French New Wave Hits the Lower East Side with ‘Le Turtle’

Photography: Leta Sobierajski & Wade Jeffree

On the corner of Chrystie and Rivington in the Lower East Side, modern french restaurant, Le Turtle, sits chicly with the cool laissez faire of any member of the downtown crowd. Inside is a decor dream with an all marble bar, raw concrete accents, a plush pink velvet perch, Horween-leather lined seating and nods to architectural icons like Carlo Scarpa and Sol Lewitt.

HyperFocal: 0Photography: Scottie Cameron

Founded by Taavo Somer of Freemans and Carlos Quirarte of The Smile, Le Turtle is all about atmosphere. The scene is a mix of fashion types, creatives, film stars and a table of patrons that were surely Andy Warhol’s friends. At the bar, you’ll overhear a debate about whether or not Purple Rain was the greatest record of all time and under the neon lit tables conversations are adamantly declaring that Julianne Moore saved the new Greta Gerwig movie.

When it comes to music direction, expect a soundtrack transitioning between old school Biggie, Major Lazor, Rick Ross, Jay Z and ’90s R&B. There might be a moment when Rihanna comes on and the host starts dancing to “Work,” which infectiously inspires the rest of the restaurant to begin moving their shoulders, as well. What else would you expect from a staff outfitted in straight up jump suits?

Oh, and the food is great, too. Order their signature Whole Sasson Chicken For Two. It’s the best in the city.

Maison Premiere


298 Bedford Ave New York NY11211


For your next high-energy date night, seek out the oyster and absinthe scene at Williamsburg’s Maison Premiere. Right from the start you’ll feel like you’re in on a secret, as the entrance is understated and barely marked. Inside, overhead fans and vintage décor provide a little time-travel thrill, as you dig shades of fin de siècle French Quarter. You may want to dress a little smarter than usual, at least to keep up with the staff, who pride themselves on their retro style. There are dining room and bar options, on top of a leafy garden in back. Either way, you and your sweetheart will feed off the knowing crowd as you journey through the house’s thirty-strong oyster list, recalling fond beach memories as you decide between Bluepoints and Wellfleets. If the absinthe fountain in front puts you in the mood for cocktailing, you’re in the right place. You’ll find New York’s deepest list here, and absinthe has rarely been known to undercut a night of romance. Dinner won’t weigh you down, as the newly expanded kitchen serves the likes of chilled seafood and lobster curry. Save a little room for a dessert like pear pain perdu with fig and sherry, and be sure to offer your sweetheart the first bite.

– See more at Love This City

Photograph by
Edited by BlackBook

Recette – Date Night in NYC


328 W 12th St
New York NY 10014
(212) 414-3000

For a youthful date night, head to chef Jesse Schenker’s buzzing West Village haunt Recette, an upbeat spot with ‘90s music on the stereo and an eclectic mix of locals and wandering foodies occupying the tables. Your evening will feel intimate, though, thanks to flickering candles and a warm staff that seems to anticipate your every need. The people-watching here is top-notch, and once you and your date have finished constructing back-stories for your fellow diners, take in the sidewalk scene from massive windows while feeling cozy in your own Parisian hideaway. The name is French for recipe, and you’ll enjoy sampling a range of the kitchen’s expertise thanks to a menu built for sharing. Chef Schenker is young and innovative, as seen in his Iron Chef stint, and you’ll have plenty to talk about as you dig into cod fritters with lamb sausage and curry and quail stuffed with cornbread and chicken hearts. Being a French spot, the wine list is appropriately deep, but first warm up with a cocktail from a list that offers clever variations on classic recipes, like cinnamon-and-fig-infused vermouth in a Manhattan. At dessert you’ll imagine yourselves at a haute campfire, savoring s’mores made with burnt marshmallow, graham cracker ice cream, and chocolate ganache spiked with cayenne. It’s a perfectly cheeky note to cap off a night of approachable avant-garde cuisine.

– See more at Love This City

Photograph by Krista
Edited by BlackBook

Blackbird – Romance Takes Flight


619 W Randolph St
Chicago IL 60661
(312) 715-0708

Your first date was coffee. Your second was a lighthearted brunch. Now that you’re getting along grand, it’s time to step it up for date number three. Here’s a tip: Blackbird, on the Near West Side, soars ahead of its competition as Chicago’s ideal date spot for burgeoning couples—especially those fond of fine dining. The scene is low-pretense, so you won’t overwhelm your companion by going overboard with the romantic regalia, but it’s not too casual either, so you can’t be accused of being a cheapskate. Instead, the clean, streamlined interior will have you feeling sharp, modern, and excited for what’s to come. Order the tasting menu for two and unwind for a few hours as you learn more about one another. You’ll get familiar with each other’s tastes as you navigate delicious courses made with local, seasonal ingredients. Enjoy the adventure of trying something you’ve never had before, like the oxalis greens that come with the rye berries and lemon of a steak tartare. The meal culminates in a magnificent trio of cheeses, sorbet, and pastries that will seal the deal, in case there was any wavering. For drinks, there are both wine and cocktail pairings. Be adventurous and go for the latter. The bartender will work up tipples just as inspiring as the food—but remember to use your best judgment if you want date number four.

– See more at Love This City

Photograph by T.Tseng
Edited by BlackBook

Osteria via Stato – Canoodle with Noodles


620 N State St Chicago IL60654

(312) 642-8450

When it comes to delicious Italian cuisine in Chicago, there’s plenty of high and low end, but Osteria Via Stato owns the middle–in the most satisfying of ways. Prime for a romantic date night out, this intimate River North restaurant’s setting aims to get you all lovey-dovey as soon as you get situated at your two-top, and it comes at a price that won’t leave you gasping for air. Try to grab one of the corner tables, perfect for hiding out and making eyes at each other all night. Downtempo tunes and flickering candles add to the vibe, and the waiters are skilled in the art of great timing—just in case you have an important question you need to ask your significant other. Just note that this is not typical southern Italian red sauce and pasta territory. Instead, you’ll savor fine northern-influenced fare designed for sharing. Lean in close for antipasti like mini veal meatballs, or house-marinated olives with orange and rosemary. Pastas come in half-portions, so you can sample the goods without getting weighed down. For main courses, you’ll dig in to thoughtful combinations like salmon with heirloom tomatoes and fennel pollen, or a hearty rib-eye with aged balsamic. After dinner, head to the adjacent Pizzeria Via Stato bar for a nightcap. It’s more of the same, but you’ll get to snuggle closer as you sip on Italian-focused cocktails, beer, or wine.

– See more at Love This City

Photograph by Jonas Foyn Therkelsen
Edited byBlackBook

Louro – Monday Supper


42 W 10th St
New York NY 10011
(212) 206-0606

Chef David Santos made his name with an underground dining club on Roosevelt Island, and he’s kept the tradition alive after making the jump to the West Village. For your next date, check out Louro, which is never more intriguing than on a Monday night “Nossa Messa” theme dinner. Step into the crisp, clean space and you’ll be feeling comfortable and cosmopolitan right off. Marble, leather, and whitewashed brick set a warm frame for the kitchen’s creativity. You and your date will have plenty to talk about as you explore the night’s theme. Maybe it’s a celebration of oysters, or black and white truffles, or spring lamb. Lean back and luxuriate in a slow-paced feast. Homemade bread gets things going, followed by course after course of inspired cuisine, from the likes of lobster lasagna to braised suckling pig. Show off your sommelier skills by bringing along a complementary vintage—in classic supper club fashion, it’s BYOB here. Not that you can’t trust in the bar’s expertise: a couple of Hemingway Royale cocktails, with rum, citrus, and sparkling wine, will amplify the vivacious mood. Save a little room for dessert, something rich like a dark-chocolate brownie with espresso ice cream, and marvel how in New York you can find serious romance even on a Monday night.

– See more at Love This City

Photograph by goodiesfirst
Edited by BlackBook

DUMBO First Thursday Gallery Walk


111 Front St
NY 11201

Vibrant art and big-time vistas make the cobblestone streets of DUMBO a date destination any time. For the best of this bustling corner of Brooklyn, target a First Thursday Gallery Walk night, when the neighborhood throws open its doors to the city’s culture vultures. Take your significant other by the hand and traipse through the galleries. Ooh and aah over a cutting-edge photo show, or a thought-provoking painting collection. Take a moment and share each other’s insight into a performance art piece. If you find some art you really like, you can unwind with a glass of wine or two, as most studios lay out free refreshments for visitors. The area is densely clustered with art, so you won’t have to trek far to find a wide swath of culture. Stores stay open late letting you do more than window shop, but maybe by now it’s time for some sustenance. DUMBO is known for its pizza options, but taqueria Gran Eléctrica takes the romance up a notch. Relive the evening’s visual feast while you dine on chili-spiced pork ribs, with creative margaritas going down smooth on the side. Before you leave the neighborhood, head to the waterline. The view of the bridges at night and the skyscrapers of lower Manhattan are more breathtaking here than anywhere else in the city—as if you hadn’t already sealed the deal.

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Next Restaurant – Your Next Date


953 W Fulton Market
Chicago IL 60607
(312) 226-0858

Want to impress your significant other for an important anniversary milestone? Book tickets (that’s right, “tickets”) to Next, the innovative West Loop eatery owned by culinary great Grant Achatz. Get ready to set aside three to four hours, because dining at Next is not your average dinner experience. It’s theatrical and sexy and theme-oriented, from the moment your sharable amuse-bouche arrives, through to the last drops of freshly roasted coffee. To really get a feel for how Next works, splurge on tickets for each season, so you can be that dynamic dining duo your friends will envy. Maybe you’ll be whisked to romantic Paris circa 1906, with modernized takes on filet of sole and pressed duck. Or maybe you’ll have fun with your food during a “childhood” theme night, where you indulge in “liquid” peanut butter and jelly or a deconstructed hamburger. You’ll love the interactive aspects of the meals here, as your menus and utensils will more than likely be edible. Oooh and ahhh over the chef’s inspirations, knowing you’ll have conversation fodder aplenty every time a new course arrives. Do yourself a big favor and order the beverage pairings, because they’re guaranteed to take your celebration to an entirely different level. And that’s a good thing. – See more at:

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Cipriani Downtown Miami – Dolce Vita


465 Brickell Ave
Miami FL 33131
(786) 329 4090

Italians do romance better, so when it comes to date night in Miami, look no further than Cipriani Downtown. Step out in your finest gear and you’ll find this sizzling restaurant as romantic as a gondola ride through founder Giuseppe Cipriani’s Venice birthplace. Enter through the front doors and take in the stunning waterfront setting. If it’s daytime, sunlight floods a high-ceilinged room. At night, the enormous Murano glass chandeliers will have you basking in their sparkling glow as they make your date’s eyes twinkle even more beautifully. Sink into a cushy white leather banquette together and survey a room full of beautiful jet-setters chatting about the biggest hits at Art Basel. The vintage ocean liner motif may have your mind wandering to first class travel, but a single clink of the signature Lenox Bellina crystal champagne flutes will refocus your attention on the tuna tartar, tagliolini, and luscious Dover sole with curry in front of you. Ask for an extra fork when the rich vanilla merengue cake arrives, or better yet, ask for an extra slice of vanilla meringue cake. Special occasions like this deserve better than calorie-counting. When the meal comes to an end, say arrivederci and take a stroll along the promenade together as the moon reflects off the blue waters of Biscayne Bay.

– See more at Love This City