Best Date Night Dinner Spots with Swoony Ambiance
by Erin Peterson
featured in Spokane Coeur d'Alene Living Magazine
Date night picks can be tough. Places are packed, reservations need to be made weeks in advance, and expectations are high. Pre fixe menus can be pricey and misleading, and places with high Yelp reviews may not have the ambiance you expect. Never fear, I have your answer - these the most romantic places to have dinner in and around Spokane, and some of my personal favorites in the entire area.
With an emphasis on luxury, the attention to detail here is legendary. Perched high above the city and tucked away on the South Hill, the French influences can’t be missed. Delicate oversized chandeliers, white marble tables, sophisticated architectural details and soft colors make this one of the most sought-after reservations for the holiday. Walking through the doors feels like you’re transported to Europe, and the service matches that standard. For 25 years, they have been making innovative cuisine as culinary leaders in the city. Head Chef Joe Morris and bartender Cody Winfrey lead the team daily with dishes that focus on fresh ingredients prepared with fine-dining techniques. While some menu items have remained on the menu to keep loyal customers happy like the butternut squash and crab soup, coconut shrimp and the bread program, others change seasonally.
It’s no coincidence that “love” is directly in the middle of the restaurant’s name, because the care and attention that is given to each dish and glass is immediately apparent. When you walk through the trellis and up the stairs to the stately front door of the once home, now restaurant Clover in U-District, you immediately feel like an honored guest. Throughout the walls, there are photos of the cozy bungalow and its inhabitants before it became a business, and awards line the walls - for good reason. The food and cocktail program here is among the best in Spokane. The staff is highly knowledgable about each and every dish, and their thorough descriptions really help in selecting the item menus that will delight every diner. Head Chef Kory Schimanski is no stranger to the industry, and his balance of profound creativity and practical knowledge give the dining experience at Clover a unique edge above the typical. We loved Kory’s famous squash ravioli, which stood out because of the fresh pasta, fennel and bourbon apple cider butter sauce. Bryan’s juicy brined pork chop was stuffed with spinach, feta, apple and pistachio and served on a celery root apple gratin, and was another showstopper worthy of returning for.
Brand new on the Spokane restaurant scene, Gander and Ryegrass is one of the best restaurants you may not have heard about yet. Chef and owner Peter Froese had chosen the restaurant’s name while he envisioned a new restaurant project, and the intent was that the “gander” part of the name would be a nod to the more visually appealing dishes he planned, and “ryegrass”, a nod to the more approachable nature of the food he planned to create. With his current vision and menu ideas, it sure seems to fit that narrative - the overall philosophy that Froese has, which is to serve seasonal, imaginative cuisine. The menu is course-based, and you can choose between a short or a long meal with lots of fascinating options that change often based on what’s fresh, unique and available.
Owner and restaurateur Naomi Boutz, formerly of the North Idaho favorite, the Wine Cellar, is deeply knowledgeable about wine, but she is also positively incandescent when she describes what is served here, and for good reason. Her vision was for a neighborhood establishment with a casual but beautiful atmosphere, and making sure both the food and wine were front and center. This beautiful restaurant has a deftly capable service staff ready to take care of each diner like they are family. When the first few menu items came out, the entire table became quiet. From appetizers to dessert, you’ll be surprised that each course seems better than the last.
Led by James Beard-nominated chef Laurent Zirotti and his wife Patricia, this little gem is a slice of Paris in Post Falls, Idaho. Hidden in the same building as the Highlands Day Spa overlooking the city, it is dimly lit and sure to win over even the most astute food critic. French classics like grilled baby octopus with roasted onions and portobello mushrooms, red peppers, and sweet and sour piperade with capers and duck confit with fennel, bell peppers, sun-dried tomato fricassée balsamic vinegar and green peppercorn demi-glace - it is certain to dazzle you both.