Valentine’s Day comes with a lot of pressure to put together the best date night possible to impress your love and share a fantastic meal. Fortunately, Nashville has plenty of choices when it comes to spots to share a romantic evening out, and that shouldn’t be limited to just February 14. Here are some great options to get the romance stirring:
Henrietta Red is a collaboration between two extremely talented women, GM/sommelier Allie Poindexter and chef Julia Sullivan. Together they have created one of Nashville’s premier dining destinations in Germantown, decorated with plenty of delightful feminine touches and exuding a sexy attitude in the festive bar area or the attractive main dining room. Sullivan runs her open kitchen with grace and precision, sending out plates of seafood while shuckers open dozens of oysters from around the country every evening. And you know what they say about oysters and romance…
Chef Maneet Chauhan oversees a local empire of four restaurants, but her original flagship at Chauhan Ale & Masala House is the best pick for a meal to stir your passions. The vibrant interior includes pumping lounge music played at an appropriate level and videos projected on the walls to provide visual stimuli. But it’s her exotic take on Indian cuisine that makes Chauhan’s restaurant a can’t-miss for a dinner with your love. From an opening salvo of crafty cocktails and fun appetizers like her interactive Gol Guppa Shots, you’ll be smiling from ear to ear as you eat and drink your way through her menu. Give in to Chauhan’s talent with seasonings that might be unfamiliar to you, and you’ll be rewarded with a spicy evening.
Caffe Nonna is the sort of red sauce Italian ristorante that is rarely found in this day of fusion cuisines and fancy spots that focus on food from the specific regions of Italy. Instead, at Nonna, diners sit close together under romantic lighting perfect in an ambiance for whispering sweet nothings across the table at your beloved. Classic Italian dishes are augmented by a menu of traditional pasta shapes that allow patrons to pick their own choice of sauce from a range of options form creamy white clam sauce to spicy arribiata. Nonna’s Lasagna comes from the chef’s grandmother’s recipe and rivals any in town.
Sometimes, the best way to express love is with casual and consistent adoration. While it doesn’t always burn white-hot, longtime love can be the best kind of all. In the same way, many of Nashville’s old reliable restaurants offer excellent opportunities for romance thanks to their comfortable ambiance and attention to service. The Capitol Grille in the Hermitage Hotel has been delighting diners with their elevated version of soulful Southern food for decades, and because they are located on the ground floor of a luxury hotel known for outstanding hospitality, the staff is laser focused on service. Thanks to the fact that many of their diners are hotel guests, you might find yourself sitting next to a tourist wearing jeans and boots before an evening out honky tonking or a businessman wearing a three-piece suit, and you can feel comfortable with whatever you have on. Plus, if date night goes swimmingly, there’s an entire hotel full of rooms above you! (Wink, wink.)
Midtown Cafe has been a favorite spot for power lunches or dinner dates for more than 30 years. One of the few eateries that has been able to retain long-time career servers, Midtown understands exactly how diners want to be treated. The menu doesn’t obsess over sourcing absolutely everything locally, preferring to cook with the best ingredients they can find regardless of where they come from. Really, you want your scallops to come from Prince Edward Island, not the Cumberland River. The intimate dining room is beautifully appointed with colorful Paul Harmon original paintings hanging from the walls illuminated by romantic low light. As a bonus, you can even ride Midtown’s shuttle to events at downtown destinations like the Symphony or a concert at the Ryman if you make the smart choice to dine there beforehand.
The building that houses Miel in West Nashville actually used to be a butcher shop, but the only trace of its former occupant is an old photo on the wall. The space has been converted into a beautiful and peaceful place to enjoy a romantic meal of seasonal and sustainably-sourced dishes made using ingredients from local farms including gardens on the restaurant’s property. Miel also features one of the most interesting wine lists in town, curated by proprietor Seema Prasad. She has graciously included some nice half-bottles on the list so that diners can experiment with new wines without breaking the bank.
When it comes to setting a mood for amour, Nashville’s best female chefs offer a few of the finest options. Chef Deb Paquette of Etch is known for layering exotic flavors on top of beautifully-plated dishes that are works of art themselves. If you’re looking for rich luxurious entrees, go with Venison with a pomegranate walnut sauce or Veal & Shiitake Meatballs. For lighter fare so you don’t fall asleep right after dinner, consider Paquette’s cult favorite Roasted Cauliflower app or whatever seafood dish she is featuring that evening. The mod interior of her SoBro restaurant is also a feast for the eyes.
Everybody that walks through the door of Margot Café & Bar in a converted service station in East Nashville immediately feels like part of the family. The convivial atmosphere of the marble-topped bar area and intimate dining room is abuzz with happy diners experiencing chef Margot McCormack’s version of French-inspired cuisine executed with Southern influences. Concentrating on seasonal dishes prepared using locally-sourced produce, Margot (both the chef and the restaurant) represents a pioneering effort to bring fine dining to the neighborhood which has drawn a national spotlight to the Nashville dining scene both through her food and the talented chefs she has trained in her kitchen.
Sinema is one of the most glamorous dining destinations in town, and it just exudes sex. Heck, it even has “sin” in its name. Located inside the bones of a mid-century movie house, Sinema takes the classic Hollywood theme throughout its decor with movie stills decorating the walls, old movies projected over the entrance inside the front door and in the form of luxurious seating in the downstairs dining room and upstairs lounge areas. You can also enjoy a live performance in the open kitchen as the team of chefs prepares updated versions of classic American cuisine. Finish your dining experience with a crafty cocktail at either of the two cozy bars or perhaps a snifter of bourbon from one of Nashville’s best whiskey collections.