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How to Prepare for a Night Out on Valentine’s Day

While film and literature would have you believe that flowers, chocolates, and jewellery are the go-to gifts on the day of love, the reality is completely different. Nowadays, people prefer to gift with experiences, the most popular being a romantic dinner with their significant other. So, it comes as no surprise that restaurants are most people’s idea of a romantic Valentine's Day well spent.

South Africans love to make a meal of Valentine’s Day celebrations. According to the Mastercard Love Index, which examines spending habits and trends around Valentine’s Day, pockets run just as deep as love on 14 February. If heading to a restaurant is part of your plans this year, you’ll need to do a bit of planning to enjoy one of the busiest nights on a restaurant’s social calendar.

Make a Reservation

This probably goes without saying, but you’re not the only one with an appetite for romance on Valentine’s Day. The best way to avoid a last-minute dash for a reservation is to make an online booking. Some eateries take reservations weeks or even months before Valentine’s Day, so it’s best to book as early as you can.

Consider Eating Early

A restaurant’s busiest dining hours fall between 18:00 and 20:00. Because of social distancing guidelines and limited trading hours, popular restaurants fill up quicker than usual. If you want your Valentine’s date to be a bit more intimate, head out before the peak hours. Instead of making a reservation at a bistro on the other side of town, rather book a table at a steakhouse near you. The easier it is to get to the venue, the better. Going somewhere close eliminates the need to push back the reservation to the peak hours when you’ll have to contend with a restaurant full of hungry couples. An early dinner or late lunch will also allow you to enjoy your partner’s company without rushing the date.

Avoid Restaurants with Prix Fixe Menus

Even if you make a reservation at a restaurant that’s practically your home away from home, expect the menu to be unrecognisable on Valentine’s Day. Many restaurants offer a prix fixe menu, which means they’ll only be a limited number of multi-course meals available at a fixed price. If you’re not keen on ordering from a limited menu, you could always make a reservation at a restaurant such as Turn n Tender, which offers a wide variety of mouth-watering dishes all year. 

Don’t Linger

If there’s ever an occasion to dine at a leisurely pace, it’s Valentine’s Day. But it’s never a good idea to stick around for too long on a restaurant’s busiest night. That’s not to say you should rush through your meal and leave before your table is cleared. However, if it’s been a while since you finished your meal, spare a thought for the other couple who reserved a table too (yours, to be more specific).

You don’t have to do much to make a Valentine’s Day date special if you choose the right restaurant. A bit of foresight and planning can iron out the potential setbacks of a memorable night out. DM

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