The 10 things you need to know about dining on Valentine’s Day

Chocolates, flowers, a card or a dinner date, it’s all about love and expectations on February 14 – Valentine’s Day – so don’t get it wrong!

By Kerry Heaney

Chocolates, flowers, a card or a dinner date, it’s all about love and expectations on February 14 – Valentine’s Day – so don’t get it wrong!

The tradition of courtly love dates from the Middle Ages. Strangely, it was named after a third-century Roman saint who was martyred (died for his religion), which is not a very happy or romantic connection. Maybe that’s why Cupid, the handsome young man with white wings and a golden bow, became involved with his passion arrows.

If you’d like Cupid to visit this Valentine’s Day, celebrate your love over a meal to remember. Involve your best friends, research and planning, and avoid dinner date fail on this special night.

10 tips for Valentine’s Day dining success

1. Ambience is everything

It’s a personal thing but ambience is key when it comes to romance. Select somewhere where you will both feel comfortable and relaxed, ready to enjoy a memorable time.

2. What’s on the menu

Of course, you already know what food your partner likes to eat and any allergies or dietary requirements. So, remember to avoid the steak house if your friend is vegan and fish and chips if anyone has a seafood allergy.

3. Go for a view

Expecting a few awkward silences? Choose a restaurant that offers something to look at other than each other. A busy street with plenty of people watching provides diversions, but a panorama will help create an outstanding experience.

4. Table density

Unless you want to spend the evening listening to others whispering sweet nothings, look for somewhere with well-spaced tables. Space means privacy and small tables allow intimate conversations. Search Google to see the restaurant’s layout. A cosy corner table with a bench seat is ideal. A large communal table is not. It’s just awkward.

5. Keep it quiet

The industrial design trend of hard surfaces creates noise which makes conversation difficult. Look for somewhere with upholstered chairs, carpet and drapes which all absorb noise. Check TripAdvisor for comments about noise levels. Obviously, live music or theatre restaurants are not going to encourage conversation.

6. Love likes soft light

Everyone feels more romantic in a dark, candle-lit location, so forget fluro lights that make you look like the walking dead. Outdoor seating with twinkle lights, torches or lighting features also works well.

7. Be nice to the staff

Good, timely and pleasant service can make or break a meal. Leaving a restaurant in a bad mood after waiting too long between courses or asking too many times for another drink is not romantic. Browse online reviews and be nice to wait staff during your meal for the best results.

8. Avoid bill shock

If you don’t want to blow your budget, check the restaurant’s web page for an online menu. There may be a special dinner package if you are dining on Valentine’s Day.

9. Get serious about the details

You’ve used online research to narrow down dining opportunities to a short list. Now it’s time to pick up the phone and speak to a real person at the restaurant for the most up to date information. Getting the details right shows your partner you placed importance on the evening.

10. Reserve your table

If it is possible to make a reservation, do it. There is nothing romantic about standing in a queue, although a short prelude at the bar can be a pleasant way to start the evening. If possible, visit the venue and pick your table so you have the view or location that best suits you.

Where to go

RACQ makes it easy to save on dining. Simply register your Visa card with RACQ Dining Rewards and be automatically rewarded with 10 percent cash back each time you dine at a participating restaurant. There are no vouchers or coupons to collect, just pay with your registered Visa card and 10 percent of your bill will be credited to your Visa.

Here are 10 Dining Rewards partner restaurants around Queensland to try.

Yokozuna, Cairns – Japanese Izakaya-style restaurant with a real Japanese atmosphere created by furnishings sourced directly from Japan.

The Church on Palmer, Mackay – Modern Australian restaurant serving contemporary cuisine.

Gatakers Landing Restaurant, Point Vernon – Hervey Bay’s best kept secret for intimate dining.

Via Italia, Mooloolaba – Light-filled, rustic dining room with wooden tables, whipping up contemporary Italian fare.

Pomodoras on Obi, Maleny – Light and airy restaurant with large deck showcasing views of Maleny’s Obi Obi Creek.

Mandy’s on the Mountain, Clear Mountain – Formal dining with a focus on local produce and seafood, offering expansive views over the Brisbane valley.

Esquire, Brisbane CBD – Brisbane – One of Brisbane’s highest awarded restaurants, the degustation menu reflects market availability and includes between 12 to 25 items.

Summer House, Kangaroo Point – Share plates, cocktails and craft beer served in a relaxed, modern space with a leafy courtyard.

Drift, North Tamborine – Creative global menu in a mellow eatery and bar with a large balcony and aboriginal art collection.

Shuck on Tedder, Main Beach – Modern restaurant and lounge bar, offering inventive seafood dishes, DJs and a degustation menu.