In the days of Tinder, RSVP, Zoosk and eHarmony, the pressure to make your dates memorable is stronger than ever before. Stick with the norm and you risk being lost in the crowd.
When designing a date, there are important things you should consider, such as:
This is true whether it's a first date, fifth date, or your 12 year anniversary. Regular date nights should be a staple of your relationship, and a flow of well-planned dates will ensure you are getting the most out of your time together.
Throughout your journey as a couple, look around you for activities that might spark your partner's interest, be on the hunt for some great restaurants, and remember that dates should always come easy, feel natural and be fun. With this in mind, here are some ideas for great, memorable dates in Melbourne…
Nothing get's the heart pumping more than a little adventure, so why not work up a sweat before working up an appetite? Melbourne's Hardrock is the city's ultimate climbing experience and the perfect outing for couples wanting to try something a little different. Indoor rock climbing helps build trust, show each other support, and improve the foundations of your relationship in just a few short hours. All that hard work will also make dinner seem all the more wonderful.
Just a short walk from Hardrock you'll find Caterina's Cucina e Bar, a true Melbourne icon. Caterina's has been serving regional Italian cuisine for more than 20 years, and its underground dining room offers an intimate experience that's perfect for finishing off your date. Enter through the large iron gates and you'll find delights such as traditional fresh pasta, twice cooked duck leg, and semi-frozen gelato.
Melbourne is home to a fabulous stand up comedy scene and a great lineup of comedians are just waiting to give your date a good laugh. Ask just about anyone and they'll tell you that being able to "laugh until your ribs hurt" is a key element of every relationship, so why not check out one of the many shows on offer at the Comedy Theatre. From Carl Barron to Dawn French, Effie and Will Anderson, there's always someone fun to watch.
Before you go, why not enjoy a meal at Red Spice QV – winner of The Age Good Food Guide's 2016 People's Choice Award. The modern Asian restaurant is a favourite with locals, its famous pork belly being the star attraction since opening its doors in 2007. Specialising in pre-theatre dining, it's the perfect spot to enjoy a meal before taking in a show.
Despite being traditional, dinner and a movie remains a winning recipe for a date well spent. Good food and a great movie is the ideal night out, but for something a little different, let your date do the choosing. Good Food Gift Card offers Australia's first 'Dinner & Movie' gift card, which can be swiftly bought and send via email. Send it out prior to your date and the excitement starts early as your date can choose from the wide selection of restaurants available, as well as picking the right movie. Give your date the power and put a smile on their face before they've even stepped out the door!
A food chemist by trade, choco-preneur Dr Hanna Frederick knows how to make a date irresistibly sweet. Mamor Chocolates and High Tea offers boutique artisan handmade chocolate creations and unique flavours such as native Maori Horopito and Kawakawa, dark beer and salami truffles, and deer velvet chocolates. There's even an aphrodisiac chocolate, which may be why it's been voted Melbourne's top high tea szalon.
But an entire evening of chocolate? Surely not! Even the biggest fan of chocolate requires something a little more savoury first, so why not head to Mario's Cafe before you go? Established in 1986, Mario's serves traditional and modern Italian dishes such as pan-fried gnocchi, spaghetti marinara, and rib eye with a red wine jus.
Meet at Cumulus Up. before dining out and be met with a European atmosphere that balances edgy luxe and familiar classic to stunning effect. The climate-controlled cellar houses a considered and eclectic selection of wine, focusing on the best examples of vintage, varietal, style and region from both the New Word and the Old.
Just down the lane you'll find Coda Bar and Restaurant, a relaxed approach to hatted dining that draws a host of diverse diners. The food here is delicious, and continuing with the wine theme you can enjoy a wine menu created by Travis Howe, one of Australia's most respected sommeliers.
One of Melbourne's most revered hotels, the Botanical has recently undergone a significant $4 million renovation and has emerged as one of Melbourne's most exciting dining destinations. Adjacent to the famous Botanic Gardens, the Botanical presents a generous, family-style menu of Provencial French, Mediterranean influences.
Inside the gardens you can then enjoy a "Lunar Tour" at the historic Old Melbourne Observatory, which offers a glance at the movement of moons. Alternatively you could opt for the "Parade of Planets", introducing you to Jupiter and a variety of stars. Tours run from 9-10pm.
Melbourne's music scene is world-famous, and you can't beat listening to a great band come date night. Be it at the Melbourne Zoo's Summer Twilight sessions, or at Howler Bar's arts hub, there is music to suit everyone's taste.
Nearby Howler Bar you'll find the Kumo Izakaya Japanese Restaurant in all its contemporary glory. Offering reasonably priced dishes in a stunning setting that combines art-deco, warehouse living and strong Japanese heritage, Kumo Izakaya's award-winning food is complemented with an impressive range of sake, wine and Japanese craft beers – the perfect introduction to a night on the town.
There's nothing like a few cocktails and a little competition to light a fire before your dinner date, and that's exactly what you'll get upon entering Mr Wow's Emporium. The catch phrase "purveyors of fine drinks, good times and bocce" perfectly sums up this world-class drinking venue – home to cocktails such as "The Gypsy, Tramps and Thieves", made with Bulleit Bourbon, beetroot and mint.
Having played on the pool tables and bocce pitch, you can then make your way to The Noble Experiment, which draws its name and inspiration from the 1920s prohibition era. Impassioned by experimentation and creativity, The Noble Experiment has the largest collection of bottle and barrel-aged cocktails in the country, with international cocktail maestro Linus Schaxmann at the helm. As for the food, Chef Toby Henderson is inspiring, rustic and focused on quality ingredients.
Want to promise your partner a date night every month of the year? Buy them a series of Good Food Gift Cards and they can choose from any of the restaurants mentioned above to spend it in.