I started seeing someone right before the holidays but then I traveled to spend some time with my parents and I flew back just in time to quarantine and go through testing before Valentine’s Day. What’s a good idea for something like this?
You’ve found yourself in what I like to call “a scenario that keeps me up at night.” If you come back to NYC and go hard for Valentine’s dinner like a knight in shining PPE, you might come on too strong. At the same time, showing up with two slices of pizza on a paper plate may make your date worry you lack self-respect and are possibly the lead guitarist of a terrible band.
The first thing to do is laugh about your predicament openly with this person. No need to plan a surprise, since you’re still in the “feeling each other out” stage, and, unfortunately, none of our lives are written by Nora Ephron. And also because we’re all living through a pandemic and everyone has different comfort levels when it comes to eating out.
Then, decide between ordering genuinely thrilling takeout (like matching steaks from Peter Luger or mapo tofu and peking duck from Hwa Yuan) and making cocktails at home. Or go out somewhere low-key but still special. Miss Ada in Fort Greene, Clay in Harlem, and Frankies 457 in Carroll Gardens will all give you that “once a year” kind of dinner feeling - and they all have heat lamps.