As a dating and relationship blogger, I often get asked where my favourite date spots are. Because of the huge percentage of dates that I go on that are horrible and awkward, I have a policy that I don’t venture out on a first date if I can’t walk there. The main reason behind this policy was so that travelling to and from the date doesn’t take more time than the actual date itself – the bonus of having many ice cream shops to console myself with on the way home is also an absolute and blissful bonus.
Luckily enough for me, I live just off Smith Street, and so, have a plethora of perfectly suitable bars, restaurants and cafes on my doorstep.
These are my top 3 local date venues.
Smith Street, Fitzroy
Popcorn is up there with the greatest foods of all time. I’m not going to say the free popcorn is the only reason I like Mr Wow’s, but it’s definitely a massive draw card.
Firstly, let’s talk about the ambiance and the mood lighting. It’s dark, but not in a dingy way, and their sound track is always on point. Mr Wow’s sums up the soul of Smith Street without overdoing it. The bar staff are always happy and helpful, and I’ve kick started many a date with one of their Amaretto Sours (extra maraschino, please).
The couch area is also appealing for a date. If, by some miracle, the date is going well, you can cuddle up to your partner, or play the whole accidental knee brush card.
But the best part about Mr Wow’s? The choice of entertainment at your fingertips. You and your date can bet your first kiss over a game of pool or bowls, or you can challenge each other to a noisy and crowd drawing game of Jenga…with drinking challenges added to each brick to keep you on your toes. I love that these games can be ice breakers, time fillers or flirtation fuel…it really just depends on what kind of vibe your date is emitting.
Smith Street, Collingwood
I only recently discovered this little hole in the wall and have already chalked it up as a first date fave. Apart from the fact that their house Pinot Noir is smooth and delicious, the multitude of rotating beer on tap is enough to keep even the fussiest of daters happy.
Again, the bar staff are always helpful and friendly, and the place has more of a fun feel than its broody-but-cool neighbour, Mr Wow. The big front windows allow plenty of natural light which is calming and relaxing if you’re meeting for the first time over an afternoon bevvy. Come evening time, the lights are dimmed in the small venue, and the space feels comfortable and cosy.
Again, a selection of card and board games can act both as a saviour on a first date, and a subtle way to learn about someone’s sense of humour (a vital step I personally use to predetermine the future success of a suitor). There is a range of seating options available, couches, community tables or outdoor settings, but the intimate two-seater bar tables set with tea light candles are my usual first date go-tos.
And now with the infamous Alimentari doing dinners, they’ve teamed up with Beer Mash so you can order a pizza and feed your face without disrupting your escalating game of ‘what do you meme?’ First date perfection.
Date gone well at Beer Mash? My ultimate favourite gelataria, Piccolina, is just two doors down. Date gone terribly? My ultimate favourite gelataria, Piccolina, is just two doors down. It’s a win-win, really.
Smith Street, Collingwood
While Mr Wow’s Emporium and Beer Mash are my favourite mellow first date go-tos, sometimes you meet someone that’s worth stepping it up for. Enter – MJR TOM’s. MJR TOM Kitchen is more restaurant-y than my other two shortlisted venues, but this doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
Even though I never do a first date dinner for fear of being locked in for far too greater period of time, I never object to some yummy tapas over a wine when your fifth glass of Pinot starts going to your head.
MJR TOM’s is classy without being wanky, and they still make you feel welcome even just for a drink. My favourite place to sit is out the front or under their little patio, which is decked out with heaters so you can rock that sexy yet effortless outfit without your teeth chattering against your wine glass.
May I recommend the Karaage chicken ribs and the Eggplant chips to kick you off? After that you’ll be able to assess if you need to leave to get to ‘that thing that just came up’ or if you will stay after all – and try that delicious-sounding roasted pork belly (regardless of whether you pull the pin on the date or not you have to try the roasted pork belly at some point. Trust me).
I keep telling myself that there’s got to be more amazing date venues within a 5km walking distance from me; and I’ve certainly tried a fair few of them…but for some reason, when asked where I’d like to go, nine times out of ten, it’ll be one of those top three faves that I end up suggesting…surely now, you can understand why I’m so content with my selection?
Feature Image Credit: MJR TOM Kitchen Facebook Page