I can’t say that I miss dating; not at all. Sitting with my single friend the other day, he asked me about wedding plans and I asked him about his dating life. He ran through a litany of first date horror stories – “She looked nothing like her picture”; “I almost left before the first course was served”; “I have more in common with my dog than her”. I could feel his pain. But as he told each tale of dating woe, each set against the backdrop of a new restaurant or amazing first date locale, I realized the one upside to single-life: Being in the Know.
Singles are up on all of the new hotspots, all of the adorable quiet bistros that are hidden on the side streets of the Upper East Side. They are the Zagat’s guide of where to go, a directory of under-the-radar restaurants and cozy wine bars. “I remember when I used to ask you for the update on all the new openings,” my friend mused as he scribbled down the names of a few places that M and I should try. Now I might as well be wearing Guess jeans, EG feet and rubber band bracelets by how out of touch I am with where the “kids” are going these days.
So, in trying to help out all the single Upper East Siders, I have compiled a list based on my single friends’ input of all of the great ‘First Date’ venues on the Upper East Side:
Firenze – (83rd and 2nd) – The most romantic authentic Italian restaurant on the Upper East. Exposed stone and brick walls, candelabras on each table with dripping wax, this small intimate restaurant has some of the best cuisine at moderate prices around. With outdoor seating and a dessert cart that can cause sugar-shock just by looking, this is the number one spot. “I felt like our first date was in Florence, right by the Duomo,” Stephanie said. “ I wanted to learn Italian after that meal.”
Cavatappo – (90th and 2nd) – Size does matter in dating. The smaller the wine bar, the better. “Usually I find going to small places annoying, but when it comes to a first date I equate small to intimate. You don’t want some huge bar with high ceilings when you are focused on the person you are with,” said Ayla. Don’t let Cavatappo’s 25-seat venue fool you, their wine list is easy to understand and as full and robust as a good red.
Cassa La Femme (59th and 1st) – Sumptuous and innately sexy, Cassa La Femme has an Arabian nights meets South Beach feel. Moroccan cuisine is served amidst gyrating belly dancers while diners are secluded in private tented areas. “It is if they are serving sexiness with the lamb,” Karen said. “You feel a world away from New York.”
L’Absinthe – (67th between 2nd and 3rd) - No one does love like the French. L’Absinthe is a deliciously authentic French brasserie. The restaurant captures the glamour of Paris in each bite of the food. Diners and daters rave about the charm and excitement that is abuzz in the atmosphere.