By Chris Stang
February 5th, 2013
The upcoming Valentine's Day "holiday" is nearly upon us, and thus we are presented with an annual reminder of what a stupid "holiday" it is. We're also reminded of how bad most guys are at navigating not only this particular day, but pretty much any other situation that involves food and a female object of desire. We get it. You're probably really good at other things that she'll appreciate. Like Xbox.
We also get it because we've been there before, and because knowing about food is sort of our thing. So here are some tips for the most helpless gentlemen among us, courtesy of your friends at The Infatuation. Use this advice not just for Valentine's Day, but also for any situation in which you hope to impress a member of the opposite sex with a meal.
Things You Definitely Should Not Do:
Go Out To Dinner On Valentines Day
You're probably going to end up doing this anyway, because you feel like you have to. But Valentine's Day might be the worst day to eat out of the year. It's like New Year's Eve for people who secretly hate each other. They go out one night a year, drink too much wine, and then end up whisper fighting at the table next to you. Instead, do something creative, like a bottle of champagne and takeout burgers from JG Melon at someone's apartment. Then go out for dinner together the night after.
Go Somewhere You've Never Been On A First Date
Save the shared adventure of a new restaurant for the second or third go-round. If you're going to make a good first impression, you should be at a place that you know and love. You'll be comfortable, you'll seem knowledgeable, and assuming your favorite restaurant isn't the same place you go to watch football games, you'll benefit from looking like you know where to find a good meal.
Use A Date As An Opportunity To Show Off Your Impressive Tolerance
We get it. You love scotch, you're a big wine drinker, and you're a craft beer enthusiast. That doesn't mean you have to demonstrate all three of those things in one sitting. As a matter of fact, maybe just stick to wine. And whatever you do, don't order yourself a drink at the bar while you're waiting for your date to show up. You aren't going to look cool standing there alone when with half a Jameson in your hand when she arrives, you're going to look like someone's step dad. Drink together, or don't drink at all.
Pick A Restaurant That Is More About Scene Than It Is Food
Unless you're going out with a European model that loves to party (you aren't), stay away from any place that's just as well known for it's club-like atmosphere than it is for being a restaurant. Nobody's going to be impressed that you know about Tao. Or that you "know a guy at Tao" who can get you a table. Be more impressive and find a great restaurant with a good cocktail bar nearby for drinks after dinner.
Use A F*cking Groupon
Yea. Really. You'd think this would be self-explanatory, but you'd be shocked at how often we hear about this happening. We know you just met on Tinder and you're not exactly committed to this person that you have only seen a small photo of, but save yourself some face and pay full price, grandma.
Things You Should Consider Doing:
Get There Early
If you're meeting your date at a restaurant, consider getting to the restaurant 15 minutes early to scope out the scene. If you can, ask the server what table they're putting you at, and assess the situation. Is it a tiny two-seater wedged in next to a bunch of other tables? Is it right next to the bathroom, or even worse, a bachelorette party? Learn to anticipate problems.
Have A Backup Plan
You never know what could go wrong. Maybe the restaurant can't find your reservation. Maybe it's really loud in there on this particular night. Maybe your date failed to tell you that she's allergic to food. Just like we mentioned previously, things come up, and it can't hurt for you to be prepared. Before your date, think of another spot you can try within a block or two, just in case you have to pull the ripcord. The last thing you want to do is wander the city trying to come up with other options.
Buy A Gift Card
This is a sneaky little trick that we probably shouldn't even be talking about, but it's worked for us in the past and it will probably work for you. Here's how it goes: If you're having trouble getting a good reservation at a restaurant, try going in and buying a gift card for yourself. Then call the restaurant the next day and tell them someone just gave you a gift card and that you're all kinds of excited to eat there. In most cases, they'll try to find you a decent reservation. But for Christ's sake, if this works and you end up getting a table, explain the situation to your date before she sees you drop that card on the check. You definitely don't want her thinking Santa just paid for dinner.
Slip Your Credit Card To The Host Or Server
This is a time-honored move, and it's definitely a little bit corny, but we've never seen it go unappreciated. Find an opportunity (like a trip to the bathroom), and hand your card to the server or any staff member. Once dinner is done, all you do is sign out and thank your date for the company. Should she protest, assure her that you will let her buy the next one. Then don't. Save the bill splitting for when you're for when totally in love/too comfortable with each other.
Dress Properly For The Occasion
Did you just come from work? If not, and assuming you're not eating at Daniel, dump the blazer. As a matter of fact, we so rarely see guys rocking a blazer correctly that we're going to go ahead and say don't wear one in any date-type circumstance unless a restaurant dress code requires it. This isn't a business meeting, and that dark blue velvet thing doesn't make you look like Lenny Kravitz. Or maybe it does. Either way it isn't good. Just make sure you've got a properly pressed shirt or a sweater, a decent pair of pants, and some shoes that aren't shaped like a square and you'll be good.