By Liane Faulder, Edmonton Food Tours guide and writer for The Edmonton Journal
The definition of a romantic meal varies widely. Some couples can feel dreamily alone in a noisy and crowded space like El Cortez Mexican Kitchen and Tequila Bar (8230 Gateway Blvd.) and others like a padded banquette in a dark corner at the Red Ox Inn (9420 91 St). One duo might find a grilled cheese eaten while perched on a stool in a trendy sandwich joint like Farrow (8422 109 St.) to be gooey and gorgeous. Another needs champagne in the Confederation Lounge at the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald (10065 100 St).
If you’re of the cheap and cheerful persuasion, look no further than the aptly named Café Amore (10807 106 Ave.) The tables for two are tiny, and it’s easy to have an intimate conversation, especially if the accordion player is nearby to mask the coo of lovebirds. There’s just something about checkered tablecloths and noodles that channels Lady and the Tramp, and is therefore most appealing. Pasta dishes are about $25 a piece, and that includes copious leftovers to take home.
If you can’t feel romantic without good stemware, think Cavern, the tiny wine and cheese shop in Edmonton’s downtown, found below the pavement in a simple but elegant space at #2, 10169 104 St. While the cheese is carefully curated and therefore not inexpensive, it’s still just a cheese plate after all, and the shop offers ongoing wine specials. Don’t be afraid to ask owner Tricia Bell or any of her qualified staff what cheese goes best with what wine – learning a little something together is seductive, n’est ce pas?
Langudo Skies (9920 82 Ave.) serves authentic Ethiopian fare for those who like a unique experience at a moderate price. Red walls and a deep blue ceiling invoke a feeling of sunset, and while the décor is largely utilitarian, there is something about ripping the spongy and slightly sour injera flatbread with your hands and using it to mop up a spicy stew or curry that invites intimacy.
For those with deeper pockets, nothing beats the Hardware Grill (9698 Jasper Ave.) Reserve ahead and ask for a booth so you can sit side-by-side, thighs touching every so slightly. The food is top notch – start with the charcuterie for two to set the right tone for romance. It’s the service, however, that will push your romantic evening over the top. Diners control the pace at the Hardware Grill, and if you want to be left alone, a lot, the waiters get that right away.