The shuttering of the beloved Zola has left a hole in many a hungry heart, and with Valentine's Day around the corner, I, for one, am looking for a new romantic eatery to be mine. Fortunately, Nashville's dining scene has a healthy heartbeat, with plenty of choice, no matter what your culinary — or carnal — appetite. If you're looking for a place to wine and dine your longtime love, current heartthrob or soon-to-be ex, consider this guide to mealtime matchmaking. (Since many restaurants will offer special seatings and menus, don't forget to call ahead for reservations.)
Germantown Is for Lovers: Whether you're trying to ignite a new fire or woo an old flame, the brick-patterned sidewalks of this north Nashville neighborhood offer a surefire route to romance. The view of Capitol Hill from Germantown Cafe is enough to make the heart skip a beat, while a glimpse of the open kitchen at City House will fan the flames of passion for lovers and food lovers alike. The perennially romantic Mad Platter is offering a prix-fixe meal on Feb. 14, with complimentary sparkling wine, fresh oysters and chili-chocolate peppermints. If you need an extra sweet nothing for your beloved, grab a box of truffles at Cocoa Tree, the chocolate shop that entrepreneur Bethany Thouin dreamed up during a romantic Valentine's Day dinner with her husband. If you plan to stay in for the evening, pick up some fresh noodles from Lazzaroli Pasta, and enjoy your dinner doggie style — that is, like the spaghetti-slurping sweethearts from Lady and the Tramp.
Reliable Romantics: There's a lot to be said for old-school romantic dining à la française, in candlelit corners where diners hold hands across the table. Margot Café in East Nashville delivers l'amour on a Provençal platter, with a menu of rustic French cuisine that will make even the most hardhearted of diners extend a flirtatious fork across the table to share in the bounty. Miro District in The Adelicia building in midtown will prepare a $50 prix-fixe meal with choices including spoonbread soufflé, steak au poivre and baked Alaska. If you're one of those couples prone to public displays of affection, there's no more prominent place to parade your PDA than in the round nook in the front room at Miel restaurant in Sylvan Park. Since Valentine's falls on a Sunday, you can enjoy a cringe-inducing kissy-kissy brunch of crêpes, quiche and crabcakes beside chef Jimmy Phillips & Co. in Miel's open kitchen. If brunch is your romantic meal of choice, snuggle up by the fireplace at Tin Angel for a midmorning meal of eggs Benedict or banana brûlée French toast.
Foodie First Dates: The romantic stakes on high on Feb. 14, and there's the risk of extinguishing the fragile sparks of new romance with a clumsy dose of overkill. While the Capitol Grille at the Hermitage Hotel and 1808 Grille at Hutton Hotel might be the perfectly decadent dine-and-doze duos for a couple whose evening is sure to end up between the sheets, that level of grandeur — not to mention presumption — is more than a little creepy for a first date. If you're still testing the romantic waters, try something more low-key. Silly Goose in East Nashville will break the ice with chef Roderick Bailey's three-course prix-fixe meal for $40, with seatings at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. The Grille at Green Hills inside Whole Foods has its own intimate vibe, filled with couples sitting side-by-side and watching the culinary athletics of the open kitchen. (Be warned, there's no booze at the Grille. The only beer-goggling comes from the Abita root beer on tap.)
The Passion Play: If you're ready to make the big move in the name of St. Valentine, you're going to need the perfect set-up. Look no further than the sultry bar at The Patterson House, where the boozy alchemy behind a Romeo & Juliet cocktail or a Margarita Diablo is the modern-day "Love Potion No. 9." Or drop in for a nightcap at F. Scott's in Green Hills, where the dulcet jazz swirling in the cozy cocktail lounge is the ultimate aphrodisiac.
The Morning After: We've given you a culinary roadmap to launch a full-scale seduction, but what happens the next day? Your Valentine agrees to be yours and you end up with a house full of rugrats? Or Feb. 15 rolls around and you're already looking for a place to deliver the it's-not-you-it's-me speech. In either case, we've got your perfect dining destination: the indoor playground at McDonald's. If you're breaking up, at least you're not ruining a favorite restaurant for future romantic interludes. And if you're enjoying a cup of coffee and a crossword puzzle together while your kids run sockless through the human Habitrail — hey, it doesn't get any more romantic than that.
If you really want somebody to know something, you could just tell them.
I doubt she'd choke on yours.
The story on "the Lutheran," ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson, was from January. I was…
Bill, I agree. But you're messing with Betsy's MO.