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FOOD & DRINK

Brisbane's Least Awkward Spots for a First Date

Because first dates are nail-biting enough without the added challenge of picking a good place.
By Sarah Ward
October 07, 2017
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Brisbane's Least Awkward Spots for a First Date

Because first dates are nail-biting enough without the added challenge of picking a good place.
By Sarah Ward
October 07, 2017
  shares

BRISBANE'S LEAST AWKWARD SPOTS FOR A FIRST DATE

in partnership with

Because first dates are nail-biting enough without the added challenge of picking a good place.

First dates are nerve-wracking. Try as you might, sweaty palms and butterflies in your stomach are inevitable when you're heading out with someone you're keen on for the first time. They're the involuntary responses that even the coolest, calmest and most collected of us can't control, but there are plenty of things that you can influence. Indeed, picking the right spot is almost as important as asking your date to go out with you.

Cosy and intimate but not too quiet, lively and vibrant but not too busy, casual but in a classy way — finding the right first date spot is a tricky task. To help, we've partnered with American Express to round up the best places to kick-start a romantic spark among Brisbane's many restaurants, bars and eateries — and yes, you'll be able to use your Amex card at each spot to get those extra points we all crave. So, take your pick, and you'll be settling in for a drink, a meal and some stellar conversation in no time.

Got yourself in another dining situation and need some guidance? Whatever it is, we know a place. Visit The Shortlist and we'll sort you out.

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    Gerard's Bar

    The super sleek and charismatic younger sibling to Gerard’s Bistro, Gerard’s Bar is the little spot that can. It can charm anyone with its cosy vibe, delight tastebuds with its bursting menu and ooze relaxation with its impressive drinks list. Throw in some of the best service in the city, and it can also make sure you’re in perfect date territory.

    Boards and charcuterie are the nibbles of choice here — and foods ideal for first dates; if you’re going to be sharing a fun evening together, literally sharing your dinner is a great way to start. Pick from Spanish, Italian and cheese-laden options, with everything from dogwood dogs to sliders offering a substantial accompaniment. Drinks-wise, there’s no shortage of beer, wine and cider to choose from, but a Welcome Cocktail with vermouth, celery, apple and lime really will set a zesty mood.

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    An old favourite for a reason, Cru Bar has long proven to be a top alternative for anyone wanting to avoid the chaos that is the Valley on a Saturday night. Classy and sophisticated but not stiflingly so, Cru proves an ideal in-between venue — smart but not too fancy, boasting both indoor and outdoor seating, and a great pick for both drinks and something more filling.

    With a cellar attached to the venue, it’s only appropriate that they’d have an extensive drinks menu complete with domestic and international wines and spirits — so that’s your first date thirst taken care of. If you are up for sharing, the crispy pork belly, house-made gnocchi and cured salmon will have you doing your very best not to lick the plate in front of your date. Or go cheesy (not in your choice of conversation topics) with five different options served with dried figs, fresh grapes, quince paste and crisp bread.

    Image: Anwyn Howarth.

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    Everyone hopes that their first date will turn out well — without awkward silences and embarrassing chatter, namely. Just as there’s nothing wrong with carefully picking your venue for maximum confidence, there’s nothing wrong with selecting somewhere that’ll help conversation flow. And when you’re choosing multiple snacks with sangria, you’re always going to have something to talk about.

    Unsurprisingly, tapas and Spanish tipples are Ole’s specialty, and they do them well. Peruse 19 different small dishes, then pick from a drinks list brimming with even more options. If you’re eager for more substantial offerings to share, you can’t go past one of the three types of paellas on the menu, whether you’re after seafood, poultry or a vegetarian option for two.

    Image: Anwyn Howarth.

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    You’ve been to dive bars and gastropubs, and you love them, but they’re not always first date material. An alehouse, however, is another matter. Indeed, Mr Edward’s Alehouse & Kitchen champions its food as much as its drinks, as the venue’s early morning opening hours and Euro-centric, share plate-focused and slow-cooked-heavy menu make plain. Keen on a breakfast first date? You can do that here.

    Later in the day, expect charcuterie boards of artisan-cured meats and cheeses, the biggest selection of Coopers beer in Queensland, and a special selection of Bacchus Brewing Co’s dessert concoctions, all with a relaxed, rustic atmosphere. Once you’ve finished sitting at their recycled wood tables, you can also top off your fun with a stroll down the street to the Botanic Gardens. Drinks, eats and a scenic walk — it’s a first date special.

    Image: Anwyn Howarth.

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    Sake Restaurant and Bar

    A taste of Japan at Eagle Street Pier, Saké offers a two-for-one first date experience. Eager for a casual drink, then a wander by the river? Or, perhaps you’d rather sit down and chat over a dynamic meal? Here, both are on offer — as are delicious, upmarket bento boxes should you be meeting and eating for lunch.

    Indeed, heading to Saké is all about choice. Where to sit? How to order? What to eat? What to drink? Choice is a good thing, as it means you don’t have to settle. Choose from zashiki seating (traditional, on the floor), a communal table, the sushi counter or kick back in the bar area. Variety overflows on the menu too, thanks to their extensive array of contemporary Japanese offerings.

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    Darling by name, darling by nature, this Given Terrace favourite classes up its corner of the inner west. With a sustainable, seasonal produce-heavy menu, as well as hand-stretched pizzas, plus an extensive range of boutique Australian and international wines, you’ll forget that the bar and restaurant are located across the road from Suncorp Stadium.

    Rather than footy pub grub, think perfect date fare with relaxing beverages and leisurely meals, as consumed across a mix of individual tables, booths and communal dining spaces. Darling & Co aims to offer the type of establishment you can head to for breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks or coffee, meaning that every kind of first date is catered for.

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    Moga Izakaya & Sushi

    Throw a stone, and you’ll find somewhere to eat in Rosalie, but Moga stands out for several reasons. Casual dining in a vast, semi-open space, trees in the middle of the restaurant, sushi and a la carte options — you’ll be zen, have plenty to talk about and won’t be short on food options.

    On the menu, you’ll find Japanese food with unmistakable international influences and modern tweaks. The white sesame mousse with grilled almonds and green tea ice cream is something everyone should try, as is anything off of the robata grill. And, because Moga is an izakaya-style establishment, the idea is to order a selection of dishes to be had with drinks — such as Chef Satoshi’s house-made ume shu. Tuck in and snuggle up for a decadent first date feed.

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    Think Brisbane’s blossoming laneway scene, and The Laneway comes to mind. It was one of the early places helping lead the charge in the city’s tiny roadways, but this isn’t a tiny recess or an unassuming hole in the wall. Discreetly perched overlooking Spencer Lane, this is a slickly designed space at the back of sister establishment the Euro — aka the more casual option perched above the latter’s sit-down fanciness.

    Thanks to its uncluttered interior, The Laneway is a favoured spot for an after-work date, with food that’s a cut above your standard pub snacks. Grab a tapas special, checking with your waiter for the daily menu, then flick through 20 pages of beverages for the perfect tipple to go with. With domestic and imported beers and wines, some refreshing cocktails and, most significantly, a sweeping variety of spirits, there’s something here for every palate.

     

    As you drink and dine with your American Express, reap all the sweet rewards of being a Card Member. Explore the many ways American Express has your back here.

    Image: Anwyn Howarth.

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