As well as a spike in flower prices and boxed chocolates, Valentine’s Day often brings with it a certain pressure to perform. No, not like that, you scoundrel – perform in terms of organising a special date.
Expectations are high, competition is everywhere and comparison is almost inevitable. As nice as your take-away pizza and wine combo might be, it does tend to pale in comparison to the couple who spent the evening in a helicopter over the city, weaving in and out of rainbows and playing with 10 Labrador puppies. While we couldn’t find anywhere offering this exact option, we have compiled a neat little list of excellent ideas to help you with your planning, from the delightfully romantic to the undeniably extravagant.
Did you know top-notch Italian joint Popolo’s does picnics? The restaurant’s riverside location provides the perfect setting for a romantic evening, so book in the Picnic Per Due and enjoy a delicious set of delicacies, minus the fuss of organising. Even the picnic blanket is included.
If you don’t trust the weather, head indoors to the fabulous Madame Wu. Boasting an extensive wine list, delightfully experimental mixologist, some of the city’s most delicious dumplings, and a picture perfect view of the Story Bridge, this is a foolproof option for a romantic dinner for two. Their Valentine’s banquet will set you back $70 per person but guarantee you a spot in your partner’s good books for weeks to come.
If you want to turn the volume up a notch, book yourself a private gondola on the Wheel of Brisbane. $309 gets you both a five course degustation, a bottle of wine, and views over the city from every possible angle.
Hacienda opened its doors in Circular Quay late last year, boasting a view that’s bound to turn even the biggest cynic into a hopeless romantic. Get a table by one of the immense floor to ceiling windows, order Aphrodista cocktails (wink wink) for two, and share some delicious Cuban inspired plates.
For something a little more relaxed, make a beeline to Big Poppa’s for its ingenious combination of cheese, wine and hip-hop. The share plates are truly mouth-watering, the wine list is extensive and the playlist includes everything from old school Salt-N-Pepa to present-day Kanye.
For an extra special Valentine’s Day, head to the Sydney Observatory for the ultimate romantic package: star gazing, champagne, jazz and canapes. The ticketed event kicks off at sunset and will set you back $100 each.
Aubergine isn’t a local favourite for nothing. Despite its regular appearance in all the top foodie awards, the restaurant is not at all pretentious, making it a great option for first rate dining without the stiff upper lip.
If you’re a cinematic couple, check out The Dendy on the 14th. The venue always does a Valentine’s Day special, screening both romantic classics and modern day marvels. They haven’t released this year’s schedule yet but our money’s on La La Land, a masterpiece of beautiful filmography and big screen love.
If you can wrangle the day off, head just out of the city to wine country. There are lots of cellar doors to choose from but Lark Hill is our top tip, thanks to its great selection of wines and beautiful restaurant. The best bit about a tasting and long lunch combo here is that the wines are biodynamic, meaning hangovers are far less likely.
For movie lovers south of the border, Shimmerlands is screening The Bodyguard this V-Day. Romantic enough on its own, the evening is further enhanced by the cinema’s outdoor setting and delightful food precinct, which boats some of the city’s finest eateries. There are also a number of bars, live music and a DJ, making it the perfect one-stop shop.
Does your date have a sweet tooth? Then take the one hour drive down to the Yarra Valley Ice-cream Festival. Just $18 will buy you 40 minutes of ice-cream tasting glory, traversing 12 flavours all the way from rhubarb and ginger to maple bacon. At the end, pick your favourite and take it to go standard style in a cone or – more adventurously - atop a pizza or in a hot chocolate float.
If you like your sweets best with a side of savoury, book a table for two at Om Nom and settle in for their five course degustation, which culminates in the most beautiful desserts you’ve ever seen. It’s like eating art, offering an experience that will be remembered for a long, long time.
Have you put aside the whole day for romance? Then head to MONA for a romantic rooftop sunrise in front of artistic sequence Amarna, follow it up with breakfast at The Source and then head to the venue’s cellar door to sample Moorilla wine and Moo Brew beer. You’ll be feeling quite jolly by lunchtime.
For night time drinks, secure yourself a spot at Grape, one of the best wine bars in town. Sample top local drops with a side of cheese or, if you’re feeling really fancy, a plate of everyone’s favourite aphrodisiacs, oysters. St Valentine would approve.
The Royal Croquet Club graces the city but once a year, with Valentine’s Day falling right in the middle of its reign. Pick up your date and head there for a mix of live music, urban circus, physical performances and comedy, all on the beautiful banks of the Torrens.
For a more intimate setting, book yourselves in for Hendrick’s High Tea at the delightful French-Vietnamese hybrid that is Madame Hanoi. $45 per person will get you a triple-tiered delight, including French macarons, confit duck rolls and crispy pork banh mi, served alongside the pièce de résistance, a pot of Hendrick’s spiked tea with lemon, cucumber, orange and spiced honey.
If you and your lover favour wine over gin, you’re definitely living in the right city. Head to the Hills or further afield to McLaren Vale or the Barossa for a day of wine tasting and farm to table dining. The options are endless but we suggest d’Arry’s Verandah Restaurant for breathtaking views or Hentley Farm for a fancy affair.
What better day than Valentine’s to book a Twilight Sail and head off into the sunset. $125 gets you bubbly, nibbles, and the chance to create your own Kate and Leo moment à la Titanic.
For romance on dry land, make tracks to Il Lido in Cottesloe. This little Italian canteen offers hand-made pasta, cheese plates, a great wine list and intimate setting. It’s also right next to the beach, meaning romantic seaside strolls are on the post-dinner agenda.
If you and your partner are in need of pampering, book yourself into Isika Spa’s Valentine’s Day package. It includes a 60-minute massage in the couples’ retreat, a glass of bubbly, a luxuriously long bath overlooking the Swan River, and the option to lounge around in the pool for the rest of the day.
Book a table for two at Peewee’s at the Point. The restaurant’s claims to fame include four acres of water frontage and the mouth-watering double roasted duckling with prosciutto, asparagus, and Kakadu plum. If you’re feeling naughty, we suggest the Fifty Shades of Chocolate for dessert.
For a cheaper but no less spectacular option, pack a picnic and head to Mindil Beach at sunset. Pop a bottle of bubbly, linger over a cheese platter and enjoy a night under the stars. Sometimes the simple things really are the most romantic (but bonus points if you can somehow wrangle a puppy for the evening).