds built his own empire, the headquarters of which has been lovingly restored into what’s now The Kimpton Cardinal Hotel. The Katharine Brasserie is a shining example of what can happen when romance and restoration converge. Inviting round booths are perfect for clasping hands and sitting close. The new team of executive chef Adam Barnett and director of food and beverage Michael Harris has won the culinary heart of the whole city. Sharing dishes like Barnett’s addictive housemade pâté grand-mère, côtelettes de porc, and bouillabaisse and taking advantage of Harris’s laser-sharp wine pairing acumen are a match made in hotel dining heaven. Make a reservation at The Katharine Brasserie at Kimpton Cardinal.
The Pfister Hotel, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee’s ornate 1893 Romanesque Revival, The Pfister Hotel is home to the world’s largest hotel collection of Victorian art. This artistic feast for the eyes is just the amuse bouche, because 23 floors up at Blu, panoramic views of Milwaukee and Lake Michigan steal the spotlight for martinis and light bites. This is Wisconsin, after all, so share a flight of cheddar before heading back downstairs to Mason Street Grill where twosomes bond over chef Kenneth Hardiman‘s decadent Mason jar chicken liver mousse, 64-hour braised short ribs, and bone-in filet. Make a reservation at The Pfister Hotel.
Dragonfly at Hotel ZaZa, Dallas, Texas
A better name for Hotel ZaZa might be yowza – this Dallas jewel has one of the coolest hangouts in town in Dragonfly. Staying the night is too tempting to pass up since guests can get room service in one of several unique concept suites located in an authentic 1930’s retail building. Executive chef Dan Landsberg likens Dragonfly to a modern American kitchen, but it has all the classic undertones of amore in dishes including succulent duck breast with sous vide pickled grapes and pomegranate molasses. Don’t forget to get your Big Flirt cocktail on before dinner, made with Grey Goose L’orange and passion fruit purée. Make a reservation at Hotel ZaZa’s Dragonfly.
Café du Parc–The Willard InterContinental, Washington, D.C.
Formidable façades throughout our nation’s capital reveal the city’s many monuments and passionate eateries. The Willard InterContinental is one of the most iconic, where Julia Ward Howe wrote “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King completed his “I Have a Dream” speech. At the hotel’s Café du Parc, executive chef Peter Laufer crafts a dreamy mix of French fare. Nostalgic diners swoon over the menu, including items crusted lamb loin with poached lobster and truffle potato croquettes. Vegetarians feel the love, too, in chef Laufer’s grilled vegetable strudel of eggplant, squash, and mushrooms atop spaghetti squash. His orange creamsicle with almond dacquoise sponge cake is a sweetheart of a dessert. Make a reservation at Café Du Parc in the Willard InterContinental.
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