If your date's a total mush-head but you're not, you might be in trouble. But as the saying goes, you can fake it until you make it and that's where we're here to help. If you are clueless in the romance department, expectations might already be low. Wow your date by taking them to one of these romantic dining locales.
Last year, OpenTable did a diner's choice list of the 100 most romantic restaurants in America. Michigan had only one restaurant make it in and lucky for us, it's just a little drive away. The English Inn in Eaton Rapids was originally a 10,000-square-foot house built for Irving Jacob Reuter, who was the general manager and president of Oldsmobile Corporation. Named "Medovue" by Reuter and his wife, Janet, the couple took residence in the house from 1928 until 1936. It was owned by the Roman Catholic Church for a while until everyone realized there was MONEY TO BE MADE! In 1989, the property was renovated into The English Inn, which is now full of romance and antiquated charm, if you're into that. Even if you're not, chances are you'll be into the food. The menu offers seasonal specials and the classics, which feature a lot of lobster options, so you know it's classy.
"[The restaurant has] a really beautiful setting with mahogany-paneled walls, wood-burning fireplaces," said Erik Nelson, managing partner at The English Inn. "It's a real fine dining experience. It's a rich and inviting atmosphere."
If you're looking to step up your romance game, book a night at the inn under the Ultimate Michigan Getaway. The package includes a champagne dinner, breakfast and, of course, a luxurious room for you to, ahem, you know...
You can also bundle up and go peruse one of The English Inn's 16 acres.
"We have walking trails, we have a pergola that is straight out of the Great Gatsby," Nelson said. "It's down along the Grand River. It's a beautiful setting."
The Piper (2225 South Shore Dr., Macatawa, near Holland) has big, picture windows that overlook Macatawa Lake for added ambiance to your meal.
"Water, to most people, just has a charm," said Pat Eldean, owner and general manager of The Piper. "People go to the beach to see the sun set and the sun rise."
The restaurant ups the romance in February by placing light-up hearts up and down the main deck. These hearts take up the place where boats dock in the summer months. As for the food, Eldean has trusted Executive Chef Keaton Stearns to come up with savory dishes for the past 19 years.
"He does an awesome job making a plate of food look appealing, as well as having a great balance of flavors," Eldean said.
Options include wood-oven pizzas, char-grilled duck, pork lollipop chop, butternut lasagna and The Piper's most famous dish, almond-fried walleye. If you can't pick a dish, Eldean encourages visitors to do what she does.
"I go for the most unusual thing on the menu, something I wouldn't cook at home."
Going with the H20 theme, Reds on the River (8 E. Bridge St., Rockford) is nicely placed on the banks of the Rogue River. While you may not want to sit out on the patio and bask in the river's beauty in February, the restaurant offers cozy fireplaces so you can take in the views from the warm indoors.
There are a number of menu items ranging from filet mignon and Alaskan sockeye salmon to beet salad, carbonara and more.
Get an intimate dining experience at Amore Trattoria Italiana (5080 Alpine Ave. NW, Grand Rapids), where you and your date can taste multiple courses while Chef Jenna guides you through them. If you want to indulge in some libations with your meal, a wine flight can be added on. The flight includes an explanation of each type by the house Italian wine expert.
Speaking of wine, if the reds and the whites are your idea of romance, try out a wine bar in West Michigan. The Wine Loft in Kalamazoo and Reserve in Grand Rapids offer romantic ambiance with opportunities to indulge. Both restaurants offer extensive wine lists and food pairings. You don't need to be a wine snob to enjoy these joints, either. The people at each respective restaurant are knowledgeable in wine and in pairings so you don't have to be.
With these options, you're sure to wow that special someone in your life. And if you don't, well, we don't have a return policy. Sorry.
Pictured above: The Wine Loft in Kalamazoo, which is just a few blocks from Kalamazoo State Theatre