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April/May 2008

Table for Two
Serving Up Spring Romance
by Katie Kelly Bell

 AquaKnox serves delicious seafood in a glossy, romantic interior.
 Photo: Joe Hans

Light a fire in your romantic life this spring with a special dinner on the town. Atlanta’s industrious chefs have everything in place: the mood, the cuisine, the wine and, of course, the setting. We rounded up a few of our favorite romantic destinations—make your reservation and watch the sparks fly.

With its gorgeous marble columns and dazzling interior washed in white and richly hued blues, a dinner at Kyma is akin to a romantic sail around the Greek isles. Executive chef Pano Karatassos prides himself on serving only the most pristine seafood and Greek provisions available. Even the feta is flown over from a local Greek purveyor (and it’s a knockout on top of the traditional Greek country salad). Request a table near the window, order a bottle of Greek wine, as Kyma has the best selection in the city, and let this impressive Mediterranean cuisine work its magic on your special evening.

Buckhead’s swanky new Terminus building boasts an even newer restaurant: AquaKnox. This glossy, sleek destination specializes in self-described global water cuisine. Seafood is where it’s at, but the wall of windows offers a prime 2nd-floor view of the bustle in Buckhead—not to mention a lovely romantic backdrop to your meal. Be sure to ask for one of the semi-private round booths in Lover’s Row. Elegant draperies rest overhead to add to the intimate feel.

Order the John Dory with lobster succotash, and start with a selection of prime oysters or stone crab claws.
To add a rustic twist to your romantic evening, visit Babette’s Café. The interior resembles a quaint French country farmhouse, complete with lace curtains, fireplace and charming creaky wood floors. The crowd here is more about spending time with old friends than seeing and being seen. Forget the sexy vibe and just enjoy the intimate charm of chef/owner Marla Adams’ heartwarming European cuisine that is a bit French, Spanish, Italian and Mediterranean. Dip into a steaming bowl of cassoulet (together) paired with a French wine. You’ll both feel transported to the French countryside—what could be more romantic?

  The rotating dining room at The Sun Dial offers
  incredible views of the Atlanta skyline.
Just a few blocks down the street from Babette’s (actually in the former Babette’s location) is the intimate and lovely Wisteria. This restaurant is a Southern classic serving upscale cuisine prepared by the capable hands of chef/owner Jason Hill. Cozy and off the beaten path, the crowd here knows a good thing and stays mum about it. This century-old building is often touted as a great place for a first date—prices won’t bust your budget, and the menu is a crowd–pleaser, featuring delectable items such as green tomato fries; panroasted Chilean sea bass; and molasses-rubbed pork tenderloin with sweet potato soufflé. Desserts are four-bite minis, perfect for sharing a few.

Dining 723 feet above the city should certainly impress any date, but the moving dining room at The Sun Dial Restaurant atop the Westin Peachtree Plaza probably tops everyone else in town for romantic shtick. With a rotating view like this, the food could easily be ordinary. But chef Christian Messier cuts nary a corner with his delicious seasonal cuisine. The grilled beef tenderloin with a sumptuous burgundy butter is a sure bet. Take note: Window side seats fill in quickly, so it is advisable to make a reservation. Wind down after dinner with a glass of bubbly (or one of their signature cocktails) on the lounge level, and enjoy the sounds of live jazz while the city spins around you.

For another romantic view of the city, visit Nikolai’s Roof atop the 30th floor of downtown’s Hilton Atlanta. In addition to its incredible panorama, the restaurant also charms diners with flavored vodkas and delectable entrees such as herb-crusted New Zealand rack of lamb and duo of Maine lobster and Dover sole. A nice decadent finish to the meal is the Valhrona chocolate tart with brown sugar ice cream.

If you really need some privacy, you can always book the Cheater’s Booth at the Ritz-Carlton’s Atlanta Grill downtown. The entire booth is walled in by privacy draperies. Servers know to knock before they enter here. The Grill’s menu is known for its emphasis on Southern cuisine. Dig into some of the scrumptious fare such as the Georgia five-onion soup and the grilled Georgia rainbow trout. If you’re feeling truly decadent, you can always go for the butter-poached Maine lobster

 Bazzaar serves delectable lounge fare in an eccentric,  intimate space.
The dramatic interior of Bazzaar perfectly complements this European lounge’s location next to the historic Fox Theatre. The first floor is styled like an eccentric living room, featuring velvet armchairs and sofas, drapes flowing from high ceilings and candlelit tables. Upstairs, in a loft area, couples can enjoy more privacy behind curtained nooks while sipping signature martinis and listening to live music. A menu that changes often features lounge fare such as mini crab cakes, grilled chicken skewers and shrimp chopsticks.

Another romantic option, Canoe is all about ambiance. The sound of the Chattahoochee River flowing alongside the restaurant and the restaurant’s elegant interior conspire to create an ideal setting for romance. The lauded menu features items such as seared Georgia mountain trout and sage roasted pheasant. After indulging in a delicious dessert, such as an apple brown butter tart, couples can enjoy a stroll through the surrounding gardens.

Aptly named, Haven is an upscale eatery in Brookhaven offering great cuisine in a cozy setting that features dark rustic woods, warm earth tones and amber lighting. Situated in a loft space, Haven boasts a Wine Library Wall that extends from floor to ceiling and houses red wines from some of the best vineyards in America. Small plates such as crispy Boston clam strips and smoked salmon tostada are great for sharing, as are the hearty entrees.

Midtown café Après Diem offers an intimate and cozy atmosphere where the vibe is mellow and relaxed. Many consider this an excellent place to go on a first date; the café boasts lots of candlelight, casual dinner fare and no pressure to vacate the table. Patrons also can settle into one of the comfy couches with a latte and soak up the refreshing and original artwork adorning the walls. Indeed, this European-style café, which serves fare such as salmon mignonette and grilled sashimi tuna, is ideal for dining with that special someone.

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