I was having a conversation with a friend recently about what people want to achieve on a first date and how the venue contributes to its success or failure. We agreed that people want somewhere relatively quiet and intimate where they can talk and be heard without suffering excessive noise. The enormous and loud Little Creatures, as fabulous as it is, simply does not have the intimacy required. I’ve not been to every bar or restaurant in Fitzroy (but I am working on it!) so my choices are limited by where I have already been, and they are of course my individual subjective opinions.
The Gertrude St Enoteca is gorgeous, intimate and slightly decadent. Go for the hot chocolate and the atmosphere.
Juanita’s is cute and informal and make excellent coffee and hot chocolate and delicious churros. There’s an amazing range of latin cakes and pastries to impress every sweet tooth.
Damask is a good choice to go for a drink if you’ve been to Libation and Black Pearl too many times and Bar Open or the Black Cat are a little too grunge or casual to suit your mood. Settle into a booth overlooking Brunswick St and start talking.
Houndstooth provides a relaxed atmosphere with delicious food at incredibly modest prices. If you want to impress someone with dinner without spending an entire week’s income this is the place to go.
The Commoner is a favourite of mine and I think it has something special about it. It can be a little noisy inside because of the concrete floor but the food and service are amongst the best in Fitzroy.
Añada is a great place for a couple to go – cosy and busy and not too big. The food is excellent and you can decide whether someone who likes or dislikes anchovies is a deal breaker for you.
Cocoro is a Japanese restaurant on Smith St with great food at reasonable prices. It is a relaxing and enjoyable dinner destination and for this reason beats the noisier nearby Peko Peko.
Mario’s is a Fitzroy institution that has not become complacent over time. The staff turnover is low and the art on the walls changes regularly. The coffee and food are always excellent and the atmosphere and attitude make dinner here an essential Fitzroy experience because they know better than most places how to make you feel welcome.
If a pub meal is the right choice then there are many options. I’d have to recommend the Rose hotel because it is my local and the food is very good.
If you want to dance on the bar after dinner then there is only one place to go – La Sangria on Johnston St. Excellent reasonably priced Spanish food, music and dancing.