The Cheap and Not So Cheap Dates

I couldn’t agree more with last week’s New York Times dining article about how couples are chosing more casual, economical places to go on dates: Tater Tots for Two: It’s a Date! You’re probably feeling uncomfortable and nervous to begin with on those first dates, so it makes total sense to go to a casual place that serves simple, comfort foods. Also, keeping it cheap is not only savvy in this economy, but may relieve some of the pressure and obligatory feelings  if one or both of you are “putting out” a lot of cash.

A  favorite spot of mine during the early days of dating CB was a tiny Japanese eat-in (cramped) and take-out place called Win 49 on Allen just south of Houston. For about 10 bucks you get a lovely bento box chock full of comfort foods like rice croquettes, tempura, hijiki and fried tofu salad, steamed gyozas, steamed edamames, rice and a miso soup. Sadly, Win 49 has since closed and is now a tapas bar.

A colleague recently asked me whether she should celebrate her ten year anniversary by going out to Le Bernadin or asking for something that she could wear, something sparkly, or a new handbag. For me, there would have been no question.

After years of being married and having grown comfortable with one another, going out to a white linen restaurant with formal service feels like the natural progression. There’s something about the formality that distinguishes this night from any other night where after a long day’s work, we’d barely manage to heat up leftovers. So for Halloween this year, CB and I dressed up as adults and treated ourselves to an opulent dinner at Del Posto, the Batali and Bastianich “anti-Babbo and anti-Lupa.”


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