This one goes out to all my fellow fellas out there. It began as a “bro talk” at my local barber shop. This is a bi-weekly ritual for me and is a harbor for great conversation. As we dove into sorted topics of politics, men’s fashion, and other random subjects one main idea surfaced. Where you should take your significant other for Valentine’s Day? As the food and restaurant aficionado, the question was obviously directed towards me. Deliberating more on the idea, my thoughts became clearer. This is not so much a question of specifically where to take your female counterpart, rather a question of how to plan the evening.Let’s start our venture inward and work our way out. This night is all about her, but we need to start with ourselves. You have to pull yourself out of the sweats and jogging shoes and go get a nice outfit. It doesn’t have to be a three piece suit. I suggest your favorite button-up and a dark pair of jeans. You might not think much of this, but the fact that you decided to put something else on besides that ratty flannel you’ve been wearing all week will speak volumes to her. Secondly, go see your local barber. I tagged two of the best barbers in the area if you are not sure where to go. I don’t think you have to do anything crazy, but a fresh fade and line-up really brings everything together.
Next, we must think of the gift. Don’t over think this one guys. You probably didn’t win her over by getting her some extravagant gift to begin with. I know this is cliché, but it really is the thought that counts. You don’t woo a woman with overstated, obscene gestures–it’s all in the details. What’s her favorite flower? Or maybe she doesn’t like flowers because they die, try a succulent. What was that one thing she mentioned when she didn’t think you were listening? (And trust me it’s not that she wanted new bath towels.) Maybe its tickets to see her favorite band on an upcoming tour, which gives you a guaranteed second date that you don’t have to think about. I am only going to say this once guys, every V-Day gift must be followed up with chocolate. Any gift can be improved with a sweet chocolate treat, unless you are courting some rare species of woman that doesn’t enjoy the stuff. Please, whatever you do don’t go to Wal-Mart and buy the cheapest heart shaped box you can find. There are so many local chocolate companies that it is nearly impossible to go wrong if you actually look. Early last week I wrote a piece on Philadelphia Candies, but you also have the choices of Daffin’s, Gorant’s, or our new favorite, Landgraff Chocolate. When you walk into the candy store take a minute and soak it all in. Think of what really speaks to you or in this case, what will speak to her. Lastly, where to eat? I suppose this is where my expertise really comes into play. You have many paths when you come to this part of your journey. I will remind you of this again guys, this is not about you tonight. It doesn’t matter who has the best beer or where you can get the biggest steak for the cheapest price. Also, I know an easy solution might be to go to your favorite spot where everyone knows your name. However, I suggest mixing it up tonight. It shows you actually put thought into this decision. You know she has a favorite food if you really think about it, what café will cater to this? Try something local and unique, but not too crazy. Tonight is not about food as much as it is about the ambiance. If you’re in Trumbull County maybe try Lime Tree, Barrel33 or Leo’s Ristorante. My Mahoning County friends should try Springfield Grille, Michael Alberini’s, Aqua Pazzo, or the Village Pump. There is also the Courthouse Inn if you are farther into the Lisbon side of town and Combine Bros or Stonechurch in western PA. Normally after dinner I like to have a planned activity, usually a movie or Putt-Putt. However, this is one of those nights where you might just want to grab a bottle of your favorite wine and close out the evening quietly listening to a favorite record.
Well friends, I hope this helps all of you wayward men out there that still haven’t figured out what you’re doing tomorrow. This is just a basic formula, but I think if you really put the focus on her you can’t go wrong.