If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then romance is up to the couple. I am enamored by a room with a view, yet also appreciate when he brings me my favorite doughnut. We already anticipate the "Who cares?", and you know what? We welcome it. Get all that (sexual) frustration out of your system and go find a date already.
Romance isn't a type of cuisine. However, one could be seduced by dessert, or courted by an attentive waiter. For this romantic, it's the way an establishment makes their guests feel. Do we find ourselves longing to touch our date's hand? Maybe leaning in closer to whisper something private. Whatever the urge, these locales set the tone with a combination of ambiance and taste. So in no particular order. . . .
Are we thinking private? Then this 24-seat Balboa Island charmer fits the bill. Classic French/Swiss cuisine with coordinating service courtesy of chef Chef Bernard Althaus will guide you and your plus one through rich raclette cheese, coq au vin and creme brulee. We wouldn't be surprised if you returned for an anniversary. 217 Marine Ave., Newport Beach, (949) 673-0570; www.basilicrestaurant.com.
9. Napa Rose
Craftsman-style chic is nestled between the hotel cafe and guest entrance to Disney's California Adventure. Prepare to be a guest of Andrew Sutton's divine storytelling. For a customized menu, get up-close-and-personal at the Chef's Counter. . . .or save that move for after dinner. At Disney's Grand Californian Hotel, 1600 S. Disneyland Dr., Anaheim, (714) 781-3463; http://disneyland.disney.go.com.
8. Brasserie Pascal
Traditional fare without the gravitas that typically accompanies it, Pascal Olhats (like Pageant of the Masters) understands the magic of lighting and music in his ode to la vie en France. Savory steak frites, bone marrow, and quiche Lorraines will have you raising your wine glass for another toast. Stroll in after
jewelry window shopping, or before catching the late show across the way. 327 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 640-2700; www.pascalnpb.com.
Clandestine looks tend to linger under the soft glow of candlelight. Ropa vieja your way into their heart with a glass of sangria blanca. If the weather is right, sit outdoors for maximum effect; the live music will be more wafting than overpowering. 2930 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, (714) 556-0176;www.thelab.com.
We're not advocating love in an elevator, but the oceanside view from this resort is its own aphrodisiac. Amuse yourself with Craig Strong's offerings of foie gras and risotto, presented by impeccable waitstaff. Afterwards, order a nightcap in the lobby bar and watch the waves (thoughtfully showcased by spotlights) crashing on the rocks before you move in for a kiss. At The Montage, 30801 S. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, (949) 715-6420; www.studiolagunabeach.com.
5. Ramos House
If you intend on romancing with brunch, rendezvous at this train station cafe. Throw blankets and a special Bloody Mary await those who relish love in the afternoon. John Humphries woos with a choice of mouthwatering hashes (we are partial to the duck) and apple cinnamon beignets you will be enamored by. 31752 Los Rios St., San Juan Capistrano, (949) 443-1342; www.ramoshouse.com.
4. Mastro's Ocean Club
Pacific Coast Highway becomes the backdrop for an evening of gluttony. A small section of buttery-soft, high-backed banquettes allow for cozying up to one another. Carnivores can relax, as steak offerings are just as primal as their Costa Mesa counterpart. 8112 East Coast Hwy., Newport Beach, (949) 376-6990; www.mastrosrestaurants.com.
3. Cucina Alessa - Huntington Beach
For somewhere low-key, yet just as inviting, we head north to the Huntington branch of this Italiano trio. If the bustling interior is too much, dine al fresco alongside the surf city passers by. Embrace homemade pasta and request butternut squash ravioli. Or take turns feeding each other off a plate of mozzarella and proscuitto. 520 Main St., Huntington Beach, (714) 969-2148; www.cucinaalessa.com.
2. Park Avenue
Best described as the city that time forgot, Stanton's (where?) unintentional ode to Mad Men manages to send its patrons back in time to a slice of Pleasantville, where one's tailored suit or coiffed 'do isn't quite complete without a Hendricks cocktail in hand. Their comforting cuisine brings a breath of fresh air to Cleaver classics with apple stuffed pork chops and peanut butter ice cream sundaes. Suburbia has never been so amiable. 11200 Beach Blvd., Stanton, (714) 901-4400; www.parkavedining.com.
1. AnQi Gourmet Bistro By Crustacean
As crimson as Wynn's Encore, AnQi's signature hue represents romance and sultry passion. Begin canoodling over a bowl of their garlicy strands or foie gras nigiri, and finish with a elderflower parfait with pomegranate pearls and pink rose meringue. Luxurious surroundings spark one's senses, and maybe some chemistry. 3333 South Bristol St., Costa Mesa, (714) 557-5679; www.anqibistro.com.
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