Chez Boet labels its cuisine "French home cooking," but also delves into the North African cuisine that one finds in Paris. Hummus accompanies the crusty bread; tagine, slow roasted stew with couscous, is a specialty. The lamb variety is exceedingly hearty and flavorful. Mussels come in a delicious light wine broth as an appetizer or as moules frites, an entree with hand-cut French fries. Seafood, pates and fondue round out the menu. Divine desserts bust the firmest resolutions: fine chocolate fondue and napoleon with fresh berries and homemade chantilly. Less snooty than the French restaurant stereotype, intimate Chez Boet even caters to "well-behaved" kids.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: This intimate spot serves authentic French cuisine and romance.
Chelle's expert tip: The owners' daughter designed the "Well-Behaved Children's Menu," and it's not your average hot dogs and spaghetti.
Nothing beats a dinner out at the Ritz, where service, setting and culinary excellence combine to foment an experience that transcends mere eating by miles. The Grill excels in fine steaks but also knows its way around seafood. Dry-aged cuts include New York strip, ribeye and Delmonico, plus filet mignon, veal chop and Colorado rack of lamb. Why not splurge further and add a side of foie gras or a lobster tail? Signature entrees run the gamut from salmon with sunchoke puree to braised short ribs with confit portobello mushrooms. Despite its formality, the atmosphere feels relaxed. Live music, usually light piano, frequently entertains.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Impeccable service, an extensive wine list, and the glamour of the Ritz make hearts throb.
Chelle's expert tip: It's known for its dessert souffles, the Grand Marnier is best. Don't forget to order it early in the meal as it takes some time to bake.
Overlooking serene Cocohatchee Bay, the Bay House is regarded as one of the city's most spectacular seafood restaurants. This charming eatery serves fresh, Southern-inspired and bistro-style seafood dishes, as well as steak and chicken options. Most tables in the main dining room, decorated coast-like with wooden boats hanging from the ceiling, and patio offer views of the surrounding waterway, ensuring patrons a scenic setting on top of a sensational meal. Tierney's Bar offers an alternative cozy setting of fireplace and dark wood. Live entertainment plays in the bar Wednesday through Saturday evenings, and private banquet rooms are available.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: River views and a cozy fire lend this intimate restaurant its romantic appeal.
Chelle's expert tip: For a casual setting, make your reservations for the riverside patio or the Claw Bar Tierney's Tavern.
"Excellence" describes the new Sails Restaurant from start to finish. From start: Owners meticulously sourced decor items such as a Greek marble bar in the shape of a sail, dishware, and the finest seafood and steaks to create a modern European coastal setting and cuisine. Guests select their own fresh seafood, its poundage and its preparation: wood-grilled, salt-baked or seared a la plancha. Artistically presented seafood towers, crudos and tartares launch a memorable experience. Courses of seafood salads, house-made pasta and global entrees ensue. Try the Peppered Tuna Rossini with seared foie gras, black truffle and charcoal-roasted onions; or prime tenderloin with coffee-roasted onions. An exacting wine list and decadent, modern dessert menu are the final excellence icing on this lovely cake.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: New and sexy, Sails Restaurant became downtown's latest swanky darling when it opened in February 2018.
Chelle's expert tip: Order a seafood tower of chilled shellfish for two to share for a romantic repast. Oysters, my dear?
From soupe a l'oignon to the nuts in the apple tarte tatin, everything feels and tastes deliciously francais at this addition to the Fifth Avenue South litany of inimitable dining experiences. Chef Vincenzo Betulia, the mastermind of two eateries up the street, leaves his native Italy for a rustic brasserie adventure in an art nouveau setting with a massive display kitchen and charming bar offering indoor-outdoor service. The lunch/Sunday brunch menu spans salads, a $22 prime rib burger, pasta and fried squash blossoms. What's for dinner? Start with the deviled eggs with caviar or octopus carpaccio. Both demonstrate Betulia's flair for turning folk food gourmet. Lamb tagine, steak frites, roasted duck leg confit with apricot mostarda, oven-roasted chicken with sunchoke creme... the entrée choices are concise and carefully crafted. Plats du jour add a bit of nostalgia as do classic cocktails and comfort desserts.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: What could be more romantic than a culinary and sensory trip to Paris?
Chelle's expert tip: The sidewalk tables feel so Parisian, you expect to look up and see the L'Arc de Triomphe.
Through the decades, the historic Olde Marco Inn's dining room has evolved into a gracious Victorian setting with a cranberry glass chandelier and Audubon prints. Bistro Soleil, with its delightful Continental interpretations, sheds new light on the culinary tradition. For starters, the cream of wild mushroom soup with port wine foam, or Prince Edward Island mussels steamed with herbs and white wine immerse you in Chef Denis Meurgue's irresistible style. Reasonably priced follow-up courses continue to tantalize with offerings such as rack of lamb provencale, slow-roasted crispy Long Island duck a l'orange, grouper topped with crab and capers in lemon butter sauce, fresh beignets with chantilly, and homemade warm apple tarte tatin with vanilla ice cream and balsamic vinegar reduction.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Tucked into a historic Victorian setting, it finishes the romance job with sexy French cuisine.
Chelle's expert tip: It conveniently offers splits of champagne for an affordable romantic touch.
This class-act Third Street South restaurant occupies the historic Naples Mercantile Building and a pleasant Rome-reminiscent courtyard to its west. There's another courtyard out back for the best inventory of al fresco dining in Naples. Inside, you will find an inviting dining area, spacious bar and large, open kitchen complete with a traditional wood-burning oven. Some of the pasta, such as the pappardelle with braised veal, is made in house. Many of the ingredients for the wood-fired pizza, such as cheeses and sausage, get shipped from Italy. There are short ribs with smoked tomatoes or pan-roasted black grouper for dinner, chicken and caramelized pear salad for lunch and cannoli cheesecake and gelati for dessert.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Its historic courtyard setting and brand of fine Italian make for a perfect date night.
Chelle's expert tip: Each month Campiello's showcases the cuisine of a different region in Italy on a special Regional Menu.
The first dilemma: Sit al fresco and people watch along busy Fifth Avenue South or enter the embrace of "farmhouse chic" indoors, where repurposed barn wood creates warmth and character? Then the food ordering decision! The lunch menu may be small, but it is also packed with wow. Chef Betulia makes everything himself, from the pancetta on the chicken liver crostini to the fennel sausage tossed with mascarpone cream and torchio pasta. Pizza on both lunch and dinner menus ranges from classic tomato with basil and mozzarella to the lamb sausage and broccoli rabe. Braised pork osso bucco with parmesan risotto, pan-roasted salmon and homemade pasta dishes make meals memorable.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Whether you dine in the intimate farmhouse-style dining room or on the sidewalk, it's all about romance.
Chelle's expert tip: For a refreshing warm-weather cocktail, try the Fiori, vodka with passionfruit nectar, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, muddled raspberries and effervescent limonata.
This charming trip to provincial France stirs in some of the sophistication of Paris and an encyclopedic wine list to make it one of a kind. Owners Jacques and Lysielle Cariot, who formerly lived in Provence, do not pinpoint one signature dish at Bleu Provence, saying that the restaurant's aim is to provide a well-rounded, interesting menu that pleases many appetites. That it does. Provencal fish soup and moules frites (mussels with French fries) are a couple of favorites, but the menu covers all manner of seafood and fine meats such as local pompano or cobia, filet mignon and sweetbreads.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: The blue-trimmed dining room feels intimate and oh so francais.
Chelle's expert tip: The warm chocolate cake means a 10-minute wait, but it is entirely worth it.
Baleen gives a global twist to its breakfast, lunch and dinner menus. The setting couldn't scream Southwest Florida more succinctly with its Gulf of Mexico and white sand views. You can even dine with your toes planted in the sand should you desire. At breakfast, eggs with crispy tomato rice and grilled stuffed avocado benedict show off. Sunday brunch brings breakfast and lunch items to the table. The lobster wedge salad dazzles on the lunch menu. For dinner, start with the amberjack crudo, then the truffled lobster risotto or blackened grouper. Meat lovers will rejoice over the lamb chops with cherry-apricot gastrique or bone-in ribeye with a medley of mushrooms.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: How more romantic can you get than dining on the beach with tiki lamps and a bonfire?
Chelle's expert tip: Call in advance to reserve porch or beach seating.